Charter schools are public schools that are managed independently. Charter schools are schools of choice. Families must choose to enroll their child in a charter school. Unlike private schools, charter schools must follow federal laws such as IDEA and ADA and students must take required state tests such as the FCAT, End of Course exams and Florida Alternate Assessment. Individual Educational Plans and/or 504 Plans are required for students eligible for these disability services.
The charter school has a performance contract with the school district describing the school’s mission, instructional program, governance, personnel, finance, student enrollment plans and performance review plans. Charter schools may be closed by the school district if the school fails to meet the agreed upon outcomes in the charter contract. Basically, charter schools have more freedom in determining the approach to teaching and budgeting but are still considered a public school.
Palm Beach County sponsors 48 charter schools. As part of the contract, charter schools must provide how students are selected for enrollment. For instance, there are charter schools that work specifically with students interested in the performing arts, technology, marine science or college preparatory. There are several charter schools that provide instruction for students with specific disabilities, such as autism, behavioral or emotional disabilities, intellectual disabilities or specific learning disabilities.
Questions or observations parents should consider before selecting a charter school:
- Visit the school with the student to take a tour of the program, meet the faculty and staff to see if it matches what you want for your child and if your child will adjust well to the new school.
- Review the curriculum and how instruction is given for each subject area: reading, mathematics, language arts, technology, science, history, geography.
- Find out what kind of services and supports will be available for your child. Some charter schools provide limited services.
- How will a child with disabilities be able to interact with students that are not considered to have a disability? Will they take the same classes? Will they have lunch together?
- Find out about individual behavior management procedures and disciplinary policies.
- Review the school’s report card from Fldoe.org (School Grades for Charter Schools) to see how well the students are succeeding. Click Here
- Find out how students are assessed and graded to determine progress in the curriculum.
- Look at the student teacher ratio for the grade the child will be in.
- If the school uses a computer-based or a virtual curriculum, find out how the student receives supports when having difficulties with specific assignments, uploading assignments and other technology issues.
Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic:
School Grading for Charter Schools Click Here for their website.
Florida department of education. Charter school parent resources.
National charter school resource center at safal partners. U.S. department of education. What is a charter school?
National charter school resource center at safal partners. U.S. department of education. Students with disabilities resources.
Rhim, lauren morando, PhD. The inside track blog post. Charter schools and special education: a fresh look at data and questions to ask.
School district of palm beach county. Charter schools.
The understood team. Understood.org. Public, private, and charter schools: how they compare.
Written by: Iris Neil[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]