South LA Charter Schools Have 37% More College-Ready SAT-Taking Students Than Comparable District Schools Nearby

By Brandon Ristoff and Jordan Bruneau
January 27, 2021

A new CPC analysis suggests that South LA charter schools have 37% more college-ready SAT-taking students than comparable district schools nearby.

The analysis compares the California Department of Education’s SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmarks at charter and district high schools located in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods in South Los Angeles (Zip Codes: 90001, 90002, 90003, 90044, 90047, 90059, and 90061). The analysis demonstrates that 10 charter schools in this region had 37% more college-ready SAT-taking students than the comparable 13 district schools, including magnet schools, nearby during the 2018-19 (pre-pandemic) school year.

Specifically, 16.6% of SAT takers at these charter schools met or exceeded both the math and English components of the California Department of Education’s SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmarks versus 12.1% of SAT takers in comparable traditional district schools, including magnet schools, nearby. Out of the 1,701 charter school SAT takers, 282 passed both benchmarks. Out of the 2,701 traditional LAUSD school SAT takers, 326 passed both benchmarks.

(Eight schools in these zip codes were excluded from this analysis because they are continuation schools or lacked data.)

To ensure an apples-to-apples comparison, CPC only looked at charter and traditional schools in the same neighborhoods with very similar socio-economic circumstances. For instance, 96.2% of charter school students analyzed were considered socioeconomically disadvantaged by the California Department of Education versus 93.0% percent of comparable district school students. (See table below. To see the full spreadsheet analysis, which includes additional data, click HERE.)

Source: California School Dashboard (2019) and the California Department of Education SAT Scores (2018-2019)

The analysis also demonstrates that 41.0% of charter school SAT takers met or exceeded at least one of the CDE’s SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmarks — “Mathematics” (math) and “Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing” (English) — versus 35.4% in comparable traditional district schools. At the charter schools analyzed, 19.0% of SAT takers met or exceeded the math benchmark and 38.6% met or exceeded the English benchmark. At the district schools analyzed, 13.5% of SAT takers met or exceeded the math benchmark and 34.0% met or exceeded the English benchmark.

The 10 South LA charter high schools, with a total enrollment of 6,078, analyzed are:

  • Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy
  • Alliance Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy High
  • Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High
  • Alliance Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Health Services Academy
  • Animo Pat Brown
  • Animo South Los Angeles Charter
  • Animo Watts College Preparatory Academy
  • Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy
  • New Designs Charter School-Watts
  • TEACH Tech Charter High

The comparable 13 South LA district high schools, with a total enrollment of 9,339, analyzed are:

  • Augustus F. Hawkins High A Critical Design and Gaming
  • Augustus F. Hawkins High B Community Health Advocates
  • Augustus F. Hawkins High C Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship
  • Communication and Technology at Diego Rivera Learning Complex
  • David Starr Jordan Senior High
  • Diego Rivera Learning Complex Green Design STEAM Academy
  • (Academy for Multilingual Arts and Science at) Mervyn M. Dymally High
  • Middle College High
  • John C. Fremont Senior High
  • George Washington Preparatory High
  • King/Drew Medical Magnet High
  • Performing Arts Community at Diego Rivera Learning Complex
  • Public Service Community at Diego Rivera Learning Complex

This analysis provides a fair comparison of charter and district schools with similar student demographics in this part of South Los Angeles. While there are some successful LAUSD public schools, the data suggests charter schools generally produce significantly more college-ready students. (See school-specific data in the table at the bottom.)

SB-98, a budget trailer bill passed in June 2020, created a hold-harmless provision that keeps school funding constant, rewarding district schools that are losing students and punishing charter schools that are attracting them. AB-1505, passed in October 2019, placed a two-year moratorium on virtual charter schools.

Charter school outperformance, as demonstrated again by this analysis, demonstrates that charter schools are an important component of California education. Policymakers should encourage their growth, not further restrict them, in order to better educate Californians, including the most disadvantaged.

The results of this analysis also suggest that parents and families unhappy with their district schools should explore their charter school alternatives.

(Click on table to enlarge.)

Source: California School Dashboard (2019) and the California Department of Education SAT Scores (2018-2019)

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