Growth and Enrollment


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Momentum in California's charter sector builds each year as parents choose the charter public school option in ever greater numbers. Despite this growth, there is still an overwhelming unmet parent demand for quality school options in California.

Evidence over the past five years argues that public support of charter public schools remains strong based on growth in charter school enrollment and polling data. This growth of charter schools has occurred during a period when charter public schools have been held more accountable than traditional public schools and have strengthened their performance, especially with historically underserved students.

By the Numbers

  • California: State with the most charter schools and charter school students in the country
  • 630,000: Students enrolled in charter schools
  • 1,275: Charter schools in California
  • 65: New charter school equivalents opened in 2017-18 school year (56 new startups and replications and nine planned significant expansions of existing schools, such as a K-5 elementary school adding the equivalent of a middle school by expanding to grades 6-8)
  • 27,000: Estimated number of new charter school students in 2017-18
  • 46: Schools closed in 2016-17
  • 18: New charter schools in the Greater LA region
  • 11: New charter schools in the Bay Area region

California Student Enrollment 2016-2017
Student Demographic Charter Public School Percent of Enrollment Traditional District School Percent of Enrollment
African American 8% 5%
Latino 51% 55%
Asian 5% 9%
White 28% 23%
Other 8% 7%
English Learner 17% 22%
Free or Reduced Lunch 59% 62%
Students with Disabilities* 10% 11%

*Reported number is percent of test-takers on 2016 CAASPP and may not necessarily reflect actual enrollment (Source: California Department of Education)

Historical Information: "In the News"

History of California's Charter School Movement
In 1992, California approved the Charter Schools Act. California was the second state in the nation to pass a charter school law after Minnesota. The state of California has the most charter public schools and charter public school students in the United States.

Start a Charter School
CCSA offers a variety of supports for teams planning and preparing to open charter schools. Visit the Starting a Charter section of our website for access to information about how to open a charter school, or the Membership section for details about the specialized services CCSA can provide school developers.

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