Differences between Charter and Public Schools

District public schools are governed by Boards of Trustees democratically elected by voters and accountable to the local community. Charter schools are private nonprofit organizations governed by and accountable to small privately selected Boards of Directors usually composed of 5 – 10 members who often don’t live in the local community where charter schools are located.

Charter schools do not accept all students. They may exclude any student from enrollment who has a history of any discipline problem — even just being sent to the Principal’s office.

Charter schools receive up to $2,200 more per student in State funds than traditional public schools. This advantage means charters receive up to $48,400 more than a district school for a typical elementary classroom of 22 students.

In fact, charters enroll 6% of all students, but receive 1/6 of all State funds.

District public schools outperformed charters on state STAAR tests in “all subjects” combined for 3 of the last 3 years that comparison scores are available.

District public schools outperformed charters on state STAAR tests in math, science, and social studies for 3 of the last 3 years that comparison scores are available; and scored at the same level as charters in reading/ELA and writing.

The 4-year graduation rate for district public schools is 27 points higher than the rate for charters.

The dropout rate for charters is more than 3 times higher than the dropout rate for district public schools.

36% more students in district public schools take college entrance exam, and district students score higher at the criterion (highest) level than charter students. District students have a higher average score on the ACT, while charter students have a slightly higher average score on the SAT.

Charter schools enroll 34% fewer students with special education needs than district public schools.

Charter schools have more than double the percentage of teachers who have 5 or fewer years of teaching experience compared to district public schools.

Charter schools pay teachers an average of $5,538 less than district public schools.

The teacher turnover rate at charters is more than double the rate for district public schools.

District public schools spend $683 more per student on instruction than charters.

Charter schools spend almost double the amount on central office administrative expenses than district public schools.