By Diana Lambert and Phillip Reese , The Sacramento Bee | http://bit.ly/tNC76Z
Friday, Dec. 23, 2011 - 7:01 am :: A list of 10 schools the California Charter Schools Association would like to see closed – including four in the Sacramento area – has caused an uproar within the charter school movement.
The full list of schools is:
School Name, City, Authorizer
- Antelope View Charter, Antelope, Center Joint Unified
- California Aerospace Academy, McClellan, Twin Rivers Unified
- California Virtual Academy @ Kern, Simi Valley, Maricopa Unified
- Leadership High, San Francisco, San Francisco Unified
- Los Angeles County Online High, Palmdale, Antelope Valley Union High
- Nubia Leadership Academy , San Diego, San Diego Unified
- Uncharted Shores Academy, Crescent City, Del Norte County Office of Education
- West County Community High, Richmond, West Contra Costa Unified
- West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter, West Sacramento , Washington Unified
- Yuba County Career Preparatory Charter, Marysville, Yuba County Office of Education
CCSA officials say closing low-performing schools demonstrates that charters are willing to be held accountable. The schools on the list do not meet the minimum criteria the organization has established for academic achievement, said Jed Wallace, president of CCSA.
"We thought it necessary for the well-being of the students attending the schools, as well as for the charter school movement," Wallace said of the recommendation.
But other charter school proponents say the association's criteria are flawed and that it is overstepping its authority.
"We already have laws on how this is supposed to work in California," said Eric Premack, president of the Charter School Development Center. "For a third-party group like CCSA to try to rewrite the law and impose their own standards is illegal or extra legal."
The issue has caught the attention of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who applauded the list and the leadership of CCSA.
"This is an important conversation for California to have, and one that we need to have across the country," he said in a prepared statement.
The association is asking the schools' authorizers – usually school districts or county offices of education – not to renew their charters.
The local schools on the list include the California Aerospace Academy in McClellan, Antelope View Charter in Antelope, West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter in West Sacramento and Yuba County Career Preparatory Charter in Marysville.
But do these schools deserve to be closed?
All four of the local schools rank near the bottom in performance on standardized tests compared to schools with similar demographics, according to a Bee review of state data.
- At the California Aerospace Academy last year, fewer than 10 of the 137 students scored proficient or better on any STAR math test last year – from basic seventh-grade general math to 11th-grade geometry.
- None of the 62 eighth- and ninth-graders who took algebra I at West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter scored at the proficient or advanced levels.
- Only two of 31 10th-graders who took the STAR world history exam at Antelope View Charter scored at the proficient level.
- And no seventh-graders at Yuba County Career Prep passed any STAR test – English or math.
But there are some bright spots.
Antelope View Charter's eighth graders posted respectable English and life science test scores, eclipsing or nearing the statewide average for proficiency. The 11th-graders at the California Aerospace school did well on their U.S. history test, also collectively beating the statewide average.The West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter School's website boasts an 83-point API gain last year and says the school has met all the criteria in the California Education Code to be reauthorized.
"We can assure you that CCSA has no legal authority to close down a charter school, and their organization is overstepping its boundaries by showing non-support to its paying members who turn to them for support," said a letter to parents on the West Sacramento Early College Prep website.
Wallace said the CCSA is just doing its job.
"We see ourselves as a professional members organization like the American Medical Association," he said.
As such, the CCSA would set professional standards and sanction charters that don't meet them.But the boards of the school districts and county offices of education that authorized the charters will make the final decision about whether to approve charters when they come up for renewal.
"Obviously, we are going to take a hard look at their application for renewal when it comes up in the early part of 2012," said Dave Westin, a school board member at Washington Unified – the authorizer for the West Sacramento charter.
The CCSA criteria say schools must have either an Academic Performance Index of at least 700 in the most recent year, have a three-year cumulative API growth of at least 50 points or have exceeded the performance expected of a California school with a similar student population. It looks at schools that have been in existence for four years or more.
"They want to get rid of charter schools that don't score well, so they look better compared to public schools," Premack said.
Wallace agrees that the CCSA wants to improve charter scores.
"The central tenant of the charter school movement is that charters can generate higher levels of academic success," Wallace said. "In order to keep the momentum, we have to show that our schools are successful."
CCSA Calls for the Non-Renewal of 10 Charter Schools as a Result of Academic Underperformance
CALIFORNIA CHARTER SCHOOLS ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
December 15, 2011 -- SACRAMENTO, California (Dec. 15, 2011).--The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is calling today for the non-renewal of 10 charter schools from across California that are below CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. This public call for non-renewal represents a significant step towards advancing accountability and fulfilling our collective promise of quality education for children across the state.
"The Charter Schools Act, approved in California in 1992, opened the door to education reform and school choice, allowing charter schools to operate with autonomy and flexibility in exchange for higher accountability. California's charter schools are serious about ensuring that the movement improves pupil learning and creates significantly better learning opportunities than are available within the traditional public school system for our students," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA. "To that end, CCSA is taking a lead role in ensuring appropriate academic accountability within the movement by establishing clear and transparent academic performance expectations for charter schools."
"We cannot have an honest discussion about education reform and increasing accountability without closing the charters that have demonstrated an inability to meet the challenge of excellence--granted to us by law--and chronically underperform. Our accountability framework has been pressure tested, analyzed and deliberated thoroughly. The time to act on persistently low-performing schools is now, because our children's education cannot be put on the back-burner," said Myrna Castrejón, senior vice president, Achievement and Performance Management, CCSA.
In conjunction with CCSA's Member Council (which consists of charter school leaders from across California), and in consultation with technical experts, CCSA developed an Accountability Framework that is a three-dimensional model that hones in on the value added by schools, as well as measures of academic status and growth. The Framework is the basis of 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 five more years. 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 decisions about whether to renew a school's charter.
Upon the publication of the 2011 Academic Performance Index (API) results, CCSA identified thirty-one (31) charter schools from across California that are "Below CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal." Of those 31, 11 schools' charters expire before June 2012, and thus are in the process of petition renewal. CCSA provided all schools above and below criteria an opportunity to provide demographic data corrections and for those schools below criteria, an opportunity to submit additional student level, longitudinal data. CCSA analyzed the data provided and determined that of the 11 schools in renewal, 10 schools still do not meet CCSA's Minimum Criteria for Renewal. CCSA has informed these schools of this circumstance, and will take steps toward informing the authorizer and encouraging it to exercise their authority not to renew the charter, and close the school.
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 700 in most recent year
- 3-year cumulative API growth of at least 50 points (2010-11 growth + 2009-10 growth + 2008-09 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 all, the 10 charter schools that do not meet CCSA's standard for renewal represent slightly more than 1% of the 982 charter schools currently in operation in California, and represent all school types and regions of the state.
The list of schools includes:
Antelope View Charter
Center Joint Unified
California Aerospace Academy
Twin Rivers Unified
California Virtual Academy @ Kern
San Francisco Unified
Los Angeles County Online High
Antelope Valley Union High
Nubia Leadership Academy
San Diego Unified
Uncharted Shores Academy
Del Norte County Office of Education
West County Community High
West Contra Costa Unified
West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter
Yuba County Career Preparatory Charter
Yuba County Office of Education
"It is encouraging to see the level of support the Association has received in this call for non-renewal and closure, as 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, and offer the best quality education possible to students everywhere. Ultimately, the intent of the Charter Schools Act cannot be fulfilled if charter schools do not improve pupil learning and increase learning opportunities for all pupils," added Wallace.
For more information regarding CCSA's Accountability initiative, visit www.calcharters.org/advocacy/accountability, which includes links to the reports, and an FAQ on the Public Call for Non-Renewal.
About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 982 charter public schools and more than 412,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.
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