Learn about charter schools and how KIPP NYC operates our free, K-12 public charter schools.

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 comprised of community, business and education leaders. 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’s charters are renewed every five years, but only if we continue to meet the accountability standards. Today, KIPP NYC serves 6,461 students in its 15 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.

Q: How are KIPP NYC schools different from neighboring schools?

Compared to most New York City public schools, KIPP NYC schools feature a longer school day and a longer school year to ensure students have the time needed to cover all the material they need to be college ready. At KIPP NYC, our five operating principles are:

  • High Expectations
  • Focus On Character
  • Highly Effective Teachers and Leaders
  • Safe, Structured, Nurturing Environments
  • KIPP Through College

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 in New York State. 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 135,000) 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. 91% of New York City charter students are Hispanic or African American. Charter schools also provide opportunities for families at all income levels; 79% of NYC charter school students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. At KIPP NYC, roughly 90% 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, 20% 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-seven percent of students who attend a KIPP NYC school graduate from high school, and once in college, they graduate at 4X the rate of students from similar neighborhoods and backgrounds.

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