National Charter School Waitlist Numbers Approach One Million

New Survey Finds Demand for High-Quality Public School Options Reaches an All-Time High

Jun 27, 2013, 08:30 ET from National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) today released the results of a new survey estimating that public charter school waitlists across the nation approached one million names during the 2012-13 school year, up from 610,000 in 2011-12. The increased demand to attend a charter school now brings the waitlist figures to an estimated 920,007 nationally.


"With public charter school waitlists approaching one million names, it's heartbreaking for too many families hoping to send their child to a high-quality public charter school," said Nina Rees, NAPCS president and CEO. "Although the number of public charter schools is increasing rapidly – this year an additional 275,000 students enrolled in charter schools – this survey demonstrates that parental demand continues to outpace what is an already increasing supply."

The survey also found that more than two-thirds of public charter schools – 67 percent – across the nation reported having children on their waitlist, with an average waiting list of 214 students. And, the survey found that more mature charter schools had longer waiting lists. Schools open for six or more years have an average waiting list of 238 students, while younger charter schools averaged 178 students. A record 29 charter schools reported waitlists of 2,000 students or more for the 2012-13 school year. 

Each school year, families who are faced with traditional public schools unable to meet their needs seek better options for their children by applying to public charter schools. Particularly in urban communities that have few, if any, high-quality public school options, the demand for charters can be significantly higher than there are seats available. As a result, families often apply to multiple charter schools hoping to increase their odds.

This year's survey also includes an estimated calculation of the number of individual students on waitlists. This estimate shows that at a minimum, more than 520,000 total individual students – many of whom are on multiple charter school waitlists in the hopes of increasing the chance of getting into at least one – are on waitlists across the country.

"Even the most conservative estimate shows that parents of more than a half million students are attempting to vote with their feet to choose a public charter school that better meets their child's needs," added Rees. "With such demand, it is up to our elected officials to remove the facilities and funding barriers that exist to ensure that every child has the option to attend a high-quality public charter school."

Conducted since the 2009-10 school year, the NAPCS survey defines a waiting list as the number of applications minus the number of available seats. This survey is based on charter school waitlist data compiled from multiple data sources, including several state departments of education and state charter schools associations.

About the National Alliance
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at

SOURCE National Alliance for Public Charter Schools