What Is A Charter School? | KIPP NYC

What Is A Charter School?

What Is A Charter School?

…and other Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides an overview on charter schools as well as specifics about how we operate our 11 free public charter schools in New York City.

What Is A Charter School

Q: What is a charter school?

Charter schools are free public schools that are independently run and given freedom to innovate inside and outside the classroom. The “charter” establishing each school is a contract detailing the school’s mission, program, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment. Each charter is governed by a Board of Trustees which is composed of leaders in community, business and education. Despite their independence, charter schools and their Boards are still held accountable by the state for student performance and charter school students take all required state assessments.

KIPP NYC serves 5,022 students in its 11 free, open-enrollment public charter schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, and Washington Heights.

Q: How are charter schools different from traditional public schools?

Because they are given program flexibility, charter schools don’t follow a set pattern and vary in their instructional approaches, values, and school curriculum.

However, many charter schools, like KIPP NYC, tend to have a longer school day and school year to ensure that teachers and students are working hard together to prepare students to be “college ready.” At KIPP NYC, our five operating principles are:

  • High Expectations
  • More Time
  • Empowered Staff
  • Character Counts
  • Through College – and Beyond


Learn more about our approach and history.

Q: Are there special requirements to enroll in a KIPP NYC charter school?

No. While application processes vary from state to state for other charter schools, KIPP NYC charter schools are free and open to all children. Similar to all NYC charter schools, KIPP NYC schools give enrollment preference to siblings of students currently enrolled, students who reside in the same community school district where the school is located, and children of KIPP staff. In addition to these preferences, our schools also give enrollment preference to students who are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meal program. KIPP NYC’s enrollment process is conducted by a blind, randomized lottery that is overseen by a third party, which notarizes the results for the NYC Department of Education.

Q: Who attends charter schools? Whom do they serve?

While student backgrounds vary across the country, the students who attend charters in New York City (about 95,000) represent a higher percentage of Hispanic or African American students than traditional New York City district schools. Because many New York City charter schools, including KIPP NYC’s, are located in areas in which a large number of Latino and African American students live, for the 2015-16 school year, 92% of New York City charter students are Hispanic or African American. Charter schools also provide opportunities for families at all income levels; 77% of NYC charter school students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. At KIPP NYC, 88% of our students qualify for free- or reduced- priced lunch. Learn more about KIPP NYC’s student demographics.

Q: Do KIPP NYC charter schools accept students with learning disabilities?

Yes. Our randomized lottery process ensures fairness when selecting students and our student data reflects that fairness. Across KIPP NYC schools, 19% of our students are designated as having an individualized education plan (IEP). This percentage is closely aligned with the percentage of students with IEPs in neighboring schools.

Q: Do charter schools get better results than traditional public schools?

Results vary across charter schools in New York City. At KIPP NYC, our efforts have produced significant results when it comes to high school graduation, college matriculation, and college graduation. Ninety-five percent of students who attend a KIPP NYC school graduate from high school, and once in college, they graduate at nearly 5X the rate of students from similar neighborhoods and backgrounds.

For a broader overview of KIPP’s impact, check out the recent findings from Mathematica.


Resources and References


Learn more about enrolling your child in a free, public, KIPP NYC charter school today.



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