Philadelphia’s charter schools are an integral part of the education system in the City of Brotherly Love. The Charter School Office is a separate department within the School District of Philadelphia‘s Board of Education, and each charter school maintains their own charter (hence the name) that frees them from some of the requirements that public schools have to maintain. The Philadelphia charter schools follow a mission statement focused on accountability, autonomy, and equity. New charter schools must be authorized, and current ones are examined frequently to ensure that educational standards are being met. At their best, charter schools represent some of the finest and most desirable educational institutions in the city. The following is a selection of some of the best charter schools in Philadelphia.
Founded in 1998, Freire Charter School is one of Philadelphia’s 0ldest charter schools – and their experience shows. With a student body of around 500 students and a student-teacher ratio of 15:1, the small size guarantees that the faculty can give their full attention to your student. In 2015, an astounding 96 percent of the graduating class had plans to attend a four-year college or university. The class earned a total of $3 million in scholarships, which averaged to $40,571 per graduate. Many Freire freshman come into the school behind on reading or math for their grade level, and 86 percent have caught up fully by the end of the year.
This grade school immerses students in a multicultural and multilingual curriculum. The school’s PSSA scores are at the top of the charts, indicating the strength of this approach. In addition to math, reading, and writing, students receive daily instruction in French and Spanish languages. This focus on cultural diversity is part of the mission statement, in which the school vows to:
“provide a program that will prepare students to communicate effectively in more than one language and to see the world from three perspectives: global, international and national.”
Laboratory CS has twice won the prestigious national Blue Ribbon School distinction, and additionally holds a Middle States accreditation and Peer Leader Award from the School District of Philadelphia.
This Philadelphia charter school, spread out over two campuses divided by grade level, aims to provide students with a content-rich and academically-rigorous education. The curriculum is sequential and well-defined, and the school earns top marks on safety and teacher attentiveness – two factors that parents love when looking at schools for their kids. Technological literacy is the overarching theme at CCCS; computer work is integrated into the study of every academic subject. Students must also study at least one foreign language. The school focuses on development by assigning a theme for every new school year. For the 2018 – 2019 academic year, the theme was City Kids Construct Character, emphasizing the school as a microcosm of Philadelphia as a whole and appreciating the diversity therein.
Independence Charter School is recognized for its commitment to both student self-expression through the arts and multiculturalism through bilingual education. The mission statement for this charter school defines the school’s goal as creating global citizens. All academic subjects are taught not only to the highest international standards, but also incorporating visual and hands-on approaches that immerse students in the subject and give them an outlet for creative expression. Spanish is taught at the school, both through an immersion model where students are taught all subjects in the language (by means of skill level), and through normal foreign language instruction. The school is known for their “signature” field trips at every grade in middle school, where students spend multi-day outings to advance their curriculum.
This Philadelphia charter school is vocational in nature, enabling students to gain the skills they need to obtain jobs in emerging, high-tech industries. At the same time, the school maintains a clear focus on traditional academics as well. Seniors are offered a Cooperative Education Experience, through which they can maintain a paid job during a shortened school day to earn credits. And then there’s the Electrical Industry Orientation Program by IBEW Local Union 98’s Apprentice Training for the Electrical Industry through which students receive instruction by trained tradespeople in apprenticeship requirements, hand and power tool safety, basic electrical circuitry, cable and wiring management and basic conduit fabrication, readying them for well-paying trade jobs after high school and additional vocational training.