Rhode Island's Charter Schools
Rhode Island's charter schools are public schools authorized by the State of Rhode Island to operate independently from many state and local district rules and regulations. Each charter school is able to establish educational strategies that meet the specific student achievement goals and objectives outlined in each school's charter.
Rhode Island General Law 16-77-5.1(b) designates the Board of Education as the authorizer for charter schools. In this capacity, the Board of Education is responsible for charter school approval, renewal and revocation. RIDE is delegated with the authority and responsibility to manage a comprehensive system of charter school accountability, review, and monitoring, and system management. With the support of RIDE’s charter office, the Board of Education plays a fundamental role in maintaining and advancing the quality and accountability of the charter sector. Rhode Island is one of only seven states in which the SEA, in conjunction with the State Board, is the sole authorizer. As the sole authorizer, the Board bears substantial responsibility for balancing the statutory goal of increased autonomy of charter schools against the accountability required by the state and federal authorities.
Types of Rhode Island Charter Schools
- District Charter Schools: Schools created by existing public schools, groups of public school personnel, public school districts, or a group of school districts.
- Independent Charter Schools: Schools created by: (i) Rhode Island nonprofit organizations provided that these nonprofit organizations shall have existed for at least two (2) years and must exist for a substantial reason other than to operate a school or (ii) Colleges or universities within the State of Rhode Island.
- Mayoral Academies: Schools created by a mayor of any city or town within the State of Rhode Island, acting by or through a nonprofit organization (regardless of the time said nonprofit organization is in existence) to establish a mayoral academy.
Attributes of Charter Schools
The charter school differs from the traditional public school in the following ways:
- Autonomy: Charter schools are created and governed by independent boards and operated separately from the policies of traditional school districts. In exchange for this autonomy, the state has certain expectations.
- Accountability: Charter schools are held accountable for meeting student achievement goals and face charter revocation if they under-perform.
- Choice: Charter schools provide choice for parents and students seeking alternatives to public education.
- Innovation: Charter schools are expected to be vanguards in improving and expanding opportunities within public education.