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Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program: Year One Evaluation Report

  • Exhibit M-1: Types of Caps Across States

Appendix M


As Exhibit M-1 illustrates, state caps can be grouped into three main categories: no cap at all, statewide caps, and some other form of cap that is not a statewide one.


  • No caps. These states did not have an annual or overall cap at the state, authorizer or school level.
  • Total Statewide Caps. The statewide cap category includes caps on (a) total number/percent of charter schools/charter school students in the state and/or on (b) total number/percent of charter schools/charter school students within a given region/district. These are seen as related since, in many cases, a total statewide cap can be calculated on the basis of regional or district caps.
  • Other Caps. The remaining states have either an annual or overall cap by type of authorizer or type of school. Caps on types of schools were geared primarily toward limiting the number of start-ups, although New Mexico?s cap also includes conversions (five per year) as well.

It is significant that 12 states (32%) had no cap whatsoever. Two of the states with no caps had some restrictions on chartering in the state, though they did not fall into particular forms of caps. The Missouri legislation effectively limits charter schools to the geographic areas of Kansas City and St. Louis. Oklahoma legislation stipulates that certain smaller districts are not eligible to charter.

Sixteen states (42% of our sample) currently report a total statewide cap of some kind. Two-thirds of these states have 50 or fewer charter schools in operation. In some cases, state legislation explicitly outlines a cap on the total number of charter schools based on the district or regional caps. For example, in Illinois, the law outlines a cap of 45 statewide, with 15 in Chicago, 15 in the Chicago suburbs, and 15 in the remaining regions in the state. In other cases, states reported a calculated effective cap based on the regional or district caps (e.g., Florida calculated an effective statewide cap to be 950, based on restrictions on the numbers of charters vis-à-vis the size of the district). Total statewide caps ranged anywhere from 6 to 950 charter schools.

Ten states (26%) had other kinds of caps. Four states reported annual caps: Arizona, the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. Of these, however, at least one is being automatically repealed in 2000 (New Hampshire). Ohio has a cap on the number of charter schools that can be chartered by the State Board of Education (75), though this will be raised to 125 in 2001.

Exhibit M-1


Type Of Cap


No Cap (n = 12)


Total Statewide Cap (n = 16)

Cap on total number of schools or total number of students in state

CA ? 250 + additional 100 per year

HI ? 25

ID ? 60 (12 per year for first 5 years)

KS ? 15

LA ? 42

MA ? 50

NJ ? 135*

RI ? 20 (10 directed at at-risk youth); maximum of 6% of school-age population

UT ? 8

Regional/District cap (implicitly or explicitly creates an effective statewide cap)

AK ? 30 statewide, based on regional caps of 10 in Anchorage, 5 in Fairbanks, 3 in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, 3 in Kenai Peninsula Borough, 2 in City/Borough of Juneau, and 7 in rest of state

FL ? district caps based on student enrollment (effective statewide cap of approx. 950)

IL ? 45 cap statewide, based on regional caps of 15 in Chicago, 15 in Chicago suburbs, 15 in rest of state

MS ? 6 statewide (preference of one in each of 5 congressional districts + one in the delta region)

NV ? caps by size of county (effective cap of 21 statewide)

OR ? total number of students in charter schools shall not be more than 10% of the district enrollment

VA ? 2 per division (as of 7/2000, charter schools shall not exceed 10% of total number of schools or 2, whichever is greater)

Other Caps (n = 10)

Annual cap by type of authorizer or school

AZ ? 25 per year for State Board of Ed; 25 per year for State Charter Schools Board (no cap on districts)

DC ? 20 per year (10 per year for each of the 2 charter school authorizers)

NH ? 10 per year*

NC - 100 per year statewide, 5 per year per district

Cap on type of school

AR ? 12 start-ups total (3 per congressional district)

NM ? 15 start-ups, 5 conversions per year

NY ? 100 start-ups (50 by SUNY Board of Trustees, 50 by other charter school authorizers)

TX ? 120 open-enrollment schools (start-ups) for State Board of Ed (open-enrollment schools with 75% at-risk do not count against cap)


OH ? 75 per State Board of Ed

MI ? 150 for universities; no single university may exceed 50% of 150.

* Repealed automatically in 2000.
Sources: Year 1 state coordinator survey; legislative analyses (Hirsch, 2000); SRI legislative analyses.

Chapter 2 Appendices
Table of Contents
Chapter 4 Appendices