What is a charter school and how is it different than a traditional school?
Texas charter schools are tuition-free, open-enrollment public schools that have the flexibility to adapt to the educational needs of individual students. The State of Texas holds public charter schools accountable to higher standards for academic, financial, and managerial performance. Additionally, public charter schools are governed by oversight boards made up of parents, teachers, and community members.
Under Texas law, open-enrollment charters may only be operated by one of four types of entities: public institutions of higher education, private or independent institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, or governmental entities. The UT Elementary charter is held by The University of Texas Board of Regents, approved by the State in 2003.
Charter schools are held to the same standards as traditional public schools in terms of accountability for student learning of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), are required to administer standardized tests such as the STAAR, and are rated using the same criteria the Texas Education Agency uses for all public schools.
Although charters receive average daily attendance public funds per pupil to educate students, they receive no local funding from property taxes, as traditional public schools do, in accordance with state law.
What makes UT Elementary School different from other public charters?
As the first university-sponsored charter school in Texas, UT Elementary School was created to be a model and research demonstration school, meaning that we strive to share effective teaching methods with educators across the country. Our mission is to not only serve the students on our campus with a high-quality education, but also to put into practice the proven-effective research about teaching and learning that comes from UT Austin faculty. We also help to train and mentor future educators from the university.
How do I enroll my child at UT Elementary?
Eligibility for enrollment at UT Elementary is based solely on a family’s residence within our geographic service area. Our students are admitted on a first-come, first served basis, or by lottery when applicants exceed available slots. A waitlist is created following the lottery draw. No tuition may be charged. Charter schools are public schools and cannot choose which students attend.
As part of UT Elementary’s Charter, enrollment prioritizes the historically underserved East Austin neighborhoods in the following zip codes: 78702, 78721, 78722, 78723, 78741, 78744*, 78724* (*Must be Austin ISD or Del Valle ISD).
In the event that UT Elementary has class vacancies with no waitlist from the priority attendance area, UT Elementary can enroll students beyond our target area. Our charter allows us to admit students whose families reside within the home school district boundaries of:
- Austin ISD
- Del Valle ISD
- Eanes ISD
- Hays CISD
- Leander ISD
- Manor ISD
- Pflugerville ISD
Additional information on applying is located on our “How-to-Apply” page: https://utelementary.org/prospective-parents/how-to-apply/
How many students apply versus how many are admitted by the lottery?
The number of applicants is generally higher in the lower grades. There is also a sibling rule in order to keep families together, which means that a child whose sibling is already enrolled has first priority. There are times that we have had so many siblings that only a handful of spots were available via the lottery. Each grade, kindergarten through fifth has two classes of 22 students (44 per grade).
Please note: admission to Pre-Kindergarten does not guarantee admission to Kindergarten. Pre-K students must re-enter the lottery for admission to UT Elementary for Kindergarten – with the exception of, if they already have a sibling attending.
Where do your students go after elementary school?
Most of our students go on to other charter schools or magnet schools, such as the Ann Richards School for Girls, KIPP, Fulmore Magnet Program or Kealing Magnet Program. Some go on to attend private schools if scholarships are available, and others go on to their assigned Austin ISD middle school.
How involved are your parents and are there volunteer opportunities available to parents?
We encourage all of our UT Elementary parents to invest in their children’s success. This means regularly communicating with teachers and school staff and staying up to date on projects, assignments, and progress.
All parents are also highly encouraged to join the Little Longhorn League (L3), the supporting organization for the UT Elementary School, and regularly participate in school activities, which promote a sense of community among the UT Elementary School students, parents, and staff.