Portrait of the Movement 2012 Report

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


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The Portrait of the Movement: How Charters are Transforming California Education report, released in February 2012, 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. 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 report offered fourteen (14) key findings including:

  1. Charters in 2011 were more likely than traditional schools to far exceed their predicted performance based on student background. To a slightly lesser extent, charters were also more likely to far under-perform their prediction.
  2. When looking at the distribution of charter performance in terms of numbers of students served, about twice as many students in 2011 enrolled in schools far exceeding their prediction than were served by far under-performing schools.
  3. Charters that serve low-income students exceeded their prediction at high rates relative to the traditional system; students at charters serving low-income populations are five times more likely than their non-charter counterparts to be served by a school in the top 5th percentile.
  4. The impact of family income on charter schools' API performance in 2011 was nearly four times less than the impact of family income on non-charters' performance, thus accelerating the benefit of charter enrollment in particular for low income students.
  5. High performing schools are replicating. Charters that were part of an organization that opened new schools in 2011 were highly concentrated at the top end of the statewide distribution.
  6. Charters operated by a Charter Management Organization (CMO) in 2011 were highly concentrated in the top 10th percentile.
  7. Young and mature schools have similar performance distributions overall, however this pattern varies by the management model of the school. By the time they reach five years old, CMO and network schools are more likely to exceed their prediction and are not likely to under-perform, while freestanding schools are more likely to remain under-performing as they age.
  8. Both classroom-based and non-classroom-based charter schools were represented across the performance distribution; however classroom-based charters were more skewed towards the top end of the distribution.
  9. Charter schools are more likely than non-charters to have both above average academic performance and above average growth. They are less likely than non-charters to perform below both state averages of status and growth.
  10. Students at charters serving low-income populations are twice as likely as their non-charter counterparts to attend a school with high performance and high growth.
  11. A small number of low-performing charters were closed after the 2010-11 school year.
  12. The concentration of both low- and high-performing charters has persisted over time. Projecting forward based upon past trends, we would not expect the pattern to radically change.
  13. The adoption of the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal would have a significant impact on reducing the concentration of under-performing charters, by accelerating the pace of eliminating under-performing charters at three times the current pace given past trends, and in the current policy environment.
  14. Charter schools are twice as likely as non-charter schools to be a "High Impact" school.

Learn More:

Performance Framework

The SSM is a key element of CCSA's performance framework, which also includes measures of rigor (in the form of a school's API score) and momentum (by considering growth in API over a three-year period). By combining the pattern of a three-year cycle using current API, cumulative growth, and predicted performance, the framework provides a more comprehensive performance management construct to assess school progress. In addition to receiving a SSM Performance Band, schools are divided into four quadrants based upon their level of academic status and growth over time.

Similar Students Measure (SSM) Map

A detailed, interactive map which shows all charter and traditional public schools and their results on the Similar Students Measure (SSM), which identifies schools that persistently over- and under-perform a prediction based on student background.
Explore the Map.

Status/Growth/SSM Scatterplot

An interactive scatterplot graph of all California charter schools which are four years and older and their results on the Status/Growth/SSM Framework. For additional detail on how to interpret the graph, click the 'Instructions' tab at the bottom right of the graph.
Explore the Scatterplot.

Note: The Scatterplot is best viewed using the Firefox or Safari browsers. If using Internet Explorer click "No" to view all content and if using Chrome click "Load Anyway."

School Report Cards

Look up the CCSA Academic Accountability Report Card for any charter school to see results on the Similar Students Measure (SSM), the Status/Growth/SSM Framework, and the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal.
Explore the Report Cards.

Disaggregated results by region, county, district:

Generate Regional Snapshots of charter and non-charter results on the Accountability Framework disaggregated by region, county, district, authorizer, or zip code. The reports include additional information about enrollment, performance of subgroups, and growth over time.
Explore the Regional Snapshots.

For ease of access, find the Regional Snapshots for selected school districts here:

Sortable List of all Charter Schools:

A list of charters to see their placement on the accountability framework of SSM, status and growth.
Download the list.

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.
View the 1st Annual Portrait of the Movement published in 2011.

Technical Guide

Researchers, more information on the construction and intended use of the Similar Students Measure and the Annual School Performance Prediction is available in the Technical Guide to the Construction of the Annual School Performance Prediction (ASPP) and Similar Students Measure (SSM).
Download the Technical Guide.

Portrait of the Movement 2012 Report CCSA's Second Annual Report on Charter School Performance and Accountability, 2012

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