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CCSA Releases 2019 Portrait of the Movement, Focuses on Equity, Opportunity and Access to High-Quality Schools

October 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA – Committed to advancing the issues of equity, opportunity and access within California’s public education system, today the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) issued the 2019 Portrait of the Movement report. 

The report explores the ways the public education sector can work together to ensure all students, regardless of where they live, their race, income or their educational needs, have access to a quality education. While it compares charter public schools and traditional public schools, it examines student outcomes regardless of school model, to better understand the depth of existing achievement gaps.  

“Charter schools are an integral part of California’s public school system, serving all students and achieving great results particularly for students of color and students living in poverty,” said Myrna Castrejón, president and CEO, CCSA. “It’s time to move past the highly politicized rhetoric and the persistent narrative that pits charter schools against traditional schools. Instead, let’s come together and focus our collective efforts on solving the achievement gap and achieving equity for all of California’s students.” 

The 2019 Portrait of the Movement highlights the fact that more work still needs to be done to achieve equity for all students, regardless of whether or not the school is a charter school or a traditional public school. And closing the achievement gap is only possible when all public schools participate in creating and implementing solutions.

“Once again this year, the data is consistent as validated by third parties for years: California charter schools help low-income, African American, and Latinx students particularly in urban areas achieve stronger academic performance,” said CCSA’s Senior Vice President, School Performance, Development & Support, Elizabeth Robitaille. “While this is promising and warrants further investigation and understanding statewide, it is also true that all public schools – charter and traditional – have a long way to go to close historic achievement gaps in California. And we need to continue to work together to do more of what’s working for kids while challenging ourselves to always be better.”

Download the Portrait of the Movement 2019 Report  

2019 Key Findings

  • Independent charter schools serve proportionally more African American and low-income students than both dependent charter schools and traditional public schools.
  • In 2018, charter schools continued to outperform traditional public schools for most subgroups across English Language Arts (ELA) and underperform on Math when looking at Distance from Standard.
  • As validated by third-party researchers for years, including CREDO and Getting Down to Facts II, the outperformance of charter schools is most heavily concentrated in urban areas, particularly in Los Angeles and Oakland and for African American, Latinx, and low-income students.
  • Proportionally more low-income students in charter schools attend higher ranked schools than their traditional public school peers, as do African American and Latinx students.
  • Charter schools have better outcomes in terms of access to and admittance to postsecondary two- and four-year universities for minority students when compared to traditional public schools.
  • Achievement gaps among students are present across most schools, with African American students, English learners and students with disabilities as the lowest performing subgroups.
  • An analysis of University of California, California State University, and National Student Clearinghouse data showed that charter schools had better outcome in terms of access and admittance to postsecondary two- and four-year universities for minority students when compared to traditional public schools.
  • Both charter and traditional public schools have substantial gaps in college graduation rates for historically disadvantaged student groups.

History of the Portrait of the Movement
In January 2011, CCSA released its first Portrait of the Movement publication showing the performance of all California charter schools and identifying performance trends within the sector. Rather than comparing averages as many studies had done before, this research revealed that charter schools had higher concentrations of schools at both ends of the performance spectrum (a U-shape). Since 2011, CCSA has released a total of six reports assessing the performance of the charter school movement. For more information, visit

About the California Charter Schools Association

The vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to build great public schools of joy and rigor that prepare all California students for success in college, career, community, and life. The mission of CCSA is to meet parent, educator, and community need for great public school options by supporting and advocating for high quality non-profit charter schools and sharing their success throughout California’s public schools. Learn more.