24 Findings from CA Charter Evaluations

The Learning Collective has evaluated 60 first- and second-year California charter schools through California Department of Education’s Public Charter Schools Grant Program. These are some of the findings from those visits.

These are ways in which many early stage charter schools are falling short:

  1. Students do not regularly work together and relate well in pairs, or groups, to collaboratively solve problems.
  2. Students do not sufficiently develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.
  3. School leaders do not use assessment results to evaluate teacher effectiveness.
  4. Teachers do not frequently establish, share and revisit standards-based learning objectives so that all students understand what they are learning and why it is important.
  5. Teachers do not design and deliver complex instructional tasks to prepare students for future levels of learning by providing opportunities for them to become independent learners.
  6. Schools do not provide opportunities for coordination between classroom teachers and at-risk program staff.
  7. Instructional leaders do not measure the effectiveness of learning and teaching through frequent observations of lessons.
  8. Schools do not have a process for selecting, developing and reviewing its curriculum documents.
  9. Professional development activities are not interrelated with classroom practice.
  10. The professional development program is not evaluated.
  11. School do not maintain adequate liquid reserves.
  12. Members of the board of directors do not possess appropriate skills, especially in education.
  13. Boards do not regularly evaluates its own performance.


These are some strengths that many of these new schools have in common:

  1. Teachers use assessment results to meet students’ needs by adjusting classroom instruction, grouping students and/or identifying students for special intervention.
  2. School leaders use assessment results to develop professional development offerings.
  3. Teachers have effective classroom management techniques.
  4. Schools identify at-risk students.
  5. Instructional leaders establish a culture of respect and rapport to support the emotional safety of students.
  6. Schools regularly communicate each child’s academic performance results to families.
  7. Instructional leaders implement a professional development program that develops the competencies and skills of teachers.
  8. The organizational structures establish distinct lines of accountability with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  9. Schools make adequate attempts to inform all members of the community about the school.
  10. Boards review and approve the annual budget and monitors actual performance against budget.
  11. Board members and school leaders contribute to the budget process as appropriate.