Myth Busting: Charter School Selectivity

CCSC teacher Kyle Fahsel with 7th grader humanities students
CCSC teacher Kyle Fahsel with 7th grade humanities students

Another of the persistent myths about charter schools is that they “cream” the best students and those from the most involved families from district schools. This argument often is used to refute the findings of research studies (like the recent report from Stanford University) that show students in charter schools outperform their district peers in learning growth. With the statewide charter school lottery coming up on March 13, we’d like to put this myth to rest once and for all.

Here are the facts about how Massachusetts charter schools enroll students:

  1. Like all public schools, charter schools are open to everyone, free of charge. Charter schools cannot decline to accept students with special needs or discriminate in any other way (by race, color, national origin, creed, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, athletic performance, or proficiency in the English language or a foreign language, or academic achievement).
  2. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sets an enrollment cap for each charter school, and charter schools do not receive funding for any students over the cap. (In CCSC’s case, the maximum enrollment is 360 students in grades 7-12.) Typically, demand far exceeds the number of seats available, so randomized lotteries are held to determine who gets in. Those not accepted in the lottery are placed on a waiting list. Students may apply to as many charter schools as they wish to increase their chances of getting a seat by the time the next school year begins.
  3. Charter schools cannot charge an application fee, demand a deposit to hold a seat, or require an entrance exam or interview. The CCSC application is a simple one-page form that asks for demographic and contact information from the student’s family. Public school districts require families to complete similar forms for school assignment; applying to a charter school does not take an exceptional level of parental involvement or even much additional effort.
Students pick up a "Do Now" exercise as they enter class.
Students pick up a “Do Now” exercise as they enter class.

How to Apply to CCSC

The deadline to submit an application to the next CCSC enrollment lottery is March 5, 2013, at 4 PM.  Applications received after the deadline will be entered in the next spring lottery cycle.

CCSC is open to residents of any town in Massachusetts, though residents of Cambridge do get priority (at present, about 32% of CCSC come from Cambridge; the rest come from Boston and beyond). We accept new students in grades 7, 8 or 9. We currently offer grades 7-12, and will be adding a 6th grade in the fall of 2014.

For more information, please see the Application & Lottery Process FAQ page of our website.

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