Guide to Charter Schools in Riverside, California

Are you a parent in Riverside, California looking for various school options for your child?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many families to adopt major changes including how the children get their education. All these changes in K-12 education are pushing patients to search for other education options.

Arguably, evaluating and choosing the best school option for the children can be quite daunting. More so since parents have different choices like private schools, online schools, local public schools, and public charter schools.

This post aims to guide parents to help them make the best choice when it comes to their kids’ schooling. This article will answer various questions such as “How do I enroll my child in a charter school in Riverside, California?”, “How do public charter schools work?” and ” What tuition-free schools are available in Riverside, California?”

What is a Tuition-Free Public Charter School in California?

Charter schools are much like public schools that provide instructions anywhere from prekindergarten to 12th grade. Community members such as parents and teachers can petition for the opening of a charter school. It is usually the responsibility of the governing board of the local school district to evaluate and approve the petitions for a new charter school. According to the Education Code (EC) of California, the county boards of education and the State Board of Education can become the authorizing entities for such petitions.

Charter schools just like public schools are funded by the state. Charter schools, however, have more flexibility in school management functions such as the hiring of teachers and employees, curriculum management, and other management functions.

Traditional public schools are under the management of school districts with their elected school board and board-appointed superintendent. On the other hand, charter schools are being run by an organization under the supervision of their self-appointed board. Basically, charter schools enjoy greater independence than traditional public schools. They have more freedom to craft policies, instructions, and innovations, allowing them to experiment.

What Tuition-Free Public Charter Schools are Available for Students in Riverside, California?

We recommend looking at the Gateway College & Career Academy (GCCA) as an option for you or your child.

Gateway College and Career Academy (formerly Gateway to College) is an early college public high school launched in 2004, as an answer to the growing number of students who were disconnected from their education and not on track to obtain their high school diplomas. GCCA’s highly qualified teaching and counseling staff supports and guides its students on their educational pathways, establishing a bond of trust and the motivation to make it to the finish line.

Are There Other Tuition-Free and Public Charter Schools Available in Riverside, California?

Parents can enroll their children in other tuition-free and public charter schools near their location given the absence of restrictions regarding enrollment in charter schools in California. This means parents can opt for any other public charter school in the state that they think would best serve the needs of their kids.

Under California rules, charter schools are required to admit any child who is a resident of the state. The child’s school district should not be a reason for disqualification during admissions.

What is The Process for Enrolling my Child in a Tuition-Free Public Charter School?

Charter schools’ admission process is the same as other schools as they require an application. The application process for charter schools starts with parents providing specific information such as the child’s name, address, birth date, background, last school attended, and ethnic background.

Parents should be well-aware of the charter school’s application and enrollment deadlines. They must also expect to see their children’s names on the waitlist if they applied to a charter school that receives a high number of applicants.

Parents should contact their preferred charter schools to know their enrollment policies, requirements, and processes. Charter schools may vary in their policies and processes but are not allowed by law to have admission policies that lawfully discriminate application.

Under the law, a public, tuition-free charter school must accept all student applicants unless the number of applicants is greater than the school capacity. The school will have to rely on a random selection process when the number of applicants is higher than what can be taken in. Public charter schools tend to use a lottery system in such cases.

Do Public Charter Schools Offer High-Quality Education?

Parents often ask whether public charter schools offer high-quality education.

Those in doubt of the quality of instruction offered by charter schools should consider what studies say. Research, after all, often showed that students of charter schools make better academic progress than those studying in traditional public schools. Below are some statistics parents should keep in mind.

  • From the school year 2009 to 2010, 67 percent of California charter school students reached student achievement state tests’ targets as opposed to the 57 percent of non-charter schools.
  • For the same school year, 74 percent of charter school students reached the student achievement target for disadvantaged students while only 59 percent of non-charter school students met the targets. This is proof that disadvantaged students enrolled in charter schools performed much better than students from traditional public schools.
  • For the same school year, across all sub-groups in middle school, charter schools also did better than students from California-based non-charter schools.

Middle school charter schools in California have consistently displayed better academic performance than their non-charter school counterparts. This fact is evident in the past five years where charter middle school students fared better in API Growth Scores when compared to non-charter middle school students.