The Department of Education contracted with Class Measures Inc. to conduct an independent review of the New Hampshire Charter School Program. The purpose of the review was to evaluate the current charter school program and its implementation in New Hampshire, thereby providing legislators, administrators, parents, and community with a "snapshot" of the history and current status of the charter school program. The information generated by this review is intended to allow the New Hampshire community to make more informed decisions regarding the educational choices provided to New Hampshire students.
What are Charter Schools?
Charter schools are public schools. They operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools but agree to greater accountability. The 'charter' establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school's mission, program, goals, and students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. Typically Charters are granted for a term of three to five years. At the end of the term, the entity granting the charter may renew the school's contract. Charter schools are accountable to their sponsor- usually a state or local school board- to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract.
In exchange for this accountability, charter schools have the freedom to choose the methods and processes they think will best help them deliver results. Innovative teaching practices and strategies, class structure and other academic tools can be used and tested and then quickly modified to meet the needs of the student population. And since the initiative to start a charter school can come from a wide variety of entities - parents, teachers, community/business leaders, entrepreneurs and school districts, for example - there typically is significant community involvement and support.
The Charter School Advantage
Charter schools increase publicly funded opportunities for learning. Parents and students have more choices for accessing a quality education and have new ways to become involved in public education. Small class size, high academic standards, innovative teaching and a systemized, philosophical approach to education are all reasons that parents and teachers alike praise charter schools. Instead of being held accountable for compliance to a set of rules and regulations, charter schools are accountable for delivering academic results, and balancing the needs of students and their parents as they meet their charter requirements. While open to all students, most charter schools are established to fulfill a particular educational vision or to address a particular subset of the general public school population.
The Charter School Movement in New Hampshire
New Hampshire enacted charter school legislation in 1995. According to the NH Department of Education, New Hampshire is testing the charter school waters in a careful and measured way. The hope is to realize the advantages possible through charter schools.
Acrobat Reader format. You can download a free reader from Adobe.