Accountability

Summary

CCSA is leading the way in accountability for charter schools by establishing clear and transparent academic performance expectations and providing resources to schools to foster a continuous cycle of improvement.

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Latest Updates for Schools

You can always find the latest updates on accountability on our Member Blog. Don't miss out on these great opportunities.

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

The Portrait of the Movement: Five Year Retrospective - A Charter Sector Growing in Numbers and Strength report, released in August 2014, 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.

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

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.

New Study Shows "No Empirical Evidence" That Charters Push Out Students

The authors of an analysis published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, September 4, 2013, examined exit patterns of an anonymous urban school district at both the aggregate and individual school levels. After running a wide variety of tests that utilize various measures of "low achieving," the authors found "no empirical evidence to support the notion of push-out."

Read the full study.

CCSA Calls for the Closure of 6 Charter Schools as a Result of Academic Underperformance

After years of member engagement, consultation with technical experts, and rigorous testing by staff, in 2011, CCSA formally adopted the CCSA Accountability Framework to guide our support for charter schools in renewal. Accordingly, CCSA will annually call for the non-renewal of schools in renewal that are below the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal.

LA Times Op-ed: "When charter schools fail, close them"
Read this piece by Jed Wallace, President and CEO of CCSA on why accountability is critical and urgent.

Sign up for NWEA Map Assessments and Trainings!

CCSA has partnered with the Northwest Evaluation Association™ (NWEA™) to allow California charter schools to receive a substantial discount on Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) assessments in Math, Reading, and Language Arts.

For just $10/student per year, California charter schools can administer the NWEA MAP assessments for 2013-14 (compared to a standard rate of $13.50/student). All charter schools in California are eligible to receive this discount. Charter schools currently using NWEA™ can receive the discounted rate in the form of a credit toward purchasing MAP® assessments in 2014-15.

Overview of CCSA's Accountability Work

Taking the Lead on Improving Academic Accountability

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.

Accountability is a top priority for CCSA and we have been working closely with members for many years to create our Accountability Framework.

Fact Sheet: Charter School Performance and Accountability

CCSA's Member Council, which consists of charter school leaders from across California, adopted an approach that calls for improving academic performance criteria and addressing deficiencies in current law that make it difficult to close underperforming schools. In June of 2013, the Member Council held an in-person meeting of a majority of the Council and unanimously recommended and the Board approved refinements to CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria. Read a message from Brian Bauer, Chair of the Member Council. Our accountability strategy aims to provide a clear, simple and fully transparent framework that provides all charter schools with tools to examine their individual performance, and also helps present a clear picture of the performance continuum across the entire movement.

CCSA Accountability Framework

In conjunction with our Member Council and in consultation with technical experts, CCSA developed an Accountability Framework to set minimum standards of academic performance at time of renewal. The Accountability Framework values academic rigor, growth, and comparisons with similar student populations. Importantly, it draws from public data (and thus is able to be implemented statewide) yet addresses some of the limitations of the state's current data infrastructure. Read more on the "Framework" tab of this article.

Public Call for Non-Renewal

After years of member engagement, consultation with technical experts, and rigorous testing by staff, CCSA formally adopted the CCSA Accountability Framework to guide our support for charter schools in renewal. Accordingly, CCSA will call for the non-renewal of schools in renewal that are below the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal (learn more on the "CCSA Accountability Framework" tab of this article.).

For those schools falling below the criteria, CCSA will inform the authorizers and the schools, and we will publically encourage authorizers to exercise their authority to deny the charter renewal petitions and close the schools. Charter renewal is the time when charter school authorizers, including Alisal USD, must determine if a charter school is fulfilling this promise. As a guide, state law directs local authorizers to use academic criteria as the single most important factor in considering whether to grant a charter renewal (Ed. Code §§ 47607(a)(3)(A)).

In 2011, for the first time, CCSA publicly called for the non-renewal of 10 chronically underperforming charter schools. Ultimately, it is authorizers--local school districts, county offices of education or the State Board of Education--that make the decision on whether a charter school will continue to operate. Four of the schools on our list closed that year--two voluntarily. In three school districts, the boards of education conditionally approved the charter schools, setting specific academic targets that, if not met, would result in automatic revocations. This is indeed what happened with Nubia Charter School in San Diego, which closed in spring 2013. In San Francisco Unified, Center Joint Unified and Antelope Valley Union High, the board chose simply to renew the charter schools.

State Board of Education Revocation Regulations

On November 9, 2010 the State Board of Education (SBE) voted in favor of approving new regulations that establish minimum benchmarks for academic performance, and lay out a process for triggering close reviews of charter schools that may result in their revocation by the State Board. In 2012 the state introduced SB 1290, which declared that academic growth across all student sub-groups is the most important factor in deciding whether to renew or revoke a charter. CCSA supports the SBE's efforts to address sustained underperformance that hasn't been adequately addressed by local authorizers. CCSA support for schools in this process will be based on each school's results on the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal (read more on the on the "Accountability Framework" tab of this article.).

The CCSA Accountability Report Card (see the "School Results" tab of this article) includes results for schools on the SBE Revocation Regulations on the third page of the Report.

Read CCSA's Press Release on the SBE Revocation Regulations

Read more about SB 1290.

Painting a "Portrait of the Movement"

In addition to establishing a minimum bar for academic achievement, CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal enables us to look across a continuum of performance to identify schools that are far exceeding the performance of other schools serving similar student populations and compare charter performance with that of traditional public schools. This will enable us to help build networks of practice, provide targeted support to struggling schools and achieve a greater degree of transparency and collaboration among similarly oriented charters - whether in curricular approach or student population served.

CCSA's Achievement and Performance Management Team use this data to generate an annual Portrait of the Movement report, which features movement-wide analyses to aid efforts to assess, monitor and improve the academic performance of all charter schools. CCSA generates other studies and reports. Find these, as well as other major studies about charter schools in our Charter School Research and Data Library.

CCSA Accountability Framework

The CCSA Accountability Framework guides CCSA's efforts to raise accountability standards in a way that values academic rigor while also giving schools credit for growth and for taking on the challenge of serving traditionally disadvantaged students well. It was developed by CCSA staff in conjunction with our Member Council and in consultation with over 20 researchers and technical experts across the state.

A key component is the Similar Students Measure (SSM), which looks at how schools perform compared to schools serving similar student populations across the state, as a way to assess the value-added by schools regardless of the gifts and challenges their students bring to the door. The SSM identifies schools that persistently exceed or fall short of a prediction based upon how students with similar backgrounds performed statewide.

The CCSA Accountability Framework combines the SSM with measures of academic status and growth. The resulting multi-dimensional framework creates the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal, which CCSA has adopted as a minimum performance standard for charter schools at the time of renewal. A school must pass JUST ONE of four criteria (status, growth, Similar Students Measure and second look) to receive CCSA's complete support at time of renewal.

  • Academic Performance Index (API) score that is above the 27th percentile* of performance for all schools in CA in most recent year (API 2013 score greater than or equal to 749), or
  • 3-year cumulative API growth of at least 50 points (2012-13 growth + 2011-12 growth + 2010-11 growth), or
  • Similar Students Measure (SSM) band of "Within" or "Above" in either of the last two years (2012-13 or 2011-12).
  • Second Look: For schools below the first three criteria, CCSA works with the school for a second look process. Learn more on the "School Results/Data Correction" tab.

* Criterion was set at the 25th percentile in 2013-14 with the goal of it gradually rising to the 33rd percentile over five years.

Deeper Research

CCSA has conducted extensive data simulations over multiple years, which have confirmed that charter schools of all grade level and school type are broadly distributed across the Accountability Framework and that the Minimum Criteria for Renewal do not unfairly treat schools serving traditionally disadvantaged students.

CCSA further tested the Accountability Framework by conducting an ambitious study of 58 charter schools across the state of California in 2011. Through site visits at nearly all of those schools and analysis of longitudinal student data, the study aimed to assess whether schools with low API status and growth scores were truly underperforming (as best as possible given the limitations of the data), to get schools' perspective of their own performance, and to assess the effectiveness of the Similar Students Measure (SSM) in identifying underperforming schools.

Read the full report "Assessing the Utility of State Academic Indicators for Measuring Performance in 58 California Charter Schools" (Note: school names are redacted for confidentiality).

Some of the findings of the report include:

  • Charter schools in this study are performing at comparatively very low levels of achievement (particularly in Math). Moreover, the data suggest that many of these schools are underperforming compared to how other schools are serving similar demographics of students, which are finding success despite greater challenges among their student populations.
  • Compared with other charters statewide, these schools had far lower performance in API scores, English and Math proficiency, and lost ground over time in student proficiency rates. In particular, Math proficiency levels were far lower for these schools. These data characterized the schools as far below average and not improving over time.
  • We do not see evidence that the K-12 and independent study schools are being unfairly penalized with the SSM.
  • We see similar numbers of high risk/high need populations served by the low performing CCSA Support and Non-Support charters. This suggests that the SSM is not inappropriately over-identifying or penalizing schools for serving high risk populations.
  • One third of the schools interviewed made comments that embodied low expectations for their students.
  • For 20% of the lowest performing charters, there is no longer a fit between their mission statement and who they serve.
  • Many of the lowest performing charters do not believe they are underperforming and do not evidence a clear understanding of accountability. More than half of schools (57%) believe they are not underperforming; two-thirds (63%) of the schools are unable to articulate a clear understanding of accountability.
  • Analyses of individual-student academic metrics contradict schools' assertions that, while school-wide results show poor performance, they are substantially increasing individual students' academic trajectories. We do not see evidence of such added value or disarticulation with our SSM measure.

In sum, this study suggested that, given the data limitations, CCSA's SSM instrument is properly calibrated to discern between schools that are performing well and those that are struggling.

School Results | Data Corrections

Academic Accountability Report Cards

CCSA publishes Report Cards that show the results of every charter school on the CCSA Accountability Framework which includes the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal. Report cards are available for all schools regardless of whether schools fall within CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. Schools participating in the Alternative Schools Accountability Model and schools testing fewer than 50 students are excluded from our analysis, and the Minimum Criteria for Renewal are only applicable for schools four years and older.

View Report Cards for charter schools across the state.

Data Corrections

The data presented in the CCSA Academic Accountability Report Card is downloaded from the California Department of Education (CDE)'s website and reflects the data that CDE has for your school.

Incorrect data may:

  • Cause your school's Similar Students Measure to look lower than it is really is!
  • Result in less funding for your school!

If you find incorrect data reported in your school's CCSA Academic Accountability Report Card, please submit changes to both CCSA and the CDE no later than December 2, 2013. Please note that CCSA will only accept changes to demographic characteristics for the students whose test scores were included in the 2013 Growth Academic Performance Index (API) Report. These data are taken from the 2013 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program student answer document. CCSA will not accept California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) demographic data.

To submit changes to CCSA:
Please fill out and submit the Demographic Data Change Request Form. Also submit a copy of the STAR Data Corrections Form in order to demonstrate that you are submitting changes to the CDE. Forms must be sent to accountability@calcharters.org by December 2, 2013. If you have questions or encounter problems during the data correction process, please contact datarequest@calcharters.org and a CCSA data analyst will get back to you to answer your questions.

To submit changes to the California Department of Education (CDE):
The Demographic Data Corrections module has been added to the STAR Management System, which allows for charter school STAR coordinators to correct demographic data errors. Find instructions in the STAR Demographic Data Corrections Manual. The first step of STAR data corrections procedure is to complete the STAR Data Corrections Form.

Second Look Process

For schools that are initially identified as being below the first three components of CCSA's Minimum Academic Accountability Criteria (API status, 3-year growth, and Similar Students Measure), CCSA offers a "second look" support process.

Schools may submit additional evidence of student academic gains that may demonstrate significantly higher levels of growth than what is seen at other schools. CCSA will conduct an analysis of student-level growth for each school that submits qualifying data. The results of this analysis, called "second look" will be considered in the final determination of which schools are below the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal each year. For more information regarding the second process, email accountability@calcharters.org.

Second Look Data should be:

  • Longitudinal. Representing at least two consecutive academic years (preferably more for students that have available data)
  • Standardized. The assessments used must be from a standardized assessment (i.e., comparable to other schools) and correlated to California state standards or Common Core standards.
  • Representative. The data should represent the vast majority of all students that were continuously enrolled for both testing periods provided. These thresholds may be adjusted for drop-out recovery schools. Data relating to post-secondary success should be representative of the vast majority of the school's graduates, and should include comparison data as well as information on graduation and drop-out rates.
  • Disaggregated by grade level. For comparison purposes, we must know students' grade levels.
  • Anonymous. To protect student privacy, schools must redact any personally identifying information from student-level data submitted to CCSA.

Academic Growth Over Time (AGT) Reports

CCSA is taking a lead role in providing reports to charter schools showing the academic growth of their students over time. This can be a great tool.

Members, sign up to receive your school's AGT results for free.

Through the generous support of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, CCSA is providing charters with results showing the academic progress of their students over time for the 2012-13 school year. In August, charters throughout California will be invited to upload their CST data, and in the fall, they will receive back, free of charge, a detailed report helping them determine the impact that their teachers are having on their students.

Sign up to Receive Academic Growth Over Time (value-added modeling) reports

CCSA has partnered with the Value-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to provide California charter schools with access to free data analyses. These reports use student-level data to help quantify the value your charter adds to students' Academic Growth over Time (AGT) at each grade level, by subject. The reports, normally only available to large school districts, are a tremendous benefit to both your school and to furthering the understanding of charter school performance across the state. To opt in, email datarequest@calcharters.org.

Utilizing Student Data to Provide a More Complete Picture of Academic Growth

Currently, California's K-12 schools are held accountable for student achievement using the Academic Performance Index (API), which assesses how students at each school are performing at one point in time. CCSA members have told us repeatedly of the limitations of the API for understanding the true impact that they are having on their students. Although the API is a useful indicator of school achievement, it does not take into account students' background or their starting point, and does not tell educators how much actual growth has been made by students enrolled at each school.

Collaborating with Partners to Provide Results of Academic Growth over Time (AGT)

In recent years, sophisticated analyses have become available that allow educators to more accurately assess the impact that they are having on their students. This type of information is currently unavailable to most school districts in California. However, CCSA has partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Educational Analytics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to provide charters with access to the results of these sophisticated analyses, which are often referred to as "value added" models of student progress.

The statistical model used by LAUSD has been vetted by many technical experts, and undergone rigorous testing. The 2012-13 school year will mark the fourth consecutive year that the University of Wisconsin will be providing AGT reports to its charters and traditional schools.

How do I find more detailed information regarding the statistical model used to generate the results?

LAUSD has generously permitted CCSA to use all of its printed resources. (Click on "Access LAUSD AGT Training Materials.")

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