Annual Public Charter Schools Report shows continued demand

Image via National School Choice Week

RALEIGH — During its May meeting, the State Board of Education was presented with the 2022 annual Public Charter Schools report, which showed continued demand for such schools following the pandemic. 

The data presented in the report shows similar demand trends, waitlists and enrollment increases as the report issued in 2021. 

A presentation to the board was given by Dr. Michael Maher, deputy superintendent of Standards Accountability and Research; Dr. Andrew Smith, assistant state superintendent, Division of Standards, Accountability and Research; Ashley Baquero, director of the Office of Charter Schools; and Cheryl Turner, chair of Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB). 

As of Dec. 1, 2022, there are more than 137,500 North Carolina students enrolled in public charter schools.  

Demand for public charter schools has continued as evidenced by charter school self-reported data that showed 85% of the schools had a waitlist totaling more than 77,000 students and that “demand continued into 2022 with charter enrollment representing over 9% of total PSU enrollment.” 

Between 2019 and 2022, charter schools saw a 19% increase in enrollment, which the report notes is the nation’s fifth-highest rate of charter enrollment growth. 

According to the report, the percentage of black students at charter schools is 26.24% versus 24.61% in district schools. The percentage for two or more races, as well as white students, was also higher at charter schools. 

In 2022, there were six new operating schools with eight scheduled to open in fall 2023 and 21 charter applications were received. 

In terms of charter terminations and closures, there are four categories: relinquishment, assumption, nonrenewal or revocation.  

Since 1998, a total of 87 charter schools fell under the termination category, including schools that were in operation and those that may have been in the planning year program prior to opening the school. 

At the end of the 2021-22 school year, there were two revocations, one relinquishment and one nonrenewal. 

The report shows 53 of 195 (27.2%) charter schools received a School Performance Grade of an A or B. That number does not include three schools that did not have tested grades in 2021-22 and four schools participating in the Alternative Schools’ Accountability Model. 

In terms of growth, 122 of 195 (62.6%) charter schools met or exceeded expected growth for 2021-22. 

Charter schools across the country are authorized for operation through multiple groups that can include a noneducational government entity, nonprofit organization, state education agency, higher education institution, independent chartering board or local education agency. 

As of 2020, North Carolina is one of 22 State Education Agency authorizers and the report states that “North Carolina’s school-to-authorizer ratio is more than double the national average of 76.” 

The report also showed 96% of public charter schools, 194 out of 202, were meeting financial and operational goals.