Senate Education Committee Approves Higher Accountability Criteria For California's Charter Schools

May 4, 2011

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PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
(415) 505-7575
vwaters@calcharters.org

SB 645 would link performance to charter school renewals; persistently underperforming schools could face closure

SACRAMENTO, California.--The Senate Education Committee today approved SB 645, a bill sponsored by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) that calls for the increase of accountability criteria for charter schools at the time of their renewal.

The bill was approved with a 7 to 1 vote, and now moves to Senate Appropriations.

SB 645, authored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), would create new and more stringent academic accountability requirements for charter schools to meet at the time they seek renewal from their authorizing entities. The requirements would raise standards for student performance and outcomes, and would be critical in identifying and closing persistently low-performing schools.

"The California Charter Schools Association is deeply committed to an academic accountability system that ensures that charters are providing innovative models of quality education to every student that chooses to attend. For that, it is important to have a system that is consistent and transparent, and that doesn't turn a blind eye on poor performing schools," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the CCSA.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Establishes a floor of 700 on the API scale.
  • Defines an acceptable API cumulative growth target as 30 points over the three previous API cycles.
  • Limits the API rank to deciles 6-10 and eliminates this alternative if there is no demographically comparable school.
  • Maintains the alternative accountability system as an exception.

Further, SB 645 replaces the loose academic equivalency standard with a new standard that requires schools not meeting one of the targets to seek a determination of academic eligibility from the State Board of Education in order to be eligible for renewal. In that process, the school would have to submit data and demonstrate that it meets or exceeds its predicted performance, based on a statistical evaluation of similar student populations for the State Board of Education to make the determination.

Only when a charter school meets one of the four measures of success or successfully receives a positive determination of academic eligibility from the State Board of Education may an authorizer consider renewing the charter school.

The bill would limit the second look option to those charters that fail to quality for renewal under the criteria specified above.

"We have some of the most academically successful charter schools in the nation, but we must also ensure that consistently low-performing schools are held accountable," said Wallace.

Currently, California has 912 charter schools serving more than 365,000 students, the largest of any state in the nation. In addition, charter schools are public schools, tuition-free, and open to all students, and provide innovative, alternative and diverse educational programs with the goal of improving academic achievement. Charter schools operate free of many rules and regulations in exchange for increased accountability.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 912 charter public schools and more than 365,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.

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If you are a member of the news media, please contact Emily Galbreth at: (412) 559-8571 or egalbreth@calcharters.org.

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