Public School Choice Charter Schools Outperform District-Run Programs

August 29, 2011

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Sierra Jenkins, CCSA
(213) 256-9489

LAUSD Board set to vote Tuesday on whether to allow charters to continue to apply for new schools

LOS ANGELES, California.--Charter schools that opened under the first round of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Public School Choice (PSC 1.0) initiative last fall are largely outperforming district-run PSC programs, according to STAR testing results. Despite these promising results, on Tuesday, the LAUSD board is set to decide whether to continue to allow charter schools to apply for new schools under this reform initiative.

According to the data, overall the PSC 1.0 charter schools are showing stronger academic results than schools run by in-district applicants. In comparing the charter schools with the existing schools they relieved, three of the four charter schools significantly outpaced those schools in both English Language Arts and Math.

The PSC 1.0 charter schools include Camino Nuevo's Jose Castellanos Elementary, Aspire's Gateway Academy and Firestone Academy (which share a single campus), Synergy Charter School, Magnolia Science Academy Bell and Para Los Ninos - Gratts Learning Center.*

"We see promise in these results - they show charter schools are making a difference for kids and that the board's decision to put student needs first has paid off," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of CCSA. "Charter schools are proud to be partners in this reform and we support the Board's continued efforts to ensure every student has access to a high-quality education."

It is particularly powerful to look at the testing results from a parent's perspective, comparing how the PSC 1.0 charters are doing compared to the schools these students otherwise would have attended (relieved schools):

  • In its first year, Camino Nuevo's Jose Castellanos Elementary outperformed all of its relieved schools on both ELA and Math.
  • Synergy Charter Academy** in south LA significantly outperformed both the relieved school and Quincy Jones, the new district-run school with which it shares a campus.
  • Both Aspire charter schools (Firestone and Gateway), in their first year of operation at South Region Elementary School #4 in south LA, significantly outpaced three of the four relieved schools in that area in both ELA and Math.
  • Magnolia Science Academy Bell, which shares a campus with two academies run by in-district teams, outperformed those two academies in math, as well as one of the two relieved schools.

On Tuesday, the LAUSD Board will be considering a resolution proposed by board member Steve Zimmer to dramatically roll back the PSC initiative, giving in-district applicant teams priority and effectively pushing out charter schools and community groups from applying for new schools.

The LAUSD Board voted passed the Public School Choice Resolution in 2009 to reform the operation of the new schools and some of the lowest performing schools in the district. In February 2010, five out of the 13 charter applicants were selected in the first round, opening charter school opportunities to an estimated 2,500 students. In round two, the LAUSD board selected six charter operators to run academies at six of the 13 campuses, resulting in an estimated 4,750 new seats available to students. Read more about Public School Choice.


For more details, download this Excel with proficiency rates for all the PSC 1.0 sites. Numbers reflect the CST Summary results from the California Department of Education 2011 STAR testing.

*Para Los Ninos only serves K-1 students so doesn't have standardized test scores, which start in second grade.

**Synergy had negotiated an agreement with the district before the Public School Choice initiative was passed and relocated its existing charter school on to the Quincy Jones campus. Approximately one-third of the Synergy students tested were from the previous school and two-thirds were new students.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 912 charter public schools and more than 365,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit

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