Data In Depth: The Charter School Authorizer Landscape

The number of charter school authorizers slightly decreased this year. Charter school growth continues to outpace authorizer growth by nearly three to one. There are now 6.7 schools per authorizer.

NUMBER OF CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZERS OVER TIME

*Note: The decrease this year is due to a change in Arizona policy, the refinement of counting techniques in Georgia, and several Minnesota authorizers discontinuing their authorizing work.

AUTHORIZER GROWTH COMPARED TO CHARTER SCHOOL GROWTH

NUMBER OF CHARTER SCHOOLS PER AUTHORIZER

The number of very large charter school authorizers (100+ schools) has doubled since 2010-11.

NUMBER OF CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZERS BY PORTFOLIO SIZE

Number of Schools in Portfolio2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-152015-16% Change
0-1 school 540 542 520 554 546 524 -3%
2 schools 158 156 162 173 175 167 6%
3-5 schools 122 121 152 166 172 168 38%
6-9 schools 52 49 50 50 50 48 -8%
10-50 schools 66 72 77 82 84 84 27%
51-99 schools 12 11 11 13 14 14 17%
100 or more 5 6 7 8 9 10 100%


Most charter schools are overseen by either very large or very small authorizers.

TOTAL NUMBER OF SCHOOLS OVERSEEN BY AUTHORIZERS OF VARIOUS PORTFOLIO SIZES

Changing the number of authorizers in a state has no relationship with charter school growth.

AUTHORIZERS IN STATES WITH MORE THAN 200 CHARTER SCHOOLS (CA Removed)

AUTHORIZERS IN STATES WITH FEWER THAN 200 CHARTER SCHOOLS (MN Removed)


*Note: This analysis does not include the outliers of California and Minnesota.

A decline in authorizers doesn’t necessarily mean a decline in the number of charter schools.

For example, states such as Arizona and Georgia lost authorizers but saw an increase in the number of charter schools in their states.

NET CHANGE IN AUTHORIZERS & CHARTER SCHOOLS (2011-2016)

The number of Independent Chartering Board (ICB) authorizers has more than doubled, while the number of university (HEI) and nonprofit authorizers has slightly decreased.

NUMBER OF CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZERS BY TYPE

Authorizer Type2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-152015-16% Change
Higher Education Institution (HEI) 49 46 43 47 45 47 -4%
Independent Chartering Board (ICB) 8 10 14 15 17 18 125%
School District (LEA) 857 859 882 944 950 909 6%
Non-Educational Government Entity (NEG) 2 2 3 3 3 3 50%
Nonprofit Organization (NFP) 20 20 19 19 17 18 -10%
State Education Agency (SEA) 19 20 18 18 18 20 5%
Total 955 957 979 1046 1050 1015 6%


The national composition of charter school authorizers hasn’t changed: school districts (LEAs) continue to make up the vast majority of authorizers.

PERCENT OF CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZERS BY TYPE

Authorizer Type2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-152015-16
Higher Education Institution (HEI) 5% 5% 4% 4% 4% 5%
Independent Chartering Board (ICB) 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 2%
School District (LEA) 90% 90% 90% 90% 90% 90%
Non-Educational Government Entity (NEG) 0.2% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3%
Nonprofit Organization (NFP) 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2%
State Education Agency (SEA) 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%