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SACRAMENTO — California's public charter schools are making greater student achievement gains compared to their non-charter counterparts, according to an analysis of the 2004 Academic Performance Index (API) released last week. In addition, the average growth on student achievement for charter schools nearly doubled the growth for their non-charter school counterparts.
The positive student achievement gains were announced during a new school year that has 78 new public charter schools opening their doors for the first time - a 15 percent increase in the number of new charter schools compared to last year. There are now 537 charter schools serving approximately 180,000 students in California.
"These positive student achievement results, coupled with the growing excitement of public school teachers who continue to open new charter schools, show that charter schools are tremendously benefiting California's system of public education," said Caprice Young, CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. "California's charter schools are raising the bar for student achievement and for public education."
According to the latest data, which looked at API growth gains from 2003 to 2004, 64.4 percent of charter schools increased their API scores, compared to 61.1 percent of non-charter schools. Charter schools increased their API scores by an average of 12.9 points, compared to 7.3 points for non-charter schools. In addition, 60.4 percent of charter schools met or exceeded their API growth targets, compared to 54.1 percent of non-charter schools. On average, charter schools also surpassed their API growth targets by 7.5 points, compared to 2.1 points for their non-charter counterparts.
While many charter schools across the state achieved impressive gains, charter schools in San Diego County and in Oakland Unified School District experienced the most dramatic student achievement gains relative to their neighboring public schools.
San Diego County's charter schools had average student achievement gains of 21 points, compared to six points for their non-charter school counterparts. In addition, three of the four highest performing public high schools in San Diego County, River Valley Charter School, High Tech High School and the Preuss School, are charter schools.
Oakland's charter schools showed even stronger growth gains compared to their non-charter school counterparts. Oakland schools with at least two years of scores had an average increase of nearly five times the growth of district schools - 39 points, compared to an eight point increase in Oakland Unified's non-charter public schools.
The gains for Oakland's charter schools were even more impressive since many of these schools have opened in just the past three years. The quick success of these schools has been made possible in part through the Charter School Facility Grant Program - a new state program that provides facilities assistance for inner-city charter schools that target disadvantaged students. The three-year old facilities program has recently made it possible for charter schools to serve the state's most disadvantaged students, particularly for schools in areas like Oakland. Through this program, the number of inner-city charter schools that targets a high-percentage of low-income students has doubled statewide in just the last two years.
Finally, four of the top 20 most improved public schools in California are charter schools. They include the North Oakland Community Charter School in Oakland, Learning With A Purpose Charter School in El Dorado County, and Barona Indian Charter School and Mountain Empire Applied Sciences and Technology Charter School - both in San Diego County. Even though charter schools make up only 4 percent of the total number of schools with two years of API data, these four charter schools constituted 20 percent of the most improved California public schools.
About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization for the state's 537 public charter schools serving approximately 180,000 students in the State of California. The Association's mission is to increase student achievement by strengthening and expanding public charter schools throughout California.
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