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Best charter high school in every state

  • Best charter high school in every state

    The first charter school program was created more than 25 years ago in Minnesota. In the 2017-2018 school year, almost 3.2 million students—about 6% of all those attending public school—were enrolled in more than 7,000 charter schools in the United States.

    Like a public school, charter programs receive funding from local, state, or even federal government and are tuition-free for students. However, like private schools, they're free from many of the regulations that govern a typical public school. Akin to private schools, they're also chosen by families rather than assigned. Ideally, that means educators have more freedom to innovate or use new classroom methods. In exchange for that independence, these schools must adhere to their “charters”—particular rules about academic goals, the types of students served, their finances, and more. As a result, the particularities of each charter varies from state to state and school to school. There are also networks that run multiple charter schools with a unifying vision. The operations of any given charter school can come under strict scrutiny from the government; if a charter school is not running the way they've set out to do, they'll be shut down, which incentivizes them to push their students to achieve.

    There are certainly criticisms of charter schools, including that their independence can lead to financial mismanagement or unfair admissions. However, with steep competition at private schools and with many families being unable to afford such private programs anyway, more and more are turning to charter schools to deliver what their high-performing youngsters need.

    To determine which charter schools outperform the rest in each state, Stacker compiled data from Niche's 2019 list of Best Charter High Schools in America. Stats are based on analyses of academic and student life data, which comes from the U.S. Department of Education, test scores, college data, and Niche user ratings. Eight states do not have any charter schools. In those cases, the list includes information about charter schools in development or the legislation that may help groups establish charter programs soon.

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  • Alabama: ACCEL Day and Evening Academy

    - Location: Mobile, AL
    - This is the first charter school established in Alabama; it is not yet ranked by Niche.

    The first-ever charter school in Alabama, Acceleration Day and Evening Academy, was established in Mobile to serve students from Mobile, Baldwin, and Washington counties. As the program's name suggests, the school boasts that its students can graduate more quickly than those attending traditional high schools, and they can even work to catch up on their studies if they've fallen behind. Last year, it was one of three such schools to win $1 million in federal education grants.

  • Alaska: Frontier Charter School

    - Overall Niche grade: B+
    - Location: Anchorage, AK
    - Number of students: 298
    - Student-teacher ratio: 99:1

    Frontier Charter School educates elementary, middle, and high school students. As a part of the Anchorage School District, it instructs just 298 high schoolers. And, surprisingly, Frontier's student-to-teacher ratio is quite high at 99 to 1, meaning they have just a few educators. Perhaps that's not surprising: The program is widely considered a homeschooling extension.

  • Arizona: Basis Scottsdale

    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Location: Scottsdale, AZ
    - Number of students: 1,081
    - Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

    This program received the first-place ranking for charter high schools at U.S. News & World Report. Students at this charter school take AP courses during or before 10th grade, setting them up for "Capstone courses" in their senior year that are the equivalent of college-level classes. Seniors can also take part in off-campus research projects, which is a unique offering. They also offer over 70 extracurriculars, including Model UN, 3D Printing, How to Start a Business, and yoga.

  • Arkansas: Haas Hall Academy

    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Location: Fayetteville, AR
    - Number of students: 344
    - Student-teacher ratio: 16:1

    As the top public school in Arkansas, Haas Hall isn't slacking. Courses are catered to students' ability levels and interests, with curriculums geared toward what students want to study in college. The school claims its accelerated program allows students to complete two years' worth of math, science, art, history, and similar courses in half the time. Furthermore, students are put in classes based on their skill and ability levels, not grades.

  • California: Granada Hills Charter High School

    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Location: Granada Hills, CA
    - Number of students: 4,650
    - Student-teacher ratio: 19:1

    Every student at Granada Hills Charter School gets a Chromebook during his or her enrollment. The charter, based in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Granada Hills, has six UC Academic Decathlon national championships under its belt and offers more than 60 extracurriculars and 34 art classes. Granada Hills first opened in 1960 and converted to a charter school in 2003. Now, it has two campuses and serves thousands of students.

  • Colorado: DSST: Stapleton High School

    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Location: Denver, CO
    - Number of students: 546
    - Student-teacher ratio: 15:1

    Stapleton's name recently changed to DSST: Montview, but the school's top-ranked academic programs remain the same. One thing that sets the charter apart is its required 10-week internship for juniors. Students get matched to internships based on interests; past internships have included work at the Denver Zoo, Teach for America, and political campaigns.

  • Connecticut: Amistad Academy

    - Overall Niche grade: B
    - Location: New Haven, CT
    - Number of students: 1,057
    - Student-teacher ratio: 9:1

    This charter has a big goal: Sending 100% of its students to a four-year college. With that in mind, most students take at least five AP courses before graduation. Amistad Academy is a part of the Achievement First network, a charter network that seeks to address education gaps.

  • Delaware: Charter School of Wilmington

    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Location: Wilmington, DE
    - Number of students: 971
    - Student-teacher ratio: 19:1

    The Charter School of Wilmington focuses on students with a strong STEM interest. As part of that focus, the school's juniors get matched with mentors and science professionals to take part in a 12-month, independent science research project. In January, the students participate in the Delmarva Power Science Fair; winners even get scholarship money.

  • Florida: Archimedean Upper Conservatory (AUC)

    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Location: Miami, FL
    - Number of students: 312
    - Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

    Ranked as the ninth-best school in the entire state of Florida, Archimedean Upper Conservatory has some other impressive stats, too. For example, 100% of its students take AP courses. Also, 90% of charter's students are minorities and 57% of them are considered economically disadvantaged. Another unique aspect? AUC's primary education goals are mathematics, philosophy, and Greek language instruction.

  • Georgia: Walton High School

    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Location: Marietta, GA
    - Number of students: 2,693
    - Student-teacher ratio: 19:1

    Walton High School boasts a nationally certified pre-engineering program, which is a four-year series of courses for students. The school is also an International Spanish Academy, teaching about 30% of its courses in Spanish to students in this immersion track. In addition to these academic programs, Walton High School offers more than 30 extracurriculars. That includes the school band, which has been featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.