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2017 applications to RI charter public schools surpass last year’s record high (May 3, 2017)

2017 applications to RI charter public schools surpass last year’s record high

Schools receive 15,430 applications to fill 1,770 open seats for next school year

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – According to data compiled by the Rhode Island Department of Education (“RIDE”), charter public schools in Rhode Island received a record total of 15,430 applications for the 1,770 open seats that will be available for the 2017-18 school year. This number represents an increase of 5.5% over the previous record of 14,628 set just last year, and translates to approximately nine applications for every available seat.  This is the first time that applications to Rhode Island charter public schools have exceeded 15,000, and represents a 29% increase in applications since spring 2014.

Statewide, charter public schools currently educate approximately 8,000 students, or just over 5% of the state’s public school population. Charter schools are public schools, and when the applications to a charter public school exceed the number of open seats in that school, all of those applications go into a blind lottery held annually on March 1. Applicants who are randomly selected from the lottery pool are offered admission.

“These numbers demonstrate that Rhode Island families are demanding, more than ever before, quality public school choice options,” said Timothy Groves, executive director of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools. “As a state, we must continue working to support great public schools, including traditional, charter, and career and technical public schools. Our students thrive in an education system that embraces and supports different learning needs.”
Rhode Island’s fifteen independent and three district charter schools range in size, but average about 300 students per school. Some charter public schools are open to all public school students from across the state, and others are open to public school students in more narrowly defined geographical regions. Some are K-12, while others are K-5 or high school only.

Rhode Island’s charter schools offer a wide range of options, including a dual-language elementary school (International Charter School), performing arts schools (Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, Beacon Charter High School for the Arts), career and technical options (RI Nurses Institute Middle College, Academy for Career Exploration, New England Laborers/Cranston Public Schools Construction and Career Academy) and a high school designed for pregnant and parenting teens (Sheila “Skip” Nowell Leadership Academy), to name a few.

Families may apply to more than one charter school if they so choose. This year, the 15,430 applications to Rhode Island’s charter public schools were submitted by or on behalf of 8,651 unique students. According to RIDE, applications exceeded openings in every single charter public school in the state. This year’s record demand is consistent with statewide polling last year that revealed 59% of Rhode Islanders favor the expansion of charter public schools.

About the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools

The Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, founded in 2001, exists to expand the role of charter public schools in Rhode Island’s public education system. The League is guided by the directors of the state’s 18 independent and district charter schools, and provides a forum for advocacy, sharing of best practices, and collaboration. As public schools charged with pursuing innovation, charter public schools recognize their statutory responsibility to share best practices with other public schools, districts, and educators in the state. For more information, visit