Innovative Public Schools Provide Choice, Accountability
Utah boasts an impressive list of charter schools designed to meet the needs of different communities within the state.
Charter schools are public schools that are created by a group of parents, teachers, or community leaders, focused on a specific “area of excellence” such as performing arts or science.
Charter schools have almost all of the same accountability and performance standards as public schools, with a few key differences. First, charter schools have an additional accountability plan in their charter, or performance contract with the state, that sets high standards they must meet. In this way, they are accountable to the government, rather than to the school district itself. This means they have more freedom than the traditional public school to innovate, while being held accountable to the obligations and high performance standards in their governing charter.
Another difference is that charters don’t have boundaries. Every child who attends a charter school has chosen to go there, and can choose to leave if they or their parents are not satisfied. Because charter schools are public schools, they must accept all students as long as there is space.
These differences make charter schools generally more responsive to parents and more focused on results.
In the 2008-09 school year, 67 high-quality charter schools will be in operation in Utah, with more opening each year.
For a list of charter schools and their related contact info and Web links, click here.