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Why Charters Get Results

Charters get results for students because they have:

  • More flexibility on curriculum, budget and staffing
  • Greater ability to make quick and effective changes to meet a student's need
  • High level of accountability with review and renewal every 5 years
  • Engaged teachers who are empowered to make important decisions to benefit students
  • Parents encouraged by the school to work as a team with teachers to advance their child's academic progress

Charters are sometimes accused of taking the brightest, most motivated or more privileged students from traditional public schools. However, there is research evidence to the contrary showing charter school students are just as diverse (racially and economically) as non-charter students and often lower performing. Learn more.

The Results

CCSA has examined current and longitudinal trends, as of fall 2009, in the growth and quality of charter schools in California as a whole and within several of the state's school districts. Among the findings:

  • Studies continue to show charter school students make greater academic progress than students in traditional public schools. Sixty-seven (67) percent of California's charter schools met student achievement targets on state tests in the 2009-10 school year compared to just 57% of non-charter schools.

  • Among traditionally disadvantaged students, those attending charters make greater academic progress than those in traditional public schools. In 2009-10, 74% of charter schools met student achievement targets for disadvantaged students* compared to 59% of non-charter schools. (*these are calculated by assessing California Department of Education "comparable improvement targets")

  • California's charter schools continue to demonstrate higher academic performance among African American students. For the past five years, African American academic performance has been greater in charter schools than traditional public schools.

  • In 2009-10, African-American students in charter schools had greater Academic Performance Index (API) Growth scores than their peers in non-charters statewide and in almost all major school districts, including 10 points higher in Los Angeles Unified, 7 points higher in Oakland Unified, 108 points higher in Sacramento Unified, and 218 points higher in San Francisco Unified.

  • California's charter middle schools consistently demonstrate higher academic performance than non-charter schools. For the past five years, charter middle schools have had higher API Growth scores than non-charter middle schools. In 2009-10, middle school charters outperformed non-charters across the state and with all subgroups.

  • California charter schools are outperforming non-charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). In 2009-10, LAUSD charter school students in every subgroup had greater academic performance than in non-charters, with as much as 115 API Growth points more for charter students with disabilities.

  • California charter schools are outperforming non-charter schools in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). In 2009-10, OUSD charter school students in all subgroups had greater API Growth scores than non-charters.

Success Stories

Charter schools are public schools. They have some unique traits, however, that increase the likelihood of a successful education for a child, such as flexibility, innovative teaching methods, and mission-driven programs. Across the state, charter schools are positively impacting students, resulting in improved achievement.