Key Findings on 2013 Charter School API Scores

September 19, 2013

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The California State Department of Education (CDE) recently released the latest academic scores for all of California's public schools. The Academic Performance Index (API) is California's primary accountability metric for schools, with the statewide goal for all schools set at 800 on the state's 1,000 point scale.

Charter schools average 10 points lower at the statewide level than traditional public schools, 790 API compared to the statewide average of 800. This is consistent with prior years.

Going beyond the overall statewide average, the data reveals some distinct trends based on school type and region.

Grade-level Trends

  • Charter elementary schools on average (API=819) outperform traditional district elementary schools (813).
  • Charter middle schools on average (API=806) outperform traditional district middle schools (799).
  • Charter high schools on average (API=732) underperform traditional district high schools (744).

Regional Trends

Oakland, Los Angeles and Sacramento are clear bright spots with charter schools in those areas outperforming district schools at every grade level and for most key subgroups.

  • Autonomous charters in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) (n=186), average a 782 API to the district's average of 761.
  • Charters in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) (n=39) average a 780 API compared to the district average of 728.
  • Charters in Sacramento City Unified (SCUSD) (n=13) average a 805 API to the district average of 764.

Read more about the academic performance of charter schools in:

Other Major Regions

  • Overall, on average, public schools in the City of San Jose are performing well with the average API for charter schools at 802. However, charter schools (37 schools located in several school districts) on average underperform traditional district schools by 32 API points (district average API=825). This is driven largely by the underperformance of the eight charter middle schools (avg API=791) vs. traditional middle schools (API=818). However, when we dig deeper, charter schools are showing particular strong academic results for African American and Latino students, outperforming the district average for these subgroups by 55 points and 18 points respectively.
  • On average, the ten charter schools in Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) are underperforming the district average overall and at every grade level (charter avg=704; FUSD avg=744)
  • On average, San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) charters (n=39) are underperforming district schools overall and at every grade level (charter average API=777 vs. 823 for district schools).
  • On average, the ten charter schools located in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) are underperforming district schools (charter avg.=759 vs. 794 for district schools). Charters underperform at the high school level; however, the two charter elementary schools and three charter middle schools outperform the district average for those grade levels.

This analysis included all schools physically located within the school district boundaries (including those authorized by county offices of education or the State Board of Education). This excludes schools operating under the Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM) and special education centers.

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