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

December 17, 2013

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PRESS RELEASE

SACRAMENTO, California - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has called for the closure of six (6) charter schools from across California that are below CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. The schools represent four schools that are up for renewal by their authorizer this year and two schools that were renewed despite chronic low performance and have failed to improve.

"Accountability continues to be one of our top priorities, and we remain driven by a relentless focus on the pursuit of quality education for every student as a constant tenet in all of our efforts. The basic promise of charter public schools is that increased accountability comes in exchange for greater autonomy and flexibility. We are serious about delivering on that promise," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.

"Over the past five years we have seen a significant improvement in the overall performance of charter schools in California, with the percentage of high-performing schools increasing modestly and the percentage of low-performing schools decreasing by approximately one third," said Elizabeth Robitaille, senior vice president of Achievement and Performance Management at CCSA. "We believe we could not have made this progress without CCSA's members taking a lead role in ensuring that appropriate levels of academic accountability are in place across the charter school sector."

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"CCSA is committed to creating significantly better learning opportunities than are available within the traditional school system. That means not only supporting the growth of high-performing schools, but also shining a light on those charter schools that are not providing a high-quality education," Wallace said. "In so doing, our movement reaffirms its commitment to the transparency and accountability that we believe parents and the general public wish to see in place for all public schools."

CCSA's Accountability Framework

CCSA developed its Accountability Framework in 2009, working closely with technical experts and CCSA's Member Council, comprised of charter leaders from every region of the state. This framework is a three-dimensional model that values academic rigor while also giving schools credit for growth and for taking on the challenge of serving traditionally disadvantaged students well. It provides the basis for CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal, a minimum performance standard that CCSA developed and uses as part of its advocacy efforts for charter schools seeking a renewal of their petition. Under California law, charter school petitions are authorized for up to a five-year term, and may be renewed by the authorizer for additional five-year terms. To inform schools, authorizers and the public on school performance, CCSA publishes Academic Accountability Report Cards every fall that show the results of each charter school on the Accountability Framework and CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. CCSA encourages authorizers to use this data in making their decision about whether to renew a school's charter.

2013-14 Charter Schools Below CCSA's Minimum Accountability Criteria

The six charter schools that do not meet CCSA's standard for renewal represent diverse school types and regions of the state. The names of these schools are included in the table below:

School Name City Authorizer
 CCSA Calls for Non-Renewal 
(charter schools renewing in 2013-14)
New Designs Charter School - Watts Los Angeles Los Angeles USD
Northwest Prep Charter School Santa Rosa Piner-Olivet USD
R.A.A.M.P. Charter Academy Antioch Antioch USD
Nueva Vista Language Academy Delano Delano Union ESD
CCSA Calls for Revocation
Leadership High School San Francisco San Francisco USD
West Sacramento Early College Prep West Sacramento Washington USD


Identifying Schools for Non-renewal or Revocation

Upon the publication of the 2013 Academic Performance Index (API) results, CCSA identified six charter schools across California that were below CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal.

  • The first four schools mentioned above are up for renewal in 2013-14 and we are calling on these schools' authorizers to not renew these charters.
  • The last two schools mentioned above were named as part of our Public Call for Non-Renewal in 2011 and have not improved so we are calling for their revocation.

In order to meet CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal, charter schools must have operated for a minimum of four years and meet at least one of the following:

  • Academic Performance Index (API) score of at least 744 in 2012-13 (representing higher than the bottom 25th percentile of all California public schools)
  • 3-year cumulative API growth of at least 50 points (2012-13 growth + 2011-12 growth + 2010-11 growth)
  • Within range of or exceeding predicted performance based on similar student populations statewide, for at least two out of the last three years, based on CCSA's metric, the Similar Students Measure.

In addition, if a school does not meet ONE of the three criteria above, CCSA offers a "second look" process whereby schools may submit additional data showing that their students are making academic gains.

Shining a Spotlight on Persistent Under-performance

CCSA first publicly called for the non-renewal of underperforming charter schools in 2011. Eight of 10 schools on that 2011 list either closed or improved. Only two schools on that list were renewed by their authorizers and have continued to chronically underperform. These are Leadership High in San Francisco (San Francisco Unified School District) and West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter (Washington Unified School District). CCSA calls for the authorizers to reconsider their decisions to allow these schools to stay in operation given the schools continued languishing performance.

Leadership High School in San Francisco (with a 2013 API score is 646) failed to meet school-wide or subgroup API growth targets and earned statewide and similar school rankings in the lowest two deciles in each of the last three years. As such, this charter school does not meet state education code requirements for renewal. We believe students in San Francisco deserve a better education and call on the district to revoke this charter.

West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter has had a decline in academic performance since 2011, dropping 35 API points last year to a 2013 API score of 611. Washington Unified School District renewed the school in February 2012, however the school continues to underperform. This charter school also falls below the bar established by the State Board of Education revocation regulations. We believe students in West Sacramento deserve a better education and call on the district to revoke this charter.

An Ongoing Commitment to Accountability

In a time where the state has suspended state testing, it is critically important for the charter movement to be able to tell the story of how gains are being made statewide in communities being served by charter schools. And CCSA remains committed to transparency and accountability for the students and families California charter schools serve.

"Accountability has been a top priority for CCSA through many changes and it will continue to be. Students only get one shot at first grade or freshman year. That's why we remain committed to transparency and accountability for charter public schools," said Wallace. "We believe that closure of persistently low-performing schools is a natural part of a healthy charter school movement, and will allow us to continue reinventing public education in California."

"Charter schools are founded on the promise of increased flexibility and autonomy in exchange for greater accountability. We don't want to see public charter schools simply grow in number, they must perform well and deliver results," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "The California Charter Schools Association is leading the effort to ensure California's charter schools best meet the needs of the students they serve. Their rigorous standards and annual call for nonrenewal is an important model that helps assure families have access to high-quality options."

Learn More

Find more about CCSA's Accountability initiative, including links to reports and Frequently Asked Questions on the Public Call for Non-Renewal at www.calcharters.org/accountability.

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.

Press Contact

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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