State of Charter Authorizing 2015 Report


Last year, there were 1,050 authorizers in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Collectively, authorizers oversaw 6,716 charter schools serving more than 2.6 million students.

School districts, also called Local Education Agencies (LEAs), make up the largest group of authorizers in the country. In 2014-15, there were 950 school district authorizers in the country, followed by 45 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), 18 State Education Agencies (SEAs), 17 Not-For-Profit organizations (NFPs), 17 Independent Charter Boards (ICBs), and three (3) Non-Educational Government entities (NEGs), such as a mayor or municipality. Learn more about the different types of authorizers.

Authorizers also vary tremendously in the number of schools they oversee. More than one-half (52%) of all authorizers oversee a single charter school. More than four out of five (85%) authorizers oversee five schools or fewer. By contrast, the largest authorizer in the country, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), oversees 644 charter schools.


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A full list of data available for authorizers, researchers and the media is available here.







State-level data about charter authorizing is now available for states with more than one authorizer, meeting an adequate survey sample size.


Since 2008, NACSA has annually surveyed our nation’s authorizers. Along the way, we have learned about current practices, challenges, strengths, and shortcomings in authorizing. Survey findings provide an annual measuring stick for those in the field of authorizing, and they help education decision makers, foundations, legislators, and researchers inform their understanding of the field of charter school authorizing.

Findings from 2014-15 illustrate an increase in the number of authorizers using at least 90 percent of NACSA’s recommended 12 Essential Practices. But with fewer than 90 percent of authorizers stating that they use a mission for quality authorizing, written annual reports, and an expert panel to review applications, there is still work to be done.

The 2015 survey asked authorizers to complete 107 questions on a range of topics related to charter school authorizing, including application practices, renewal decision making, as well as discipline and special education. The 2015 sample includes authorizers from every state with charter schools, and they collectively oversee 4,686 charter schools or 70 percent of all charter schools across the country.

NACSA collects data from authorizers of all portfolio sizes, but reports on large authorizers: those authorizers that oversee 10 or more schools. In 2014-15, there were 107 large authorizers across the country. While they make up approximately just 10 percent of all authorizers, they account for oversight of 65 percent of all charter schools. Nine of these large authorizers oversaw more than 100 charter schools each.


Older Reports (2008 – 2014) Individual Survey Responses