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Stanford University’s CREDO Finds California Charter Public Schools Are Outperforming Traditional Public Schools

June 17, 2023

California charter public schools perform especially well in educating underserved students

Los Angeles, CA – Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), one of the most respected and prestigious research entities in the U.S., released a study that provides clear evidence that charter public schools are now outperforming traditional public schools in California and across the nation.

“The CREDO study underscores that California’s charter school community is strong and effective, and students are gaining faster on average than those in traditional public schools. Charter students, families, and educators should feel a great sense of pride for producing such strong gains,” said CCSA President and CEO Myrna Castrejón.  “In California, all charter schools are nonprofit, public schools created by parents and educators offering students more options in their public school education and are closing opportunity gaps at an accelerated rate.”

As a Matter of Fact: The National Charter School Study is CREDO’s third body of research tracking the academic performance of charters in America. The previous findings were released in 2009 and 2013. This year’s study reports that charter public school students across the country are consistently showing greater academic gains than their peers in traditional public schools across the nation.

In California, specifically, the CREDO study also busts the myth charter opponents levy that charter public schools “cherry pick” their students. The study finds students entering California’s charter schools are more likely to be low-performing and less likely to be high-performing than their peers in traditional public schools yet achieve stronger gains.

“We hope this study settles the baseless and unfounded notion that charter success is the result of cherry-picking only the best students in an area,” said Castrejón. “California’s charter school community is reaping the rewards of their dedicated efforts to educate the most vulnerable and underserved students in our state.”

In this longitudinal study covering data from 2014 to 2019, CREDO found California charter public schools are gaining the equivalent of 11 days of reading and four days of math compared to similar students in traditional public schools, on average. Additionally, charter public schools that are part of charter management organizations (CMO) and networks are helping drive the positive trend. In California, roughly 40 percent of charter public schools belong to a CMO.

For historically underserved students in California, the results are particularly strong. Compared to traditional public schools, the research shows:

·       Students in poverty gained four+ weeks in reading and three+ weeks in math.

·       Black students gained five+ weeks in reading and three+ weeks in math.

·       Latino students gained six+ weeks in reading and four+ weeks in math.

The report also provides evidence that California’s charter school sector is helping close the opportunity gap and foster educational equity within the state’s K-12 system. The 33 CMOs that met CREDO’s “gap-busting” criteria for reducing opportunity gaps and proving that success is scalable include:

ACE Charter Schools (San Jose)

Alliance College-Ready Schools (Los Angeles)

Alpha Public Schools (San Jose)

Amethod Public Schools (Oakland)

Aspire Public Schools (LA, Oakland, Central CA)

Bright Star (Los Angeles)

Camino Nuevo (Los Angeles)

ISANA Academies (Los Angeles)

Citizens of the World (Los Angeles)

Education for Change (Oakland)

Environmental Charter Schools (Los Angeles)

Envision Schools (Oakland)

Equitas Academy Charter Schools (Los Angeles)

Fenton Charter Public Schools (Los Angeles)

Green Dot (Los Angeles)

King-Chavez (San Diego)

KIPP Bay Area


Leadership Public Schools (Hayward)

Magnolia Public Schools (Los Angeles)

NOVA Academy (Orange County, Inland Empire)

Oxford Preparatory Academy (Orange County)

Rocketship Public Schools (Bay Area)

Springs Charter Schools (Southern California)

St. Hope (Sacramento)

Three CMOs were recognized as “gap busters” in reading and six received the same honor in math:


The Accelerated Schools (Los Angeles)

iLEAD (Castaic)

Para Los Niños (Los Angeles)


Da Vinci Schools (Los Angeles)

Global Education Collaborative (Los Angeles)

Summit Public Schools (Bay Area)

Synergy Charter Academy (Los Angeles)

Classical Academies (San Diego)

The Foundation for Hispanic Education (San Jose)

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