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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Districts Subject to Changes in the Charter School Cap — 2019 Ranking

The Massachusetts charter school law establishes limits on the amount of Commonwealth charter school tuition that can be charged to a sending school district in any given year. The limits are expressed as a percentage of the district's "net school spending" for that year. Net School Spending (NSS) is a term originally developed as part of the Chapter 70 state aid program. It basically represents the district's spending on school operations from state and local general fund revenues, with the exception of certain types of spending, such as transportation, or funding by grants.

For the majority of districts, the limit for Commonwealth charter school tuition payments is 9 percent of the district's NSS. The charter school law, however, provides for a higher limit in school districts ranked in the lowest 10 percent of all statewide student performance scores based on the MCAS results from the two most recent school years. [See MGL c.71, s.89(i); 603 CMR 1.04(9).] The limit on charter school tuition costs for these districts is 18 percent of the district's NSS. There are no comparable tuition limits for Horace Mann charter schools.

The district ranking is calculated each year to identify the districts subject to the higher limit of 18 percent NSS. The ranking is provided to school districts and potential charter applicants well in advance of each year's application cycle. The 2019 ranking Download Excel Document:

  • is based on 2017 and 2018 MCAS results;
  • informs the 2019-20 charter application cycle, with Board decisions on new charter applications and expansion requests to be made in winter 2020;
  • establishes tuition caps for the 2020-21 school year.

The ranking is not intended to be used for any other evaluative purpose and is unrelated to the annual performance determinations made for schools and districts within the state's accountability system. See the 2018 ranking Download Excel Document which governs the 2018-19 application cycle currently in progress and the tuition caps for the 2019-20 school year.

Of the 29 operating districts subject to the higher 18 percent NSS cap in the 2019 ranking, 22 also appeared on the 2018 ranking, while seven are added to the list, replacing seven districts that have exited the lowest 10 percent.

7 Districts that will exit the lowest 10%
2019 Ranking
7 Districts that will enter the lowest 10%
2019 Ranking
Athol-RoyalstonFall River

Districts Subject to 18% NSS Cap — 2019 Ranking
ChelseaNew Bedford
EasthamptonNorth Adams
EverettNorth Brookfield
Fall RiverOrange

Districts in Bold will enter the lowest 10 percent ranking for 2019.

For districts that exit the lowest 10 percent, their NSS cap will be set between 9 percent and 18 percent, depending on the number of seats authorized while the district was in the lowest 10 percent.

2019 Lowest 10 Percent Ranking
- Updated annually based on 2 years of MCAS results.
- List helps to identify districts where increases in charter school enrollment is possible

2020 Charter Decisions
- Board of Elementary and Secondary Education may grant new charters or expansions to existing charters based on Commissioner recommendations.

2021 Charter School Enrollment
- Charter schools may enroll students for the 2020-2021 school year based on 2019 list.
- List helps to identify the NSS cap needed to project seat availabilty by district.

Please contact the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign for further information at 781-338-3227 or

Lowest 10% District Rankings from Prior Charter Application Cycles

Last Updated: January 23, 2019
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