Best Charter Schools in San Francisco
August 7, 2023

Help your child excel in school with a more rigorous curriculum by enrolling in one of the best charter schools in San Francisco!

In San Francisco, some, if not most, parents choose a charter school to send their kids for education. Because they are publicly funded, they provide an affordable alternative to private schools. So, just like public schools, they are not allowed to charge tuition, although some charge fees for specific programs and activities. For many families, charter schools in San Francisco are the best option!

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Finding a charter school for your child in San Francisco can be overwhelming. As parents, you always want the best school for your child to meet their unique educational needs. While most charter schools in San Francisco provide students with the benefit of smaller class sizes and diverse populations, the freedom in curriculum design based on your child’s interest is one significant factor in parents choosing a charter school. But which school offers the best choice for your child?

To identify the best school, we reviewed rankings for all charter schools from the 2023 Best Charter Schools in San Francisco list released by school and neighborhood data clearinghouse Niche. The rankings below have been compiled based on several factors:

  • analysis of critical data from the U.S. Department of Education
  • average SAT and ACT scores
  • college enrollment
  • culture and diversity
  • student-teacher ratio
  • parent and student surveys
  • private school ratings collected from millions of Niche users

Charter schools are created by school districts, colleges, nonprofit organizations, or other entities to specialize in specific areas such as math, science, art, music, or technology. Take this as a guide to look into the best charter schools in San Francisco to see which institution you think best fits your child’s learning.

Top 10 San Francisco Charter Schools

Best Charter Schools in San Francisco

1. Yu Ming Charter School

1086 Alcatraz Ave., Oakland, CA 94608
Phone Number: (510) 452-2063

#1 in Best Charter Elementary Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A+
Students: 672 (Grades K-8)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 19:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 88%
Percent Proficient – Math: 90%

Yu Ming Charter School believes all children can succeed and are committed to unleashing the potential of every student. With a data-driven, rigorous approach, they deliver measurable impact on educational outcomes for their students. They meet each student where they are and create a curriculum that develops them in a community as individuals with unique interests, personalities, and learning styles.

Yu Ming encourages personal expression, independent exploration, and academic excellence. They help their students own their learning, define their goals, and design their growth paths. The school’s curriculum is aligned with the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Language Proficiency Guidelines, Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

2. The New School of San Francisco

940 Filbert St., San Francisco, CA 94133
Phone Number: (415) 401-8489

#5 in Best Charter Elementary Schools in California
Overall Grade: A+
Students: 391 (Grades K-7)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 16:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 82%
Percent Proficient – Math: 72%

As one of the best charter schools in San Francisco, learning at New School SF is “hands-on, minds-on.” Their inquiry and student-centered approach embrace each student’s curiosity and encourage learners to construct their own meaning and knowledge through hands-on experiences. The school is diverse by design, with families from all over San Francisco who intentionally practice equity in all they do.

Finally, they take a personalized approach to ensure all students thrive in school and beyond. New School San Francisco believes this approach will foster a deep love of learning while preparing students with the problem-solving and social-emotional skills needed to confidently meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

3. Francophone Charter School of Oakland

9736 Lawlor St., Oakland, CA 94605
Phone Number: (510) 746-0700

#5 in Best Charter Middle Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A
Students: 321 (Grades K-8)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 42%
Percent Proficient – Math: 42%

The Francophone Charter School of Oakland is a French immersion elementary charter school providing a dual-immersion curriculum to a diverse community of students. Their goal is to develop bilingual and bi-literate global citizens who are open-minded and value intellectual curiosity, personal integrity, and creativity. They Prepare students for the 21st century by offering a well-rounded education that also incorporates global themes, arts, and technology.

Francophone’s current plan for the curriculum is to use Balanced Literacy, an approach based on a balance between several different factors. They also use Eureka Math, an inquiry-based math curriculum that is aligned with the Common Core. This curriculum equates mathematical concepts to stories to develop conceptual understanding, encouraging students to use various mental strategies to solve problems and focus on the process instead of the answer.

4. Mission Preparatory

1050 York St., San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone Number: (415) 508-9626

#1 in Niche Standout Elementary Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A
Students: 467 (Grades PK, K-8)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 26:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 56%
Percent Proficient – Math: 40%

The Mission Preparatory School enables students to become self-motivated, competent, and lifelong learners armed with the knowledge, skills, and strength of character needed to succeed in college and become leaders in their communities. An educated person in the 21st century must possess the essential skills and knowledge required to achieve higher education and the workplace and to participate in a global society.

At Mission Prep, 160 minutes of daily literacy instruction and 90 minutes of daily math instruction comprise the core of the academic day for students in grades K-4. In grades 5-8, students receive 90 minutes of literacy instruction and 90 minutes of math instruction daily. This San Francisco charter school focuses intensively on literacy and math instruction throughout grades TK-8.

5. Gateway High School

1430 Scott St., San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone Number: (415) 749-3600

#15 in Best Charter High Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A-
Students: 500 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 57%
Percent Proficient – Math: 37%

At the heart of Gateway’s approach is the belief that all students can learn differently at high levels. Since its founding, Gateway has been committed to providing an empowering and responsive education for students of all backgrounds and learning needs. Their small class sizes, advisory system, curriculum, Learning Center, and Learning Seminar program promote personalized learning for their students.

Students learn at high levels when schools pair high expectations for all students with strategies and resources to support students as agents of their learning. In their model, difference, and diversity become sources of strength. In addition to helping students best achieve their dreams, Gateway’s track record of success has significantly positioned it to impact charter schools in San Francisco.

KIPP San Francisco College Preparatory

6. Downtown Charter Academy

2000 Dennison St., Oakland, CA 94606
Phone Number: (510) 535-1580

#4 in Niche Standout Middle Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A-
Students: 271 (Grades 6-8)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 21:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 69%
Percent Proficient – Math: 65%

At Downtown Charter Academy, they are very committed to the academic success of your child. They are also deeply invested in seeing your child grow into a responsible and caring member of our community. Along those lines, DCA has adopted a new Social/Emotional Learning curriculum for next year called School Connect. This program will touch on issues such as creating a supportive learning community, developing self-awareness and self-management, and solving conflicts.

DCA will also continue using its positive behavior reinforcement system, “BRIC.” This is their way of rewarding students who demonstrate any character traits they have decided are important for the community. Their core values represent the pillars guiding the AMPS organization’s mission, Students First, Be Adaptable, Persevere, Take Responsibility, and Commitment to Distinction.

7. Design Tech High School

275 Oracle Parkway, Redwood Shores, CA, 94065
Phone Number: (650) 231-2701

# 16 in Best Charter High Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A-
Students: 562 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 67%
Percent Proficient – Math: 47%

D.Tech students include dancers, artists, composers, debaters, animal-rights activists, cultural affinity organizers, LGBTQ advocates, singers, songwriters, jazz musicians, athletes, gamers – from eSports to chess and D&D – to debaters, writers, journalists, coders, app designers, and avid robotics competitors. They offer applied practice in a problem-solving method developed at the Stanford Design School and shared through their K-12 Lab program.

Applying to real-world challenges develops self-efficacy, collaborative confidence, and emotional intelligence. Also, their students learn to handle new technology comfortably. Students become accustomed to 3-D printers, laser cutters, and design software as potential tools to express and realize their ideas. Over time, they gain confidence in applying whatever tools are needed to accomplish their academic and design goals.

8. Creative Arts Charter School

1601 Turk St., San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone Number: (415) 749-3509

#16 in Best Charter Elementary Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A-
Students: 435 (Grades K-8)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 47%
Percent Proficient – Math: 47%

Creative Arts Charter School is a highly collaborative, joyful community where every child is known well and appreciated for their unique attributes. They base their teaching methods on constructivist learning theory developed on the premise that students construct their own understanding of the world by generating rules and mental models that help them make sense of experiences. To that end, every school day for every student at CACS involves opportunities to play, invent, and discover.

Creative Arts was founded on the belief that the education of the whole child includes ongoing exploration in dance, drama, music, and visual arts. As part of a universal, cross-cultural language, the arts represent innate aspects of our common humanity, providing an inherent foundation for communication and a bridge for understanding across differences of age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomics, and culture.

9. East Bay Innovation Academy

3400 Malcolm Ave., Oakland, CA 94605
Phone Number: (510) 577-9557

#17 in Best Charter High Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: A-
Students: 563 (Grades 6-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 56%
Percent Proficient – Math: 35%

EBIA is a rigorous college preparatory school where students of all previous preparation levels will succeed. They have a collaborative model that incorporates technology to engage students in scientific, mathematical, literary, historical, and artistic pursuits. While emphasizing inquiry-driven, interdisciplinary, collaborative projects, significant time and resources are invested into programs that develop students’ social-emotional skills and character strengths.

EBIA is rethinking how schools are run and structured so that they better reflect the needs of a 21st-century world. Most schools have not changed their structure, organization, facilities, or instruction in over 50 years. While schools have not changed, our world has, leaving many of our schools, even the “best” ones, behind. EBIA offers a powerful option for Oakland families and educators to build a diverse school that addresses the needs of the 21st century and beyond.

10. KIPP San Francisco College Preparatory

1195 Hudson Ave., San Francisco, CA 94124
Phone Number: (415) 643-6951

#14 in Niche Standout High Schools in San Francisco Bay Area
Overall Grade: B+
Students: 393 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 15:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 47%
Percent Proficient – Math: 27%

San Francisco College Preparatory is the first of KIPP’s high schools to open with blended learning. Together with families and communities, they create joyful, academically excellent schools that prepare students with the skills and confidence to pursue their paths—college, career, and beyond—to lead fulfilling lives and build a more just world. The school begins college counseling for students starting in the 9th grade with a college readiness seminar course.

As a smaller-sized high school, KIPP San Francisco will feel like a cozy learning environment. With fewer than 100 students in your class, you’ll likely get to know most other students and your teachers well. This will give you the feeling of a small liberal arts college. They prepare all students with the academic skills, knowledge, and strength of character to succeed in college and the competitive world.

Thomas Edison Charter Academy

Best Charter Schools in San Francisco

The goal of Charter Schools is to innovate within the public school system, having a unique freedom and flexibility for students in San Francisco, which is not typically present in public school districts. They create their own policies and practices and can customize your child’s curriculum based on their interest. Every child has a specific academic path they want to pursue — and at a charter school in San Francisco, your child can follow that track.

San Francisco offers a wide variety of opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources for kids, or browse through our Places to Go section. Find out the latest happenings through our Events section.

Are you looking for more kid’s school resources around San Francisco? Browse through our schools and activities section, or search for more information about school kids’ topics, tips, and guides, check out our education-related blog posts.

Read Next

A Guide to Charter Schools in Sacramento
20 Best Charter Schools in Santa Clara County
15 Best Charter Schools in San Jose
Our 10 Best Homeschool for Kids in San Jose    

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