Measuring Up



California

TOTAL SCORE:
72 out of 116

Rank: 8 out of 26

See a summary of the state’s charter law.

See additional observations about charters in the state and recommendations to support the growth of high-quality charter schools.

What is the state of charter schools in California?

GROWTH INDICATORS

 

 

Score


1. Public school share
 (2013–14)

9

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter schools

1,131

11%

 

 


2. Public school student share
 (2012–13)

6

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter school students

514,172

8%

 

 

3. Students by race and ethnicity (2012–13)

2

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

White

32%

25%

7%

Black

10%

6%

4%

Hispanic

47%

53%

-6%

Asian

7%

12%

-5%

Other

4%

4%

0%

Total minority

68%

75%

-7%

 

4. Students in special populations (2012–13)

2

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

Free and reduced-price lunch status

55%

57%

-2%

Special education status

9%

11%

-2%

English learner status

16%

22%

-6%

Total special student populations

80%

90%

-10%

 

5. Schools by geographic distribution (2011–12)

8

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

City

51%

39%

12%

Suburb

25%

36%

-11%

Town

8%

9%

-1%

Rural

15%

17%

-2%

Total nonsuburban

75%

64%

11%

 

6. Communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools (2012–13)

4

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

 

 

 

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

28

   
 

7. New public charter schools opened over the past five years  (2009–14)

9

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2009–10

91

Average Annual Open Rate

10.8%

2010–11

119

2011–12

102

2012–13

109

2013–14

104

Total number

525

 

 

 

 

8. Public charter schools closed over the past five years (2008–13)

12

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2008–09

31

Average Annual Closure Rate

3.2%

2009–10

10

2010–11

35

2011–12

28

2012–13

39

Total number

143

 

 

 

 
 

INNOVATION INDICATORS

 

 

Score

9. Public charter schools reporting use of various innovative practices (2011–12)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

 

 

 

Extended day (30 minutes or more each day compared to traditional public schools)

49

Average

23%

Extended year (10 or more days compared to traditional public schools)

24

Year-round calendar

6

Independent study

33

School-to-work

7

Higher education courses

22

 
 

QUALITY INDICATORS

 

 

Score

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

12

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in reading

22

 

 

 

 

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

4

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in math

-7

 

 

 

Items Reported But Not Scored

Startups versus conversions (2012–13)

 

Startups

Conversions

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools

82%

18%

 

 

 

Public charter schools that are independent, associated with a CMO, or associated with an EMO (2010–11)

 

Number

Percentage

 

 

Independent

660

72%

 

 

Charter management organization

237

26%

 

 

Education management organization

21

2%

 

 

 

Charter authorizers (2013–14)

 

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

318

1,105

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 (2012–13)

Number of virtual public charter school students

18,790

 

 

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

4%

 

 

Number of virtual public charter schools

27

 

 

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

3%

 

 

 

Health of the Movement Summary

California’s public charter school movement ranked #8 out of 26, scoring 72 points out of 116.

California scored relatively well on the following indicators:

  • Eleven percent of the state’s public schools were charters in 2013–14.
  • In 2011–12, 75 percent of the state’s public charters were located in nonsuburban areas as compared to 64 percent of traditional public schools.
  • Twenty-eight communities had more than 10 percent of their public school students in charters during 2012–13.
  • Five hundred twenty-five public charters opened in California between 2009–10 and 2013–14, an 10.8 percent average annual open rate.
  • One hundred forty-three public charter schools closed in California between 2008–09 and 2012–13, a 3.2 percent average annual closure rate. Sixty percent of these schools were in the bottom quartile of performance in the state.
  • On average, public charter school students exhibited higher academic growth in reading between 2007–08 and 2010–11 when compared with traditional public school students (22 additional days).

California scored relatively low on the following indicators:

  • The state’s public charter schools served a lower percentage of racial and ethnic minority students when compared with traditional public schools in 2012–13 (7 percentage points less). While charters served a higher proportion of black students (4 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).
  • The state’s public charter schools served smaller percentages of free and reduced-price lunch students, special education students, and English learners when compared with traditional public schools in 2012–13 (2 percentage points less, 2 percentage points less, and 6 percentage points less, respectively).
  • On average, public charter school students exhibited less academic growth in math when compared with traditional public school students between 2007–08 and 2010–11 (seven fewer days).

In addition to the above points, we also offer the following observations about the movement in California:

  • Eight percent of the state’s public school students were charter students in 2013–14. Over the past six years, the number of public charter school students has doubled, with charters now educating more than a half million students.
  • An average of 23 percent of the state’s public charter schools reported using one of the six innovative practices that we tracked in 2011–12.
  • Eighty-two percent of the state’s public charters were startups, and 18 percent were conversions during 2012–13.
  • In 2010–11, 72 percent of the public charter schools in California were independently managed, 26 percent were associated with a nonprofit charter management organization, and 2 percent were associated with a for-profit educational management organization.
  • As of 2013–14, 318 local and county school boards had authorized 1,105 public charter schools (98 percent of the state’s total number of public charter schools), and the state board of education had authorized 23 public charter schools (2 percent).
  • There were 27 virtual public charter schools in California 2012–13, serving 18,790 students (4 percent of the state’s public charter school population).

Recommendations

California has notable populations of public charter schools and public charter school students. Such students, on average, are performing better than their peers in traditional public schools in reading but not math, although it is important to note that the most recent student academic growth data reported by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) is from 2010–11. However, the California Charter Schools Association issued a report in August 2014 that shows increased academic achievement in California public charter schools over the last five years.1

While this report focuses on statewide data, the charter school movement in Los Angeles bears special attention. Los Angeles public charter schools now educate one out of every 20 public charter school students in the nation. The number of students in Los Angeles charters has tripled over the past six years, with enrollment now standing at 143,000 students and an estimated waitlist of 36,000 students. Most significant, the typical student in a Los Angeles charter school gains more learning in a year than his or her district school peer, amounting to about 50 more days of learning in reading and an additional 79 days of learning in math, according to the CREDO.2

Also, a significant portion of public charter schools in California are nonautonomous. These schools are usually created by their local school districts and depend on the districts to make key decisions. They currently make up 28 percent of the public charter schools in the state. Given the different nature of these schools from truly autonomous and accountable charters, they may be masking the strength of the rest of the state’s public charter school movement.

To better support the growth of high-quality public charter schools, we recommend that the state change its law to require performance-based contracts between public charter schools and authorizers and further enhance its funding and facilities support to charters. We also encourage the state to explore why public charter schools are serving lower percentages of Hispanic and Asian students and English learners (such as the lack of available or affordable facilities in neighborhoods where these students reside).

1California Charter Schools Association, Portrait of the Movement, August 2014.

2Center for Research on Education Outcomes, Charter School Performance in Los Angeles, February 2014, http://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/Los_Angeles_report_2014_FINAL_001.pdf.