New National Alliance Survey Finds Demand for Quality Charter Options Increased Nearly 200,000 Students in Two Years
Washington, D.C. – The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) today released the results of a new national survey which found that the number of students on a waiting list to attend a public charter school has surpassed 600,000 students. This year marks the largest figure ever recorded of students waiting to attend a charter school – an increase of nearly 200,000 students since 2010.
The new survey results, which found that an estimated 610,000 students were on a public charter school waiting list across the nation as of last fall, topped the previous record set two years ago, when 420,000 students were reported on a waiting list. The NAPCS’ first survey in 2009 found that nearly 365,000 students were placed on a waiting list to attend a charter school. The waiting lists to attend a public charter school grew 67 percent since the 2008-2009 school year, demonstrating an increased demand from families who want more high-quality charter schools. Increased demand far outpaced the movement’s ability to add seats over the past two years.
“Hundreds of thousands of parents are desperate for the type of high-quality public school options that many are finding in charter schools. It’s frustrating for too many parents who simply want a high-quality public school education for their children but are forced to endure the uncertainty of a charter school lottery,” said Ursula Wright, interim CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “We need to remove the barriers that prevent students from attending the public charter schools of their choice, while ensuring that every charter school that enrolls them is of the highest quality.”
According to the survey, nearly two thirds of charter schools (64 percent) across the nation reported having children on their waitlist, with an average waiting list totaling 228 students. The survey also found that more mature charter schools had longer waiting lists. Schools open for six or more years had an average waiting list of 239 students, while younger charter schools averaged 188 students. Twelve charter schools in the nation reported waitlists of 2,000 students or more.
Demand to attend a charter school continues to grow even as new charter schools open and existing schools add students through expansion. Since the 2008-09 school year, charter schools added over 300,000 additional students through the opening of new schools, as well as 350,000 students from existing charter schools that expanded. Despite the total increase of 650,000 new students enrolled in charter schools during this time, the national waiting list total has grown to over 610,000.
The national survey found that inadequate facilities remains a major challenge public charter schools face. More than half (56 percent) of public charter schools responding to the survey reported that their current facility will not have adequate space for enrollment in five years.
These figures are based on a national survey of charter schools conducted in the spring of 2012 by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. National and statewide public charter school data can be found on the NAPCS Public Charter School Dashboard: http://www.publiccharters.org/dashboard.
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are allowed to be more innovative while being held for accountable for improved student achievement. These open-enrollment schools foster a partnership between parents, teachers and students that lead to improved results. Public charter schools enroll five percent of the nation’s public school students, and the movement has seen steady rising growth since its inception twenty years ago. Today, over two million students are enrolled in public charter schools. To celebrate this year’s 20th anniversary of the public charter school movement, NAPCS will host the 2012 National Charter Schools Conference, June 19-22 in Minneapolis, MN, featuring keynote speakers Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Deborah Kenny, founder and CEO of Harlem Village Academies.
About the National Alliance
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.