Oakland charter middle and high schools are renewing the promise of a high-quality public education and changing what is possible for students of all demographic backgrounds to achieve in their lives.
Today it is no longer enough for schools to focus on helping their students to graduate from 12th grade. To fulfill the promise of a brighter future, public schools must expand their focus from preparing students for graduation to preparing them for success through college and career.
The California Charter Schools Association's new report, "Renewing the Promise: How Charter Middle and High Schools Are Putting Oakland Students on the Path to College," makes it resoundingly clear that charter schools in Oakland are providing families with unparalleled educational options that are breaking down barriers to college for thousands of students.
That charter schools are keeping their high-quality education promise to students should come as no surprise as the California charter school movement is the largest in the nation by far and is growing every year, with 1,130 schools currently serving more than 500,000 students statewide.
There is no debating that if students choose to attend college then they need to be college-ready and receive an excellent education that prepares them for that choice. Oakland Unity High School, Lighthouse Community Charter School and Oakland Military Institute-College Preparatory Academy are among several of the middle and high charter public schools that are paving the way for students to be academically and professionally successful.
The report also highlights many key findings, including that with historically disadvantaged student populations, charter schools should be embraced as a solution in Oakland's efforts to raise student achievement.
In Oakland, the average percentage of high school graduates who completed all college preparatory coursework at charter public schools is two times as high as it is for traditional district schools. This holds true for all students and for historically disadvantaged student groups.
The average high school graduation rate at traditional district high schools has not budged from just about 50 percent for the past three years. The average graduation rate at charter schools has increased over time and is now at 68 percent. Further, the dropout rate at charter schools is half that of the traditional schools.
Charter high schools achieve the same results for socioeconomically disadvantaged students as for other students. They continue to deliver a higher percentage of college-ready graduates than their traditional school counterparts, regardless of family income.
Additionally, academic achievement at charter middle and high schools is higher than traditional district schools in several areas key to putting students on the path to college.
What is abundantly apparent from this report is that a student's background is not a barrier to either graduating from high school or being prepared for college.
What is vitally important is to have educational options that create life-changing outcomes for students.
This is the promise of a middle and high school education at a charter public school in Oakland.
Jed Wallace is president and CEO of the Sacramento-based California Charter Schools Association.