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What is a Charter School VS. a Magnet School?


What are charter and magnet schools, and how do they differ?

Parents and students across the country are always on the lookout for different types of learning experiences. Charter schools have been a popular alternative to traditional public schools for many years. But recently, people have become more aware of magnet schools, which are public schools with a particular focus. Today, we’re going to compare these two public school alternatives and explain why charter schools have been leading the pack.

Charter School Vs. Magnet School — Curriculum Flexibility

Charter schools are probably most famous for their curriculum flexibility. These schools allow a student’s curriculum to be customized to a large degree so as to improve their education more expediently. Magnet schools are similar, but they work by focusing on a specific field of study as a selling point, especially STEM or the performing arts. With a charter school, students can get the same effect through an individual, customized curriculum.

Charter School Vs. Magnet School — Application Process

Both charter and magnet schools allow children to attend who are outside a specific school district, but their application processes differ. A charter school’s application process involves a lottery that’s done during the winter for the following school year.

Once the seats have been filled, they’ll begin a waitlist and allow new students in as spots become available. Magnet schools use a priority-based application system. If a child is already enrolled in a magnet school, they’ll be given a higher priority as they move up in grade. For example, if a child is in a magnet program at an elementary school, then it’ll be easier for them to continue to a magnet middle school and then high school.

Teacher Certification

A big difference between charter schools and magnet schools in certain areas of the country is teacher certification. Since a magnet school is a traditional public school that’s dictated by state and local regulations, each teacher must be certified. With charter schools, it depends on where they’re located. In the state of Florida, for instance, charter school teachers must be certified, so we’ll count this one as a similarity.

Charter School Vs. Magnet School — Student Tuition

Anytime a school is known by another name aside from simply being a public school, people tend to assume that it’s private in nature. A private school, in turn, would mean that there’s tuition involved. Since neither charter schools nor magnet schools are private, there is no student tuition. Parents can choose to offer monetary support through donations, but there’s absolutely no requirement.


Both charter schools and magnet schools are celebrated for their different takes on curriculum, but they’re still held accountable in certain ways. Students at magnet schools are held to the same standards as any other state-run school. Charter schools, perhaps surprisingly to some, are often held to a higher standard that is set forth in their charter. This is in exchange for being given more autonomy over what’s being taught and how the curriculum is conducted.

Operation & Funding

Since magnet schools are traditional public schools that simply have a particular focus around a theme such as STEM or fine arts, they’re still governed by state and local school boards and agencies. Charter schools, on the other hand, are managed by their own board of directors. However, since their charter is granted by the state, officials do have a bit of oversight over these schools as well. Funding for both is done through the state, though the application process is somewhat different.

How Are Charter Schools Better Than Magnet Schools? 

Although charter schools and magnet schools share some similarities, there are also stark differences that can be important to students and parents. Magnet schools have a slightly different type of curriculum than traditional public schools, but they don’t hold a candle to charter schools due to the latter’s customized curriculum. It’s also much easier to get into a charter school, which can be one of the biggest selling points. Even though students may perform similarly, the higher standards that you often find at a charter school can help students who need a bit more structure to succeed.

Contact Horizon Charter School 

Horizon Charter School has proven itself as an educational leader among public charter schools in Tampa Bay and Hillsborough. If you have any questions about our services or wish to enroll your children, call our office at (813) 887-3800 today.


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What are charter and magnet schools, and how do they…
What are charter and magnet schools, and how do they…