February 7, 2018

Charter School Resource: Flexibility for Accountability, Why Charter Schools Succeed

Charter School Resource:
Flexibility for Accountability, Why Charter Schools Succeed

Editor’s Note: This is a great charter school resource! It’s a short video and blog post originally published here by POLICYed and contributing scholar Macke Raymond. We think it’s vital to keep tabs on the pulse of all things related to charter schools, including informational resources,  and how to support charter school growth. We hope you find this—and any other article we curate—both interesting and valuable.

Why do charter schools succeed, even in the most underserved areas? The answer is in the way they’re structured. Charter schools are granted the flexibility to operate in exchange for accountability of their students’ achievement. They are granted the flexibility to design and run schools for fixed periods of time.  But they must be transparent with their academic and financial performance and meet strict academic standards in order to continue to stay open. Therefore, charter schools are highly motivated to improving student performance, and that’s the accountability piece. It’s this policy framework that allows  education outcomes to improve for students. Because of the flexibility in how they’re structured, charter schools can make changes as they learn what works best. Traditional public schools don’t have the same flexibility. It is crucial to close charter schools that aren’t doing well, making way for new schools to take their place. This is one of the most important innovations to public schools in decades.

Some Key Facts:

  • Charter schools succeed because they operate within the framework of flexibility and accountability.
  • Charter schools improve student achievement even in impoverished areas.
  • Charter schools are allowed to be flexible in how they operate in exchange for being accountable for their results.
  • Charte schools that do not improve student achievement should be closed in order to allow better performing schools to take their place.

Charter School Resource FAQs:

What is a charter school?

A charter school is an independently run public school granted greater flexibility in its operations, in return for greater accountability for performance. The “charter” establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school’s program, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment.

Are charter schools all the same?

No. Charter schools can vary a great deal in their design and results.

What’s the difference between a charter school, public school, and private school?

Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. They operate with freedom from some of the regulations that are imposed upon district schools. Charter schools are accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charters. They must demonstrate performance in the areas of academic achievement, financial management, and organizational stability. If a charter school does not meet performance goals, it may be closed.

Private schools, on the other hand, are self-funded and primarily rely on tuition, grants, donations, and endowments. They are completely autonomous and can offer curriculum not regulated by state standards.

How are charter schools funded?

Charter schools are public schools. Like district public schools, they are funded according to enrollment (also called average daily attendance, or ADA), and receive funding from the district and the state according to the number of students attending.

Can charter schools deny low-performing students?

No, charter schools are public schools and thus must accept any students who are eligible to attend. Just like public schools, they are not allowed to prevent students from attending their school. If the charter school is oversubscribed however, meaning more students apply for positions in the charter school than are eligible, the charter school will hold a random lottery for admittance. It may not pick and choose students who based on arbitrary criteria like test scores, family income, or English proficiency.


Working exclusively with charter schools, we know there are two foundational elements for success – financial stability and the freedom to focus on educational programs. We help charter school leaders around the country by providing access to the resources necessary for stability and growth. Whether your charter is growing enrollment, expanding facilities, implementing new programs, hiring teachers, or has other operational needs, Charter School Capital has the resources to help. Our team will work with you to plan for growth and replication, streamline cash flow and other operational needs, and finance facilities expansion—so you can stay focused on what’s most important – educating your students.  We’d love to chat.

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