About Charter Schools
Authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Education Reform Act of 1993, charter schools are independent public schools that operate under five year charters granted by the Commonwealth's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Charter schools are usually proposed by teachers, school leaders, parents, non-profit organizations, or other members of the community.
The increased freedom coupled with increased accountability infuses all aspects of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's oversight of charter schools, beginning with the rigorous application process that groups must go through to receive a charter. Once the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has awarded a charter on the basis of a successful Application for a Public School Charter (step 1), the new charter school has the freedom to organize around the core mission, curriculum, theme, or teaching method described in the application. It is allowed to control its own budget and hire (and fire) teachers and staff. In return for this freedom, a charter school must demonstrate good results within five years or risk losing its charter.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is obligated by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, Section 89, and regulations under 603 CMR 1.00 to conduct an ongoing review of charter schools and, by the fifth year of a school's operation, decide whether its charter should be renewed. Specifically, the renewal of a public school charter is based on affirmative information in three areas of inquiry:
- Academic program success
- Organizational viability
- Faithful to the terms of the charter
Charter School Fact Sheet, Directory, and Application History
Districts Subject to Increases in the Charter School Cap
Questions and Answers about Charter Schools in Massachusetts — Updated May 2020