Advancing quality educational opportunities for all North Carolina children by supporting and expanding successful public charter schools!

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We’re celebrating 25 years of charter schools in NC!

All this year, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of charter schools in NC. In 1997, 34 charter schools opened in North Carolina. Nineteen of them remain a steadfast beacon in the NC charter school ecosystem. They are a testament to the fortitude it takes to meet the fidelity standards established by the NC SBE, CSAB, and OCS. We would like to thank these schools for their commitment to providing students a choice!


The Academy of Moore County Arapahoe Charter School Carter G. Woodson School
Chatham Charter Children’s Village Academy CIS Academy
Eno River Academy The Exploris School Francine Delany New School
Healthy Start Academy The Learning Center Magellan Charter
Maureen Joy Charter School Quality Education Academy Rocky Mount Preparatory
Sallie B Howard School Sterling Montessori Academy
Summit Charter

Did you know? 25 facts about NC charter schools for 25 years

  • Public charter schools were created in 1996 by the General Assembly’s Charter School Act to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently of existing schools.

  • Public charter schools in North Carolina were created to achieve 6 goals: Improve student learning, increase  learning opportunities for all students, encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods,  create new professional opportunities for teachers, provide parents and students with expanded educational  choices, and hold schools accountable for meeting measurable student achievement results.

NC public charter school students make up 8.4% of the state’s public school student body.

students enrolled in NC’s public charter schools
students are on waitlists to enroll in NC’s public charter schools.
students have attended NC public charter schools since their inception 25 years ago
NC public charter schools
  • Forty-two public schools in North Carolina have received grants to better serve educationally disadvantaged students through the federally funded North Carolina Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success (NC ACCESS) Program.
  • The NC ACCESS Program will train and support 160 public charter school leaders from across the state  who have demonstrated best practices for serving educationally disadvantaged students, including through  the Educational Equity Aspiring Minority Leaders Program. 


During the COVID-19 pandemic 98% of North Carolina’s public charter schools distributed devices for remote learning and 77% provided internet access/assistance.

North Carolina public charter schools receive about 70 cents of every dollar that district-run public schools receive.
In 2020-2021 88% of NC’s public charter schools provided transportation for their students through buses or coordinated carpools.
85% of North Carolina’s public charter schools provide lunch to their students through the National School Lunch Program or reduced price lunch programs.

North Carolina’s public charter schools regularly rank among the state’s best, including 2 of the top 5 in 2020 according to US News and World Report.

The approval process for prospective North Carolina public charter schools is rigorous to ensure quality and adherence to statewide standards — only 25% of applications are approved by the State Board of Education each year.

of NC’s 100 counties have at least 1 public charter school

North Carolina has 2 virtual public charter schools based in Durham County which serve students from all across the state.

  • By law, North Carolina’s public charter schools may not discriminate in their admissions process on the  basis of race, creed, national origin, religion, or ancestry.

  • Weighted lotteries are tools which help schools increase and support enrollment of students from underserved communities and are currently being used by nearly a quarter of North Carolina’s public charter schools.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted North Carolina student learning, but for public charter schools 9% of students were found to be at-risk for academic failure compared to 23% of traditional district students.
  • Unlike traditional public schools, North Carolina public charter schools are not bound to serve only the students residing within a particular county or district — in fact, many serve students from multiple districts

  • North Carolina’s public charter schools have positive potential impacts on local traditional public school  districts, such as relieving overcrowding and reducing the financial strain on districts of building new facilities  — potentially saving districts over $1 billion dollars in capital improvements.  

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, partnership was the key to educational success — demonstrated by the fact that 61% of North Carolina’s public charters collaborated with other charter schools and/or district  schools to serve students.

  • Public charter schools in North Carolina are innovating in areas including scheduling, collaboration, programming, and curricula and these best practices are being shared with their traditional public school counterparts.
  • More than one third of North Carolina public charter schools have introduced innovative discipline or restorative justice components that directly led to a decrease in suspensions

Download a pdf version of these facts to share.