SEI Academy in North Portland, run by Self Enhancement Inc., is one of more than 120 charter schools operating in Oregon. SEI Academy has been named a model school by the state for its outstanding results. (Montoya Nakamura / The Oregonian / 2011)
Enrollment in Oregon charter schools set a new record last year, with fully 5 percent of Oregon public school students enrolled in one of the state’s many and varied charter schools.
The Oregon Department of Education reported the record Tuesday.
Charter school enrollment has nearly doubled in the past five years, from 15,400 in 2008-09 to 28,600 last year, the state said.
Charter schools, which were made legal in Oregon in 1999, are publicly funded but operate free from some of the constraints that govern other public schools, as long as they honor their agreement, or charter, with the school district that authorizes them. They are open to all students, regardless of where they live, and generally have to accept students via a lottery if more apply than can get in.
In Oregon, charter schools vary widely in style and emphasis, from drill- and practice-focused direct instruction at a half dozen high-achieving Arthur Academies to two Montessori schools to vocationally focused high schools to large online schools.
The largest charter school in Oregon, the corporate-developed online school chartered by the Scio school district, Oregon Connections Academy, grew from 2,500 students in 2008 to 3,400 students last year.
Other large charter schools include fast-growing Logos Public Charter School in Medford, which enrolls nearly 1,000 students; the online Insight School chartered by the Crook County school district, which enrolled more than 500 students last year; and Corbett Charter School, which enrolled 470.
SEI Academy, chartered by Portland Public Schools and operated by North Portland nonprofit Self Enhancement Inc., has been named a model school by the Oregon Department of Education for its outstanding results.
Some small school districts in Oregon operate entirely as charter schools, a step several of them took in order to qualify for large federal grants.
— Betsy Hammond