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No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference
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Public Charter School (V-B-1)


Charter schools developed in the early 1990s to offer increased local control of education, to allow educators the flexibility to innovate, and to provide students increased educational options within the public school system. The theory behind charter schools is that these alternative programs will provide educational options to students that are not available within the traditional public school system.At the same time, as public schools compete to enroll students, all schools feel pressure to improve the quality of the educational services they provide. In fact, school choice is a key provision of the Title I accountability provisions in No Child Left Behind. This gives parents and students the right to transfer from a school in corrective action to a public school (including a charter school) that provides a higher-quality education. As of 2002, 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have charter school laws. There are roughly 2,400 charter schools in 34 states, serving 575,000 students. The Public Charter School Program is designed to provide financial assistance for the planning, design, or initial implementation of charter schools and to evaluate the effects of such schools.

WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act

Empowers Parents

  • Provides flexible funding for use of administrative fees. School districts can no longer withhold administrative fees, unless the charter school voluntarily enters into an arrangement to receive administrative services from the district.

How It Works

The Public Charter School Program provides competitive grants for both states and individual charter schools. Eligible state education agencies (SEAs) may apply to the U.S. Department of Education. (If the state elected not to apply or the application was denied, individual charter schools in that state may apply directly to the Department.) Grants are available for planning, program design, implementation, or dissemination.

State education agencies are eligible for this funding if their state has a charter school law. SEAs make competitive grants to individual charter schools in order to implement or plan a new charter school. SEAs may use 10 percent of their grants to make dissemination subgrants to successful charters to assist other schools in adapting the charter school's program or to disseminate information about the charter school.

Key Requirements

A state education agency must demonstrate the contribution that the charter schools grant program will make in assisting educationally disadvantaged and other students in meeting the state's academic standards.

The Department gives priority to states that demonstrate progress in increasing the number of high-quality charter schools that are held accountable in their charter for meeting clear and measurable objectives for the educational progress of their students. Finally, states receive priority if they:

  • Provide for periodic review and evaluation by the authorized public chartering agency of each charter school at least once every five years;
  • Provide for one authorized public chartering agency that is not a district or allows for an appeals process for the denial of applications for a charter school; and
  • Ensure that each charter school has a high degree of autonomy over its budget.

Key Activities For The State Education Agencies

State education agencies must:

  • Establish procedures and guidelines for administering a competitive subgrant program.
  • Determine eligible subgrantees and funding guidelines.
  • Create and implement program planning and monitoring guidelines for grantees.

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Last Modified: 09/14/2007