New Report Shows Trends in Charter School Authorizing

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The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) released its annual State of Charter Authorizing (SOCA) report. This year’s release features an interactive website with historical data about authorizing trends, such as charter school approval and closure rates, authorizer growth rates and portfolios, and the makeup of authorizer staffing.

The SOCA report is based on survey data, which found that the number of authorizers has grown over the past five years, especially for local school district authorizers. In fact, local districts make up 90 percent of the 1,050 authorizers in the nation. District authorizers also make up about 50 percent of the nation’s largest authorizers. While the overall growth rate for authorizers has been 10 percent over the past five years, the charter school growth rate was nearly three times (27 percent) as much.


Source: NACSA

There is great variation in the number of schools authorizers oversee. More than half (52 percent) of all authorizers oversee just one charter school. More than three-quarters of authorizers (85 percent) oversee five or fewer schools. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the largest authorizer in the country, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), oversees 644 charter schools.

An important role of authorizers is not only to guide the approval of charter schools, but also their closure when needed. The SOCA survey data point to an increase in the number of charter school closures. While the rate of charter school closures has remained steady (about 3.8 percent for the past four years), the total number of charter schools has grown. The National Alliance also found a similar trend of a higher number of charter school closures in our report released last month. According to our historical data, since the first charter school opened in 1992, more than 8,700 charter schools have opened and nearly 2,000 have closed.

Check out the State of Charter Authorizing website to learn more about charter school authorizer trends, including state-by-state analysis.