teenage girl working on her school project in a brightly lit roomWhen it’s time for a child to enter high school, many parents want to look at what option will best serve their children. Those who can afford private school tuition may go that route. But for those who have ruled out private school as an option, there are still a wide range of choices. These include traditional public schools, charter schools, or an online high school. In the state of Indiana, there are examples of all three that operate as “public” high schools.

Charter vs Public vs Online High School: They Can All Be Public in Indiana

Charter schools in the state of Indiana are public schools. They do not charge tuition, are free to attend, and get their core funding from the state and federal government based on the number of students enrolled. It was 2001 when Indiana passed its charter school law, and in the 2018-2019 school year there were 104 charter schools around the state serving more than 44,000 students. Of those, around 60 of them serve students in the high school grades.

What makes a charter school different from a traditional public school? They have greater flexibility in how they run their school and its curriculum since it operates outside the traditional school corporation. Indiana’s state government has maintained an active role in continuing to shape charter school laws since 2001, aimed primarily at ensuring these schools are held accountable to high performance standards even as they enjoy more autonomy from some school regulations. Specifically, Indiana’s charter schools must administer all the same statewide assessments as traditional public schools and receive an A-F performance grade.

Charter schools in Indiana have to be authorized by a qualified non-profit governing board, which also oversees the performance of the school, though it may contract with a school operator to manage the day-to-day operations of the school. There are currently nine different “authorizers” of public charter schools in Indiana. These include the Mayor’s Office of Indianapolis, the Indiana Charter School Board, Ball State University, Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation, Daleville Community Schools, Grace College, Education One LLC – Trine University, Calumet College, and Nineveh Hensley Jackson. The first three are responsible for all but around 15 of the state’s charter schools. Several of Indiana’s charter schools blend both classroom and online learning, and a few are virtual charter schools. Generally speaking, charter schools receive less state funding per student than their traditional public school counterparts, mostly due to the fact that only traditional public schools can receive financial support from local property taxes.

Achieve Virtual Education Academy is also a state-accredited public school, and it is a fully online public high school that students located anywhere in the state of Indiana can attend. Students enrolled with a full-time status pay nothing to attend Achieve Virtual.

Why Do Some Parents Choose Charter Schools?

A 2017 research study by EdChoice called Why Indiana Parents Choose collected data from a survey filled out by more than 3,500 parents of school-aged children throughout the state. Interestingly, 81% of charter school parents are either completely satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the charter school their children were attending at the time, compared to only 64% of responding parents with children in a traditional public school. What is it about charter schools that often make them a better choice than traditional public school for some families?

In this survey, charter school parents were asked what factors drove their decision to enroll their children in a charter school. The most commonly cited reason was the smaller size of the school, which was highlighted by 60% of the 211 survey respondents who were in the charter school category. Academics ranked second among these parents, cited by 56% of them. Tied for third among these parents at 51% were smaller class sizes and a safe environment.

According to this study, parents choose charter schools when they’re looking for a combination of overall smaller school size with strong academics, smaller classes, and a feeling of greater safety.

Achieve Virtual Education Academy: Your Online Public High School in Indiana

Parents who have considered a charter school for their high school children but cannot find one that suits their needs can consider enrolling their children in the Achieve Virtual online public high school. This is an especially attractive option for families whose high school students aren’t served well by brick-and-mortar schools. In the Achieve Virtual model, students are able to complete their high school studies when and where makes the most sense for this. Whether it’s in the comfort and safety of the home environment or anyplace else where the student has good access to the internet through a web browser, the self-paced online learning model simply works better for a wide range of students. And students enrolled with a full-time status pay nothing to attend, just like any other public school.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that academics at Achieve Virtual are robust and rigorous. Students who perform well in Achieve Virtual are those who can stay organized and self-motivated as they move through the educational content with the full support of highly-qualified teachers who facilitate instruction. Also important to student success is a strong level of parental involvement to ensure students are putting in the time and effort it takes to fully engage the curriculum.

Parents interested in the Achieve Virtual approach can find out more on our website. A good place to start is our Why Online High School page. Additional pages you’ll want to read include What You Need to Know and Is it Right for You? And if you have specific questions, always please feel free to reach out to us through our contact page. We’re here to help you understand all your public high school options!