In Partnership with 74

New data rank all public charter and traditional schools in California

Sarah Favot | November 1, 2016

Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today.

Data provided by the California Charter Schools Association. Note: Orange is a charter school; purple is a traditional school.

The California Charter Schools Association on Tuesday released its first ranking of every public charter and traditional school in the state.

Each school is ranked from 1 to 10 as a statewide rank and a “similar student” rank, which compares schools with similar demographics, including race and socioeconomic status.

Elizabeth Robitaille, CCSA’s senior vice president of achievement and performance management, said the “similar student” rank tells more about how a school is educating its students. Students who have educated parents and are from higher socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to do better on standardized tests. Schools that are “beating the odds” rank high on the similar students rank, meaning students are scoring higher on tests than students from other schools with similar demographics.

“Schools always pat themselves on the back for having high test scores. … We also want to understand how a school is performing given student demographics,” she said.

The rankings are based on student performance on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress standardized tests, known as the Smarter Balanced tests, taken in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th grades.

Overall, schools showed an improvement statewide on the tests, which were in the second year of implementation in spring 2016. The rankings are calculated according to scores in 2015 and 2016.

The state Board of Education is moving toward a multi-measured assessment of schools. While the state board is still determining the new school report cards and with the discontinuation of the Academic Performance Index in 2013, which gave each school a number from 200 to 1,000 under No Child Left Behind, there is no overall ranking of schools.

Moreover, the state board is not considering adopting an overall ranking or grade of individual schools.

“It’s an important piece of information that parents and the public used to have and now they no longer have,” Robitaille said.

She added that other measures of evaluating a school are valuable in addition to test scores, but she said test scores are an important starting point for parents.

As part of the statewide data, 1,068 schools are located in LA Unified boundaries: 776 schools are traditional district schools and 292 schools are charter schools. LA Unified authorizes 1,044 schools. Some of the other charter schools within LAUSD boundaries are authorized by the state, LA County, Compton Unified, Acton-Agua Dulce Unified and Inyo County.

Among the schools within LA Unified boundaries, 19 ranked 10, the highest possible rank, based on test scores. Nine were charter schools and 10 were traditional schools. Nearly all were elementary schools, just one was a high school. All of these schools also scored well when it came to comparing students with similar demographics (rated as within, above or far above).

The schools ranked 10 in “statewide rank” are (in order of the percentile statewide of schools serving the same grade level):

  • Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy
  • Wonderland Avenue Elementary
  • Canyon Charter Elementary
  • Roscomare Road Elementary
  • Welby Way Charter Elementary
  • Clover Avenue Elementary
  • KIPP Iluminar Academy
  • Overland Avenue Elementary
  • Warner Avenue Elementary
  • Woodland Hills Elementary
  • Ivanhoe Elementary
  • Kenter Canyon Elementary
  • KIPP Comienza Community Prep
  • West Hollywood Elementary
  • Fairburn Avenue Elementary
  • KIPP Raíces Academy
  • Palisades Charter Elementary
  • Porter Ranch Community
  • Encino Charter Elementary

Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy, a four-year Early College high school on the campus of Harbor College, and Wonderland Avenue Elementary, which has a gifted/high ability magnet center for students in 3rd through 5th grade in Hollywood, ranked in the 100th percentile of all public schools statewide serving the same grade level. Wonderland is a National Blue Ribbon school and Harbor Teacher Prep was a Gold Ribbon School, awarded by the California Department of Education. Both are run by LA Unified.

There were five schools that scored the highest statewide rank, meaning their students scored well on tests, and the highest rank on the “similar students” rank, meaning their students scored higher on the tests than other students from other schools with similar demographics. (See the graphic above for those five schools.)

At the other end, 199 schools ranked 1 in the statewide rank, the lowest: 34 were charter schools and 165 were traditional schools. Most of those schools, 136, were within the expected ranking based on schools with similar demographics. Four schools ranked “above” in the “similar students” rank. There were 54 below what was expected and two schools were “far below” its expected score: Annalee Avenue Elementary in Carson and YouthBuild Charter School of California.

The four schools that ranked the lowest score on the “statewide” rank, but ranked the highest scores on “similar students,” meaning students were scoring low on tests overall, but were doing better than students at schools with similar demographics, described by Robitaille as “beating the odds,” are:

  • TEACH Academy of Technologies
  • Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School
  • New Designs Charter School-Watts
  • Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy

Thirty-one schools ranked “far above” in the “similar students” measure, meaning its students were performing better than expected compared to schools with similar demographics. Of these schools, 24 were charter schools and seven were not charters.

288 schools dropped its ranking in the “similar students” measure from 2015 to 2016: 74 were charter schools and 214 were non-charters. The schools that made the biggest decreases in its rank of “similar students” from 2015 to 2016 are:

  • Los Angeles International Charter High
  • Synergy Quantum Academy
  • Gledhill Street Elementary
  • Citizens of the World 3
  • Ararat Charter
  • Lou Dantzler Preparatory Charter Elementary
  • View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter
  • Green Design at Diego Rivera Learning Complex

342 schools improved their “similar students” ranking from 2015 to 2016: 98 were charter schools and 244 were traditional schools.

The schools that showed the greatest improvement compared to schools with similar demographics were:

  • WESM Health/Sports Medicine
  • Aspire Juanita Tate Academy Charter
  • Chatsworth Charter High
  • Birmingham Community Charter High
  • Aspire Firestone Academy Charter High
  • Alliance Leichtman-Levine Family Foundation Environmental Science High
  • Academies of Education and Empowerment at Carson High
  • RFK Community Schools-UCLA Community K-12
  • Extera Public
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary

Some schools showed a vast improvement from 2015 to 2016 in the overall “statewide rank.” Robitaille said schools generally improved in 2016. Some schools were more prepared than others in the first year of implementation, she said.

  • Venice Senior High improved its rank from 1 to 7.
  • Chatsworth Charter High improved its rank from 1 to 6.
  • Birmingham Community Charter High improved its rank from 2 to 6, as did East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy at Esteban E. Torres High No. 2
  • STEM Academy at Bernstein High improved its rank from 4 to 8.
  • Brainard Elementary improved from 3 to 7, as did School of Business and Tourism at Contreras Learning Complex.

The principal of Venice Senior High has said more students took the tests in 2016 compared to 2015.

As first reported by the School Data Nerd blog, Celerity Troika and Celerity Dyad charter schools ranked 10/10 at serving students with similar demographics. Magnolia Science Academy ranked 6, Magnolia Science Academy 3 ranked 4 and Magnolia Science Academy 2 ranked 1, the lowest possible score. All five of these schools were denied charter renewals by the LA Unified school board last month. The board did not cite student performance as reasons to deny the charter renewal applications. CCSA encouraged the school board to renew the charters.

The CCSA has released accountability reports for all schools since 2011. The group says it won’t support a renewal for a charter school unless the minimum requirements are met. Each year, the CCSA publishes a “public call for non-renewal.”

The CCSA also calculates an “average point difference” that compares a school’s SBAC scores to the state’s standard for “met” proficiency. The APD means that the average student scored that many points above or below the “met” standard. CCSA officials say the APD gets schools to help each student raise his or her scores each year, and not just students on the cusp of meeting the standard.

Read Next