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LAUSD charters extending lead in academic performance

Yana Gracile | August 27, 2014

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Charter schools API chart LAUSD

Source: California Charter Schools Association


A new report by the California Charter Schools Association shows a growing gap between the overall school performance of traditional schools and charter schools in LA Unified.

The report — Portrait of the Movement — says LA Unified charter schools, on average, produce stronger test results than traditional schools in the district. The data shows that charter school median API scores have been on a steady rise over the last six years, gradually expanding the difference over the other schools.

The report covers a five-year period between the 2007-2008 and 2012-2013 school years. A three-point difference in the median API score for charters and traditional schools in 2007-2008 grew to 47 over the five years, as the median API score for traditional scores slipped in the final year.

The charter association said the trend represents just one aspect of the charters’ overall achievement.

“The gap doesn’t just exist on one measure, the gap exists on a host of other measures across a spectrum of performance, whether you look at graduation rates, college readiness data or this particular data,” Elizabeth Robitaille, Senior Vice President, Achievement and Performance Management, told LA School Report.

She said this gap is likely to get bigger as more students in LAUSD start attending top performing charter schools.

The findings also showed that the difference in performance exists between charter and traditional schools that have similar demographics.

Officials compared two schools: Morningside Elementary, a traditional K-5 school, and Downtown Value Charter, which is a high-performing K-8 school. Both have student bodies that are mostly Hispanic, and approximately half of all test takers in both schools are English learners.

Officials used what they call a predicted API to determine how the school should score based on demographics and other criteria.

The report showed that during the 2013-2014 school year, both schools’ predicted API was 810. However, Downtown Value Charter scored 838 — or 45 points higher than Morningside, at 793.  From the analysis, on average, officials say there’s a 5 percent gap between predicted API scores and actual scores for all charters and traditional schools.

On average, LAUSD charters outperformed their predicted API score by 3.5 percent while traditional schools underperformed by 1.5 percent (thus, a 5 percent gap in total in percent predicted API). This gap has widened — five years ago it was only 3.8 percent.

The number of charter schools in LA Unified has grown to 250 this year from 145 in 2009.

*Corrects scores for Morningside Elementary and Downtown Value Charter


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