July 2018 Newsletter

NCSRC Case Study Highlights Personalized Learning and Technology-Focused Curriculum at Washington Leadership Academy

The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) released a case study featuring Washington Leadership Academy (WLA) in Washington, D.C. This technology-focused public charter high school serves students throughout the District of Columbia. The case study highlights how WLA uses technology to personalize learning and enable students to become owners of their learning and growth.

The case study features four videos examining how WLA’s founders launched this school model and how technology is improving academic and non-academic outcomes for students. One of the videos highlights how facilities improvements at WLA, funded through a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI), have supported the school’s mission and operations.

You can view the full case study here

NCSRC Resources

  • New School Development ToolkitThe NCSRC released a new toolkit to help Charter Support Organizations (CSOs) and charter school founders find key resources on opening a new charter school. The number of new charter schools opening each year is down in many states. Founding groups report a variety of challenges that make it more difficult to open new schools, including securing affordable and appropriate facilities and estimating enrollment or recruiting students, among many others. In response to these challenges, the NCSRC has designed a navigational toolkit that provides a wide array of publicly available New School Design (NSD) resources from across the country.
  • Charter School Enrollment: A Toolkit for Board Members: Every member of a charter school governing board needs to understand that the overall success or failure of their school rests with that board. In its Standards for Effective Charter School Governance, Charter Board Partners explains how strong boards raise and use resources wisely. Enrollment in charter schools determines the budget, making it a key responsibility of governing boards to understand how their school recruits and retains students. Governing boards also need to understand the accuracy and implications of enrollment predictions, and the impact of proposed changes on eventual enrollment. In support of this principle, boards have a contractual and fiduciary responsibility to make key decisions about school leadership, budget, governance, and compliance that fulfill the promises outlined in the school’s charter.

  • Diverse Charter Schools: A Toolkit for Charter School Leaders: This toolkit is designed to help charter school leaders and their stakeholders design and implement intentionally diverse charter schools. It presents decisions and actions, along with specific examples from three diverse charter schools. Using this toolkit, leaders will learn how to: measure student diversity; intentionally recruit and retain students; ensure that diversity is supported and experienced meaningfully at the individual, classroom, and school-wide levels; and create and run schools that help all students thrive.
  • SEA Webinar: The State Role in Supporting Charter Innovation: In this interactive webinar, a panel of thought leaders representing foundations, researchers, authorizers, and former state education agency (SEA) officials shared their thoughts on the state role in supporting charter innovation. They explored the need for innovation as well as opportunities to support innovation or reduce state-level barriers to innovation through various tools, practices, and ideas. Along with a focus on removing obstacles to foster innovation, the webinar addressed designing activities through the Charter Schools Program grant or broadly through the SEA to provide incentives for innovation.

NCSRC Partner Resources

  • Strengthening Federal Investment in Charter School Facilities 2018: This paper by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools examines what can be done at the federal level to provide additional resources to charter schools to access school buildings, and to create incentives for states to address iniquities in the allocation and funding of buildings. The ideas presented in this paper are the result of a meeting of more than 30 charter facility policy experts, finance experts, practitioners, and nonprofit lenders. They include changes that policymakers can make to strengthen existing programs as well as new programs that policymakers could create to ease charter schools’ facilities burdens.

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