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.

Key takeaways

  • 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).

50-state comparisons 

Charter school basics

  1. Does the state have a charter school law?
  2. Does the state allow existing public schools to convert to charter schools?
  3. Is a charter school part of a local education agency (LEA) or its own LEA?
  4. Does the state specify the charter schools or the students that may be given preference?
  5. Does the state have any caps on the number of charter schools?

Who can authorize charter schools?

  1. Does the state specify who may apply to open a charter school?
  2. To whom can charter applicants apply?
  3. Is there a statewide authorizing body?
  4. Is there an appeals process for charter applicants?
  5. Does the state provide technical assistance to charter schools?

Accountability for schools and authorizers 

  1. Does the state require charter schools to submit annual reports?
  2. Does the state specify grounds for terminating or not renewing a school’s charter?
  3. Does the state provide an appeals process in the charter school renewal process?
  4. Has the state established standards for quality school authorizing that authorizers must meet?
  5. Does the state set a threshold beneath which a school must automatically be closed (where the authorizer must close it)?
  6. Does the state require the authorizer to report on the performance of their portfolio of schools?
  7. Are there sanctions in place for authorizers?

Charter school autonomy 

  1. Are the state’s standards and assessments applied to charter schools?
  2. What rules are waived for charter schools?

Charter school finance 

  1. Through whom does a charter school receive its funding?
  2. How is the funding for a charter school determined?
  3. Does the state provide start-up and/or planning grants to charter schools?
  4. Does the state provide facilities funding or other facilities assistance to charter schools?
  5. Does the state specify who must provide transportation to charter school students?

Charter school teachers 

  1. Do teachers in a charter school have to be certified?
  2. What sets teacher salaries?
  3. Does the state require school districts to grant teachers a leave of absence to teach in a charter school?
  4. Are charter schools bound by school district collective bargaining agreements?
  5. Do teachers in each of a state’s charter schools have equal access to the public school teachers’ retirement system?

Cyber or virtual charters 

  1. Does state law explicitly define or permit cyber/virtual charter schools?
  2. Is there additional oversight specific to cyber/virtual charter schools?

Related resources

Staff contact
Jennifer Thomsen

 PUBLISHED: June 1, 2014



 STATE(S): Nationwide

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