California Charter Schools Association Calls for Accountability of all Schools; Advocates for Closing Underperforming Charter Schools

One of the biggest misconceptions around charter schools is that they lack accountability. While I am a strong supporter of public schools and take pride in serving on the school board for my local school district, I frequently find myself having to defend high performing charters and their mere existence to naysayers who lack awareness of the procedures in place to review and revoke charter petitions. Like everything, charter schools are not all created equal. While some charters have been able to “show that significantly disadvantaged groups of students are doing substantially better in both reading and math,” other charters have not been able to meet the minimum guidelines, which has created a wave of concerns and distrust against the validity and need for charters in our communities.

Unfortunately, the lack of awareness around charter renewals and the accountability systems in place, has allowed for many to question how far charters can go and whether we can truly trust them. To help dismantle the negative criticism against charters, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), a membership and advocacy group that supports nearly 1,300 charter schools in California, has taken a lead role in advocating for high-performing charters while also holding low-performing schools accountable. Since 2011, CCSA has publicly called for the non renewal of charter schools that do not meet their minimum criteria framework for renewal. “This framework assesses a multi-year view of a school’s performance using multiple student outcome measures.” CCSA uses publicly available data, students’ demographics and works individually with charters below the minimum criteria to give them an opportunity to provide additional compelling evidence of growth in student achievement.

In the spirit of continuing their advocacy and implementing the accountability systems framework, last week CCSA released a statement calling for the non renewal of six chronically underperforming charter Schools. CCSA remains the strongest advocate for charters in California but continues to stand on the platform that when charter schools do not provide a high-quality education to their students, they should close. As shared in its press release, to advocate and highlight the impact and success of transformational charters, it is critical to also emphasize accountability.

Even though closing a school is still viewed as the last resort, by utilizing results and the minimum criteria framework, CCSA wants to create transparency for students and parents to know where their school stands to truly have a choice.

CCSA has found that the following schools fall below the minimum renewal criteria and perform far below average on several other academic performance measures.

2016-17 Charter Public Schools Below CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal

Charter Schools Renewing in 2016-17

School Name Authorizer County
Academy of Science & Engineering Los Angeles Unified School District Los Angeles
Butterfield Charter High School Porterville Unified School District Tulare
Green Valley Charter School Los Banos Unified School District Merced
North County Trade Tech High School Vista Unified School District San Diego
Schaefer Charter School Piner-Olivet Union Elementary School District Sonoma
West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter School Washington Unified School District Yolo

While CCSA offers renewal support to schools who meet one of the criteria under the established minimum framework (four areas listed below), the schools included in the above table did not meet any of the initial criteria and did not yield enough evidence of student outcome success.

CCSA’s Minimum Academic Criteria for Renewing and Replicating Schools, 2016-17

1)       Status measure: Above 40th percentile on SBAC

2)       Growth/ Postsecondary readiness

3)       Similar Students:  measures how schools are performing with similar students across the state)

Multiple Measure Review

4)       Schools below ALL the initial filters or in the bottom 5% statewide on SBAC can share outcomes aligned to California’s 8 state priorities as described in the school’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).

The CCSA has already committed to working with closing schools to find new options that will better meet the individual needs of students and families. It will be our responsibility as citizens to provide students and families of these schools options to schools that will best serve them.

As we move forward, it will be important to create awareness around the existing academic accountability framework to ensure people know charters are not only celebrated for their success but also held responsible for their failures. Transparency around charter performance must continue to be emphasized to help dismantle the many misconceptions around the review process. The reality is greater flexibility should only equate to greater accountability, and in order to provide parents and families the best options for school choice, we must support CCSA’s stand to push for chronically underperforming schools to close.

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Alma Renteria

Alma Renteria

Alma-Delia Renteria is a proud product of Lynwood schools. After graduating UC Riverside, with a B.A. in English and a year earlier than anticipated, she decided to commit her “gap year” to City Year. After City Year Los Angeles, Alma went on to purse a teaching career with Teach For America Los Angeles. Upon joining TFA, Alma began her education career as a middle school teacher. It was while teaching that she realized the need to do her part to help serve the community she grew up in and decided to run for office, getting elected to the Lynwood School Board at only 23 years old. Alma completed her first Master’s degree in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University and a 2nd Masters in Educational Leadership along with her Admin Credential at Concordia University. She was appointed by the Speaker to the Instructional Quality Commission and re-elected to the Lynwood School Board in 2018. She currently serves as the Principal at a local elementary school in Pico Rivera, where she hopes to demonstrate that magic is possible when thee right people are given opportunities to lead.

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