United States Charter Schools

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Enrollment Statistics - Charter Schools: K-6th Grade

In 2018, the total number of sixth-graders studying in charter schools is calculated to be about 263,560 students or 8.32% of all students studying across 7038 charter schools in the US. The percent of students studying in sixth-grade across half of the charter elementary schools is in the range of 6.49% to 10.14%. The top-4 states with the highest number of charter schools in the US account for nearly 46.40% or 3,266 charter schools.

US CHARTER SCHOOLS OVERVIEW

  • In the US, nearly 7,038 charter schools enrolled more than 3,167,800 million students in 2017-18. Further, the percentage of sixth-graders among all charter school students was calculated to be 8.32% or 263,560 students.
  • According to NCES, the number of charter schools enrolling sixth-graders in the US include 3,934 elementary schools and 1,454 combined schools (elementary/secondary).
  • The total enrollment in elementary charter schools stood at 1.5 million students while for combined schools (elementary/secondary) it was 1 million students.
  • In 2017, the total number of students enrolled in elementary schools (up to grade 8th) across the US stood at 35.47 million; whereas the total number of students enrolled in sixth-grade stood at 3.88 million or about 10.93% of all elementary enrollments and 7.64% of all public school enrollments in 2017-18.
  • According to a recent data set by NCES, the charter school enrollment as a percent of total public schools' enrollment in 2017 stood at 6%; whereas, the total number of charter schools as a percent of public schools was found to be 7.1%.
  • It is found that the top-four states account for nearly 46.40% (3,266 schools) of all charter schools in the US. The top-four states include California (1,275 schools), Texas (774 schools) Florida (661 schools), Arizona (556 schools). Additionally, it is noted that in the District of Columbia, the charter schools account for nearly 49.3% of all public schools and 43.7% of all student enrollments in 2017.

CALIFORNIA

  • In California, about 6,186,278 students are enrolled in PK-12 public schools, of which nearly 652,933 students (10.55%) are enrolled in PK-12 charter schools.
  • In 2019, the total number of sixth-grade students enrolled in charter schools were found to be about 52,503 students (8.04%).
  • Number and growth of sixth-grade students over the previous year were found to be 51,782 students with an increase of 1.39%.

TEXAS

  • In Texas, about 5,399,682 students are enrolled in PK-12 public schools, of which nearly 296,323 students (5.48%) are enrolled in PK-12 charter schools.
  • In 2018, the total number of sixth-grade students enrolled in charter schools stood at 26,496 students (8.94%).
  • Number and growth of sixth-grade students over the previous year were found to be 24,663 students with an increase of 7.43%.

FLORIDA

  • In Florida, about 2,846,857 students are enrolled in PK-12 public schools, of which nearly 313,586 students (21.03%) are enrolled in PK-12 charter schools.
  • In 2019, the total number of sixth-grade students enrolled in charter schools stood at 31,819 students (10.14%).
  • Number and growth of sixth-grade students over the previous year were found to be 29,608 students with an increase of 7.47%.

ARIZONA

  • In Arizona, about 901,383 students are enrolled in PK-12 public schools, of which nearly 190,116 students (21.03%) are enrolled in PK-12 charter schools.
  • In 2019, the total number of sixth-grade students enrolled in charter schools stood at 15,496 students (8.15%).
  • Number and growth of sixth-grade students over the previous year were found to be 14,895 students with an increase of 4.03%.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

  • In the District of Columbia, about 92,994 students are enrolled in PK-12 public schools, of which nearly 43,911 students (47.24%) are enrolled in PK-12 charter schools.
  • In 2019, the total number of sixth-grade students enrolled in charter schools stood at 2,850 students (6.49%).
  • Number and growth of sixth-grade students over the previous year were found to be 2,799 students with an increase of 1.82%.


RESEARCH STRATEGY

We started this project by searching for precompiled reports or data sets that can help us identify the number of sixth-graders enrolled in charter schools across the US. We combed through reports from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools to understand the contribution of charter schools in the US. The reports enabled us to identify the total number of charter schools in the US, followed by the total number of students enrolled in the PK-12 charter schools in the US. Alternatively, no details about the grade-wise breakdown of student enrollments were found for charter schools in the US.

In our research, we found that top-four states with the highest number of charter schools contributed nearly 46.40% of all charter schools in the US. Additionally, we found that charter schools in the District of Columbia accounted for almost 44% of all school enrollments in the region. Next, we tried to identify details about grade-wise enrollments for charter schools across the five states, i.e., California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and the District of Columbia. This enabled us to get a clear understanding of the number of sixth-graders studying in charted schools across the US.

Next, we researched through the official sites of each state's education department to identify the number of enrollments for sixth-grade in charter schools. We were able to collate the data for each of the five states and derived the percentage of sixth-graders among all charter school enrollments for the year 2018. It was found that the range of enrollment for sixth-graders stood between 6.49% to 10.14%.

Alternatively, the NCES data reported that about 7.64% of all public school enrollments and nearly 10.79% of all elementary school enrollments were for sixth-grade in 2018. Hence, we used the above percentage as a proxy to ascertain the number of sixth-graders enrolling in charter schools across the US. Finally, using the above findings, we were able to calculate the total number of sixth-graders enrolled in the charter schools to be as follows.

CALCULATIONS

1) We first calculated the total number of sixth-graders enrolling across charter schools in five states across the US. We considered triangulating the total percent of sixth-graders enrolling in charter schools are as follows:
  • California — 8.04%
  • Texas — 8.94%
  • Florida — 10.14%
  • Arizona — 8.15%
  • District of Columbia — 6.49%
  • Therefore, the mean percentage value of sixth-graders enrolling across 46.40% of charter schools in the US was found to be = (8.04% + 8.94% + 10.14% + 8.15% + 6.49%) / 5 = 8.32%.

2) To confirm our findings, we cross-referenced with the total number of sixth-grade enrollments in public schools across the US.
  • Total percent of sixth-graders in public schools = Total number of sixth-grader (3.88 million) x 100 / Total number of public school students (50.72 million) = 7.64%.
The above calculations helped us identify that the difference between the number of sixth-grade enrollments in charter schools for leading five states in the US and the total number of sixth-grade enrollments in public schools across the US was just about 0.68%, i.e., 8.32% vs. 7.64%.

Thereby, we used 8.32% to calculate the total number of sixth-graders enrolling in charter schools across the US. Hence, the total number of sixth-graders enrolling in charter schools was found to be 3,167,800 (total number of students in charter schools) x 8.32% (percent of students enrolling in sixth-grade) = 263,560 students.


Part
02
of three
Part
02

Charter Schools in the United States - Perceptions and Awareness

Perceptions and awareness of charter schools in the United States include the fact that 70% of individuals like the idea of charter schools despite most of them lacking an understanding of how they actually operate.


Awareness of charter schools and how they operate

  • Nearly half (48%) think that charter schools are at liberty to teach religion.
  • More than half (57%) believe that charter schools are permitted to charge tuition.
  • Meanwhile, 68% believe that charter schools can select the pupils they want, based on their ability.
  • Merely 50% are actually aware that charter schools serve as public schools and operate as such.

Whether they would enroll their child

  • At least 43% of parents interviewed in a Schooling In America survey expressed satisfaction with charter schools as opposed to only 26% of those at district learning institutions.
  • The share of minority pupils enrolled at charter institutions is higher compared to traditional public schools (TPSs), while the share of white learners is lower.

Whether people view them favorably or not

  • More than two-thirds (70%) of respondents to a Gallup poll preferred the concept of charter institutions, which was significantly higher than those with a favorable perception in the last survey (2002).
  • Education Next, which gathers public opinions about education issues, conducted a survey and according to the results of the survey, 39% of people want to see more charter schools. [Source 7]
  • Parents admire public charter institutions. Moreover, parents wish that more students could have access these schools as six in ten, or 61%, of people in the United States support the institutions.
  • Approximately 62% of parents in the United States would give their local charter schools a grade of A or B, which is about 10% higher than the ratings they would provide for local district establishments.

Additional data around American's awareness of and opinions toward charter schools

  • According to a 2015 report, "enrollments are more heavily concentrated in urban areas relative to TPSs enrollment share, with much lower concentrations in suburban and rural areas."
  • On average, charter institutions are smaller compared to TPSs.

Part
03
of three
Part
03

Charter Schools in the United States - Insights and Trends

Trends surrounding charter schools in the United States include a drop in support for charter schools, more Americans generally support charter schools than those who oppose, growth in the number of charter schools, better performance of charter schools compared to traditional public schools, increase in students enrollment and integration of elements of charter schools into traditional public schools. Below is a detailed analysis of these trends.

There has Been a Drop in Support for Charter Schools

More Americans Support the Formation of Charter Schools

The Number of Charter Schools is Growing

  • The number of charters schools has been growing since 2005 when majority of the schools opened.
  • Between 2005 and 2008, charter schools grew at the rate of 8%, 6% between 2008 and 2014 and 3% between 2014 and 2016.
  • Currently there are 7,039 charter schools in the US compared to just over 3,000 in 2005.
  • A total of 44 states have passed charter laws. Charter schools currently account for 6% of the total public school enrollment.
  • According to Forbes, cities across the United States have witnessed a rapid increase in the number of public charter schools over the past 15 years.
  • Harlem Village Academy West is an example of a charter school established recently.

Charter Schools are Performing Better than Traditional Public Schools

Charter student enrollment is growing more rapidly than the number of charter schools

A number of State and District Programs are Integrating Elements of Charter Schools into Traditional public schools

Research Strategy

To select the trends, we selected those that are happening on a wide scale based on available data. We considered those that are backed by research data. For the sources, we mainly considered education websites like Education Next, New York City Charter School Center, and leading news and research sites like Forbes, Fordharm Institute, and Washington Post among others.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "In 2017-18, more than 7,000 charter schools enroll nearly 3.2 million students. Between 2016- 17 and 2017-18, estimated charter school enrollment increased by more than 150,000 students."
  • "The estimated 5 percent growth in charter school enrollment between fall 2016 and fall 2017 demonstrates continued parental demand for innovative and high-quality educational options."
Quotes
  • "Elementary includes schools beginning with grade 6 or below and with no grade higher than 8. "
  • "Combined elementary/secondary includes schools beginning with grade 6 or below and ending with grade 9 or above."
From Part 02
Quotes
  • "About 62 percent of parents surveyed would rate their local charter schools with an A or B grade, 10 percent higher than the rating parents would give to their local district schools. Furthermore, 13 percent of current and former school parents said they would prefer to send their child to a public charter school if it was an option. "
Quotes
  • "Additionally, 43 percent of parents surveyed indicated that they were “very satisfied” with charter schools, compared to just 26 percent of parents at district schools. "
Quotes
  • "Charter schools are much more heavily concentrated in some states than others, and the proportion of charter schools to traditional public schools also varies from state to state and district to district. According to the NAPCS, California has the most charter schools, with 1,224 schools, which may account for the high percentage of charters located in the western region of the country. Texas came in second, with 702 schools"
Quotes
  • " Most people don’t understand about the charter schools and how they operate: To the casual observer, it may not be obvious why charter schools should create any net costs at all for their home districts. To grasp why they do, it is necessary to understand the structural differences between the challenge of operating a single school—or even a local chain of schools—and that of a district-wide system operating tens or hundreds of schools and charged with the legal responsibility to serve all students in the community. "
Quotes
  • "39 percent of people who took the survey wanted to see more charter schools – a roughly 12 point drop from last year."
From Part 03
Quotes
  • "The August release of the latest Education Next poll set the education-reform field ablaze, for it showed a sizable and worrying decline in support for charter schools. We wonks weighed in with our best guesses about what might explain this unexpected trend. "
Quotes
  • "First, the decline: 39% of respondents say they support “the formation of charter schools,” which is down steeply from 51% in 2016, but still a bit higher than the 36% who express opposition this year. (Roughly one in four respondents takes no position on charter schools, perhaps reflecting the fact that many Americans remain unfamiliar with them.) Support has also fallen within the minority community—from 46% to 37% among blacks, and from 44% to 39% among Hispanics."
Quotes
  • "Over the past 15 years, cities across the country have experienced rapid growth in the number of public charter schools serving their students. "
Quotes
  • "In addition, Hispanic kids make up 42.3 percent of the charter school population compared to 32.5 percent in traditional public schools. And traditional public schools have higher percentages of special needs students compared to charter schools. Those kinds of factors can impact test scores."
Quotes
  • "A Jan. 22 story from St. Louis Public Radio reported that a charter school, St. Louis College Prep, had “lost tens of thousands of dollars in state funding amidst an investigation into whether the charter school’s founder over-reported attendance records.”"