About Charter Schools

More About Charter Schools

  • What is a charter school and how is it different from other public schools?

    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 mission, program, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment. Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. Charters serve all students, including those with special needs and English language learners. 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. Every five years, charter schools undergo a charter renewal process. If a charter school does not meet performance goals, it may be closed.

  • How are charter schools funded?

    As public schools, charter schools are tuition-free. They are funded according to enrollment levels and receive public funds on a per pupil basis. In some states, such as Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, and New Jersey, they receive less than 100% of the funds allocated to their traditional counterparts for school operations. In other states, such as California, additional funds or loans are made available to them. In most states, charters do not receive capital funds to support facility expenses. Charter schools are entitled to federal categorical funding for which their students are eligible, such as Title I and Special Education monies. Federal legislation provides grants to help charters to manage start-up costs.

  • Are all charter schools the same?

    No. Charter schools can vary a great deal in their design, structure, values, and in their results. Excel Academy was founded with the mission of developing leaders who are prepared for life beyond high school and college and are prepared to engage productively in their communities. With a quality education as the foundation of their life pursuits, Excel Academy students have proven themselves to be some of the most dedicated, driven, and highest performing students in the state.

  • Who attends charter schools? Whom do they serve?

    Nationwide, students in charter schools have similar demographic characteristics to students in the local public schools. In some states, charter schools serve significantly higher percentages of minority or low – income students than the traditional public schools. Charter schools accept students by random, public lottery.

  • How many charter schools are there in Massachusetts?

    There are 81 charter schools currently operating in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Collectively, these public schools educate 41,802 students. Excel Academy and all charter schools in Massachusetts are regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

    A charter school fact sheet can be found on the DESE website or charter school fact sheet.

  • There appears to be a lot of competing data and information about charter schools out there. Where should I go to learn the facts?

    There is a lot of misinformation, myths, and factual errors out there about charter schools. Here are two resources for learning more about charter schools in Massachusetts:

    Fact Check: Massachusetts Public Charter Schools (charterfactsma.org)

    Massachusetts Public Charter School Association

    The Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has conducted numerous studies on the performance of students at charter schools across the country. While the performance of charters is mixed across the US, CREDO’s studies show that charters in Massachusetts are the best in the country and those in Boston are even more effective at educating their students, including when compared to students at local district public schools. More information can be found on CREDO’s website: Stanford CREDO Urban Charter School Study

Massachusetts Charter Schools

Excel Academy is a member of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association (MCPSA). The MCPSA recently published some helpful and accurate infographics about Massachusetts charter schools related to lotteries, funding, accountability, and students served.