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Student Success

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Overview

Charter schools help strengthen California’s public school system by offering more kids an opportunity for a great public education at schools that put their needs first. Public education is the backbone of the American dream — and charter schools help give every student the opportunity to grow and achieve.

Charter schools are free from the red tape that gets between students, teachers, and learning. In exchange, our schools are held to high performance standards. As a result, charters launching bright futures and sending more kids to college, especially in underserved communities.

Why Accountability Matters

Academic accountability is a key ingredient in the success of California's charter schools and the students they serve. Charter school students are thriving academically, in part, because clear minimum performance standards have created an environment of flexibility in exchange for accountability. Over the years, high performing charter schools have flourished and many underperforming schools have closed.

The ongoing and future success of California charter schools depends on a robust, clearly defined accountability system.

Accountability Framework

In 2009, CCSA's Member Council, in consultation with technical experts, led the development and introduction of a fair and transparent Accountability Framework that sets Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria to measure academic performance of charter schools. The framework 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.

To this day, CCSA uses this framework to:

  • Identify struggling schools in need of targeted interventions;
  • Guide our advocacy efforts, in support of and in opposition to, renewing and replicating charter schools;
  • Provide all charter schools with tools to examine their individual performance; and
  • Help present a clear picture of the performance of the entire movement.

Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria

While there are many important aspects to measuring the performance of a charter school, CCSA believes student academic outcomes should be the single most important measure of a school's success at the time of charter renewal or replication. CCSA's Accountability Framework is made up of two parts - an initial review of publicly available test score and postsecondary readiness data and then, for the subset of schools underperforming on all initial criteria, a Multiple Measures Review based on public and non-public data that is tailored to a school's mission and outcomes.

Initial Filters 

Charters meeting ANY initial filter OR showing academic success through the Multiple Measure Review meet the academic threshold to receive CCSA's full advocacy support for renewal or replication. CCSA opposes renewal and replication for schools below ALL initial filters AND that do not demonstrate academic success through the Multiple Measure Review.

Three measures of state test scores and postsecondary readiness serve as "initial filters":

1) Status Measure*

  • Schools must have a State Rank of 4 or above in 2 of 3 years.
  • Additionally, schools performing in the bottom 5th percentile in 2 of 3 years need to participate in CCSA's Multiple Measure Review before receiving CCSA's advocacy support for renewal or replication.
  • CCSA uses a weighted average of SBAC scale scores measuring how far the average student is above/below the "Met" standard and ranked 0-100th percentile statewide as well as turned into rankings of 1-10. (This is called the "Distance from Standard" or "DFS".)

2) Growth*/ Postsecondary readiness

  • Elementary/middle schools: Growth over time on SBAC
  • An increase on the Distance from Standard "DFS" measure by at least 12 scale score points on SBAC between 2015-16 and 2017-18 (the 75th percentile of growth statewide.)
  • High schools: 75% or more of 12th grade graduates completing all "a-g" requirements in 2 of 3 years. 

3) Similar Students

  • A Similar Students Rank of 4 or above in 2 of 3 years. This measures how schools are performing with similar students across the state.

Multiple Measure Review 

Schools below ALL the initial filters or in the bottom 5% statewide on SBAC can share outcomes aligned to California's 8 state priorities as described in the school's Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). Schools can tell their own story of success by choosing measures most closely aligned to their mission.
CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria would not apply if a school is designated as DASS (Alternative), is less than four years old, or has less than 30 valid test takers.

*An estimation of Distance from Standard is used when the confirmed Distance from Standard published by the state is unavailable.
Academic Accountability Reports

CCSA publishes individual school Academic Accountability Reports that show the results of every charter school based on CCSA's Accountability Framework. Reports are available for all charter schools regardless of performance. Note that CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria do not apply if a school has Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS), is less than four years old, or has less than 30 valid test takers.

To help schools better contextualize their performance, we're translating these measures into "state ranks" (link to glossary term) and "similar schools ranks." (link to glossary term)

As new data are released by the CDE these reports will be updated. The data release date is clearly marked on the reports and on the spreadsheet. Please email accountability@ccsa.org with any questions.

Additional Reports

Postsecondary Access and Achievement at CSUs (June 2019)

Publicly available CSU data showed charter school grads, particularly grads from historically disadvantaged subgroups, were more successful in accessing the CSU system than their traditional school peers between 2015 and 2017. 

A Comparative Look at College Outcomes for CA Public School Graduates (June 2019)

Publicly available data from the National Student Clearinghouse showed that on average, more CA charter school grads were enrolling in college (versus grads from traditional schools).

University of CA Application, Admittance and Enrollment (June 2019)

Publicly available UC data showed that CA charter schools increased access to college for students and helped close the college access gap for historically disadvantaged students.

Non-Academic Accountability

In addition to holding schools accountable academically, CCSA also takes a position on specific instances of documented and corroborated practices by charter schools that are unlawful or against standards of practice. In March 2014, CCSA's Member Council adopted guidelines outlining circumstances in which CCSA staff could bring issues to the Member Council for their direction for advocacy on district-driven school closures on a case-by-case basis.

CCSA would support revocation of a charter school if the following conditions are true:

  • The authorizer issued a Notice of Violation alleging that the school did any of the following:
  • An independent and credible third party (i.e. a CPA or FCMAT) verified that the charter school committed the alleged violation, where appropriate.
  • The charter school's governing board failed to take action to correct the deficiencies or conduct alleged by the authorizer and supported by the third party verification process.
  • The school did not work in a cooperative, forthcoming and transparent way with CCSA to understand the situation and make adjustments.

In addition, while not necessarily a reason for revocation, CCSA would consider not supporting a school's renewal if one of the following are true:

  • The charter school has a negative balance at the time of renewal.
  • The charter school has failed to submit renewal documents in a timely fashion. 
Non-Academic Accountability Principles and Process Frameworks

Building off the 2014 policy, in September 2018, the Member Council adopted a Non-Academic Accountability Principles and Process Framework that provide guidelines for how and when CCSA will work with Member Council to respond to issue of concern related to operations, fiscal, and governance practices in cases where authorizers are not providing oversight. CCSA will not actively seek issues, nor review schools on an annual basis for the purpose of non-academic accountability. This process is designed to respond to the concerns that member schools or trusted partners raise with CCSA staff, or issues identified through other ongoing work.

View the Non-Academic Accountability Principles and Process Frameworks in full detail here.

Want More Research and Reports?

Glossary of Terms

Academic Accountability Reports

CCSA publishes individual school Academic Accountability Reports that show the results of every charter school based on CCSA's Accountability Framework that sets Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria to measure academic performance of charter schools. View the reports.

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. CCSA encourages authorizers to use this data in making their decision about whether to renew a school's charter.

Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria (For Renewing and Replicating Schools in 2018 and Beyond)

CCSA believes student academic outcomes should be the single most important measure of a school's success at the time of charter renewal or replication. CCSA's Accountability Framework is made up of two parts - an initial review of publicly available test score and postsecondary readiness data and then, for the subset of schools underperforming on all initial criteria, a Multiple Measures Review based on public and non-public data that is tailored to a school's mission and outcomes.

Charters meeting ANY initial filter OR showing academic success through the Multiple Measure Review meet the academic threshold to receive CCSA's full advocacy support for renewal or replication. CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria would not apply if a school is designated as DASS (Alternative), less than four years old, or has less than 30 valid test takers. CCSA opposes renewal and replication for schools below ALL initial filters AND that do not demonstrate academic success through the Multiple Measure Review.

1) Status measure

- Schools must have a State Rank of 4 or above in 2 of 3 years.

- Additionally, schools performing in the bottom 5th percentile in 2 of 3 years need to participate in CCSA's Multiple Measure Review before receiving CCSA's advocacy support for renewal or replication.

- CCSA uses a weighted average of SBAC scale scores measuring how far the average student is above/below the "Met" standard and ranked 0-100th percentile statewide. (This is called the "Distance From Standard" or "DFS")

2) Growth/ Postsecondary readiness

- Elementary/middle schools: Growth over time on SBAC: 

- An increase on the Distance From Standard "DFS" measure by at least 12 scale score points on CAASPP between 2015-16 and 2017-18 (The 75th percentile of growth statewide.)

- High schools: 75% or more of 12th grade graduates completing all "a-g" requirements in 2 of 3 years.

3) Similar Students:

- A Similar Students Rank of 4 or above in 2 of 3 years. This measures how schools are performing with similar students across the state.

Multiple Measures Review

Schools below ALL the initial filters or in the bottom 5% statewide on SBAC can share outcomes aligned to California's 8 state priorities as described in the school's Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). Schools can tell their own story of success by choosing measures most closely aligned to their mission. Learn more about the Multiple Measures Review.

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 enables 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. This data Is used 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 also uses the data to additional Academic Accountability Reports available publicly.

Public Call for Non-Renewal

CCSA's Accountability Framework and Minimum Criteria for Renewal guides our advocacy efforts for renewing and replicating schools. As charter schools come up for renewal every five years, this framework allows us to support high-performing schools and advocate for the non-renewal of chronically underperforming schools that do not deliver academic results for students.

We applaud the many charter schools that are among the highest-performing schools in the state. However, we believe that a small number of chronically underperforming charter schools threatens the overall success of the broader charter school movement. CCSA publicly called for the non-renewal of charter schools that were not meeting our minimum criteria for renewal for the first time in 2011.

Similar Students Measure

CCSA created the Similar Students Ranks (SSR), as a key component of our Accountability Framework. The Similar Students Rank (SSR) orders schools according to how their students perform on standardized tests compared to schools serving similar students statewide. It functions as a "proxy value-add" measure by comparing each school's performance to a prediction based on how schools with similar demographic characteristics perform.

The SSR sets a minimal bar of performance that allows for uniformly high expectations while taking into account students' backgrounds. The SSR is used as one component of CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria, which also includes status, growth and post-secondary readiness. CCSA's Minimum Criteria do not attempt to measure or define high quality or supersede any performance goals set by the state or federal government. These criteria are only meant to determine which charters have academic outcomes that warrant academic renewal advocacy and which charters do not. 

  • To what extent is the school missing or surpassing its predicted performance?
  • How does the school's difference between predicted and actual performance compare to all other schools in the state?

These questions are answered using linear regressions for each grade and subject. The regressions control for variables that are related to academic achievement (e.g., parent education, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, etc.). Actual achievement minus predicted achievement produces a raw SSR score. After averaging ELA and Math in each grade, CCSA weights the score by the number of valid scores per grade to obtain one number for each school. These school-level SSR scores are ranked from lowest to highest, and allow us to place schools into the 10 decile ranks. The SSR calculation is based on publicly-reported achievement scores and tested-student demographics, as reported to the California Department of Education. CCSA does not produce SSR categories for schools that qualify for the DASS program, are Alternative, or have fewer than 30 valid scores.

State rank

CCSA has created a weighted average of proficiency, called the Distance From Standard (DFS). This measure uses current year CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) data and takes into account the performance of every tested student in the school, not just those that are over the "met standard" bar. It helps a school understand how far above or below proficiency its students are performing.

Similar schools rank

Also based on the current year CAASPP data, this measure helps schools benchmark their performance in comparison to others serving similar demographics of students statewide. This Similar Students Measure helps contextualize a school's performance, while accounting for all significant subgroups served by the school.

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