African American Students Performing Better, Enrolling At Higher Rates At California Charter Schools

October 6, 2011

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
(415) 505-7575

SACRAMENTO, California.--The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), today released the report Chartering and Choice as an Achievement Gap-Closing Reform, providing a statewide analysis of African American academic performance trends in California public schools.

The results of the report show that charter schools are effectively accelerating the performance of African American public school students, and are earning higher Academic Performance Index (API) scores and proficiency rates statewide, in many urban districts and across all subjects when compared with traditional public schools. In addition, African American students are enrolling at higher rates in charter schools than traditional schools at all grade levels, in some cases at close to twice the rate, and are experiencing better outcomes.

"This report has unearthed a wealth of insight into the performance, needs, and possibilities for African American students," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. "Chartering and Choice as an Achievement Gap-Closing Reform adds to this body of scholarly research, confirming what parents as well as charter teachers and leaders have always known, that African American students can achieve at high levels and deserve quality educational choices."

"I applaud CCSA for investing in this much needed analysis! Documenting the positive impacts public charter schools have had on closing California's achievement gap not only helps to dispel a variety of myths, but further empowers African American parents to become informed consumers of the educational options available to their children," said Ursula Wright, interim president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "In many instances, public charter schools are providing pathways to academic success for African American students and these schools should be encouraged accordingly."

Chartering and Choice as an Achievement Gap-Closing Reform examined performance and enrollment trends in both California charter public and traditional public schools from school years 2006-07 to 2009-10. All enrollment and performance data came from the publicly available Academic Performance Index (API) and the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) files maintained by the California Department of Education (CDE).

The results show that California charter public schools have consistently earned higher African American API scores and proficiency rates statewide, in many urban districts, and across subjects. From 2007 to 2010, African American student API scores in California charters grew from an average of 678 to 713. This last year, the score was 19 points higher than the average statewide African American API score for traditional schools.

Using CCSA's own performance metric, the Similar Students Measure (SSM)1 , charter public schools serving African American students were more than three times as likely as traditional public schools to consistently outperform their predicted performance in a single year and overtime.

Closing the achievement gap among African American students and their White and Asian peers remains a significant challenge in public education. Indeed, few schools have demonstrated that they are highly effective educators of African Americans; however, charters are much more likely to be in this group. While charters make up only 9% of schools statewide, they represent 39% of highly effective schools for African American students.

The report also includes three case studies of charter public schools serving a high percentage of African American students in three key cities to identify best practices. The schools were Watts Learning Center in Los Angeles, KIPP Bridge in Oakland, and PS7 in Sacramento. Common practices at the three schools included: a clear mission statement focused on academic achievement and developing students, a standards-based curriculum based on critical thinking skills, results-focused instructional practices, among others.

The case studies demonstrated that the best practices implemented by charter schools effectively educating African American students are readily available, having been well documented in scholarly literature.

"What this report shows is that African American students are experiencing better outcomes in charters, and that as laboratories of innovation, California's highly effective charter public schools can demonstrate proven paths to success that should be replicated nationally," said Dr. Aisha Toney, Director of Research, CCSA.

Charter schools are public schools that are tuition-free, have open enrollment, serve all students, and enjoy greater flexibility in exchange for higher accountability.

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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

1 For more information on the SSM, visit

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