Portrait of the Movement 2013 Report

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CCSA's Third Annual Report on Charter School Performance and Accountability

CCSA's third Portrait of the Movement report, released in October 2013, reviews charter school performance across California and presses the case for improved accountability for persistently underperforming charter schools, based on a better framework and tools.

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Download the Portrait of the Movement report:

Portrait of the Movement, first published in February 2011, introduced a performance framework that includes the Similar Students Measure (SSM), a tool developed by CCSA and vetted by an advisory panel of external research and accountability experts.

The SSM assesses school performance while filtering out many of the non-school effects on student achievement through the use of regression-based predictive modeling. The measure compares a school's Academic Performance Index (or "API," a numeric score used for school accountability purposes ranging from 200 to 1,000 that summarizes a school's performance on California's standardized tests) to a predicted API that controls for the effects of student background on performance. This approach enables researchers to identify schools that perform significantly over and under their prediction on an annual basis, as well as over a period of three years.

Key Findings

The detailed 2013 report offered six key findings including:

  1. In the 2011-12 school year, charter schools were more likely than traditional public schools to far outperform and far underperform their predicted performance using student demographics, creating a "U-shaped" distribution of performance.
  2. School-level results mask the larger impact of charter schools on students: Twice as many students were enrolled in charter schools in the top 5% on Percent Predicted API than in the bottom 5%.
  3. Charter schools had stronger outcomes than traditional public schools with some underserved student subgroups: low-income students, English Learners, African American students, and Latino students. These student populations were concentrated in charters at the high end of Percent Predicted API. Additionally, the percentage of students in these subgroups was less predictive of API at charter schools than at traditional schools.
  4. Charter schools that were part of a replicating organization in 2012-13 were more likely than other charter schools to be high-performing.
  5. Charter schools that were part of a CMO or Network were more likely than freestanding charters to be represented at the highest levels of performance.
  6. Charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and in the Oakland Unified School District outperformed their traditional public school counterparts on Percent Predicted API.

Portrait of the Movement will continue to be a useful tool in the Association's attempts to press for greater accountability for low-performing charter schools and for support of "high impact" charters that are adding significant value to their students.

Leading the Way on Accountability for Charter Schools

The California Charter Schools Law, approved in in 1992, opened the door to education reform and school choice, allowing charter schools to operate with autonomy and flexibility in exchange for increased accountability. In keeping with this covenant, California's charter schools are serious about creating significantly better learning opportunities than are available within the traditional public school system.

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