Academic performance is at the center of most charter renewals, yet charter schools and authorizers often lack clarity as to how to evaluate student performance, particularly student growth. California does not yet provide analytics for comparing a student’s actual growth from prior year scores to the growth of other students with similar baselines. When local education agencies (LEAs) want to evaluate student growth, they must decide on a method, either informally or with the help of a data analytics provider or a service such as the CORE District Collaborative.
Additionally, schools lack state data to show growth in the early elementary and high school grades. Since the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) is administered only in grades three through eight and eleven, growth analysis is only viable after students take post-tests in grades four to eight.
Lack of growth analytics was a challenge before the pandemic, but at least LEAs had historical data context. Across the pandemic, performance levels and growth trends have varied widely depending on grade level and student demographics. As the charter school community moves toward renewals re-starting next year, these challenges take on new significance.
Charter schools can bring any data to renewals, but statute requires authorizers to consider student academic growth data only from “verified” data sources, and only through 2025. The verified data sources do not provide a clear pathway for authorizers to consider growth demonstrated on CAASPP. The state has set some parameters for verified data, but numerous issues are likely to complicate consideration of academic growth. Some publishers, for example, use norms from pre-pandemic, which may or may not affect how a school’s growth data looks on a particular data source.
As charter schools move away from pandemic learning conditions and toward renewals re-starting next fall, and as new CAASPP and Dashboard data becomes available, administrators might examine how these issues are playing out for their schools, for example:
- How do our academic performance levels compare to pre-pandemic levels?
- How does our students’ academic growth compare to pre-pandemic growth?
- How do these trends vary by grade level, student group, or assessment?
- Do our verified data metrics align with what we are seeing on CAASPP, ELPAC, and other assessments?
If you have engaged with these issues, CSDC would like to hear from you. To support the charter community in robust data use, we encourage readers to send us an email with any observations, questions, or needs. Please email us at email@example.com.
For a deeper dive on verified data, the 2022 CSDC Conference will include a related session with presentations from data analytics providers. The conference will include a full strand on charter school data, renewal and accountability. Sunday afternoon workshops will launch with a three-hour review of fundamentals, to prepare attendees for more advanced sessions on renewal standards and process, renewal track sorting and strategy, Dashboard Alternative School Status renewals, data use and more.
Prepare Well Ahead
CSDC urges charter school leaders to start early to understand the school’s position with respect to renewal standards, allowing enough time to take strategic action on the following:
- Understand the renewal standards in detail. Well ahead of renewal, CSDC encourages schools to develop a strong understanding of the complex renewal standards and the specific data that feeds into these standards on the Dashboard and via California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). Schools can make use of CSDC’s numerous resources for members, including Currents articles, webinars, and CSDC’s Guide to Renewal. CSDC encourages members to contact us for personalized guidance, including a free consultation with custom reports for the school.
- Evaluate historical data in light of the renewal standards that apply to the school. Evaluate how the school is likely to perform relative to state averages, particularly if the charter school will be subject to track sorting. Where analysis of growth may come up short, focus improvement efforts on boosting student growth. Resources include the following:
- Historical school-to-state data comparisons used in renewal track sorting in CSDC’s Guide to Renewal
- CSDC’s Renewal Strategy Worksheet and CSDC’s School Data Tool, customized reports that show the school’s historical growth patterns relative to statewide growth patterns
- The CORE Data Collaborative’s fee-based growth analytics service, widely used by California LEAs
- Experienced data providers’ analysis of longitudinal student performance and other key data
- Set performance goals and implement a strategic action plan. Plan a renewal strategy and set related performance goals, to backwards-plan accordingly.
- Begin dialogue with district and county staff. Years ahead of renewal – and once the school has done its own analysis – discuss how the school will demonstrate performance relative to charter renewal standards. Ideally, well before the renewal process, a charter school will have developed a shared understanding with the authorizer about the school’s program, data issues, and the methodology to be used in renewal.
- Build understanding with district and county board members so that they understand the school’s population, approach, and value-added in the community. Ideally, well before the renewal process, board members will understand the school’s program and key metrics to be used in renewal.
CSDC welcomes members to reach out for personalized support.