What are Charter Schools?

Charter schools are public schools that allow a variety of teaching methods. They can be formed by groups of parents, teachers, or organizations. As public schools, they do not charge tuition and do not discriminate or ‘pre-select' their students. The schools can be self-governed, administered by a local school district, be served by the county board of education, or be held accountable directly to the state. Some charter schools comprise amalgamations that are administered by a parent company. Sherwood Montessori would be a single school in Chico.

Charter schools are granted a charter to operate for a fixed amount of time, typically five years. Then, the school applies for renewal.

How do Charter Schools compare to Traditional Schools?

This is a difficult question to answer because charter schools serve a variety of purposes and assessment can come in different forms than the mandated annual performance exams. The original intent of the law was to create schools within district that could address specific needs, thus improving the overall quality of the district. Charter schools are exempt from many of the regulations that traditional schools must follow, so the teachers and administrators have more freedom. However, charter schools are held to a higher level of accountability than traditional schools. The Founding Board believes that CUSD is a successful school district, but there are some students who would more successfully realize their academic potential in a Montessori setting.


Here are some interesting performance facts provided by the California Charter Schools Association (click on the weblink for more information on these studies):

  • Research shows charter schools do a better job increasing student achievement than traditional public schools.
  • A recent analysis found that 12 of the 15 top performing public schools in California serving children in poverty are charter schools.
  • Over 506 charter schools in California are committed to standards and accountability through the Certified Charter Schools Program.
  • According to a 2007 USC field study, charter school parents cited "challenging curriculum and individualized student attention as key reasons for their high level of satisfaction."



Links of Interest
California Charter Schools Association. This organization supports charter schools at all levels, from concept to administration. The website contains useful information on a variety of topics.


California Department of Education, Charter Schools. This website is the official portal for the California DOE special programs service for charter schools. Through this website, you can gain information about the different school and assessment scores.


Charter Schools Development Center. This non-profit organization offers many resources for California charter schools.