Report: Charter Schools in Los Angeles Unified Outperforming Traditional Public Schools

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Charter schools in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are outperforming traditional public schools on a variety of student achievement measures, according to a revealing analysis released today by the California Charter Schools Association. Entitled, “Charter School Performance in Los Angeles Unified School District: A District and Neighborhood Matched Comparison Analysis,” the report also assessed for the first time charter schools’ performance compared to its three most similarly-matched district schools that students may otherwise likely attend.

More than seven in 10 charter schools (70.6 percent) outperformed their most similarly-matched district public school on 2007 API Growth results according to the report, while more than six in 10 (62.8 percent) outperformed all three of their most similarly-matched peers.

“Charter schools are raising the bar for student performance in LAUSD,” said Caprice Young, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. “It’s clear from this report that charter schools continue to expand high quality educational choices for parents in Los Angeles neighborhoods while delivering on their promise of raising student achievement.”

The analysis used statewide student achievement (API) data from the 2006-2007 academic school year to conduct a district-level assessment of charter schools and traditional public schools, including elementary, middle and high school levels. It also provides a first-ever micro level, neighborhood analysis to compare charters’ performance with their three most similar traditional public school peers within a five-mile radius. Similar schools were selected based on the school’s racial composition, average parent level of education, and free/reduced price lunch participation.

Other Key Findings

The research shows that charter schools in LAUSD are more likely to improve their California State Academic Performance Index (API) at a faster rate than traditional public schools. In fact, eighteen percent of charter schools were found to increase their API growth score by 50 points or more while only five percent of traditional public schools did the same.

Charter middle schools in LAUSD were found to consistently outperform traditional public schools, with median API base and growth levels registering 100 and 95 points higher than that of traditional public schools.

Charter schools serving African-American students outperformed traditional public schools serving similar students in elementary, middle and high schools. API results for other traditionally disadvantaged groups such as Latino students were higher at the middle and high school levels, while lower at the elementary school level.

“Charter schools are continuing to demonstrate that they are effective at closing the achievement gap for historically under-served students such as African-American and Latino students,” said Caprice Young. “As the charter school movement continues to grow, it is becoming more important that we work to share its successes with traditional public schools so that all students are prepared to succeed, regardless of their backgrounds.”

Finally, the report found that mature charter schools, or charter schools that have been open for more than five years, significantly outperformed district public schools and their younger charter school peers.

This report’s methodology used an in-depth local analysis of charter schools based on a foundation of national research, was authored by Stanford Ph.D. Aisha Toney, Senior Data Analyst for the California Charter Schools Association and was peer reviewed by noted California researcher Vicki Murray.

To download a copy of the full report and executive summary, visit:

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 687 charter public schools that serve an estimated 240,000 charter school students in the state of California. The Association’s mission is to improve student achievement by supporting and expanding California’s quality charter public school movement.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top