Sam Houston State University to open eight charter schools this fall in Greater Houston area

Sam Houston State University will launch a charter school program this fall by opening eight elementary schools in the Greater Houston area.

The primary purpose of the charter school program is for SHSU student teachers to be able to complete their practicums under the supervision of certified educators, charter school Superintendent Ronny Knox said.

“Our charter school program is the only one like it in the state of Texas,” Knox said. “Our main goal is to provide a quality education to the students we serve, but we also want to be model classrooms where our student teachers can excel while offering another free education option.”

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Still in the process of signing leases, Knox said the program will partner with established day care sites. Potential school locations include The Woodlands, Magnolia, Spring, Klein, Humble, Houston and Pasadena.

The charter schools will begin with kindergarten through second grade and will add a grade level each year until they reach capacity at fifth grade. All students who apply will be accepted until the classrooms are full.

Although the 2017-18 school year will more closely mirror the calendar of traditional public K-12 schools, beginning in July 2018, Knox said the charter schools will follow a year-round schedule with six-week periods and one week of enrichment, followed by a two-week break.

The project was originally slated to begin last fall, however, concerns from partnering school districts delayed the program a year, Knox said.

The curriculum at all eight schools will include math, science, social studies and literacy as well as art, music and physical education. The classes are designed with “flexible grouping,” which allows students who are excelling to learn with higher grade levels.

Also different from a traditional school setting, the charter schools will have standard-based grading, meaning that when a student accomplishes a standard at a certain percentage, he or she can move to the next standard.

Knox said although SHSU does not have plans to expand the charter schools to other grade levels or areas of the state, university officials hope to establish additional sites in the Greater Houston area. Extracurricular activities and school buses could also be in the program’s future.

“Our curriculum will be produced and vetted by the SHSU professors, and we’ve got national experts on education in our college, so [our students] are going to get the best of the best,” Knox said. “Our goal is that when our students transition into sixth grade, they will be better prepared and outperform their counterparts.”

Knox said he is in the process of accepting applications for both students and qualified teachers for all eight charter schools. Applicants can contact 936-294-3347 for information.