Charter public schools are tuition-free, open to all, non-sectarian and non-profit public schools subject to the same state and national certification standards as traditional public schools.
Washington’s 18 charter public schools serve 0.2% of public school students in our state
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 11, 2023
Contact: Maggie Meyers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-263-9826
WASHINGTON — The annual return to the classroom for the 2023-24 school year is heightened by new charter public school opportunities for families seeking another public school option to meet their children’s needs. In attending a charter public school, students are part of a free, open to all, community-rooted public school community subject to a strict accountability framework that allows for greater flexibility in serving students’ unique needs as they pursue their dreams.
“There is nothing more exciting than full classrooms signaling that once again, students are moving forward toward a future of opportunities,” said Natalie Hester, Co-President, External Affairs of the Washington State Charter School Association. At charter public schools, they will be working with teachers that represent the diverse communities that they share and together with school leaders and staff are committed to providing an education that recognizes the unique talents of each student that also adheres to local and state requirements for all public school students in Washington.”
This fall, more than 5200 students are attending charter public schools across the state, and two local communities are celebrating the launch of two charter public schools: Rooted School Vancouver and Impact | Black River Elementary in Renton.
Charter public schools adhere to the same state and national testing standards as traditional public schools. Though the modest number of charter public schools in Washington is currently limited by statute, charter public school student outcomes are oversized in some areas. According to the most recently available data on charter public school outcomes in our state (Smarter Balanced assessment, 2022):
- Low-income students outperform their home districts and the state in all tested subjects (ELA, Math, and Science)
- Black students outperform their home districts and the state in all tested subjects (ELA, Math, and Science)
- Latinx students outperform their home districts and the state in all tested subjects (ELA, Math, and Science)
In Washington charter public schools reflect the communities and students that they serve. Charter public schools employ 3x more Global Majority teachers than those employed at traditional public schools. 1 in 3 students in charter public school classrooms are Black African American as compared to 1 in 20 at traditional public schools. In all, 62% of students attending Washington’s charter public schools identify as people of color, compared to just 50% of students statewide. As State Representative Debra Lekanoff (D-Anacortes) wrote in a guest op-ed for the Everett Herald earlier this year, “While traditional public schools work for most, the reality is they don’t work for everyone. We should embrace opportunities to support all of Washington’s students.”
Following the end of the 2022-23 school year, we celebrated the graduating class with senior spotlights featuring students from across the state:
- Najmi Iman – Summit: Atlas, West Seattle
- Denisha Shipps – Summit: Olympus, Tacoma
- Kaden Boren – Lumen High School, Spokane
- Marshawn Jones – Rainier Valley Leadership Academy, Seattle
- Winter Bee – Whatcom Intergenerational High School, Bellingham
In 2023, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation adding more detail on accountability and oversight of public education services to charter public school students, including updates to the law governing charter public schools. For more information on the regulatory framework and accountability standards for charter public schools in Washington, please review resources provided by the Washington State Charter School Commission, the independent state agency that serves as the main authorizer of charter public schools in Washington.
About the Washington State Charter School Association
The Washington State Charter School Association advocates for and supports a thriving, innovative charter public school sector that upholds quality via student-centered, community-rooted schools and aspires to disrupt a systemically racist and inequitable education system. As the non-profit advocacy organization in Washington representing our state’s tuition-free, open to all students, non-sectarian charter public schools, the Washington State Charter School Association was founded following the state ballot measure approving charter public schools in 2012.