Understanding Public Charter Schools
Charter schools are public schools that are innovative while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. Charter schools are funded by the state and free to all Arizona students. They vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students.
The AzMERIT results show public charter school students scored better than the state average in nearly every grade level and subject area for the fourth straight year. The AzMERIT scores, released by the Arizona Department of Education, show Arizona’s public charter students, teachers and leaders continue their progress on Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards. You can examine the results here.
NAEP results show significant gains over the last eight years, with public charter students outperforming their district and private school peers in every grade level and on every subject tested. This trend is most evident in the scores for eighth-grade reading and math. When separated and measured as if they were their own state, Arizona charter students rank first in the nation in eighth-grade math, and second for eighth-grade reading. Read more here.
In the 2016-17 school year, a record 185,900 students attended 556 Arizona charter schools, an increase of over 10,000 students – or 5.9 percent – over the 2015-16 school year. That’s about 17 percent of Arizona’s public school students and 30 percent of public schools. By comparison, year-over-year enrollment in Arizona district schools declined. Find out more here.
Although public charter students scored higher than the state average in virtually every grade level and subject area on the state’s AzMERIT test for the fourth straight year, Arizona’s charter performance is usually met with the skepticism of those who believe charters don’t cater to all students, notably minority and underserved youth. It’s time to retire that stereotype. Click here to learn more.
Public Charter Schools…
- must operate according to state and federal law and can be closed by the state for failing to meet student academic, operational or financial expectations. A.R.S. §15-183 (E)(R)
- must be governed by a local school board that makes financial, operational and academic decisions for the school. A.R.S. §15-183 (E)(8)
- must teach state standards and administer state assessments. A.R.S. §15-741
- must hold open meetings to approve budgets, expenditures for contracts and services. A.R.S. §15-183(E)(6) A.R.S. §15-905(B), (D), and (E) ; More Info
- must post their annual budget on their webpage and submit to the Arizona Department of Education. A.R.S. §15-183(E)
- must have an independent, publicly available financial audit annually. A.R.S. §15-183 (E)(6) – Annual Audits
- must disclose related party transactions. A.R.S. §15-914 and Government Auditing Standards
- operating as nonprofits, must file with the IRS and disclose conflict of interest and related-party transactions. Guidelines
- must conform to a uniform system of financial records as required by state and federal laws and generally accepted accounting principles. Auditor USFRCS