California Public School Students are Majority Latino and Low-Income, Charter Public School are Redefining College and Career Readiness
LONG BEACH, CA – Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) released a new statewide report, Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education. The study examines the characteristics of charter public schools and their students; the unique ways charter public school educators prepare students for college, career, and life, and the diverse charter school models that offer families more education options to meet the unique needs of their child.
The report is part of an annual series produced by CCSA called Portrait of the Movement (POM). The POM report was released with an online conversation hosted by CCSA President and CEO Myrna Castrejón at the annual California Charter Schools Conference in Long Beach, where charter supporters are also celebrating the 30th anniversary of the passage of the 1992 California Charter Schools Act.
“The pandemic laid bare the disparities that have long existed in public education. We cannot return to ‘business as usual’ with an education system that was clearly not supporting all California students – particularly those in underserved communities,” said Ms. Castrejón. “As we look ahead, we now know that more students benefit from a public education system that also evolves to meet their ever-changing needs. Just as charter public schools harnessed their autonomy and flexibility to adapt to rapidly changing and traumatic circumstances during the pandemic, they can help lead the way in strengthening public education with evidence-based practices.”
Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education provides an analysis of California’s charter school movement and finds that roughly one in 11 students now attend a charter public school, and that most charter school students are low-income and/or Latino. Additionally, many parents are considering charters for their child’s education because they continue to reimagine public education by offering specialized school models that help the most struggling students succeed.
“This report describes three ways that charter public schools are reimagining public education to meet their students’ unique needs, whether it is through cutting edge school models, the creative use of data, or simply by providing students with an excellent education, charter public schools featured in this report provide hope during an incredibly difficult time for educators,” said Jennie Kress, the POM’s lead author.
Key Findings in the POM report include:
- Charter public schools are reimagining education through specialized school models that vary by pedagogy and content focus area.
- Charter public schools are redefining college and career readiness by looking beyond annual summative assessments and considering other important aspects of college/career preparation like practicing for the academic rigor of college, social-emotional wellbeing, financial literacy, career practice and goal setting.
- “Rising Star” charter public schools are rethinking what is possible for students, especially those who have been historically underserved based on new student-growth data released by the California Department of Education. Four charter public schools were among the public schools in the state with the highest growth on state tests. Wonderful College Prep Academy, James Jordan Middle, Watts Learning Center Charter Middle, and Redwood Academy of Ukiah are all reimagining what is possible for their students.
Charters Reflect California’s Diversity:
Charter public schools serve a diverse population that resembles that of traditional public schools. According to CCSA’s research, the 2020-21 charter public school student population consisted of:
- 57% Low-income
- 52% Latino
- 27% White
- 14% English learners
- 10% Students with disabilities
- 7% Black
Charters at 30: How Charters Are Reimagining Public Education also finds that Latino families are increasingly choosing charter public schools for their child’s education and are increasingly well-represented among charter public school students – increasing by 5% over the past seven years.
Diverse Charter Academic School Models and Populations
The most common pedagogical model found in the research was “college ready.” However, many charters approach college preparation differently. Some charters are redefining college readiness by looking beyond common measures like test scores, graduation, and college going rates to ensure that students are not only prepared to enroll in college, but also to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically/professionally once they get there.
The POM provides educators and policy makers with recommendations including:
- Consider multiple measures of school performance
- Continue to learn from annual summative assessments
- Identify and share best practices looking at “Rising Stars” schools