Education News

Houston Debuts New Common Application For Charter Schools

It makes Houston the first city in Texas to have a common application for charter schools

Houston charter schools are taking a page from the world of higher education, with the launch of a new common application for prospective students.

It means families can apply to five different charter school networks at the same time online at ApplyHouston.org. They include large ones like KIPP and YES Prep; smaller ones, like A Plus Up and Promise Community Schools; and a brand new charter, called Etoile.

“Houston parents have become accustomed to having a diversity of choices and this movement —  this ApplyHouston.org  —  is really just about helping parents become better consumers to be able to better navigate the marketplace of school options,” said Rachael Dempsey, with the advocacy group Families Empowered. It’s managing the common application.

Before, families had to to keep track of different forms for different charter schools, which Dempsey called “a big hassle.”

“You’d be doing lots and lots of applications to be able to really maximize the chance of a parent finding a school that they’d be satisfied with,” she said.

With the new streamlined process, Dempsey expects more than 40,000 applications and said that it may introduce some parents to new options.

“They might be logging on to ApplyHouston.org to start a KIPP Houston application for a school that they know that they love. And they might find another school nearby that they had no idea about that might be a great fit for them,” she said.

It makes Houston the first city in Texas to have a common application for charter schools, according to the Texas Charter Schools Association. Other cities like New York that have done this have seen their number of applicants grow.

“We cannot say whether this alone will increase public charter school enrollment, as it has not been done in Texas before, but that is certainly the goal of the common application,” said Christine Isett, with the association.

She added that on average charter school enrollment is up 12 percent over the last five years in Texas and there are more than 140,000 students on a waiting list statewide.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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