Oakland charter school enrollment trends

With the 2023-24 school year starting this month, Great School Voices connected with Lisa Gibes de Gac, Executive Director of Oakland Enrolls to ask about trends in applications to Oakland charter schools. (photo courtesy of Oakland Enrolls)

  1. Are you seeing an enrollment drop similar to last year (covered in this oaklandside article) or has that trend reversed at all?

At this point in the year, we’re seeing a 12% increase in families applying compared to this time last year. We are optimistic that this will result in increased enrollment for the upcoming school year. However, the fact remains that post-pandemic enrollment continues to be a challenge for schools across the state and country

  1. Are there any particular schools or grade levels where you are seeing a sharp increase or decrease in applications?

At Oakland Enrolls, we have historically focused on trends related to “transition grades” (TK/K, 6th, and 9th), the natural points at which a student needs to apply to a new school. To this end, for the upcoming school year, we are seeing significant increases in applications to TK & K (11% and 16%, respectively), a 5% increase in 6th grade applications, while there has been a drop in 9th grade applicants (19%). 

Interestingly, over the last several years, we have seen an increasing number of families applying to schools outside of these “transition grades”. For non-transition grades (1st-5th, 7th-8th, 10th-12th) for the upcoming school year, there has been a 14% overall increase in the number of families applying. Drilling down, there were particularly large spikes in 3rd (+32%) and 11th (+33%) grades. This trend tells us that families are increasingly leaving schools to seek better options for their children. It’s also possible that we’re still seeing families coming back to the school system after choosing other options during the pandemic (redshirting their Kindergarteners, homeschooling, virtual schooling, etc.).

We also keep a close eye on how particular demographics and regions within Oakland are applying to charter schools. We have found that our Ethnicity application data has held mostly steady over the last 5 years, with a 5% decrease in the number of Hispanic/Latino applicants and a slight (2%) increase in the number of White applicants. Black/AA applicants have been consistently around 17% of total applicants over the last five years. 

  1. Are there schools with long waitlists? Are there good schools with open seats?

There are several schools with lengthy waitlists, but our goal at this point in the summer is to help families find a great school where they might be able to get a spot. We do that through our Family Support Center, where families can call, text, or email our team to get multilingual, year-round support in their search and application submission to Oakland charter schools. 

We also provide an excellent tool, the Oakland Enrolls Open Seats tool, which Great School Voices has shared. With this tool, families are able to see a list of all Oakland charter schools and which ones still have open seats. Families can also filter the list by school name or grade, and can click on a school’s name to see its profile and learn more about it. 

We recommend that if a school a family wants their child to attend does not currently have seats in the child’s grade, they should still apply! Families will go on the school’s waitlist and the school will contact them if a seat becomes available. If a family is still looking for a school for the upcoming school year (which starts in early August!), we highly recommend applying today at OaklandEnrolls.org. You can also call/text our team at 510-454-9360 with any questions or if you need support submitting an application. The application is free, online, and only takes a few minutes.

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