Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on CCSA's Public Call for Non-Renewal
After years of member engagement, consultation with technical experts, and rigorous testing by staff, CCSA has formally adopted the CCSA Accountability Framework to guide our support for charter schools in renewal. Accordingly, CCSA will call for the non-renewal of schools in renewal that are below the CCSA Minimum Criteria as described below.
The public call for non-renewal represents a significant step towards advancing accountability and fulfilling our collective promise of quality education for children across the state.
For more information, an overview video and the latest updates, please visit our Accountability page.
Why is CCSA publicly calling for the non-renewal of charter schools below your minimum criteria?
Since 2011, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has annually called for the non-renewal of charter schools that are below CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. This public call for non-renewal represents a significant step towards advancing accountability and fulfilling our collective promise of quality education for children across the state.
The Charter Schools Act approved in California in 1992 opened the door to education reform and school choice, allowing charter schools to operate with autonomy and flexibility in exchange for higher accountability.
CCSA developed an Accountability Framework to guide this work in 2009, working closely with over 20 technical experts and researchers and CCSA's Member Council, which consists of charter school leaders representing every region of California and diverse school types. The CCSA Accountability Framework guides CCSA's efforts to raise accountability standards in a way that values academic rigor while also giving schools credit for growth and for taking on the challenge of serving traditionally disadvantaged students well. The Framework is the basis of CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal, a minimum performance standard that CCSA developed and uses as part of its advocacy efforts for charter schools seeking a renewal of their petition.
How does charter renewal work?
Anyone who wants to open a new charter school writes a charter petition, a detailed plan for how they'll run the school. Under California law, charter school petitions are authorized for up to a five-year term, and may be renewed by the authorizer for five more years. The authorizer is usually the local school district - some charter schools are authorized by their county office of education or the State Board of Education. California state law directs local authorizers to use increases in academic achievement for all student groups served by the charter school as the single most important factor in considering whether to grant a charter renewal (Ed. Code §§ 47607(a)(3)(A)). To inform schools, authorizers and the public on school performance, every fall, CCSA publishes Academic Accountability Report Cards that show the results of every charter school on the Accountability Framework and CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. CCSA encourages authorizers to use this data in making their decisions about whether to renew a school's petition. We also publicly call for the non-renewal of schools below CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal.
What is CCSA's Accountability Framework?
CCSA developed its Accountability Framework in 2009, working closely with technical experts and CCSA's Member Council, comprised of charter public school leaders from every region of the state. This framework is a multi-dimensional model that values academic rigor while also giving schools credit for growth and for taking on the challenge of serving traditionally disadvantaged students well. It provides the basis for CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal, a minimum performance standard that CCSA developed and uses as part of its advocacy efforts for charter schools seeking a renewal of their petition.
Under California law, charter school petitions are authorized for up to a five-year term, and may be renewed by the authorizer for additional five-year terms. To inform schools, authorizers and the public on school performance, CCSA publishes Academic Accountability Reports annually that show the results of each charter school on the Accountability Framework and CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal.
CCSA encourages authorizers to use this data in making their decision about whether to renew a school's charter.
What is CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal?
To qualify for renewal support, a school must meet one of the four criteria outlined below.
Charters meeting ANY initial filter OR showing academic success through the Multiple Measure Review meet the academic threshold to receive CCSA's full advocacy support for renewal or replication. CCSA opposes renewal and replication for schools below ALL initial filters AND that do not demonstrate academic success through the Multiple Measure Review.
CCSA's Minimum Academic Criteria for Renewing and Replicating Schools, 2017-18
1) Status measure: Above 40th percentile on the Smarter Balanced Assessments "SBAC"
- CCSA uses a weighted average of SBAC scale scores measuring how far the average student is above/below the "Met" standard and ranked 0-100th percentile statewide. (Called the "Average Point Difference" or "APD")
- Additionally, schools performing in the bottom 5% of performance statewide need to participate in CCSA's Multiple Measure Review before receiving CCSA's advocacy support for renewal or replication.
2) Growth/ Postsecondary readiness
- Elementary/middle schools: Growth over time on SBAC
An increase on the Average Point Difference (APD) measured by at least 18 scale score points on CAASPP between 2014-15 and 2016-17 (The 75th Percentile of growth statewide.)
- High schools: 75% or more of 12th grade graduates completing all "a-g" requirements
3) Similar Students: "Within or above predicted" on two of the last three years on CCSA's Similar Students Measure (2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17). This measures how schools are performing with similar students across the state.
Multiple Measure Review
Schools below ALL the initial filters or in the bottom 5% statewide on SBAC can share outcomes aligned to California's 8 state priorities as described in the school's Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). Schools can tell their own story of success by choosing measures most closely aligned to their mission.
CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria would not apply if a school is designated as DASS (Alternative), less than four years old, or has less than 30 valid test takers.
What is the scale of the problem? How many schools are likely to be closed as a result of the accountability initiative?
Only the schools that have consistently failed to meet academic and growth targets and that are in renewal for this school year are the subject of CCSA's public call for non-renewal. Only authorizers have the authority to decide not to renew a charter school's petition. Learn more about PCNR.
How will CCSA continue to pursue accountability strategies for charter schools as California transitions to a new accountability system?
Accountability has been a top priority for CCSA for many years. We have focused relentlessly on the pursuit of quality as a constant priority through many political shifts, legislative cycles and changes to California's school accountability systems. Every student only gets one chance at first grade or sophomore year - this work has an urgency that supersedes the impulse to wait and see. Our measures and criteria are designed to evolve as the system changes.
We are steadfast in our commitment to address chronic underperformance and take bold steps toward fulfilling the promise of charter accountability, not just in concept, not just in theory, but where the hardest decisions meet reality - the call for non-renewal.
CCSA continues to advocate for clear accountability measures that are consistent across the state and that prioritize strong academic outcomes for all students, particularly those most in need. We firmly believe that a school's success should be grounded in its ability to increase student academic achievement.
CCSA's straightforward and transparent Accountability Framework provides all charter schools with tools to examine their individual performance, as well as to provide vitally important points of comparison to help a school contextualize its performance for its authorizer, families, and entire school community. This Framework sets Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria that guide CCSA's advocacy for renewing and replicating charter schools. CCSA uses these metrics as "initial filters" in its accountability framework. For renewing or replicating charter schools below all filters, CCSA engages in a deeper multiple measure review.
Is CCSA setting itself up as a regulatory agency to make renewal decisions?
Absolutely not. What we are providing is a more robust, reliable set of criteria using publicly available data to aid authorizers in making appropriate renewal decisions. Authorizers have the jurisdiction to make renewal decisions, based upon the current provisions of law, which provide guidance regarding criteria for renewal. What we have found over years of analysis and testing of the criteria, is that there are some significant shortcomings to the current provisions which make it quite difficult for districts to make sound, timely decisions at the time of a charter's renewal. Further, the way these criteria are applied is extremely uneven across the state, which has allowed for the re-authorization of charters that are chronically underperforming.
How are CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal better than what exists in current law?
As California's Academic Performance Index has been discontinued and as the California State Board of Education (SBE) is revising the state's accountability system, there have been questions about which criteria should apply to charter school renewal decisions. The two criteria currently in law are California Education Code §§ 47607(b) and Ed. Code §§ 52052(e)(4). Also still applicable is SB1290, which directs authorizers to consider increases in pupil academic achievement for all groups of pupils served by the charter school as the most important factor in determining whether to grant a charter renewal. The majority of the metrics cited both Ed. Code sections are based on California's API, which the State Board of Education has indicated it does not intend to produce moving forward. The remaining criteria require alternative measures that show increases in pupil academic achievement for all groups of pupils schoolwide and among significant subgroups. However, these alternative measures are not defined. CCSA's criteria are straightforward, clear, and holistic; leveraging both public test score data along with a multiple measure review aligned to California's 8 state priorities.
How is CCSA's Accountability Framework different from the new California School Dashboard and why is it better for charter school renewal determinations?
The new California School Dashboard provides color ratings (made up of status and change) on a variety of state indicators as well as local measures for districts, schools and student groups to assist in identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas in need of improvement. The measures extend beyond pupil academic achievement to include performance on a variety of measures including implementation of state academic standards, parent engagement, English learner progress, high school graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates, school climate, and college/career readiness. Though the Dashboard metrics will provide many new views into school performance, they do not lend themselves to a useful "minimum bar" for determining charter school renewal in their current format. Some of the measures do not represent student academic learning outcomes (such as suspension or chronic absenteeism) and the local indicators merely represent whether a school has completed a task (such as a survey), not a meaningful performance outcome. Moreover, the state has specifically decided to avoid aggregating the metrics into any kind of aggregated view of performance. Instead, a charter school would be triggered for continuous improvement intervention if "three or more student groups (or all the student groups if there are less than three student groups) had 'not met'/'red' for one or more state or school priority identified in the charter for three out of four consecutive school years." This presents a myriad of trip up points for charter schools, a high degree of complexity, and very little predictability.
Moreover, high schools are particularly disadvantaged in the state's new system. Because high schools only test in 11th grade, and because those tests are only included as a narrow subset of one measure (and only students that graduate in 4 years), high schools are particularly disadvantaged in the state's new dashboard. Without meaningful 9th and 10th grade state assessment data, a Multiple Measure Review process becomes even more critical for fairly and carefully evaluating high schools' performance, particularly for high schools that keep students for a 5th year or reengage credit deficient students.
Many of the priority areas identified in the state's dashboard align with CCSA's Multiple Measure Review. Use of an aggregated set of clear, academic metrics with a nuanced review aligned to a wide variety of outcome measures tied to the charter's priorities is a far more holistic and effective way to evaluate school performance for high stakes renewal decisions.
What's at stake in pushing forward with accountability measures now rather than waiting?
All charter schools serving children in California must be held accountable for educating them well; and while we can debate endlessly about defining perfect measures--under which circumstances and impacting which schools--we know we cannot wait. The time to act is now - because our children require the urgency of our deliberate response. By having a clear and honest analysis, charter schools can learn from the best, and we can take a closer look at the schools that are not delivering results to their students and families. We cannot have an honest discussion about education reform and increasing accountability without closing the charters that are chronically underperforming.
Does CCSA's accountability initiative hurt charter schools that are not in renewal this year by labeling them "underperforming"?
We do not publish Accountability Reports publicly for schools that fall below CCSA's Minimum Criteria until they have an opportunity to correct potential demographic data errors (like all other schools) and/or work with us to identify individual student-level longitudinal analysis that may be even more precise than our Similar Students Measure (SSM). For schools that do not meet CCSA's Minimum Criteria but are not in renewal, this information is an early warning tool that can help them identify new strategies to address not just their renewal in the upcoming years, but also assess how long they have and how far they have to go to meet criteria, to ensure the full support of CCSA.
This early warning system should inspire vigorous deliberation at the school site about how best to accelerate performance where they can, in the time they have left before a renewal.
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