Charter schools are public schools that are innovative while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. Charter schools vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students. Over 170,700 Arizona students attend 556 charter schools in the 2015-16 school year.
Charter schools were authorized by the Arizona Legislature in 1994, and the first charters opened in 1995. Charter schools were established to give parents academic choices for their children and provide a learning environment to improve student achievement. Read our 20th Anniversary Report here.
Simply put, a charter is a contract to improve student achievement. Arizona laws provide public charter schools more autonomy in exchange for greater accountability for improved student achievement. Charter schools in Arizona can be authorized by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, the Arizona Department of Education and Arizona universities and community colleges. These entities evaluate a charter school’s academic, fiscal and operational compliance. They hold charter schools accountable for students’ academic performance, compliance with state laws and management of public funding. Find Arizona’s education statutes here.
A Focus on Quality
A Center for Student Achievement Analysis
Arizona not only has a large and diverse charter environment, we increasingly have become more focused on quality. The Center for Student Achievement has found that as the number of total charter students enrolled has increased, the percent of those students in quality seats has also increased, while the percentage of students in low quality seats has decreased.
Learn More About Charter Schools
In 2014, 18 of the top 30 public schools are charter schools, yet charter students are funded, on average, $1,180 less than the average district student due to Arizona’s antiquated system of school finance. Independently run, publicly funded charter schools receive state funds based on student attendance (same as traditional public schools); however, they do not receive funds from local tax revenue. Find out more about how public school students are funded here.
All parents should plan to visit your child’s prospective school, regardless of whether you plan to send your child to a neighborhood school or a high quality charter school. This document is in English and Spanish.
The Education Evaluator is an easy transparent way to find and compare public schools in your neighborhood. It's a useful tool that highlights Arizona's vibrant school choice culture.
In 2014, 73 percent of charter schools with two years of letter grades either improved their letter grade or earned an A (A-Alt) or B (B-Alt).