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If you’re searching for Orange County real estate and you’ve got your little one’s education in mind, then a great place to start is by checking out Orange County charter schools. A charter school is a public school (AKA free tuition), but it can operate independently from a district. This allows the school and it’s teachers greater autonomy to serve students in a way that matches a unique vision created by administrators, teachers, and parents.

Charter schools are a great resource for students to think outside of the box, for parents to take an active role in education, and for a unique learning experience to take education to the next level. If you have a child and are interested in learning more about Orange County charter schools then take a look at our complete list of schools including API scores, specialties and a bit about what the curriculum is all about.

Capistrano Connections Academy

33272 Valle Rd San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
District: Capistrano Unified (K-12)
Specialty: Independent Study (Online)
API Score: 790

Capistrano Connections Academy is actually an online charter school serving grades K-12. The curriculum includes field trips and social events that help students connect to one another, their communities, and their lessons. There are also dozens of clubs and activities to foster social development and academic growth. This is a great choice for motivated parents and kids looking for flexible education.

Community Roots Academy

23431 Knollwood, P-31 Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
District: Capistrano Unified (K-8)
API Score: 877

At CRA its all about showing students the connection between formal education and the real world around them. They teach through active engagement in a project-based curriculum. Students learn how to think independently and creatively to solve problems and work productively while collaborating with others.

Edward B. Cole Academy

333 East Walnut St. Santa Ana, CA 92701-5928
District: Santa Ana Unified (K-5)
API Score: 779

Edward B. Cole Academy provides a safe environment where students are encouraged to work hard, set high goals and work toward higher education. The school also has an afterschool program named P.A.H., which stands for Physical Fitness, Arts and Homework. It’s a fun and innovative time where students can learn, be active and have a good time. There are also several clubs on campus such as dance, drama, music, cooking, soccer and more.

El Rancho Charter

181 South Del Giorgio Rd. Anaheim, CA 92808-1307
District: Orange Unified (7-8)
API Score: 953

One of the greatest perks of El Rancho Charter School is the support and resources given to teachers to make learning happen. Whether it’s a new class, computers, or afterschool tutoring program the answer is “Yes”. The freedom to innovate equates to more extracurricular, elective classes, and opportunities to learn better. The school offers roughly 30 extracurricular classes every semester, including Spanish, French, Mandarin, musical theater, home economics, Photoshop, guitar, orchestra, violin, and dance.

El Sol Santa Ana Science and Arts Academy

1010 North Broadway St. Santa Ana, CA 92701-3408
District: Santa Ana Unified (K-6)
Specialty: Dual-Immersion
API Score: 881

El Sol Science and Arts Academy is a dual-immersion charter school in Santa Ana, which means all teachers and students are bilingual.  Students learn to read, write and speak academic English and Spanish. Other unique features include El Sol’s preschool, which is facilitated by retirees in the classroom, and the SOS-El Sol Wellness Center, which provides a wide range of on-site health, education and social services, as well as case management, for El Sol’s families.

GOALS Academy

412 W. Carl Karcher Way Anaheim, CA 92801
District: Anaheim City School District (TK–6)
API Score: N/A

What started out as an organization for providing after-school programs to low-income youths is now a charter school within the Anaheim City School District. GOALS stands for Growth Opportunities through Athletics, Learning & Service.  In addition to rigorous academics, GOALS Academy focuses on discovering students’ interests and talents and turning them into strengths.


27102 Foxborough Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
District: Capistrano Unified (K-8)
Specialty: Arts
API Score: 872

Journey School is structured after the educational style of Steiner Waldorf that operates under the philosophy that in order to develop critical thinking, a child needs an active and creative imagination. Within the Journey School classroom, teachers blend academic and artistic disciplines so that the whole child is involved in every aspect of learning. School specialties include digital literacy, ecology and stewardship, handwork, music, visual arts and social literacy. The school also hosts several festivals and celebrations throughout the year with the help of parents to mark holidays, milestones and significant moments.

Magnolia Science Academy – Santa Ana

102 Baker St. East Costa Mesa, CA 92626
District: Magnolia Public Schools (6-12)
Specialty: STEM
API Score: 838

Formerly Known as Pacific Technology School Santa Ana, Magnolia Science Academy focuses on STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – to prepare students for higher education and help them become scientific thinkers in today’s ever-changing world. MPS has several schools in the Southern California area including 8 in Los Angeles, 2 in the Bay Area, 1 in San Diego and of course 1 in Orange County.

Nova Academy

1010 W 17th Street Santa Ana, CA 92706
District: Santa Ana Unified (9-12)
Specialty: College Prep
API Score: 779

At NOVA Academy Early College High School students prepare for college, earn college credits and learn to become leaders. The class of 2014 had a 96% graduation rate with 90% of graduates going on to attend either a 4-year university or community college.


1010 North Main St. Santa Ana, CA 92701-3608
District: Santa Ana Unified (7-12)
Specialty: Arts
API Score: 913

Established in 1987, Orange County School of the Arts provides a nurturing and challenging environment for talented students to prepare for higher education and a profession in the arts. The school has a total of 14 different art conservatories including Production and Design, International Dance, Classical and Contemporary Dance, Culinary Arts, Creative Writing, Film and Television, Musical Theater, Acting, Classical Voice and so much more.  Originally Orange County High School of the Arts, OCSA now includes grades 7-12.

Opportunities for Learning – Capistrano

320 North Halstead St., Ste. 220 Dana Point, CA 92629-2100
District: Capistrano Unified (7-12)
Specialty: Independent Study (Online)
API score: 734

Opportunities For Learning (OFL) serves students in grades 7-12, blending several different learning models for an innovative and flexible approach to education. Students learn through independent study, small group classes, online courses, one-on-one tutoring, as well as experimental activities, trips, and cultural excursions.

Orange County Educational Arts Academy

825 North Broadway Santa Ana, CA 92701-3423
District: Santa Ana Unified (K-8)
Specialty: Arts, Dual Immersion
API Score: 780

OCEAA integrates instruction with arts, technology, language and culture to help students become creative, critical thinkers. There is also an emphasis on family involvement in the educational process – parents and teachers are partners in teaching students. The curriculum includes performance tasks to give students real-world experiences and knowledge and several art classes. In fact, more than 95% of OCEAA teachers have had in-depth arts curriculum training.

Oxford Preparatory Academy – South Orange County

23000 Via Santa Maria Mission Viejo, CA 92692
District: Capistrano Unified (K-8)
API Score: 990

Oxford Preparatory Academy focuses on helping students at or below grade level proficiency come up to standard and start setting and achieving higher goals.  The school has a mandatory band (drums/horns) requirement, STEM Robotics program, and several other programs to help students succeed in a variety of ways. OPA has three Southern California campuses: Mission Viejo, Oceanside and Chino.

Ralph A. Gates Elementary

23882 Landisview Ave. Lake Forest, CA 92630-5152
District: Saddleback Valley Unified (K-6)
Specialty: Two Way Language Immersion
API Score: 821

Students learn to collaborate, communicate and think critically in all academic areas in both Spanish and English in elementary school. Los Alisos Intermediate and Laguna Hills High School in the district also have a variety of science, history and language arts classes in Spanish so that by the end of 12th-grade students are fully bilingual and multi-cultural citizens.

Santiago Charter Middle School

515 North Rancho Santiago Blvd. Orange, CA 92869-2724
District: Orange Unified (7-8)
API Score: 833

Santiago offers a rich and diverse arts program, a new STEM elective, an extensive honors program and more for quality and disciplined public school education. Students also have several extracurricular activities to choose from including Academic Pentathlon and leadership opportunities. The school motto is “A public school with a private school approach”.

The Academy

1901 North Fairview St. Santa Ana, CA 92706
District: Santa Ana Unified (9-12)
Specialty: STEM + the Arts = STEAM
API Score: N/A

The Academy emphasizes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) but goes one step further, adding the Arts in order to further nurture students’ creativity. The arts can work to nurture and develop the “whole” student, not just the cognitive, process-oriented thinker. Small class sizes, a laptop for every student, project-based learning and work-based experience through career days, job shadowing and internship opportunities help The Academy stand out as an exceptional school.