Best Charter Schools in San Diego
August 11, 2023

Every child deserves a school with top-quality education for future success — and charter schools in San Diego are the best option!

Charter schools in San Diego have grown in popularity as the best school choice among parents looking to provide their kids with high-quality learning opportunities. Every young learner is unique, and charter schools can offer personalized curriculum paths that are also unique for your child’s academic and personal needs. Parents must consider their child’s passion and interest when choosing a school.

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One of the most tedious tasks for parents is finding the best school for their child. It takes a significant decision that requires your time and attention. To help you choose which school perfectly matches your child, we reviewed rankings for all charter schools from the 2023 Best Charter Schools in San Diego 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 provide parents and students with many options to set a strong foundation for a child’s future success. From smaller class sizes, and cultural diversity, to customized curriculums, they have programs and activities geared toward all types of learners. Despite the many school choices available in San Diego, this list can certainly be a good starting point on your hunt for the best charter schools that deserve extra attention!

Top 10 San Diego Charter Schools 

Best Charter Schools in San Diego

1. Helix Charter High School

4200 Lowell St., La Mesa, CA 91941
Phone Number: (619) 644-1940

#1 in Best Charter High Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A+
Students: 2,462 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 23:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 78%
Percent Proficient – Math: 72%

Helix Charter High School provides a comprehensive education that prepares all students to graduate college-ready and equipped to reach their personal and academic potential. Being a charter school means having the flexibility to design and implement programs and curricula that are tailored to the school population while being held accountable to students, families, staff, and the community. Helix’s mission, vision, and values are the guiding principles used to make decisions.

In a college preparatory environment, Helix Charter High School strives to close the achievement gap through effective collaboration and innovative practices. Their main purpose is to provide students with powerful learning experiences that help them gain the knowledge, skills, and insights that enable their students to make connections that transform their relationship to self, others, and the world. They value the diverse ideas, values, and cultures that enrich their school system.

2. Preuss School UCSD

9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093
Phone Number: (858) 534-2230

#2 in Best Charter High Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A+
Students: 853 (Grades 6-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 71%
Percent Proficient – Math: 55%

The Preuss School UC San Diego is a unique charter middle and high school for low-income scholars who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college. Located on the UC San Diego campus, nearly 100% of graduates of The Preuss School go on to higher education. Recognized as the best high school in the county by U.S. News & World Report, they empower scholars, elevate families, and transform communities.

Academic or core subjects courses have been designed to meet and exceed the University of California’s a-g pattern. Electives focus on technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, leadership development, and literacy support. The Preuss School University Prep Advisory course in Grades 6-12 concentrates on providing students with the skills to be successful college students and lifelong learners.

3. Elevate Elementary School

2285 Murray Ridge Rd., San Diego, CA 92123
Phone Number: (858) 751-4774

#1 in Best Charter Elementary Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A+
Students: 416 (Grades K-7)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 20:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 77%
Percent Proficient – Math: 62%

Elevate School equips tomorrow’s global innovators by inspiring students to be exceptional in academics, leadership, and creativity. They believe each element is critical as students develop their abilities, learn new skills, and prepare to influence the world around them both now and in the future.

Elevate School recognizes that traditional educational models no longer work in a world marked by globalization – where knowledge is a commodity available to everybody. To succeed in the new global community, students must develop 21st-century literacy. Today’s students will work at jobs that have not yet been created, using technologies that have not yet been set and solving problems that have not yet arisen.

4. Escondido Charter High School

1868 East Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92027
Phone Number: (760) 737-3154

#3 in Best Charter High Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A+
Students: 940 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 17:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 72%
Percent Proficient – Math: 37%

Escondido Charter High School is focused on preparing students for success in college. They understand that not all students will seek careers requiring a college degree, but they want to send them out into the world with all options open. They believe that a rigorous curriculum that emphasizes strong language skills, develops critical thinking capabilities, and challenges students with advanced math and science coursework is the key to preparing students for success in college.

In addition, ECHS believes that students must be well-rounded for success. Their secondary focus is on character building, emphasizing the traditional values of hard work, integrity, and personal responsibility. They emphasize truth, honor, and compassion in the classrooms, field, and curricular clubs. All students are regularly provided with opportunities to serve their community and build their leadership skills.

5. River Valley Charter School

9707½ Marilla Dr., Lakeside, CA 92040
Phone Number: (619) 390-2579

#4 in Best Charter High Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A+
Students: 233 (Grades 7-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 18:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 77%
Percent Proficient – Math: 52%

River Valley Charter School will motivate and prepare students to become
college bound within a small and nurturing educational environment
that incorporates strong family and community ties. Designed to be academically rigorous, River Valley has been fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges since 2002. RVCS emphasizes core classes, and each student joining us in the 9th grade is required to take four years of mathematics, social science, science, and English.

Each high school core class has been designed as a college preparatory course and has been approved by the University of California to meet its A to G requirements. Their schedule is based on a college model, in which students attend each core class twice a week for 75 minutes, with the remainder of the week spent in an independent study. Classes are limited to a maximum of 18 students, so instructional methods can range from lecture format to seminar-type discussions and presentations.

The O'Farrell Charter School

6. College Preparatory Middle – La Mesa Spring Valley

10269 Madrid Way, Spring Valley, CA 91977
Phone Number: (619) 303-2782

#2 in Best Charter Middle Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A
Students: 392 (Grades 5-8)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 21:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 82%
Percent Proficient – Math: 75%

College Preparatory Middle School is a nurturing community for middle school learners. They offer an academically demanding program with a strong literacy base with a positive college-bound focus. This school has a small class size and differentiated instruction with data-driven decision-making. They have a full complement of core subject matter, a technologically advanced curriculum, and support for student success.

CPMS is a single school culture organized for learning. Preparation for high school level coursework includes study and organizational skills and articulation with local high schools. The rigorous college preparation is challenging; students should come prepared to work hard and succeed. They also aim to develop good character and positive citizenship for the 21st century.

7. Literacy First Charter School

799 East Washington Ave., El Cajon, CA 92020
Phone Number: (619) 579-7232

#2 in Best Charter Elementary Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A
Students: 1,945 (Grades PK, K-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 22:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 68%
Percent Proficient – Math: 57%

The Literacy First Charter Schools exists to nurture the whole child from kindergarten through high school graduation by igniting a passion for comprehensive literacy and equipping their students to wholeheartedly participate in their community. Literacy First Charter Schools defines literacy as the process of being educated, cultured, and having skilled abilities in multiple disciplines.

They desire to shape literate life-long learners, independent thinkers, technologically literate citizens, and aspiring leaders who positively impact their community. Literacy First Charter Schools is a place where every student is known. They see this program as providing increased opportunities to reach these goals, as every program they operate must fulfill its overall vision, mission, and values.

8. High Tech High North County

1420 W San Marcos Blvd., San Marcos, CA 92078
Phone Number: (760) 759-2700

#6 in Best Charter High Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A
Students: 420 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 21:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 82%
Percent Proficient – Math: 42%

High Tech High North County creates a safe, inclusive classroom environment where all students feel a sense of belonging, are supported with socio-emotional needs, develop strong relationships, and experience joy. All students are known well by their teachers, engage in and create meaningful work, and are challenged to develop growth mindsets as they meet high expectations beginning in kindergarten and extending through grade twelve.

HTH is particularly focused on increasing the rate at which HTH students attend and graduate from college. They seek to increase the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged and emerging bilingual students who succeed in high school and postsecondary education and in the fields of math, computer science, engineering, and related fields. They also support students in finding an opportune college match by providing dedicated college counseling staff.

9. Classical Academy High School

207 E Pennsylvania Ave., Escondido, CA 92025
Phone Number: (760) 480-9845

#7 in Best Charter High Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A
Students: 1,246 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 43:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 62%
Percent Proficient – Math: 53%

CAHS offers a flexible academic program with various college preparatory, advanced placement, and elective courses. Current advanced placement (AP) studio courses include World History, US History, Government, Calculus BC, Statistics, Language and Composition, Language and Literature, Biology, Physics, Psychology, Drawing, 2D/3D Art and Design, and Spanish.

Elective courses include sports medicine, anatomy and physiology, creative writing, art, graphic design, photography, video production, yearbook, journalism, drama, band, choir, play production, dance, engineering, leadership, woodshop, and life skills. Students also have the opportunity to take courses at a local community college for dual credit.

10. Steele Canyon High School

12440 Campo Rd., Spring Valley, CA 91978
Phone Number: (619) 660-3550

#8 in Best Charter High Schools in San Diego Area
Overall Grade: A
Students: 2,156 (Grades 9-12)
Student-Teacher Ratio: 25:1
Percent Proficient – Reading: 67%
Percent Proficient – Math: 45%

Steele Canyon High School, A California Charter School, was founded on the belief that all students can learn and are entitled to a rigorous and relevant curriculum in an atmosphere that promotes individual self-worth and character development. All students will be challenged and mentored to discover their passions in order to achieve their academic and personal goals in a complex, changing world.

​At SCHS, students will receive information and construct meaning through reading, listening, writing, and viewing skills. They use verbal and non-verbal communication techniques to exchange and process information when collaborating. A Steele Canyon student will be technologically proficient for the 21st Century, accessing, evaluating, and applying information from various electronic resources.

San Diego Charter Schools

Best Charter Schools in San Diego 

Many parents are tapping into the innovative educational system a local charter school provides in San Diego. Once you have chosen a perfect match for your child, your next move is to visit the school and make sure to know the admission and enrollment processes and policies. Take advantage of the opportunity to give your little one access to an excellent, tuition-free education by enrolling at one of the best charter schools in San Diego on the list!

San Diego 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 Diego? 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

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