Education Commission of the States has researched charter school policies in all states to provide this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for 50-state comparisons showing how all states approach specific charter school policies Or, choose to view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.
- Forty-two states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have charter school laws.
- Important, evolving elements of these state laws include:
- Statewide authorizing bodies (33 states).
- Standards for authorizers (quality school authorizing) (15 states and D.C.).
- Requirements that authorizing bodies report annually on their portfolios of schools (15 states and D.C.).
- Explicit performance thresholds below which charters must be revoked or non-renewed (11 states and D.C.).
- Explicit attention to one type of charter: the Internet or cyber charter (24 states define or permit; 20 outline elements of oversight).
Charter school basics
- Does the state have a charter school law?
- Does the state allow existing public schools to convert to charter schools?
- Is a charter school part of a local education agency (LEA) or its own LEA?
- Does the state specify the charter schools or the students that may be given preference?
- Does the state have any caps on the number of charter schools?
Who can authorize charter schools?
- Does the state specify who may apply to open a charter school?
- To whom can charter applicants apply?
- Is there a statewide authorizing body?
- Is there an appeals process for charter applicants?
- Does the state provide technical assistance to charter schools?
Accountability for schools and authorizers
- Does the state require charter schools to submit annual reports?
- Does the state specify grounds for terminating or not renewing a school’s charter?
- Does the state provide an appeals process in the charter school renewal process?
- Has the state established standards for quality school authorizing that authorizers must meet?
- Does the state set a threshold beneath which a school must automatically be closed (where the authorizer must close it)?
- Does the state require the authorizer to report on the performance of their portfolio of schools?
- Are there sanctions in place for authorizers?
Charter school autonomy
- Are the state’s standards and assessments applied to charter schools?
- What rules are waived for charter schools?
Charter school finance
- Through whom does a charter school receive its funding?
- How is the funding for a charter school determined?
- Does the state provide start-up and/or planning grants to charter schools?
- Does the state provide facilities funding or other facilities assistance to charter schools?
- Does the state specify who must provide transportation to charter school students?
Charter school teachers
- Do teachers in a charter school have to be certified?
- What sets teacher salaries?
- Does the state require school districts to grant teachers a leave of absence to teach in a charter school?
- Are charter schools bound by school district collective bargaining agreements?
- Do teachers in each of a state’s charter schools have equal access to the public school teachers’ retirement system?
Cyber or virtual charters
- Does state law explicitly define or permit cyber/virtual charter schools?
- Is there additional oversight specific to cyber/virtual charter schools?
- Recent state legislation – Choice of Schools–Charter Schools. Education Commission of the States staff review state legislation and regulations weekly to keep this resource updated.
- Questions to consider when creating or modifying charter school laws
- Trends in state charter school laws: Authorizers, caps, performance-based closures and virtual schools
PUBLISHED: June 1, 2014
RESOURCE TYPE: 50-State Comparison
EDUCATION LEVEL: Unspecified