Half of state authorized charters failed to meet performance targets

Half of state authorized charters failed to meet performance targets

Of the 23 charter schools operating under an authorization issued by the California State Board of Education, slightly more than half met their 2013 academic growth targets – but 11 scored at or above the state’s performance benchmark of 800 on the Academic Performance Index.

According to a new report from the California Department of Education, two of the state board charters achieved the second highest API within their county –while one, the New West Charter School located in West Los Angeles, attained an API score of 910.

The state board has authority to approve charter applications and act as the oversight agency. The network of state board charters spiked during the term of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as the first years of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to more than 30.

Today, the state board is responsible for 19 charters operating at 23 sites statewide. Six of the schools – operated by Aspire Public Schools under a statewide benefit charter approved by the board in 2007 – were reauthorized at the local level following a protracted legal fight with the organization led by California Teachers Association.

Two other charters – Pacific Technology located in the Sacramento area and the Doris Topsy-Elvord Academy, located in Long Beach – lost SBE authorization and closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year after being unable to meet state operational standards.

Even with the decline in numbers, the network of SBE-authorized charter schools also received attention from the Legislature earlier this year with a proposed bill that would return to local jurisdictions management of the state-authorized charters.

The bill, AB 445 authored by Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, was held in committee although there was some talk of bringing back elements of the proposal for further review.

Chavez said last spring that he was concerned about the ability of the state board to execute proper oversight from Sacramento – although his plan of returning control back to the local level appeared to have little support.

State law empowers three levels of government to approve charter schools – local school district boards, county school boards and the state board, which serves as the option of last resort. Indeed most of the charters operating under the jurisdiction of the state board were brought forward on appeal from the local level.

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