California Charter Schools by the Numbers


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Momentum in California's charter movement builds each year as parents choose the charter public school option in ever greater numbers. Despite this growth, there is still an overwhelming unmet parental demand for quality school options in California, with approximately 158,000 students on charter public school waiting lists.

Evidence over the past five years argues that the public has never been more supportive of charter public schools than they are right now based on growth in charter school enrollment, waiting list numbers, and polling data. This growth in support 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

  • 1,184: Total number of charter schools existing in California.
  • 87: Number of new charter schools opening in 2014-15 school year.
  • California: State with the most charter schools anywhere in the country.
  • 547,800: Estimated number of students attending charters statewide as of 2014-15.
  • 7%: Estimated percentage by which charter school student enrollment grew in 2014-15.
  • 33,525: Estimated number of new charter school students in 2014-15.
  • Los Angeles: Region with highest growth in new charter schools with 33 new charters opening.
  • Northeast and Central Valley: Region with second highest growth in CA, with 22 new charter schools opening, including 5 new charters in San Joaquin county and 3 new charters in Sacramento county
  • 158,000: Estimated number of students currently on charter school waiting lists in CA.
  • 34: Number of schools that closed in 2013-14.
  • 9%: estimated percentage of students in the state attending charter public schools.
  • 6.2 million: approximate number of total students attending all public schools in California according to 2013-14 data reported by the California Department of Education.

Charter School Growth in CA: 1998-2014

  • 1998-99: 177 charter schools
  • 1999-00: 235 charter schools
  • 2000-01: 299 charter schools
  • 2001-02: 349 charter schools
  • 2002-03: 408 charter schools
  • 2003-04: 443 charter schools
  • 2004-05: 502 charter schools
  • 2005-06: 560 charter schools
  • 2006-07: 585 charter schools
  • 2007-08: 682 charter schools
  • 2008-09: 746 charter schools
  • 2009-10: 809 charter schools
  • 2010-11: 912 charter schools
  • 2011-12: 982 charter schools
  • 2012-13: 1,063 charter schools
  • 2013-14: 1,130 charter schools
  • 2014-15: 1,184 charter schools

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.

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