Charter schools performed remarkably well in Utah’s latest annual report card for schools. Charter schools dominate the Salt Lake City school system, and it seems the situation is justified.
New Grading System
Earlier this year, the Utah State Board of Education released its accountability report for public schools. The recent report did away with the usual grading system consisting of the grades A to F and instead used indicators like: exemplary, commendable, typical, developing, and critical needs. These indicators accurately measure a school’s academic proficiency, growth in core subjects, English language proficiency, graduation rates, ACT college exam performance, advance placements, concurrent enrollment courses, and student completion rates of career and technical education via Career Pathways. The new rating system paints a better picture of a school’s performance as well as highlighting areas of concern. Salt Lake City charter schools — both middle schools and high schools — received overwhelmingly excellent and exemplary ratings. The three public schools in the school district received mostly typical and developing ratings.
What Are Charter Schools?
Charter schools are public schools that are still bound by state law and regulations. However, they are independent of the local school districts and have a little bit more autonomy in their teaching methods and practices. Charter schools will usually have their own specific rules and standards (charter) for which they can be held accountable. Because of their relative freedom in teaching methodology, budget, and staffing, charter schools face greater scrutiny from state review boards. Like public schools, charter schools cannot charge tuition or require an entrance exam. Charter schools receive less government funding (funding is based on a per-pupil basis) compared to standard public schools, but they often receive additional private financing. Charter schools are still required to adhere to state testing and federal accountability programs.
What truly sets apart charter schools from the usual public school is focused and tailored education. A charter school has the freedom to focus their curriculum into specific areas, like science, technology, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, while still adhering to basic state guidelines. Some charter schools focus on the arts, while others have a military-style education setting. While focus and specializations like these are usually the domain of expensive private schools, individual charter schools have proven their success while remaining tuition-free. Focused education allows students to explore their interests earlier in life, providing a clear direction to the college degree of their choice. It will enable students who want more education to learn more, and it gives students who wish to explore the arts the freedom to do so. Charter schools ultimately prepare students for their eventual college education, making subjects more familiar as they have already examined them in their previous studies.
In the end, charter schools are some of the top schools in Salt Lake City. They have consistently ranked higher than public schools in performance ratings by the State Board of Education while providing their students with an education that is tailored to their interests and needs.