What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools and enrollment is open to all students. They are independently operated schools that run with more flexibility than traditional public schools in exchange for increased accountability.

The “charter” that establishes each school is a contract detailing the school’s mission, program, performance goals, and methods of assessment. Every public charter school has an authorizer which, subject to state law, may be a district school board, university, Mayor’s office, or non-profit organization.  Authorizers are responsible for holding charter schools accountable for compliance with their operating agreements or “charters.”

Like all public schools, charter schools are:

  • Tuition-free and part of the free public school system
  • Held to state and federal academic standards
  • Open to all students, including those with disabilities
  • Funded primarily through a combination of federal, state, and local tax dollars
  • Not affiliated with or restricted to a particular religious group

All KIPP schools are public charter schools. And yet, not all public charter schools are like KIPP. KIPP is a non-profit network of 200 college-preparatory, public charter schools educating early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students.