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Waiting List for Charters 600,000 Students Strong, Group Says

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An estimated 610,000 students are on waiting lists to attend charter schools—a jump of about 200,000 from just two years ago, a national organization says.

The estimate was released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, as it touts the 20th anniversary of the official birth of the charter sector. (Last week, the alliance released information showing the growth in the number of laws affecting charter schools in the states.) The waiting-list number is projection, based on a nationwide survey, which had a 30 percent response rate and was sponsored by NAPCS, said Anna Nicotera, the organization's director of research and evaluation.

Of the charters that responded to the survey, nearly two-thirds of them, 64 percent, reported having at least a few children on waiting lists; the average size of those wait lists was 228. Twelve charters reported having wait lists of 2,000 students or more. Schools that had been open for at least six years had larger average wait lists—239 students—compared with newer charters, which tend to have fewer, the survey by the advocacy group revealed.

The backup to get into charters comes despite those schools adding more space for students. Since the 2008-09 academic year, charters have added 650,000 seats—which includes more than 300,000 additional students through new schools, and 350,000 who are being served through the expansion of existing ones. Charters enroll about 2 million students nationwide, according to the NAPCS.

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