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Charter Schools FAQs

What is a charter school?

Charter schools are independent, accountable public schools of choice. They control their own curriculum, staffing, organization and budget. In exchange for this freedom, they must maximize student potential and meet and exceed Tennessee’s academic standards.


When did COSLA open?

COSLA, being the first elementary charter school established in the State of Tennessee, opened in August 2003.


Who is the sponsor of COSLA?

The Works, Inc.


From what sources does COSLA receive its funding?

Charter schools receive 100% of the per pupil educational funds (both state and local) of the local educational agency in which the charter is located. The per pupil funding is based on the average daily membership of the LEA. Charter schools are also funded by state, federal, and private grant funds, as well as private donations.

· State and Local Government (per pupil educational funds)

· Federal Government (Title I, II, and possibly VI)

· Federal and State Grants

· Private grants from foundations


Must teachers be certified to teach in Memphis charter schools?



What is the intent of Tennessee’s charter schools legislation?

The stated purpose of the Tennessee Public Charter Schools Act of 2002 is to: (i) improve learning for all students and close the achievement gap between high and low students; provide options for parents to meet the educational needs of students in low performing schools; (ii) encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods, and provide greater decision making authority to schools and teachers in exchange for greater responsibility for student performance; (iii) measure performance of pupils and faculty, and ensure that children have the opportunity to reach proficiency on state academic assessments; (iv) create new professional opportunities for teachers; and (v) afford parents substantial meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children. TCA § 49-13-102.


Who has authority to grant charters in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Public Charter Schools Act of 2002 grants the power to issues charters to “chartering authorities”, which are defined as a local board of education. TCA § 49-13-104(2). This means that only school districts have the power to grant charters in Tennessee.


Is COSLA accountable to the Memphis City School Board?

Yes and no. The Memphis City Schools is indeed accountable for our success. They have the authority to approve or revoke our charter. But our first line of accountability is to the COSLA governing board. COSLA is an independent school governed by the terms outlined in the Tennessee charter school legislation and the charter school agreement between the Memphis City Schools and the three local charter schools.


How are Public Charter Schools Created?

There are two ways to create a public charter school in Tennessee. A public charter school sponsor may apply to the local board of education to create a new charter school. A public charter school sponsor may apply to the local board of education to convert an existing public school to a public charter school if sixty percent of the school’s teachers, or parents of sixty percent of the school’s children sign a petition seeking conversion.


How many charter schools can be authorized?

There is no limit to the number of charter schools that can be created through the conversion of existing traditional public schools into charter schools; however, there is a limit imposed on the creation of new schools. The Tennessee Public Charter Schools Act of 2002 provides that newly created public charter schools created to provide alternatives for students in schools failing to make adequate yearly progress, as defined by the state's accountability system shall not exceed, statewide, the number of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress as defined by the state's accountability system. TCA § 49-13-106(C)(i)


Are charter schools required to meet state education standards or offer standardized tests?

Charter schools are required by law to meet the same performance standards and requirements adopted by the state board of education for public schools. TCA § 49-13-111.

What process will the Chartering Authority use to hold charter schools accountable for results?

Each Chartering Authority must work with the Charter Schools to develop an accountability system.


What is the term of the Charter Agreement?

The Tennessee Public Charter Schools Act of 2002 states that the charter agreement, which is defined as a performance-based agreement between the sponsor of a public charter school and the chartering authority, must have an initial period of five (5) years. TCA § 49-13-104(1).


What are the grounds for charter revocation?

A public charter school agreement may be revoked or denied renewal by the chartering authority if the chartering authority determines that the school did any of the following: committed a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter; failed to meet or make adequate yearly progress toward achievement of the state's accountability system; or failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management. TCA § 49-13-123.