About Charters

The Arizona Charter Schools Association is a nonprofit membership and professional organization that advocates and strengthens the autonomy, equity, and quality of Arizona’s diverse public charter schools. Founded in 1995, the Association is dedicated to supporting Arizona’s thriving public charter school sector. Since its inception, the Association has served as an innovative leader in transforming public education for Arizona’s 1.1 million students. Driven by the belief that all Arizona students should have access to a high quality public school, the Association is focused on creating and sharing innovative programs designed to support leaders and teachers as they work to improve student achievement. Find out more about our impact here.​

Understanding Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools that are innovative while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. Charter schools are funded by the state and free to all Arizona students. They vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students.


The AzMERIT results show public charter school students scored better than the state average in nearly every grade level and subject area for the fourth straight year. The AzMERIT scores, released by the Arizona Department of Education, show Arizona’s public charter students, teachers and leaders continue their progress on Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards. You can examine the results here.

NAEP results show significant gains over the last eight years, with public charter students outperforming their district and private school peers in every grade level and on every subject tested. This trend is most evident in the scores for eighth-grade reading and math. When separated and measured as if they were their own state, Arizona charter students rank first in the nation in eighth-grade math, and second for eighth-grade reading. Read more here.

In the 2016-17 school year, a record 185,900 students attended 556 Arizona charter schools, an increase of over 10,000 students – or 5.9 percent – over the 2015-16 school year. That’s about 17 percent of Arizona’s public school students and 30 percent of public schools. By comparison, year-over-year enrollment in Arizona district schools declined. Find out more here.

Although public charter students scored higher than the state average in virtually every grade level and subject area on the state’s AzMERIT test for the fourth straight year, Arizona’s charter performance is usually met with the skepticism of those who believe charters don’t cater to all students, notably minority and underserved youth. It’s time to retire that stereotype. Click here to learn more.


The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools was created through legislation in 1994 to grant charter status to qualifying applicants and to oversee public charter schools. Charter schools are public, state-funded schools that operate under a charter contract with a charter school sponsor or authorizer.

The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools oversees more than 500 public charter schools throughout the state making it the largest authorizer in Arizona. Below are some facts about public charter school oversight.

Public Charter Schools…