YES Prep Public Schools


There are many myths about charter schools, and we want you to feel well-informed and knowledgeable. This page provides the facts about YES Prep, how it operates, and how it is funded.

Q: Does YES Prep require students to have certain grades and test scores in order to be admitted to one of its schools?

A: No. YES Prep is an open-enrollment public school system with no special requirements, exams or interviews involved in our admission process. 

Q: Does YES Prep charge tuition?

A: No. Because we are an open-enrollment public school system, YES Prep schools are tuition-free for all children.

Q: Do charter schools like YES Prep use a lottery to cherry pick their students?

A: No. YES Prep Public Schools are open and tuition-free to all children with no special requirements for admittance. YES Prep uses a random, automated lottery for schools when there are more students interested in attending than available classroom space. During this lottery, only the student names, home addresses, and family contact information are collected. When the lottery submission period closes, all potential students are put into a randomized order and selected at random for admission to YES Prep. The lottery is open from November to early February. Read more about student admissions.

Q: Are only students who live within certain boundaries surrounding a YES Prep campus able to attend that school?

A: No, but where a student lives does impact their transportation to and from school. Our campuses are intentionally located in underserved communities, and each YES Prep campus has a primary zone where transportation is provided to students for that school. When families enter the lottery, the system notifies them of their primary zone and which YES Prep campus provides transportation to their area. If a student does not live in the primary zone of any campus, the family must provide transportation into the priority zone. Read more about campus locations and community engagement.

Q: Is YES Prep able to serve students with special needs, including profound special needs?

A: Yes. YES Prep Public Schools are open to all students, providing transportation, special education, English language learning and all public school services. Our teachers and staff are entrusted by families to provide special education services and any support that a student may need on their path to college or the career of their choice. 

After students accept a lottery seat at a YES Prep campus, they submit important information via our New Student Questionnaire. That survey includes questions that allow us to identify students who have received or may need special education services. We check state records to collect student program data in order to make appropriate placement decisions, and we have robust efforts to help ensure that students who should have been identified earlier in their academic career are identified when they arrive at YES Prep and are given the supports that they need to be successful.

When families register students over the summer, we have a special education representative present at each of our campuses to discuss the program, answer questions, and collect any paperwork for incoming students.

Our student handbook, which is given to all families, includes information about special education; and we present specific information to families of students who are in the Response to Intervention (RTI) process, the 504 process, and in the special education evaluation process.

Parents are urged to request an evaluation at any time if they believe that their child needs special education or other support services. 

Building on our commitment to help every student stay on a college-ready pathway, YES Prep strictly adheres to all requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and our teachers and staff embrace an inclusive approach to special education with instructional rigor, high expectations and caring support systems for all students.
  • Students in special education at YES Prep improved performance from last year in every STAAR exam from 7th grade to 12th grade. Every cohort of students whose growth is measured by TEA also grew.
  • YES Prep has doubled the state average for the percentage of graduates with disabilities who attend college. More than twice as many YES Prep seniors served by special education are enrolled in higher education (38% vs state average of 18% for the class of 2018).  Last year, 65.9% of our students with disabilities graduated on-track to attend a two- or four-year university.
  • YES Prep creates accessible versions of our unit and common assessments so students with disabilities are able to demonstrate their knowledge and hard work on major assessments. Our curriculum writers also create supplemental aids, a critical tool in helping students recall information, for every core course and every unit. We train our teachers to further accommodate the curriculum in a way that aligns to their teaching methods and best serves student needs. 
  • YES Prep provides a continuum of services, including self-contained classrooms called Y-STEP.  We currently have six Y-STEP classrooms located around the city to serve students with disabilities who need more support in the special education setting. Placement into all settings is determined by the ARD Committee.
  • With the start of the 2019-20 school year, YES Prep launched Adult Community Transition (ACT) for students older than 18 years. The goal of ACT is to facilitate students’ successful transition to life after high school. Specially trained ACT staff develop individual transition plans, transition education and vocational training based on each student’s needs, abilities, independent living skills, personal interests and goals. ACT incorporates transition education in each Individual Education Plan to help students after traditional graduation age to identify career and life goals and work to achieve them. 

Read more about our Special Education services.

Q: Do charter schools have looser restrictions than traditional public schools?

A: No. YES Prep schools have the same academic and financial accountability as traditional school districts. In fact, the State can revoke charters or allow them to expire/deny renewal, for failing to meet the academic and financial accountability measures for three years. At YES Prep Public Schools, high standards, accountability and transparency are key components that help us provide a college-ready public education for all Houston students. 

Q: Are charter schools privately operated?

A: Charter schools are public schools that receive federal and state funding and operate independently from local school districts. YES Prep is a public entity and holds a charter with the state of Texas. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) awards an accreditation status to each public school district and charter school. Public charter schools were created by the state to have the flexibility to adapt to the educational needs of individual students and encourage more innovation in education, as the growing number of traditional school districts are doing as Districts of Innovation. As such, the State gives charter schools more freedom when it comes to staffing, curriculum, instructional approach, and such basics as the length of the school day and year. In fact, in 2015 the Texas Legislature passed the District of Innovation bill, allowing ISDs to have the same freedoms as public charters. Read more about length of the school day and year.  

Q: Do charter schools have more money than traditional school districts?

A: : No. Unlike independent school districts, open-enrollment charter schools in Texas do not receive funds from local tax revenue. In 2017, the Texas legislature passed House Bill 21, providing charter schools with funding to help build or maintain school buildings. We would love to eliminate our need to fundraise – a right that is also extended to traditional public schools – so that we can function with only federal and state revenue. The passage of HB 21 is a historic step towards equitable school finance in Texas; however, there is still more work to do at the State and Federal levels to eliminate the funding gap and expand the number of children able to be served.  Read more about our school facilities model

Q: Do charter schools "steal" funds from traditional school districts?

A: School districts in Texas receive state funding based in part on Average Daily Attendance. If any school suffers declining enrollment, it will see declining levels of funding. However, we believe families should be able to choose the best school option for their child’s education no matter where they live.

Q: Do charter schools like YES Prep perform worse than traditional public schools?

A: No. YES Prep Public Schools helps graduates earn college degrees at four times the rate of their peers. YES Prep is the highest performing public school system in Houston. While most students enter our schools performing below grade level, YES Prep educators have, for more than 20 years, increased the students from underserved communities who graduate from college prepared to lead. All eligible YES Prep campuses are ranked in the top 10% in Texas and nationally by U.S. News and World Report. Read more about our results