Measuring Up



California

Not scored

See a summary of the state’s charter law.

See additional observations about charters in the state.

What is the state of charter schools in California?

GROWTH INDICATORS

 

 

Score


1. Public school share
 (2014–15)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter schools

1,184

12%

 

 


2. Public school student share
 (2014–15)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter school students

544,980

9%

 

 

3. Students by race and ethnicity (2013–14)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

White

31%

24%

7%

Black

9%

6%

3%

Hispanic

48%

54%

-6%

Asian

7%

12%

-5%

Other

5%

4%

1%

Total minority

69%

76%

-7%

 

4. Students in special populations (2013–14)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

Free and reduced-price lunch status

55%

58%

-3%

Special education status

N/A

N/A

N/A

English learner status

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total special student populations

55%

58%

-3%

 

5. Schools by geographic distribution (2012–13)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

City

54%

37%

17%

Suburb

29%

41%

-12%

Town

7%

9%

-2%

Rural

10%

12%

-2%

Total nonsuburban

79%

59%

20%

 

6. Communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools (2014–15)

N/A

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

 

 

 

Number of communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools

34

   
 

7. New public charter schools opened over the past five years (2010–15)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2010–11

114

Average Annual Open Rate

8.8%

2011–12

102

2012–13

108

2013–14

109

2014–15

88

Total number

521

 

 

 

 

8. Public charter schools closed over the past five years (2009–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2009–10

15

Average Annual Closure Rate

2.7%

2010–11

28

2011–12

29

2012–13

43

2013–14

36

Total number

151

 

 

 

 
 

INNOVATION INDICATORS

 

 

Score

9. Percentage of charter schools with an identified special focus (2012–13)

N/A

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

 

 

 

No Excuses

5%

Total

33%

STEM

5%

Arts

4%

Classical

2%

Purposely diverse

0.4%

Single sex

0.3%

International/Foreign language

4%

Montessori/Waldorf

12%

Dropout/Expulsion recovery

2%

Military

1%

Vocational training

2%

Public policy/Citizenship

0.3%

 

QUALITY INDICATORS

 

 

Score

10. Additional days of learning in reading (2007–11)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in reading

22

 

 

 

11. Additional days of learning in math (2007–11)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in math

-7

 

 

 

12. Percentage point change in top categories in state accountability system (2012–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 2012-13

2013-14

Difference

A

 

 

B

 

 

Total

 

 

 

13. Percentage point change in bottom categories in state accountability system (2012–14)

N/A

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 2012-13

2013-14

Difference

D

 

 

F

 

 

Total

 

 

 

Items Reported But Not Scored

Startups versus conversions (2014–15)

 

Startups

Conversions

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools

83%

17%

 

 

 

Charter authorizers (2014–15)

 

Number of authorizers

Number of charter schools

Average number of charters per authorizer

Percentage of the state’s public charters authorized by this type of authorizer

Local education agency

324

1,157

4

98%

State education agency

1

23

23

2%

Independent charter board

Noneducational government entity

Higher education institution

Nonprofit

 

Virtual public charter schools and students (2013–14)

Number of virtual public charter school students

21,161

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter school student population enrolled
in virtual charter schools

4%

 

 

Number of virtual public charter schools

32

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools that are virtual charter schools

3%

 

 

 

Health of the Movement Summary

California enacted its charter public school law in 1992. In our most recent rankings of state charter school laws, California’s law ranked #15 out of 43. Highlights from the law include the following:

  • While the state law has a cap on charter school growth, it is structured in a way that allows ample growth.
  • Although the state law requires charter school applicants to initially submit their proposals to local school districts (in most cases), the state law provides a robust appellate process.
  • The state law provides a fair amount of autonomy to charters but lacks some aspects of accountability (such as requiring performance-based contracts between charter public schools and authorizers).
  • The state has made notable strides in recent years to provide more equitable funding to charters, although some work still remains.

A state’s charter public school movement had to meet three conditions to be scored and ranked in this year’s report. First, the movement had to serve at least 2 percent of the state’s public school students. Second, the state had to participate in CREDO’s National Charter School Study 2013 so that we had a measure of student academic growth data for its charter public schools in comparison with its traditional public schools. Third, the state had to have a state accountability system in place that categorized all public schools on the basis of performance in 2012-13 and 2013-14. California’s movement did not meet at least one of these conditions, so we did not score and rank it in this year’s report.

However, below we provide the data we were able to gather. Based on this information, we offer the following observations:

  • In 2014-15, 12 percent of the state’s public schools were charters.
  • In 2013-14, 9 percent of the state’s public school students were charter students.
  • In 2013-14, the state’s charter public schools served a lower percentage of racial and ethnic minority students (7 percentage points less) when compared with traditional public schools. While charters served a higher proportion of black students (3 percentage points more), they served lower proportions of Hispanic and Asian students (6 percentage points less for Hispanics and 5 percentage points less for Asians).
  • In 2013-14, the state’s charter public schools served smaller percentages of free and reduced-price lunch students (3 percentage points less) when compared with traditional public schools.
  • In 2012-13, 71 percent of the state’s public charters were located in nonsuburban areas as compared with 59 percent of traditional public schools.
  • During 2014-15, 34 communities had more than 10 percent of their public school students in charters.
  • Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, 521 public charters opened in California, an 8.8 percent average annual open rate.
  • Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, 151 charter public schools closed in California, a 2.7 percent average annual closure rate.
  • In 2012-13, 33 percent of the state’s charter public schools were special-focus schools.
  • Between 2007-08 and 2010-11, charter public school students exhibited higher academic growth in reading (22 additional days), on average, when compared with traditional public school students.
  • Between 2007-08 and 2010-11, charter public school students exhibited less academic growth in math (seven fewer days), on average, when compared with traditional public school students.
  • During 2014-15, 83 percent of the state’s public charters were start-ups and 17 percent were conversions.
  • As of 2014-15, 324 local and county school boards had authorized 1,157 charter public schools (98 percent of the state’s total number of charter public schools) and the state board of education had authorized 23 charter public schools (2 percent).
  • In 2013-14, 32 full-time virtual charter public schools operated in California, serving 21,161 students (4 percent of the state’s charter public school population).