Charter schools are independently-operated public schools that have the freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs. All charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer – usually a nonprofit organization, government agency, or university – that holds them accountable to the high standards outlined in their “charter.” It is common to see charter schools led by former teachers who wanted to take the lessons they learned in the classroom and apply those lessons to an entire school.
The number of virtual charter schools enrolling children from across many different school districts adds a layer of complexity to the enrollment share analysis. Because many states have not developed student enrollment reporting systems that allow for sorting individual students by community of residence, the National Alliance excluded virtual schools from both the charter and total district enrollment data when calculating enrollment share percentages. This decision may create some undercounting in school districts where large numbers of students are enrolled in virtual schools. The National Alliance coded virtual schools based on information gathered from the Common Core of Data and state departments of education. The National Alliance did include virtual schools in Hawaii, which only has one school district
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