CCSA's "Portrait of the Movement" Report Gets National Recognition

October 27, 2011

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By Jed Wallace, President and CEO, CCSA

This week, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) presented the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) with the "Award for Excellence in Advancing Knowledge" for the Portrait of the Movement report, the cornerstone of CCSA's accountability work.

Accountability has been a top priority for CCSA for many years, and when we released the first Portrait of the Movement report last February, we did so knowing that the data would help the charter movement identify schools that we all can learn from, and those that need a second look.

Through this candid and comprehensive snapshot of performance, CCSA is looking to raise the performance bar and to support the expansion of those charter schools that are having a high impact on their students' futures.

Perhaps the most significant findings in the first annual Portrait of the Movement report were that California charter schools are accelerating the closure of the achievement gap between low-income and affluent students, and that charters serving low-income populations are generating better academic results than traditional public schools. These results tell us that charters are successfully weakening the link between poverty and under-performance. Yet there is work to be done. Too many charters are also underperforming, and it is here where we are taking action.

Portrait of the Movement introduced a performance framework, which streamlines and improves upon the existing assessment system in order to strengthen academic accountability for underperforming charters. The Portrait of the Movement report plays an important role in advancing knowledge about the state's charter schools, as the report features movement-wide analyses to aid efforts to assess, monitor and improve the academic performance of all charter schools, including tools schools can use directly to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

As a movement, we need to ensure that all students are getting the quality education they deserve, and need. We cannot make improvements if we exempt charter schools that are not delivering or producing solid results.

CCSA aims to remain the preeminent source for California charter school performance data in order to inform strategic school support and advocacy at the state and local levels and will continue to publish an annual Portrait of the Movement. Our next report is due in February 2012.

We are truly honored for this award, and we thank NACSA for their support.

NOTE: NACSA's annual Award for Excellence in Advancing Knowledge recognizes the authors of a scholarly report that thoughtfully examines critical issues within the charter sector. Last year's winner was the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools for "How State Charter Laws Rank Against The New Model Public Charter School Law".

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