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 the public has never been more supportive of charter public schools now based on growth in charter school enrollment 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

  • California: State with the most charter schools and charter school students in the country
  • 602,837: Students enrolled in charter schools
  • 1,254: Charter schools in California
  • 56: New charter schools opened in 2016-17 school year
  • 30,880: Estimated number of new charter school students in 2016-17
  • 28: Schools closed in 2015-16
  • Southern California: Region with highest growth in new charter schools
  • 15: New charter schools in the Southern California region
  • Greater LA: Region with second highest growth in new charter schools
  • 14: New charter schools in North Coast and 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)

Charter School Growth in CA: 1998-2016

  • 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: 1,182 charter schools
  • 2015-16: 1,228 charter schools
  • 2016-17: 1,254 charter schools

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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