Region Overview: Bay Area, North Coast, Central Coast


  • Print

Encompassing 18 counties across northwestern California, the Bay Area, North and Central Coast Region is home to more than 280 charter public schools representing the tremendous diversity of the charter school movement. There are new, single-site operators, district schools that converted into charter public schools, as well as larger networks of schools. These charter public schools offer families a broad range of different approaches and themes including college preparatory curricula, programs emphasizing math, science or the performing arts and schools that prioritize personalization of the learning experience through site-based and distance learning programs.

The Bay Area region is quickly becoming a leader in charter growth for the state of California, with this year's growth significantly exceeding last year's. These new schools present a plethora of new options to families in the region. This past year 21 new charter schools opened across the region. Eleven of these new schools feature a strong blended learning, online, or technology component including Caliber: Beta Academy, where students will learn to code beginning in kindergarten, and a new school launched by Rocketship Public Schools, one of the original Bay Area pioneers in blended learning. We see this charter growth being concentrated in urban centers with eight new schools opening in San Jose, four opening in Oakland, and three opening in Richmond.

Oakland Campaign: Telling the Charter School Story

Despite high levels of awareness and support for charter schools, not enough Californians have experience with charters schools nor do they know how charters are changing lives and communities. We need to change that. As a result we are running a campaign in conjunction with our members to share the charter school story in Oakland. Members, learn more. Additionally, we have compiled a list of local community leaders and resources that may also be helpful.

Growth and Performance

Featured Schools in the Region:

Caliber: Beta Academy
In August 2014, Caliber: Beta Academy opened its doors in Richmond, CA to over 300 students. This new school model provides students with a challenging, engaging and personalized education that equips them with the knowledge, character and skills they need to succeed in competitive colleges, careers and communities. Using a blended learning model, Caliber students learn core math and ELA content through a combination of whole group, small group, one-on-one and customized independent learning. Each student develops a personalized learning plan (PLP) that guides instruction and allows students to take ownership of their learning. In addition, all Caliber students study computer programming starting kindergarten with a focus on logic and rule-based thinking. As students progress, they write computer code, make their own apps and programs and participate in individual and group design projects.

Ceiba College Preparatory Academy
Founded in 2008, Ceiba College Preparatory Academy is an independent charter school operating Watsonville. Serving 525 students in grade 6-12, Ceiba will have its first graduating class in 2015. Ceiba's mission is to prepare low-income students in non-urban communities to graduate from four-year colleges. Nearly all of Ceiba's students will be the first in their family to go to college, and 86% are economically disadvantaged. About 95% of students are of Hispanic or Latino origin, and 35% are English Learners. Ceiba offers a college preparatory curriculum, and graduation requirements align with University of California A-G subject requirements. Ceiba's Academic Performance Index (API ) ranks higher than the state average. Since its inception, Ceiba has scored 10 out of 10 on the California Similar Schools Ranking, which ranks a school's API compared with 100 other state schools with similar demographic characteristics.

Bay Area, North and Central Coast Charter Landscape

The Bay Area, North and Central Coast includes: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Trinity counties. These charters are diverse in what they offer 77,000 students in 284 charters that provide an array of instructional opportunities from project-based learning to blended learning to Waldorf-inspired programs.

For example, in San Francisco, Life Learning Academy on Treasure Island offers a second-chance to adjudicated youth to gain a high school diploma as well as hands-on work experience that prepares them to pursue sustainable careers.

Sonoma County charter schools are quickly growing, with the opening of 12 new charters in 2013. And their scale is matched by strong student performance, with charters outperforming their traditional school counterparts overall and among all subgroups.

In the central coast region, Big Sur Charter School is a non-classroom based school offering students and families personalized learning plans with a focus on local arts and nature education and the school actively engages parent volunteers in three locations: Big Sur, Monterey and San Luis Obispo. For more information about any of these counties, contact Hilary Harmssen.

Regional Authorizers

Alameda County Charter Landscape

Currently, Alameda County is home to over 50 charter schools. The majority of these charter schools are operating within Oakland Unified School District. Today, Oakland's 38 charter schools serve over 13,000 students and represent one of the highest performing charter sectors in the state and the largest percentage of public students served by charters in any urban district in California. Oakland Charter Academy and Envision Academy of Arts and Technology are two examples.

Oakland Charter Academy
Oakland Charter Academy (OCA) is the flagship of the Amethod Public Schools organization. Located in the Fruitvale District, it is the only school in the area with an API over 900, and is also the only National Blue Ribbon in East Oakland. OCA's goal is to prepare students to compete and excel in a competitive global marketplace. OCA opened in the fall 1994 as Oakland's first charter school.

Envision Academy of Arts and Technology
Envision Academy of Arts and Technology (EA) is a charter high school serving 350 9th-12th graders in Oakland. The school is dedicated to transforming students' lives by preparing them for success in college and in life. Envision Academy offers students a rigorous academic experience and a diverse, compassionate community in which to grow. The curriculum incorporates college prep classes, project based learning and arts and technology. Students build connections to specific 21st century leadership skills that are critical toward college and career success. They are to: communicate powerfully, collaborate productively, complete projects effectively and think critically.

Oakland charter schools are:

  • Non-profit, community-based organizations
  • Among the highest performing in the state
  • High-quality and consistently perform well on standardized math and ELA exams,
  • Successfully graduating 82% of students college ready

Charters and our community partners in Oakland work together on several key policy issues:

  • Healthy authorizing environments at the district and county levels
  • Access to public school facilities
  • Sustainability of district partnerships
  • Access to support regarding special education services

New Report: Oakland Middle and High Charter Schools & College-Readiness
The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) released a new report on Oakland middle and high schools which shows that Oakland charter schools are renewing the promise of a high-quality public education and changing what is possible for students of all demographic backgrounds to achieve in their lives.

For more information about Oakland or Alameda County, contact Aida Mariam, Regional Director, Alameda County.

Regional Authorizers

Santa Clara County Charter Landscape

Santa Clara and San Mateo counties are home to more than 60 charter schools serving over 29,000 public school students. Charter School of Morgan Hill and Discovery Charter Schools are two examples.

Charter School of Morgan Hill
The Charter School of Morgan Hill (CSMH) is the result of the work of a diverse group of educators, parents and community members with a shared vision for an alternative public school with an emphasis on "project based learning, strong family involvement, and community interaction." The founders were committed to creating a school that not only provided a rigorous academic program but that also provided a whole child education. The school initially opened its doors in August of 2001 to 167 students. Today, Charter School of Morgan Hill serves over 600 students in K-8.

Discovery Charter Schools
Discovery schools are transitional kindergarten through eighth grade schools based on developmentally appropriate teaching methods that successfully integrate the whole child with respect to individual learning styles, developmental readiness, and rates of achievement. Multi-age classrooms, small class sizes, team teaching, a high level of parent participation, and community involvement greatly contribute to developing Discovery Charter Schools into a world class learning community. Currently there are two discovery charter schools in San Jose.

In San Jose, charter leaders have come together to create the San Jose Charter Schools Consortium specifically to reform education in San Jose and increase college success for all students. For more information about Santa Clara, contact Hilary Harmssen, Regional Director, Santa Clara County.

Fact Sheets

Regional Authorizers

Start a Charter in Coastal Central and Northern California

As CCSA's designated School Development and Support representative for the area, Judy Wilson understands the unique charter school landscape you face and can support you with the necessary skills and resources to start a high-quality charter school. Learn more.

CCSA Families

CCSA Families educates, empowers and mobilizes parents to hold our elected leaders accountable for ensuring every child has access to a high-quality public education. We advocate for quality public school choices, fair treatment and equal resources for charter public schools, and the advancement and growth of successful charter schools. Contact CCSA Families for more information.  

Ask A Question