National report: NC’s charter growth is third-highest in the nation

By December 12, 2023 News

A new report out today from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reveals North Carolina has experienced the third-highest charter growth of any state in the nation since 2019. The report, “Believing in Public Education,” includes four years of data (2019-2023) for 42 states, analyzing enrollment shifts fueled by the pandemic. Texas, Florida, and North Carolina lead the nation in charter growth, according to the Alliance report.

Nationally, charter schools have continued to grow since the pandemic. District schools, however, have not recovered from a dramatic enrollment downturn early on in the pandemic. Since 2019, 1.5 million students have left district public schools, while over 300,000 additional students have enrolled in the nation’s public charter schools. This represents a 9% enrollment increase for charter schools and a “net loss of 3.5%” for district public schools, according to the report.

North Carolina findings

  • North Carolina has experienced an 18.81% charter enrollment increase since 2019. Between 2019 and 2023, 22,308 additional students enrolled in N.C. public charter schools. District school enrollment, on the other hand, decreased by 2.89%, according to the Alliance report.
  • Black and Hispanic students are driving the state’s uptick in charter enrollment. They accounted for a larger share of North Carolina’s charter school enrollment increase, with 20.45% and 36.89% growth, respectively.

National findings

  • Hispanic students are driving charter growth across the country. They account for 50% of all new charter students nationwide since 2019.
  • Charter enrollment increases represent a national trend. Of the 42 states included in the Alliance analysis, 40 have experienced charter school growth since 2019.
  • Last year, charter schools added students at exponentially higher rates than district schools. The study reports nationwide that “charter schools enrolled nearly ten times the number of new students as district schools in the last school year.”

In a press release, Lindalyn Kakadelis, the executive director of the Coalition, said:

North Carolina has embraced the idea that parents deserve a choice in their children’s schooling, and parents are responding. Importantly, the state’s charter movement also continues to diversify as it grows, as this report makes clear. Public charter schools offer something different, from innovative curricula to concentrations in STEM, the arts, and more – representing an appealing option for families across demographic groups.

This table from the Alliance report captures enrollment shifts across the country between 2019-2023.

Source: “Believing in Public Education: A Demographic and State-level Analysis of Public Charter School and District Public School Enrollment Trends,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, December 12, 2023.

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