Portrait of the Movement 2017 Report

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The fifth edition of CCSA's Portrait of the Movement report echoes prior research and highlights strong outcomes among charter schools serving California's historically disadvantaged students.

"This report shows that California charter schools continue to beat the odds by helping their students achieve at higher levels than their peers in traditional public schools," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA. "Year after year we see charter schools in California using their freedom and flexibility to deliver results for students that surpass expectations."

Overall, this report reveals California's charter public schools are successfully striving towards full implementation of Common Core, and continue to outperform traditional public schools at disproportionately high numbers. Charter school trends in performance are stable since the transition from the Academic Performance Index (API), as charters continue to positively serve the most historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students. The 2017 Portrait of the Movement documents that charters are achieving academic success across various student demographic groups and geographies, and within different charter school types. At the same time, the report identifies areas of focus as the sector has further to go in meeting the academic needs of all students, because there are still too many under performing charter schools in the state.

"Though charters still educate a relatively small proportion of California's students (9% in 2015-16), they are having a disproportionate impact on student learning," said Elizabeth Robitaille, SVP Achievement and Performance Management, CCSA. "Seventeen percent of California's charter schools are in the top tenth of performance statewide on a Similar Schools Measure and nearly a third of all California charters are in the top quartile. Each year more and more families are choosing charter schools as they seek a quality public school option that will meet their student's unique needs."

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 five (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017) reports assessing the performance of the charter school movement. For more information, visit www.ccsa.org/pom.

2017 Key Findings

  1. Using CCSA's Similar Students Measure (SSM) we find that charter schools are overrepresented at the highest (most outperforming) and lowest (most underperforming) ends of the distribution, making up the "Shape of the U" that we have historically seen for charter schools in California (See Figures 1 and 2 in report)
  2. California charter schools are not only doing significantly better to help all students meet standards, but on average charter schools are ranking higher statewide according to CCSA's Average Point Difference (APD) decile ranks
  3. Using CCSA's APD we find that, for most subgroups, on average charter schools performed the same or better on Common Core state tests than did traditional public schools. (See Figure 8 in report)
  4. Latino and African-American charter school students are twice as likely as their TPS peers to be attending a school in the top 10% statewide and over three times as likely to be attending a top 5% school statewide. Nearly half (43%) of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) charter schools perform in the top quartile statewide - more than double the percent of LAUSD traditional public schools. In Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), 31% of charter schools perform among the top quartile statewide - nearly eight times the TPS percentage.
  5. By school type we see the performance of Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) is highly concentrated in the top quartile. Also, consistent with API trends, classroom-based charter schools on average are more likely to be higher performing than non-classroom based charters.
  6. CCSA maintained clear academic standards and accountability for charters with its academic accountability framework during the state standards and assessment gap over the last three years. These consistent accountability efforts have helped positively impact the distribution of California charter school performance in the past and we believe we can continue the charge to improve performance in this early Common Core era.

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