New Report Examines Slow in Charter School Growth

A new report released today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) analyzes an unexpected finding from a recent charter school growth report: the rate of charter school growth is at a four-year low.

NACSA’s report, Inside Charter School Growth: A Look at Openings, Closings, and Why Authorizers Matter, examines how authorizers are impacting charter school growth and enrollment as charter school growth is slowing nationally.

“Charter authorizers are the key decision makers about which schools get to open and which schools aren’t serving students or taxpayers well enough to remain open,” says Greg Richmond, NACSA president and CEO. “When charter growth starts slowing, it’s important to understand how authorizers’ decisions are contributing—or not contributing—to the numbers.”

Using recently-released data from NACSA’s State of Charter Authorizing annual analysis, the report concludes:

  • Charter school openings have slowed dramatically with a 48% decrease in the number of charter applications since 2012.
  • Charter applications continue to be approved at a steady rate of about 35% over the last five years.
  • The number of authorizers in a state has no relationship to charter school growth.

“As the sector continues to think through why growth is slowing, our findings suggest figuring out what’s driving the decline in charter applications will be a central part of the answer,” said M. Karega Rausch, NACSA vice president of research and evaluation for NACSA. “That’s why we think it’s important to dig deeper into the data and find out why fewer applications are being proposed and what’s helping—or hindering—strong applications.”

As a result of these findings, NACSA announced a two-year research initiative to help uncover what is driving a slowdown in charter school growth. The first-ever analysis on the charter school pipeline will examine applications, both those approved and rejected, as well as authorizer, city, state, and national factors that may influence application and approval rates.

ABOUT NACSA

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is an independent voice for effective charter school policy and thoughtful charter authorizing practices that lead to more great public schools. Our research, policy, and consultation work advances excellence and accountability in the charter school sector. With authorizers and other partners, we have built the gold standard for charter school authorizing. Through smart charter school growth, these authorizers will give hundreds of thousands of children an opportunity for a better education each year. More at www.qualitycharters.org.

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