2018 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 0%
Charter Schools Score: 82%
California’s “B” grade reflects the autonomy its charter schools enjoy and the high degree of innovation coming out of California’s charters as a result of that autonomy. The Golden State has a large and robust charter sector. However, only districts can authorize charter schools,
and denied applicants often have to appeal to the state board. Some districts also emphasize compliance over innovation. Furthermore, the state’s elected board is vulnerable to politics; pro- and anti-charter sentiment can shift from election to election. This was clear in the most recent election, where anti-charter forces struggled but failed to maintain a majority. This bodes well for the growth of the sector for the time being, but additional, independent authorizers would protect the sector from politics.
Law passed in 1992
Number of charters: 1,275
Estimated charter enrollment: 604,700 (increase of 4 percent from 2015-16)
Online charters are permitted, but heavily regulated: They must spend at least 40 percent on teachers and 80 percent on instructional expenses (not facilities)
Charter schools can contract with education service providers for management services
California has a cap on the number of charter schools that can be authorized. However, this cap is raised by 100 schools every year and does not hinder the growth of charter schools
A study by the University of Arkansas showed that charter schools in Oakland and Los Angeles had a 40 percent funding disparity with traditional public schools
• California receives a low score for “authorizing,” mainly because it limits authorizing to districts. Charters that want to operate in several places can apply to the state Board of Education.
• California earns high growth score with 13 of 15 points. California charters have seen steady growth of schools and enrollment.
• Law affords schools a blanket waiver from most regulations. However, since districts are the primary authorizers of charter schools, charters are too often subject to unnecessary regulations that hamper autonomy and innovation.
• California receives a low score for “funding equity,” Although the state provides charters access to public buildings (many states do not), there are limited funds ($800 million) for charter school facilities development. This is not nearly enough considering the size of the state and the number of charter schools.
Teacher Quality Score: 68%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers D
Expanding the Pool of Teachers F
Identifying Effective Teachers F
Retaining Effective Teachers F
Exiting Ineffective Teachers F
Overall State Grade D+