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Are charter schools improving success of Black students?

New report suggests yes

OW Staff Writer | 2/5/2021, midnight
The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has released a..

The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) has released a report “Serving Black Students with Excellence: California Charter Schools Working to Close Opportunity Gaps,” which suggests that California’s charter public schools are actively working to boost the performance of Black students. The study demonstrates that California’s charter schools are helping make progress towards grade-level proficiency and are preparing students to graduate school ready for college and a career.

“‘Serving Black Students With Excellence’ draws attention to the increasing number of charter public schools in California that are advancing Black achievement despite systemic barriers and challenges. The successes of Black students at charter public schools are not one-off scenarios, particularly when looking at schools serving high proportions of Black students,” said Myrna Castrejón, CCSA president and CEO. “No doubt more work is needed to close the opportunity gap, but this report offers shining examples of teachers at charter public schools using their flexibility and autonomy to develop effective programs that help students thrive academically.”

When looking at the seven major school districts in California, Black students at charter public schools are academically outperforming their peers in traditional public schools. This is true for both English language arts and math.

However, the report shows that Black students at all schools, regardless of charter or traditional, are less likely to complete a-g coursework, less likely to be prepared for assessment tests, and less likely to graduate, than the overall student population.

Recognizing these immense opportunity gaps, California charter public schools are actively working to boost the performance of Black students, ensuring they make progress towards grade-level proficiency and leave school prepared for college and career. With increased flexibility and autonomy, charter schools have the ability to adapt rapidly to changing needs.

Addressing the academic performance of Black students in California is one such area where charter schools are seeing success. In California, nearly 50,000 Black students attend charter public schools, a number that has steadily risen over the past ten years.

The report also finds that suspension rates for Black charter students are lower (4 percent for charter students versus 9 percent for traditional students) and are less likely to be chronically absent (17 percent for charter students versus 23 percent for traditional students).

“The research presented in this report shows the growing role that California’s charter public schools are taking in advancing education opportunities for our state’s Black students,” said Ellen Lawther, CCSA associate director of research who authored the report. “We believe families recognize that it is not just the flexibility and autonomy of charter schools that enable them to better serve their students, but the additional emphasis on accountability and transparency ensures that charter schools meet the needs of all students.”

CCSA’s report profiles four charter schools that are shining examples of excellence and could serve as a model for other schools. Each of these schools serves Black students who are performing in the 75th percentile or higher for Black students statewide on the CAASPP.

The schools profiled include:

  • Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Charter (K-5), Inglewood

  • Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Middle (6-8), Inglewood

  • Pasadena Rosebud Academy (K-8), Altadena

  • Sacramento Charter High School (9-12), Sacramento

CCSA is committed to advancing educational opportunities for all students, through its support of exceptional schools like those highlighted in "Serving Black Students With Excellence: California Charter Schools Working to Close Opportunity Gaps."

The vision of CCSA is to build great public schools of joy and rigor that prepare all California students for success in college, career, community, and life. The mission of CCSA is to meet parent, educator, and community need for great public school options by supporting and advocating for high-quality, non-profit charter schools and sharing its success throughout California’s public schools.