91,000 Students Waiting to Attend Charter Schools in California

May 5, 2014

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(Sacramento, CA) - Each year during National Charter Schools Week, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) releases annual data on the number of students across the state on waiting lists to attend charter schools. This year, a record 91,000 students are on charter schools waitlists in California. When taking into account the number of students who are on more than one waitlist in California, that number jumps to more than 164,000 students.

"Year after year parents are making their voices heard and they want to send their kids to charter schools," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO, California Charter Schools Association. "And each year the California Charter Schools Association works harder to ensure that no barrier - at the state or local level - prevents us from making good on our promise to provide a high quality public charter school education to all students in California."

"CCSA is always looking for ways to refine our methodology for calculating waitlist data, so that we can in turn get better with our reporting," said Elizabeth Robitaille, Senior Vice President, Academic and Performance Management. "In 2013, we used a methodology that looked at statewide data and reported that in California, 50,000 students remained on charter school waiting lists. This year, we looked at the applications and open seats data on a more nuanced school-by-school level. In taking this school-by-school approach we determined that we underestimated our total numbers last year, and that there were actually 78,000 students on waitlists in 2013."

In California, waitlist data has grown from 78,000 students in 2013 to 91,000 students this year. Over 519,000 students now attend 1,130 charter schools across the state.


"Parental school choice is alive and well in California as the demand for charter schools grows," continued Wallace. "These numbers clearly indicate that many more families would choose the charter public school option if there were sufficient space to serve them."

California charter schools began with the passage of the California Charter Schools Act in 1992 followed by the first school opening in 1993. National Charter Schools Week is an opportunity to recognize the growth of the charter community, the academic successes of charter students, and the strong parental demand for more schools. Nationally, more than 2.5 million students attend nearly 6,500 charter schools, and over 1 million students are on waitlists for charter public schools according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

California Charter Schools By the Numbers:

  • 104: Number of new charter schools opening in 2013-14 school year.
  • 1,130: Total number of charter schools existing in California.
  • California: State continuing to have highest number of charter schools of any state in the country.
  • 10%: Estimated percentage by which charter school student enrollment grew in 2013-14.
  • 49,179: Estimated number of new charter students in 2013-14.
  • 519,000: Estimated number of students attending charters statewide.
  • Los Angeles: Region with highest growth in charter schools.
  • 45: Number of charters opening in Los Angeles region.
  • San Diego: Region with second highest growth in CA.
  • 27: Number of charters opening in San Diego region.
  • 91,000: Estimated number of students currently on charter school waiting lists in CA.

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 1,130 charter public schools and more than 519,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to empower parents and educators to unleash a new era of innovation within public education so that highly autonomous and accountable schools of choice provide quality learning opportunities for all California students. The Mission of CCSA is to enable our members to increase the number of students attending quality charter schools in California as quickly as possible by securing policy wins supportive of charter schools and providing the supports necessary to open and expand quality charter schools. For more information, please visit www.ccsa.org.