What's A Charter School?

Charter schools are free public schools that are open to all students. Like other public schools, charter schools are held accountable for meeting state standards and student achievement, but are given more freedom to educate students in innovative and relevant ways. This enables us to meet the needs of our students as individuals, create a personalized school community, and extend our learning creatively beyond the classroom.

It’s important to know that charter schools are:

  • Free. Charter schools are public schools and do not charge tuition.
  • Open to all students. Every student who applies is accepted, unless capacity is reached. If a charter school has more applicants than spaces available there is a lottery process and often a wait-list is formed. 


Some specific examples of how charter schools are working to improve student achievement include:

  • Adjusting curriculum to meet student needs. Charter school leaders and teachers have more freedom to adjust teaching and content to meet students’ needs and challenge them in their learning.
  • Creating a unique school culture. Charter schools are often smaller, more community oriented, and more personal.
  • Developing next-generation learning models. Charter schools are reshaping our methods for best educating students. For Big Picture Learning, this includes rethinking the meaning of the word “classroom”, making learning extend beyond the school walls, and
  • Producing higher achievement across the country. Charter schools in cities across the nation are outperforming district schools. Big Picture Learning schools in particular are consistently amongst the highest performing schools and charter networks nationally.
  • Getting more students into college. A higher percentage of charter students are accepted into college. Big Picture Learning boasts some of the highest college acceptance rates in the nation.
  • Helping to close the achievement gap. African-American, Latino, and Asian students nationally show higher achievement in charter schools than in traditional district schools.