The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in December 2015, reauthorizing The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—our nation's education law. The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is part of that federal law and, under ESSA, the law has been updated and improved.
- The CSP now includes dedicated funding for the replication and expansion of high-performing charter schools. In addition, state grants can also be used for the same purpose.
- The state grant program can now be administered by governors and charter support organizations in addition to state educational agencies.
- The state grant program prioritizes funding to states that provide equitable resources to charter schools and that assist charters in accessing facilities.
- The state grant program provides schools with additional spending flexibility for startup funds. For example, they will be allowed to use CSP funds to purchase a school bus and make minor facility improvements.
- The state grant program includes new protections to ensure funds go to charter schools with autonomy and flexibility consistent with the definition of a charter school.
- Charter school representatives must be included in Title I negotiated rulemaking and must be included, like other stakeholders at the state and local level, in the implementation of many federal programs.
- CSP recipients will have more flexibility to use a weighted lottery to increase access to charter schools for disadvantaged students. CSP grantees will also be permitted to use feeder patterns to prioritize students that attended earlier grades in the same network of charter schools.
Other provisions that affect charter schools include:
- New and expanding charter schools are required to receive timely allocations of Title I allocations and to be “held harmless” in the same manner as other eligible Title I traditional public schools.
- The highly qualified teacher requirement has been repealed. Charters are free to design personnel systems and hire staff that meet the unique needs of their school.
- States are required to administer annual reading and math assessments in reading and math in grades 3-8, and once in high school. Science assessments are required once in each grade span: 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.
- States must hold all public schools accountable for improving student achievement of all students, as well as all subgroups of students.
- Schools are also accountable for adjusted four year and extended cohort graduation rates.
- LEAs have flexibility to use Title I funds for school improvement to increase the number of high-quality charter schools serving students attending failing schools.
- New provisions to demonstrate compliance with the “supplement not supplant” requirement include additional flexibility in aligning federal program funds with their educational programs.
Learn more about the CSP and competitions on the U.S. Department of Education website.
Background Materials from National Partners
- The Education Trust ESSA Resources
- Foundation for Excellence in Education ESSA Resources
- National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) ESSA Resources