FAQs About DC Public Charters


DC’s charter schools are tuition-free, autonomous public schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative in exchange for increased accountability for improving student achievement. The first two DC charter schools opened in 1996 with a total of 160 students. Today there are 60 charter schools on over 100 campuses enrolling almost 38,000 district students, 44% of all DC public school students. These new-style public schools are ever more popular with District parents. Here’s why:


Charter Schools are Free and Open to All


Public charter schools do not charge tuition, do not have entrance requirements, and welcome all DC-resident students to apply. If more students apply to a charter school than there are seats available, the school holds a public lottery to choose which students will be admitted.


Public Charter Schools Couple Increased Accountability with the Freedom to be Innovative


Unlike traditional public schools, which are bound by school system rules and processes, charter schools are autonomous from the school system central office and have total control over their budget, personnel and curriculum. Charter leaders can make quick, effective changes to improve student performance, like modifying the curriculum or replacing ineffective teachers. At the same time, charter schools are subject to increased accountability for demonstrating improved student achievement, and will lose their right to operate if they fail to show results in a reasonable period of time.


Public Charter Schools Give DC Parents Public School Options


Charter schools are public schools of choice.  They offer parents the opportunity to choose a school, other than the assigned neighborhood school, that is more suited to their children’s needs and interests, with the money following the students to the public schools they choose.