CCSA Calls for Non-Replication of Academically Low-Performing Charter Schools

February 3, 2014

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Replication Approval of Latino College Preparatory Academy in San Jose Misses Mark

SACRAMENTO, California - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) calls for the non-replication of low and underperforming charter schools and holds them to the same accountability standards of schools that fall below CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. Latino College Preparatory Academy (LCPA) in San Jose is one of those low-performing charter schools that should not have been granted approval to replicate two new high schools by the Eastside Union High School District.

"Accountability means supporting the growth of high-performing schools and illuminating those charter schools that are not providing a high-quality education," said CCSA President and CEO Jed Wallace. "Last fall we called for the closure of six charter schools that are underperforming. And we will also hold the same standards to those schools that seek to replicate but are not delivering on the promises outlined in their charter petitions."

"We cannot have an honest discussion about education reform and increasing accountability and then continue to allow chronically low-performing charters to replicate," said Wallace. "LCPA has missed the minimum performance benchmarks that CCSA members created to identify persistently under-performing charter schools. As a result, replicating a failing model is not in the best interest of the students and the communities they wish to serve."

The basic promise underlying charter public schools is that they receive greater autonomy and flexibility in exchange for increased accountability. Parents choose charters not only for this reason, but also for their ability to provide flexibility and choice for families, as evidenced by more than 500,000 students attending charters and another 50,000 students on waiting lists across the state.

These missed benchmarks by LCPA include a low Academic Performance Index (API) score of 679, 3 points of growth on API over the past three years, and having consistently underperformed compared to other schools serving a similar student body. After giving LCPA an opportunity to provide alternative academic achievement data, CCSA determined that the school is not making sufficient academic progress and should not be replicating.

We recognize that LCPA serves a traditionally disadvantaged population facing many challenges, but our measures show that it is still underperforming other schools in San Jose serving similar populations. Specifically, when looking at the top five comparable charters in the San Jose area (serving similar populations of Latino, English learner and low income students)*, LCPA is achieving fundamentally lower results for its students.

Most notably, LCPA has a dramatic achievement gap that the other charter schools have almost closed. Latino and low income students at LCPA perform 175 API points behind the state average for white students - more than four times the achievement gap of other charter schools in the area serving similar students. (See links to LCPA Academic Report Card and LCPA Comparison Chart below.)

On average, the top 5 comparable charter high schools (who serve high rates of Latino, English learner and low income students) have more than double the rates of proficiency in ELA and math.

Most importantly, these other schools have nearly double the number of Latino students graduating within four years having met all of the requirements necessary to attend UC/CSU campuses (only 39% at LCPA vs. an average of 78% for other schools with data).

While LCPA's underperforming status below our Minimum Criteria is CCSA's primary rationale for our non-support position, we also remain very concerned that LCPA does not have enough courses approved to satisfy requirements for students graduating in 2013-14 to meet the minimum number of required A-G courses for UC and CSU admittance.

CCSA calls on all authorizers, including Eastside Union High School District, to show the resolve needed to ensure that healthy levels of academic accountability are in place for charter schools before granting permission to replicate. We understand that this decision is not an easy one. Choosing to not open a new charter school in any community is among the hardest decisions to make - but it is so necessary.

*The five schools are: Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, KIPP San Jose Collegiate, Summit Preparatory Charter High, Summit Public School: Rainier, and Summit Public School: Tahoma.


About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 1,130 charter public schools and more than 519,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to empower parents and educators to unleash a new era of innovation within public education so that highly autonomous and accountable schools of choice provide quality learning opportunities for all California students. The Mission of CCSA is to enable our members to increase the number of students attending quality charter schools in California as quickly as possible by securing policy wins supportive of charter schools and providing the supports necessary to open and expand quality charter schools.