NYC charter schools continue strong enrollment, data finds

Charter school teacher helps students
Data shows strong enrollment at the city’s many charter schools.
Photo via Getty Images

New York City charter schools are experiencing a surge in enrollment, according to recently released data from the 2023-24 New York State Education Department (NYSED).

The figures reveal that charter school enrollment in the city has grown by 4.1% over the past academic year, surpassing the district’s growth rate of 0.7%. With over 146,000 students now enrolled, charter schools represent more than 15% of all K-12 public school students across the five boroughs.

Charter school kindergarten enrollment has seen a particularly notable increase, rising by 5.4% between the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years, compared to the district’s gain of 2.3% during the same period.

James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter Center, a nonprofit that works to boost charter schools across the city, attributed this growth to the track record of success demonstrated by these institutions of learning.

“New York City families — new and returning — are choosing charter schools for their children because they see the results,” Merriman stated. “Charter schools’ enrollment gains are a testament to the incredible teachers, staff, and school leaders who work every day to close proficiency gaps and partner with families to find the best, unique educational path for their children. Families know they can trust New York City charter schools to help their kids succeed.”

The enrollment data also reflects the diverse composition of charter school students. 

Hispanic student enrollment in NYC charter schools increased by 7.0% between the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years, outpacing the district’s growth rate of 2.7%. 

Additionally, more than one out of every three Black kindergarten students, or 36.8%, now attends a New York City charter school.

English language learners comprise 10.1% of all charter school students, while students with disabilities make up nearly 19%, figures comparable to the district’s average.

The surge in enrollment comes amidst “Charter School Open House Month,” a program initiated by the New York City Charter School center to provide families with opportunities to learn more about charter school options. Across the city, hundreds of local charter schools are hosting information sessions, campus tours, and other events, both virtually and in-person.

Families interested in exploring charter school options are encouraged to visit the Charter Center’s Online Charter School Open House Calendar, where they can find details about upcoming events organized by borough and school type. The calendar serves as a convenient tool for families to navigate the plethora of options available to them.

For those considering applying to charter schools, the Common Online Charter School Application offers a streamlined process, allowing applicants to submit a single application to multiple schools simultaneously. Applications for the upcoming academic year are due on April 1.

The strong enrollment rates at New York City charter schools underscore the growing preference among families for high-quality educational alternatives and the continued efforts of charter school educators and leaders to provide students with the resources and support they need to succeed.

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