admissions season

New York

DOE to unveil a "common application" for charter schools

Charter schools could soon have one single "common application," under a deal hatched today by the three bodies that oversee the state's charter schools, a Department of Education official confirmed. Right now, families apply by filling out separate forms for each charter school that enter their children into separate lotteries. Under the new process, the city will create one common application, accepted by all schools, but keep lotteries separate. The change will answer critics' charge that the current process, with its overwhelming paperwork, is so complicated that it discourages all but the most motivated parents and effectively screens out needy students. The introduction of a common application does not address a second demand from critics, including the teachers union — that the lotteries also be streamlined. Michael Duffy, the head of the city's charter schools, said the city's goal was "to widen the access for families" to charter schools. Duffy previously spearheaded a push to increase recruitment by charter schools, and said that the new common application should help charters reach out to groups of students, including those learning English, that charter recruiters often miss. Duffy told me about the plans today by phone, just after a meeting with representatives from the State University of New York and Board of Regents charter authorizers, who Duffy said agreed to join the city in using the new application. Their decision comes just after a group for charter school parents announced its own effort to streamline the admission process.