How Online Charter Schools Work:
Online charter schools offer no-cost high school diploma programs to minor students living within their boundaries. In most states, online charter schools are controlled by (or “chartered” through) local school districts. Online charter schools receive less government oversight than traditional schools; but they are still controlled by state and local school boards. Many online charter schools offer reputable, accredited programs. However, online charter schools as a whole are known for their instability.
Online Charter School Accreditation:
Because online charter schools are publicly funded, they are controlled by state and local school districts. Many of these programs have regional accreditation. However, you’ll want to check each school individually. A lot of online charter schools are relatively new and have not yet completed the accreditation process.
Online Charter School Costs:
Online charter schools are free to minor students who live within specified areas. These schools generally provide curriculum and other materials at no cost. Some schools even offer computer leases and pay for student internet connections. Students not living in school boundaries may still be allowed to enroll if they pay tuition costs themselves.
Online Charter School Admissions:
Almost all online charter schools have an open enrollment policy. Publicly funded programs are usually not allowed to limit enrollment by admittance exams, interviews, or similar methods. If an online charter school has too many interested enrollees, they may provide a waiting list or choose students through a random lottery system.
Online Charter School Pros:
Because online charter schools have less government control, they tend to be more flexible. Many online charter schools target a specific student population such as homeschoolers, drop-outs, or teens who need to catch up on their credits. By enrolling their children in a publicly funded program, parents can save thousands in tuition costs. It is not uncommon for online private school programs to charge over $1,500 a year. Not only do online charter schools eliminate the cost of tuition, they also pay for books and learning materials.
Online Charter School Cons:
Charter schools tend to be less stable than online private schools and state-sponsored virtual programs. Not all states are comfortable with these semi-independent online programs and sometimes lawmakers seek to shut the schools down. In many states, online charter schools are run by private companies, which can be prone to inexperience, mismanagement, and corruption.
Online Charter School Profiles:
You can find information about local online charter schools by searching the state-by-state list of public online high schools.