Charter School Accountability Doesn't Take a 'Break'

November 17, 2015

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CCSA Calls for the Non-Renewal of Two Charter Schools as a Result of Academic Underperformance

Sacramento, California - As California transitions to a new accountability system based on the Common Core standards, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) pushes forward in the public call for non-renewal of two chronically underperforming charter public schools. Oasis Charter Public School in Monterey County and Century Academy for Excellence in Los Angeles County are among the lowest performing schools in the state. They have not demonstrated substantial growth over time, and have consistently ranked near the bottom of state and local measures of academic performance.

"While there is much discussion and debate about the new state accountability system, there is one thing that is certain - the charter school movement has thrived because of uniform, transparent and clear minimum performance standards," said Myrna Castrejon, Acting CEO, CCSA. "This clarity has created an environment of freedom and autonomy in exchange for accountability, where high performing charter schools flourish and chronically underperforming schools close."

Since 2009, CCSA has worked closely with its members, researchers, policy advocates and key stakeholders to establish an accountability framework that guides its advocacy efforts for renewing and replicating schools. CCSA has led the way for increased accountability by raising standards that value academic rigor, while giving schools credit for growth and taking on the challenge of serving traditionally disadvantaged students. Charter schools are held to high standards of performance, and CCSA advocates for the closure of chronically underperforming schools that do not deliver for students.

"As California defines its future accountability system, we are pressing for clear accountability measures that are consistent across the state and that prioritize strong academic outcomes for all students, particularly those most in need," said Elizabeth Robitaille, senior vice president of Achievement and Performance Management, CCSA. "We firmly believe that a school's success should be grounded in its ability to increase student academic achievement. As we update our accountability framework for the 2016-17 school year, we recommend defining a straightforward set of minimum criteria aligned to the Common Core standards that is centered on a two-stage process allowing an additional review, based on multiple measures, for those schools that fall below a minimum standard."

The school district boards of education that oversee and authorize Oasis Charter Public School and Century Academy for Excellence will decide whether or not to renew the schools. "We urge the school boards to fulfill their responsibility in providing high-quality education for all students: deny these charter renewals and move for closure of the schools," said Robitaille.

"We understand that closing a school is a heavy decision and is difficult for families, but keeping students in schools that are not providing the education they deserve is far worse," continued Castrejon. "Furthermore, the time and resources needed to overcome several years of low performance are a far less effective use of public funds than it is to close a chronically underperforming school."

The charter school movement continues to build in California, and CCSA believes that increased and ongoing accountability plays a big part in this growth. An additional 36,000 students chose to attend charters this school year. More than 580,000 students are now being educated in 1,230 charters across the state. And an additional 158,000 students on charter public school waiting lists. California leads the nation in the number of charter school students and the number of charter schools.

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:

  1. 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.

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About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association's vision is to increase student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education. Our mission is to ensure a million students attend charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure. We do this by serving as the advocacy organization that builds the policy environment needed to grow as quickly as possible the number of students attending high quality charter public schools. For more information, please visit our website at