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How to Enroll in a Charter School

Charter schools offer flexibility in curriculum while remaining tuition free to the community. If the idea of a charter school sounds intriguing, read more below on how to enroll in one. In this article, we go over what a charter school is, and how to enroll in one. 

What is a charter school? 

A charter school is a publicly-funded independent school that operates under a legislative contract (also known as a “charter”). Groups or organizations, such as government agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations hold the school accountable to the standards set by their particular charter. Each school is committed to reaching specific educational goals in return for the charter to operate the school. Therefore, each institution is held publicly accountable to reach these educational standards.

Also see: What are charter schools? 

Step-by-step guide for how to enroll my child in a charter school

1. Research nearby charter schools

The first step is to  learn more about your local  charter schools options! You can do one or more  of the following to locate charter schools near you: 

  • Search for charter schools by state
  • Talk with community members about different charter schools in your area
  • Visit the particular charter schools website to learn more about them
  • Set up a face-to-face visit with a charter school

Every charter school is different; therefore, it will take some research to find a charter school that best aligns with your prospective student’s needs. Charter schools can vary based on the interests and needs of their students and their charters. 

Various types of charter schools include: 

  • Arts
  • Montessori
  • STEM
  • Language immersion
  • Project-based
  • Environmental science
  • And more…

With so many choices, it is important to put in thorough research before applying or accepting admission to a charter school. Remember, every charter school has unique curriculum requirements and specialized focuses. Some have limited extracurriculars or  resources for students who have special needs. 

2. Reach out to charter schools

Once you have completed adequate research on the nearby charter schools and have narrowed your options down to match the interests of your student(s), it is time to reach out to the charter schools directly! 

Enrollment in charter schools varies by state. Some charter schools may have a specific timeframe in which you need to enroll. Meanwhile, others allow you to enroll at any time if  there is an open spot. Therefore, it is important to understand each school’s enrollment timeline to ensure your  prospective student can enroll at the appropriate time. 

You can reach out to a charter school through their website, call them on the phone, or visit in person. When you reach out to a charter school you are interested in, have a list of questions ready for them to answer. 

Some examples of good questions to ask to learn if a school is a good fit: 

  • What is your approach to education? 
  • What type of academic expectations do you have for students? 
  • What type of curriculum do you follow? 
  • What extracurricular activities do you offer? 
  • What type of student succeeds at this school? 
  • Is transportation available to and from the school?

Related: Top 10 questions to ask when choosing a charter school

3. Complete an application

Once you have chosen a charter school that best fits the needs of your prospective student, ask how to  apply for admission  to  that  particular school. The charter school will be able to provide you with the necessary paperwork and requirements to apply for admission. 

There is a chance that the charter school will receive more applicants than available seats. In this instance, a charter school may create a random lottery system to determine which students are eligible for enrollment that particular year. 

Don’t miss: Charter school vs. private school: What to consider

4. Enroll and start learning at your charter school! 

Once your application has been approved and accepted by a charter school, the school will give you information about any additional items they may need prior to the student attending school. This could include paperwork such as  school and/or health records. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the process so you and your student feel confident when school begins. Good luck! 

Also see: Top scholarships for private K12 schools

Frequently asked questions about how to enroll in a charter school

Who can attend a charter school?

Charter schools do not have any admissions requirements or entrance exams and are free to attend.  However, due to the high demand for spots, a charter school may choose to use a randomized lottery system to select which students will be admitted.

How much do charter schools cost?

Public charter schools are 100% tuition fee as the funding is paid by taxpayers and/or donations.

How many charter schools are there in the United States?

At present, there are roughly 7,700 public charter schools in the United States.

Are charter school teachers certified?

For the most part, all public charter school teachers must be certified by the state in order to teach. Every state has different teacher certification requirements, however, so if this is a concern, don’t hesitate to ask.

Don’t miss: Private vs public schools: What to consider