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What are the best charter schools in PGCPS?

Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is home to some of the top-performing charter schools in Maryland. With over 20 charter schools in the district, parents have several high-quality options when looking for an alternative to traditional public schools. Charter schools are independently operated public schools that have more flexibility over curriculum, budget and staffing than traditional public schools. This allows charter schools to offer innovative programs and teaching methods. However, they still must meet state testing and accountability standards. When researching PGCPS charter schools, parents should look at metrics like test scores, college acceptance rates and graduation rates. Things like student-teacher ratios, extracurricular activities and school culture are also important factors for many families. This article will highlight the 10 best charter schools in PGCPS based on academic performance, resources and student outcomes.

Top 10 Charter Schools in PGCPS

1. College Park Academy

College Park Academy is a top-performing charter high school located in College Park, MD. It has a 100% graduation rate and a 97% college acceptance rate. SAT scores also exceed county and state averages. The school has small class sizes, with a 13:1 student-teacher ratio. It offers AP courses, career pathways and partnerships with the University of Maryland. Students can participate in sports, clubs and organizations as well. College Park Academy provides a supportive environment focused on preparing students for college and career success.

2. Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College

The Academy of Health Sciences is a sought-after career-focused charter school on the campus of Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD. It allows high school students to take college courses and get hands-on training for health careers. The school has a 99% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. It offers four career pathways: Certified Nursing Assistant, Physical Rehabilitation, Emergency Medical Technician and Pharmacy Technician. Students can earn professional certifications and college credits while in high school. The Academy of Health Sciences provides excellent hands-on career preparation.

3. Imagine Lincoln Public Charter School

Imagine Lincoln Public Charter School serves grades K-8 in Prince George’s County. It has a focus on performing arts, technology and language immersion programs. Imagine Lincoln has small class sizes and lots of individual attention for students. Standardized test scores are consistently above county and state averages. The school offers Spanish and Chinese immersion programs starting in Kindergarten. Students also receive instruction in dance, music, theater and visual arts. Imagine Lincoln provides a well-rounded education and a strong academic foundation for its students.

4. Ascend Academy Charter School

Ascend Academy Charter School is a K-8 charter school located in Capitol Heights, MD. It has a focus on STEM education and hands-on learning. Ascend Academy has small class sizes, with a student-teacher ratio of 12:1. Test scores are consistently above district averages. The school provides extra support through tutoring, summer school and intervention programs. Ascend Academy emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math skills to prepare students for high school and beyond. It also integrates arts and fitness into the curriculum.

5. Community Public Charter School

Community Public Charter School is a K-8 charter school located in Lanham, MD. It provides a personalized learning environment focused on community service and social justice. The school has an extended day program from 8am to 5pm. It partners with nonprofits to provide after school enrichment programs. Students participate in over 200 hours of community service activities each year. Test scores are consistently 20% higher than district averages. Community Public places emphasis on diversity, equity and character education. It provides a supportive community for students to grow academically and personally.

6. Academy of Information Technology and Engineering

The Academy of Information Technology and Engineering is a technology-focused charter high school located in Hyattsville, MD. It allows students to take college courses and earn technology certifications. The Academy has a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. It offers career pathways in cybersecurity, computer science, engineering and multimedia production. Students can take courses through dual enrollment programs with Prince George’s Community College and Bowie State University. The Academy provides excellent preparation for college studies and careers in STEM fields.

7. Heather Hills Elementary STEAM Academy

Heather Hills Elementary STEAM Academy is a public charter school in Bowie, MD serving grades K-5. It integrates science, technology, engineering, arts and math across the curriculum. Heather Hills has a 13:1 student-teacher ratio with small classes. Test scores consistently exceed district and state proficiency levels. The school has a gifted and talented program called PRIDE. It emphasizes project-based learning, field experiences and collaboration. Heather Hills provides strong academics and STEAM enrichment for students.

8. Kingsman Academy Public Charter School

Kingsman Academy is a K-12 charter school in Washington D.C. that serves students with special needs. The school has a low student-teacher ratio and provides occupational therapy, speech therapy and counseling services. Kingsman Academy works closely with families to develop individualized education plans for each student. It offers vocational training and life skills programs to prepare students for independent living. Kingsman has a graduation rate over 90% and helps students transition to college, career or community-based programs after high school. The school provides an inclusive and supportive environment for special needs students to thrive.

9. Global Community Charter Public School

Global Community Charter Public School is a Chinese immersion charter school in Largo, MD serving grades K-8. The school integrates Chinese language and culture into all subjects. Starting in Kindergarten, students receive daily Mandarin Chinese instruction. By 6th grade, all core subjects are taught in Chinese. Global Community has a 12:1 student-teacher ratio. Students consistently outperform district averages on standardized tests. The school promotes cross-cultural understanding and communication through its immersion program. Students graduate proficient in Chinese language and culture.

10. Monarch Academy Public Charter School

Monarch Academy Public Charter School operates three K-8 campuses in Bladensburg, Glenarden and Mitchellville, MD. The school network has a STEAM focus emphasizing science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Monarch Academy has a project-based, hands-on curriculum with interactive lessons. Student-teacher ratios are kept low at 12:1. Test scores consistently exceed district proficiency rates. Monarch Academy campuses provide a well-rounded education that engages students and promotes critical thinking skills.

Factors to Consider When Evaluating Charter Schools

Academic metrics are important when comparing charter schools, but there are other factors families should consider as well:

Location: How far is the charter school from your home? Is the commute manageable?

Class size: Does the school have small class sizes and low student-teacher ratios?

Resources: What types of academic and extracurricular programs does the school offer? What enrichment activities are available?

Needs: Does the school offer special services or accommodations your child requires? Is it a good fit for your child’s learning style?

Culture: What is the overall school environment and culture like? Does it align with your family’s values?

Lottery: What are the odds of your child getting accepted if the school uses a lottery enrollment process?

Taking campus tours and talking to current parents can help give insight into the school culture and learning environment. Examining charter school data closely takes effort, but helps ensure you find the right fit for your child.

Top Charter School Networks in PGCPS

Some charter school networks operate multiple campuses in PGCPS. These networks have consistent academic models, curriculum and programming across their schools. Here are some of the top charter school networks in the county:

EdisonLearning: For-profit network operating three Achievement Elementary charter schools in Capito Heights, Lanham and Seat Pleasant.

Monarch Academy: Non-profit network operating three K-8 academies in Bladensburg, Glenarden and Mitchellville focused on STEAM education.

KIPP DC: Non-profit network with a flagship K-8 campus in PGCPS located in Hyattsville. Their schools emphasize structured learning environments.

Friendship Public Charter School: Non-profit network operating a K-12 STEM-focused school in Glenarden Hills.

Imagine Schools: For-profit network operating Imagine Lincoln Public Charter School in Camp Springs.

These large networks can provide consistency and shared resources across campuses. However, some families prefer the uniqueness of stand-alone charter schools versus larger organizations.

PGCPS Charter Schools vs. Traditional Public Schools

While they’re still public schools, charter schools differ from traditional public schools in PGCPS in a few key ways:

Factor Charter Schools Traditional Public Schools
Operations Independently operated by non-profits or for-profit companies Operated by PGCPS district
Curriculum More flexibility in curriculum and teaching methods Follows district curriculum standards
Enrollment Open to all students, but may use lottery system if over-enrolled Assigned to district school based on home address
Class Size Typically smaller student-teacher ratios Can have larger class sizes
Services Varies by school Provides federally mandated services like special education
Cost Free to attend like traditional public schools Free to attend neighborhood assigned school

While charter schools are different from traditional public schools in PGCPS, the admissions process is still meant to be open and equal. The lottery process prevents selective admissions criteria or testing requirements. This helps maintain diverse student populations representative of the community.

Applying to PGCPS Charter Schools

Applying to charter schools in PGCPS is relatively straightforward. Here are some key steps in the process:

1. Research schools: Identify charter schools you are interested in based on academics, location, programs offered, etc.

2. Learn admission policies: See if the school uses a lottery system or other enrollment policy. Some give preference to siblings or neighborhood residents.

3. Attend information sessions: Ask questions and get a feel for the school at open house events. Schedule campus tours if possible.

4. Fill out applications: Complete the application materials for each charter school. Follow instructions carefully and meet all deadlines.

5. Enter lottery: Schools that are oversubscribed will enter applications into a randomized lottery. This determines acceptance and waitlist order.

6. Accept enrollment offer: If accepted, follow the school’s registration process to secure your child’s spot.

Applying to multiple schools expands your chances of getting into at least one top choice charter school. Connect with school admission reps if you have any questions during the process.


Prince George’s County has some of the top-ranked charter schools in Maryland based on academic performance data. Small class sizes, innovative programming and high graduation rates make many PGCPS charters stand out. The lottery system aims to make the admissions process fair and equal for all families. Taking the time to research options, visit schools and apply strategically can help parents find the right charter school fit. The charter schools highlighted in this article offer college preparatory education, STEM programming, language immersion and more. They provide quality alternatives to traditional public schools in the district.