Charter Schools Performing Above State Average on New Common Core Aligned Tests

September 9, 2015

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(Sacramento, CA) - According to new assessment data released today by the California Department of Education (CDE), charter public schools performed better than the state averages on Math and English Language Arts while serving a diverse population of students. These trends reaffirm independent research (see below) that shows charter schools are performing well with historically underserved students, and improving over time.

The new more rigorous standards aligned to the Common Core mark a fundamental shift, raising the bar for how California's public school students learn and are taught in preparation for college and career readiness. California's charter schools, through their innovative practices and increased flexibility, have surpassed the state average scores on the Common Core aligned assessments.

More specifically, charter schools have successfully outperformed the state average in English Language Arts by 4.4 scale score points. And in Math, charter schools on average have exceeded the state average by 1.3 scale score points. Overall, California's charter schools have scored on average 2.8 scale score points higher than the statewide average on a combined measure of Math and English Language Arts.1

To put this in perspective, for a student to be considered meeting state standards in 5th grade Math, that student must earn a scale score of 2528. In the following year for that student to maintain that same rating of meeting standard in 6th grade Math, that student must earn a scale score of 2552, or a 24 point difference.

Looking more specifically at the performance levels of students, charter schools have a higher percentage of students than the state average meeting or exceeding the more rigorous Common Core aligned assessments in ELA and an equal percentage in Math.

Charter schools accomplish these results while continuing to serve a highly diverse student population.

In the coming weeks, CCSA will be calculating a similar student's measure which will control for the demographic differences between schools, as well as comparing data from those schools that scored much higher on the Common Core aligned assessments when compared to the old California standards. These two analyses will shed light on the promising practices that have increased student achievement and those schools that are helping to close the achievement gap.

This comparison is between charter schools and traditional schools that are not alternative schools and have 50 or more test takers in the 2014-15 school year.

The CDE identified 26 schools as charter schools, that were actually traditional schools, so those schools were not included in the charter school counts. The CDE also identified 26 different schools as traditional schools, but were actually charter schools, so those schools were counted as charter schools in the calculations.

Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) Research

CCSA Research

Learn more about California Charter Schools by the Numbers.

1Numbers in this paragraph were updated on September 15, 2015. Initial data reported by CCSA did not differentiate between suppressed and non-suppressed grade level data. Non-suppressed data refers to all students who took the test in each grade in a school. However, the state suppresses mean scale scores when fewer than 11 students in a grade have taken the test. When CCSA calculated our APD (Average Point Difference) for each school, we weighted test scores by all students, but we were able to compare test scores to the state average only for non-suppressed students. That changed our weighting denominator when one or more grades had suppressed scores. Of the over 8,000 non-ASAM, non-Alternative, and non-tiny schools we include in our analyses, this problem impacted the APD for 197 schools (less than 3% of schools statewide). While the specific statewide averages changed slightly from our initial analysis, the general trends remain the same.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association's vision is to increase student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education. Our mission is to ensure a million students attend charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure. We do this by serving as the advocacy organization that builds the policy environment needed to grow as quickly as possible the number of students attending high quality charter public schools. For more information, please visit our website at