CCSA is leading the way in accountability for charter schools by establishing clear and transparent academic performance expectations and providing resources to schools to foster a continuous cycle of improvement.
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Latest Updates for Schools
You can always find the latest updates on accountability on our Member Blog. Don't miss out on these great opportunities.
CCSA Calls for the Non-Renewal of Two Charter Schools as a Result of Academic Underperformance
As California transitions to a new accountability system based on the Common Core standards, CCSA moves forward in the public call for non-renewal of two chronically underperforming charter public schools that are among the lowest performing schools in the state. Read more.
The Road Ahead: CCSA's Revised Academic Accountability Framework for 2016-17 and Beyond
Since 2009, CCSA has worked closely with its members, as well as researchers, policy advocates and other key stakeholders to establish an accountability framework that guides CCSA's advocacy efforts for renewing and replicating schools, including calling for the closure of underperforming schools. CCSA has begun updating its academic accountability framework with the leadership and direction of our Member Council for implementation beginning in 2016-17. Learn more on the Framework tab.
Tell us what you think! Participate in CCSA's Accountability Survey.
CCSA's Fourth Annual Report on Charter School Performance and Accountability
The Portrait of the Movement: Five Year Retrospective - A Charter Sector Growing in Numbers and Strength report, released in August 2014, reviews charter school performance across California and presses the case for improved accountability for persistently underperforming charter schools, based on a better framework and tools.
School Supports: CCSA's Self-Assessment Portal
Charter school leaders across the state have asked for targeted tools to enhance their local school-based accountability efforts. In turn, CCSA created the School Self-Assessment Portal. Use this free resource to assess the success of the first half of the school year, highlight areas of development for spring, and plan strategically for the year ahead.
Log in today to track your school's progress, access informative data reports, and use hundreds of pre-screened resources. If you don't have an account yet, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't delay.
School Supports: Sign up for NWEA MAP Assessments and Trainings
CCSA has partnered with the Northwest Evaluation Association™ (NWEA™) to allow California charter schools to receive a substantial discount on Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) assessments in Math, Reading, and Language Arts.
For just $11/student per year, California charter schools can administer the NWEA MAP assessments for 2013-14 (compared to a standard rate of $13.50/student). All charter schools in California are eligible to receive this discount. Charter schools currently using NWEA™ can receive the discounted rate in the form of a credit toward purchasing MAP® assessments in 2014-15.
School Supports: School Leaders Network
California charter school leaders in San Diego and Los Angeles have formed professional networks focused on studying best teaching, leadership and learning practices in the transition to the Common Core. If you would like to join a web-based professional learning cohort or a network being established in your region, please email email@example.com. We are working to continue to grow these networks through-out the state.
Overview of CCSA's Accountability Work
Taking the Lead on Improving Academic Accountability
The California Charter Schools Law, approved in in 1992, opened the door to education reform and school choice, allowing charter schools to operate with autonomy and flexibility in exchange for increased accountability. In keeping with this covenant, California's charter schools are serious about creating significantly better learning opportunities than are available within the traditional public school system.
Accountability is a top priority for CCSA and we have been working closely with members for many years to create our Accountability Framework.
CCSA's Member Council, which consists of charter school leaders from across California, adopted an approach that calls for improving academic performance criteria and addressing deficiencies in current law that make it difficult to close underperforming schools. In June of 2013, the Member Council held an in-person meeting of a majority of the Council and unanimously recommended and the Board approved refinements to CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria. Read a message from Brian Bauer, CCSA Board Member. Our accountability strategy aims to provide a clear, simple and fully transparent framework that provides all charter schools with tools to examine their individual performance, and also helps present a clear picture of the performance continuum across the entire movement.
CCSA Accountability Framework
In conjunction with our Member Council and in consultation with technical experts, CCSA developed an Accountability Framework to set minimum standards of academic performance at time of renewal. The Accountability Framework values academic rigor, growth, and comparisons with similar student populations. Importantly, it draws from public data (and thus is able to be implemented statewide) yet addresses some of the limitations of the state's current data infrastructure. Read more on the "Framework" tab of this article.
Public Call for Non-Renewal
After years of member engagement, consultation with technical experts, and rigorous testing by staff, CCSA 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 for Renewal (learn more on the "CCSA Accountability Framework" tab of this article.).
For those schools falling below the criteria, CCSA will inform the authorizers and the schools, and we will publically encourage authorizers to exercise their authority to deny the charter renewal petitions and close the schools. Charter renewal is the time when charter school authorizers must determine if a charter school is fulfilling this promise. As a guide, state law directs local authorizers to use academic criteria as the single most important factor in considering whether to grant a charter renewal (Ed. Code 47607(a)(3)(A)).
In 2011, for the first time, CCSA publicly called for the non-renewal of 10 chronically underperforming charter schools. Ultimately, it is authorizers--local school districts, county offices of education or the State Board of Education--that make the decision on whether a charter school will continue to operate.
Painting a "Portrait of the Movement"
In addition to establishing a minimum bar for academic achievement, CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal enables us to look across a continuum of performance to identify schools that are far exceeding the performance of other schools serving similar student populations and compare charter performance with that of traditional public schools. This will enable us to help build networks of practice, provide targeted support to struggling schools and achieve a greater degree of transparency and collaboration among similarly oriented charters - whether in curricular approach or student population served.
CCSA's Achievement and Performance Management Team use this data to generate an annual Portrait of the Movement report, which features movement-wide analyses to aid efforts to assess, monitor and improve the academic performance of all charter schools. CCSA generates other studies and reports. Find these, as well as other major studies about charter schools in our Charter School Research and Data Library.
CCSA Accountability Framework
The Road Ahead: CCSA's Revised Academic Accountability Framework for 2016-17 and Beyond
Since 2009, CCSA has worked closely with its members, as well as researchers, policy advocates and other key stakeholders to establish an accountability framework that guides CCSA's advocacy efforts for renewing and replicating schools, including calling for the closure of underperforming schools. This framework is based on publicly available data and takes a multi-year and multi-measure view of each school's performance.
As the state transitions to Common Core and intensifies its focus on postsecondary readiness, CCSA has begun updating its academic accountability framework with the leadership and direction of our Member Council for implementation beginning in 2016-17.
The goal is to keep a multi-measure, multi-year assessment of charters' performance based on publically available data with the fail-safe of a "second look process" to consider alternative, non-public academic achievement data. As with our prior framework, we are working hard to ensure it is appropriate for the diverse array of pedagogical approaches and school types in California's charters (such as dual immersion schools, nonclassroom-based schools, or schools serving high percentages of historically underserved students). CCSA has also launched a National Advisory Board of national and state charter associations, researchers, authorizers, and charter school leaders to provide input on the framework.
We want to hear from you! We will be issuing draft Academic Accountability Report Cards to all California charter schools based on this new framework in the 2015-16 year (shared with individual schools, not publicly posted) and will seek California charter schools' feedback through that process as well as through regional meetings throughout the state.
Below is the draft framework as it currently stands in addition to a white paper that outlines the need for continued statewide accountability measures to protect charter school autonomy and freedom. We welcome your input through the survey link below.
- Draft Framework
- Draft White Paper on the need for statewide measures to ensure charter school accountability in California
- Academic Accountability Survey
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. It was developed by CCSA staff in conjunction with our Member Council and in consultation with over 20 researchers and technical experts across the state.
A key component is the Similar Students Measure (SSM), which looks at how schools perform compared to schools serving similar student populations across the state, as a way to assess the value-added by schools regardless of the gifts and challenges their students bring to the door. The SSM identifies schools that persistently exceed or fall short of a prediction based upon how students with similar backgrounds performed statewide.
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 Report Cards every fall 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.
CCSA's Minimum Accountability Criteria for Renewal
To qualify for renewal support in 2015-16, a school must meet one of the four criteria outlined below.
State Test Scores (Proficiency, Growth over Time, or Demographic Comparison):
1) A 2013 API score of 749 or higher, or
2) 50 points of cumulative API growth (2010-2013), or
3) Similar Student Measure showing the school is performing "within" or "above" its predicted API score in either 2011-12 or 2012-13 (based on how all other schools serving similar demographics of students performed), or
Multiple Measure Review:
4) If a school does not meet ONE of the three criteria above, CCSA offers a review of multiple measures aligned to California's eight state priorities as described in the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The standard for this review is to identify substantially compelling evidence of student outcome success and growth in achievement beyond that which is seen at other schools. This is also an opportunity for the school to be able to tell its own data story of success in achieving strong student outcomes, choosing the measures it feels are most closely aligned to its mission and are most indicative of the school's success.
Academic Accountability Report Cards
CCSA publishes Report Cards that show the results of every charter school on the CCSA Accountability Framework which includes the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal. Report cards are available for all schools regardless of whether schools fall within CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. Schools participating in the Alternative Schools Accountability Model and schools testing fewer than 50 students are excluded from our analysis, and the Minimum Criteria for Renewal are only applicable for schools four years and older.
Lessons Learned for Other States Interested in Building on CCSA's Accountability Efforts
CCSA has several years of experience designing and launching an academic accountability framework to guide advocacy efforts for renewing and replicating schools, including calling for the closure of underperforming schools. We have learned many lessons along the way and have identified best practices that we would like to share with others who may be interested in implementing robust accountability standards in their own states as well as state charter associations seeking to build accountability frameworks to guide their advocacy efforts.
Below are presentations shared from national reports and webinars highlighting CCSA's accountability work and lessons learned. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The role of the California Charter Schools Association in supporting the improved academics of the California charter schools sector
- National Charter School Resource Center Master Class, May 2014: Closing Low-Performing Public Charter Schools Webinar: State Level Strategies
CCSA has conducted extensive data simulations over multiple years, which have confirmed that charter schools of all grade level and school type are broadly distributed across the Accountability Framework and that the Minimum Criteria for Renewal do not unfairly treat schools serving traditionally disadvantaged students.
CCSA further tested the Accountability Framework by conducting an ambitious study of 58 charter schools across the state of California in 2011. Through site visits at nearly all of those schools and analysis of longitudinal student data, the study aimed to assess whether schools with low API status and growth scores were truly underperforming (as best as possible given the limitations of the data), to get schools' perspective of their own performance, and to assess the effectiveness of the Similar Students Measure (SSM) in identifying underperforming schools.
Read the full report "Assessing the Utility of State Academic Indicators for Measuring Performance in 58 California Charter Schools" (Note: school names are redacted for confidentiality).
Some of the findings of the report include:
- Charter schools in this study are performing at comparatively very low levels of achievement (particularly in Math). Moreover, the data suggest that many of these schools are underperforming compared to how other schools are serving similar demographics of students, which are finding success despite greater challenges among their student populations.
- Compared with other charters statewide, these schools had far lower performance in API scores, English and Math proficiency, and lost ground over time in student proficiency rates. In particular, Math proficiency levels were far lower for these schools. These data characterized the schools as far below average and not improving over time.
- We do not see evidence that the K-12 and independent study schools are being unfairly penalized with the SSM.
- We see similar numbers of high risk/high need populations served by the low performing CCSA Support and Non-Support charters. This suggests that the SSM is not inappropriately over-identifying or penalizing schools for serving high risk populations.
- One third of the schools interviewed made comments that embodied low expectations for their students.
- For 20% of the lowest performing charters, there is no longer a fit between their mission statement and who they serve.
- Many of the lowest performing charters do not believe they are underperforming and do not evidence a clear understanding of accountability. More than half of schools (57%) believe they are not underperforming; two-thirds (63%) of the schools are unable to articulate a clear understanding of accountability.
- Analyses of individual-student academic metrics contradict schools' assertions that, while school-wide results show poor performance, they are substantially increasing individual students' academic trajectories. We do not see evidence of such added value or disarticulation with our SSM measure.
In sum, this study suggested that, given the data limitations, CCSA's SSM instrument is properly calibrated to discern between schools that are performing well and those that are struggling.
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