Difference Between Prenda's Charter-funded and ESA-funded Options

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Prenda has empowered thousands of students in Arizona and across the country.  

And thanks to the expansion of Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program, we’re on the path to empowering even more learners.  Prenda now offers two pathways for students who want to enroll in a microschool: charter-funded or ESA-funded. 

All that Prenda offers comes with a learning experience that focuses on the whole child - their academic progress, happiness, motivation, social development, and more. We give all our Prendies our all-in-one curriculum, support, and an academic coach. But, there are a few key differences regarding our Guide’s freedom and flexibility to customize their student's experience between an ESA-funded Microschool/Familyschool and a Charter-funded Microschool/Familyschool. 

Funding is different. Like a lot different.

Charter-funded microschools and ESA-funded microschools are funded through the Arizona Department of Education. However, the primary difference is in the way the funding is administered. Funds for students enrolled in a charter-funded microschool go directly to the school, meaning a set amount is sent to schools directly from the state to cover all costs of a student’s education.

Parents are not involved in the funding process regarding charter-funded microschools/familyschools. That’s not the case when it comes to an ESA-funded microschool. Instead of the funds being sent directly to the school, funds are sent directly to parents. Parents can then use their ESA funds for Prenda!

What does that mean for you? This means Prenda doesn’t need to follow the rules and regulations of our charter partners. Which means you don’t either! This allows you less structure but more freedom and flexibility with your children’s education. 

ESA-funded microschools and familyschools don’t have to participate in state testing. 

Students in a charter-funded microschool are legally required to meet certain screening and testing requirements. So this means students will have to participate in testing to ensure they are generally meeting specific standards and benchmarks. Don’t want your child to participate in mandated testing? An ESA-funded microschool might be the better option for your child!

ESA-funded students are NOT required to take any screeners or benchmark tests. Though, parents do have the freedom to seek outside access to some screeners. ESA-funded students can also take benchmark assessments. 

Charter-funded microschools & familyschools are more strict with grades and attendance.

Regarding grades, there are more requirements for students in a charter-funded microschool. For example, a charter-funded student must be enrolled in a specific grade level, will receive report cards, and even have records of their completion of the grade. 

Parents can also access their child’s grades and records by requesting them from Prenda’s charter partner if their child withdraws and starts at a new school. ESA-funded students do not have an official student record. You can keep records of your child’s projects or portfolios as a parent, and you can track as much or as little as you want regarding grades and records! 

In Arizona, students can only have a certain number of excused or unexcused absences annually to complete a grade. This law applies to students enrolled in a charter-funded microschool.

Students in a charter-funded microschool also have to complete additional “bonus time” hours, which you, as the parent, are responsible for doing when the microschool isn’t in session. Bonus time is required so that your child meets the minimum number of learning hours mandated by the state. 

ESA-funded students; however, they are NOT subject to these laws. Every Prenda Guide who leads an ESA-funded microschool sets attendance expectations with parents. And there is no minimum number of learning hours for students using ESA funds! This means Guides have the freedom and flexibility to work with parents to create a truly customized learning experience. 

ESA-exclusive microschools and familyschools can also include religious practices or instruction.

While all Prenda microschools use Prenda’s foundation curriculum, utilize an array of learning tools, and follow Prenda’s learning model, only ESA-exclusive microschools can include additional curricula, practices, or instruction. This includes religious practices and instruction.

So, for example, a Prenda Guide who leads an ESA-exclusive microschool could offer a daily prayer as a part of their school day. Prospective parents who plan to use ESA funds can choose a Guide whose curriculum and practices best suit their child’s needs or wants. 

Microschools with charter-funded students are subject to the same rules and regulations as public schools, which means a charter-funded microschool can not endorse any specific religion or include religious teachings as a part of the curriculum. 

Charter-funded Microschools & Familyschools offer support services to disabled students, while ESA-funded doesn’t.

You want to make sure you fully understand the differences in what’s offered between a charter-funded microschool and an ESA-funded microschool. Students in a charter-funded microschool are guaranteed access to support services if needed. So, if your child has an IEP or 504 plan, they can receive the services they need to be successful directly through their charter-funded microschool.

On the other hand, ESA-funded students are NOT eligible for any supplemental services. In fact, in most cases, if the student needs some type of accommodation, parents are responsible for arranging it and paying for it. 

It’s important to consider all of these differences before making a final enrollment decision.

Consider what your child needs and wants when it comes to their education. And consider what you value. How do you envision the learning experience you want for your children? Are you interested in a microschool with religious practices? Do you value more flexibility regarding hours and attendance, or do you prefer more structure in your child’s education? 

Whatever pathway you choose, charter-funded or ESA-funded, Prenda is here to support you and your child. 

Click here to find out more about our ESA-funded options

Click here to find out more about our Charter-funded options