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50-State Comparison: Charter School Policies

Charter schools are semi-autonomous public schools that receive public funds. They operate under a written contract with a state, district or other entity (referred to as an authorizer or sponsor). This contract — or charter — details how the school will be organized and managed, what students will be expected to achieve, and how success will be measured. Many charter schools are exempt from a variety of laws and regulations affecting other public schools if they continue to meet the terms of their charters.

Charter school laws vary from state to state and often differ on several important factors, such as who may authorize charter schools, how authorizers and charter schools are held accountable for student outcomes, and whether charter school teachers must be certified.

Currently, 45 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws. West Virginia’s charter school laws, created in 2019, are the newest.

Education Commission of the States has researched charter school policies in all 50 states to provide this comprehensive resource, updated January 2020. Click on the questions below for 50-State Comparisons, showing how all states approach specific charter school policies. Or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.

50-State Comparisons

Charter School Basics

 Charter School Applications

 Charter School Authorizing

Charter School Autonomy and Accountability

Charter School Funding

 Charter School Teachers

 Virtual Charter Schools

Related Resources


Jan. 28, 2020

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