Campus: CSU Los Angeles -- March 11, 2002
Cal State L.A. Study Reveals California's Low-Income Students
Are Showing Greater Improvement In Charter Schools
Study Analyzes Student Achievement in Public Schools Serving Low
Socio-Economic Status (Low-SES) Students
A California State University, Los Angeles study reveals that low-income,
at-risk students are showing greater improvements in California's charter
schools than in their non-charter counterparts.
The study, by Cal State L.A. education faculty members-professor Simeon
P. Slovacek, and associate professor Antony J. Kunnan-and doctoral student
Hae-Jin Kim, analyzes three years of California's Academic Performance
Index (API) data (1999, 2000, and 2001) for charter and non-charter schools,
along with various charter school characteristics.
"Because socioeconomic status (SES) has a strong correlation with
student performance on standardized tests," says Slovacek, the faculty
made comparisons "focusing on charter and non-charter schools serving
free or reduced lunch-eligible students--that is, low-SES students."
In general, the study shows that student achievement in California's low-income
charter schools is improving at a faster rate than in similar non-charter
schools. This trend is even more pronounced for schools that serve higher
percentages of low-SES students.
Along with the student achievement gains, the study shows that charter
schools are serving a greater concentration of low-income students than
NOTE: Drs. Slovacek and Kunnan will be available to discuss the study
with the press on Monday March 11 - the day the study is released. The
study, California Charter Schools Serving Low SES Students: An Analysis
of the Academic Performance Index, will be available beginning 10 a.m.
on the Web site http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/ccoe/c_perc/announce.htm.
Study findings were as follows:
- California charter schools are doing a better job of improving
the academic performance, as measured by API, of California's most
at-risk students--those who are low-income--than non-charter California
- Student achievement, as measured by API, in California's low-income
charter schools is, on average, improving at a faster rate than in
similar non-charter schools.
- When 2001 API scores were compared with 1999 API scores for
California schools that reported serving 50% or more free or reduced
lunch-eligible students, the charter schools' (N=41) API means
improved more (22.6%) than the non-charter schools' (N=3136) API
means, which improved 19.4%.
- The difference was more pronounced for the very high poverty
schools that reported serving 75% or more free or reduced lunch-eligible
students. Charter schools' scores improved 28.1% (N=25) while
non-charter scores improved 23.8% (N=1549). It appears that charter
schools are doing an effective job of improving the academic performance
of low-income students.
- Charter schools are serving a greater concentration of low-income
- In 2001, the percentage of charter schools reporting both three
years of API scores and meals, who served students where 75% or
more are low-SES students, is estimated at 27.2% vs. 23.04% for
non-charter schools in California.
- Smaller schools tend to outperform larger schools in terms of student
achievement growth. In other words, size matters.
- Charter schools lost approximately 4.5 API points for every
increase of 100 students in school enrollment size.
- Non-charter schools lost an average of 5.8 API points for each
additional 100 students.
- Socioeconomic status continues to influence student performance
on standardized tests.
- Each percentage point of the student body that was considered
low-SES (free or reduced lunch) resulted in a 1.2 point decline
in charter schools' API scores.
- Each percentage point of the student body that was considered
low-SES (free or reduced lunch) resulted in a 2.6 point decline
in non-charter schools' API scores.
- Factors also influencing API performance included percentage of
teachers on emergency credentials, high mobility rates, and high percentages
of English language learners.
- Charter schools are overcoming the well-documented challenges faced
by start-up schools, including the lack of facilities funding (estimated
to be over $1,000 per student). Historically, non-charter schools
receive significant facilities funds and support.
About the Study:
This report presents the findings of an analysis of the Academic Performance
Index scores (API) based on the Stanford Achievement Tests (SAT 9) taken
in spring 1999, 2000, and 2001. It focuses on charter schools in the
state of California who serve students from low-socioeconomic status
(SES) families. The research was conducted by Simeon P. Slovacek and
Antony J. Kunnan, faculty members in the Charter College of Education
at California State University, Los Angeles. Both are evaluators with
PERC - the Program Evaluation and Research Collaborative.
About the Authors:
Simeon P. Slovacek, Ph.D., is a professor in the Charter College
of Education, California State University, Los Angeles. He earned his
masters and doctorate from Cornell University in the fields of educational
research and evaluation methodology. He also serves as principal evaluator
in the Program Evaluation and Research Collaborative. His research and
publication interests are in the areas of school reform as well as educational
assessment, research and evaluation methodology. He has been instrumental
in restructuring K-12 schools through the Accelerated Schools project,
the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project (LAAMP), and other education
reform efforts. Professor Slovacek is on the California list of approved
evaluators for the State's Immediate Interventions for Under-performing
Antony J. Kunnan, Ph.D., is associate professor of education
at California State University, Los Angeles. He earned his Ph.D. from
UCLA in applied linguistics and his M.A. and B.A. from Bangalore University,
India. Professor Kunnan has wide-ranging experience in dealing with
training and testing programs. He has received funding and managed projects
that have been funded by local, state, national and international agencies.
As a world-renowned expert in English language testing, he serves as
a consultant to the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ, and
to the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate. He is currently
the U.S. consultant who is conducting Pre-Service (Level 3) evaluation
of all IELP-II programs at Egyptian Universities.
Hae-Jin Kim, M.A., is an Ed.D. candidate in the field of Second
Language Assessment at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received
her B.A. in Linguistics from UCLA and M.A. in applied linguistics from
Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently engaged in an
internship on program evaluation and language assessment under the direction
of Professor Slovacek and Professor Kunnan at Cal State University,