September 2017 Newsletter

Tracking Outcomes Beyond School

Several strong Charter Management Organizations have significantly increased the proportion of their students who complete a four-year college degree after leaving their charter school. Part of their success comes from the use of data to help counsel and support students and better understand the higher education options that are available for them. The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) produced a webinar on Tracking Outcomes Beyond School, focused on how these schools are doing this work.

Many charter schools and networks collect and use data to guide students and track progress during college and career paths. Presenters Benjamin Feit from Democracy Prep Public Schools, Matt Niksch from Noble Network of Charter Schools, and Education Author Richard Whitmire discussed how to dramatically improve student outcomes by using data.

This webinar explored data and measures—like college enrollment rates, college completion, and long-term earnings—that expand the meaning of student success after high school graduation. The discussion on how data is collected, analyzed, and disseminated gives charter schools insight on how to successfully support students on academic progress. Network leaders shared their lessons, including how to stay focused on the student and family’s perspective in this process. Schools can provide students with better information on higher education options that increase each student’s chance of picking a successful path.

Is There a State Role in Supporting Charter Innovation?

One of the main objectives of the charter idea is the promotion of innovation in education.  But is that working? And if we want to provide families with more variety among the schools they choose, can states do more to help? The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) produced a webinar on The State Role in Supporting Charter Innovation, discussing a variety of methods states could take to promote innovation (or reduce obstacles to innovation) by charter schools. Presenters shared data on how variation there is among charters in the field, as well as the roles of others, like philanthropists and charter support organizations, to promote innovation. They explored the concepts of whether states have an obligation to promote innovation, if charter schools have become dominated by a limited number of teaching and learning approaches, and if there is too much charter growth in urban areas and not enough in other geographic settings.   

New philanthropic initiatives, like a special fund recently launched by the Walton Family Foundation, are looking for ways to support more innovation.  States can learn about these issues and opportunities as they design their own programs.  Presenters Nora Flood of the Walton Family Foundation, Jordan Posamentier of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and Andy Smarick of American Enterprise Institute shared their reflections and experiences on the state’s role in supporting charter innovation.

This interactive webinar considered the need for innovation as well as opportunities to support innovation or reduce state-level barriers to innovation through various tools, practices, and ideas. In addition to fostering innovation, this webinar examined how to design activities through the Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant or through the State Education Agency (SEA) to provide incentives for innovation. 

To view more NCSRC webinars, click here.

Recent NCSRC Resources

  • Webinar: I Just Joined a Charter School Board… Now What? This webinar provides a framework and strategies for governing effectively, with real-life examples and case studies that are relevant for new charter board members as well as experienced board members and school leaders.Charter Board Partners leverages the existing body of knowledge to offer best practices and tools to enable charter schools to establish and maintain an effective board.
  • Intentionally 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 for school leaders’ consideration.
  • An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Ohio: As part of the NCSRC’s ongoing set of studies of state-level charter school facilities, this report details the status of charter school facilities in Ohio. The study finds that few Ohio charter schools use district buildings, and as a result, Ohio charters tend to pay more for other types of facilities. The study is co-produced by NCSRC, the Colorado League of Charter Schools, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
  • DC Public Charter School Board Case Study: This case study showcased DC PCSB’s implementation of several turnaround initiatives in the past few years. For low-performing charter schools, there are three alternate options to closing: 1) transition to a traditional public-school campus; 2) turning around a school’s performance using existing leadership; and 3) a takeover by a new charter school operator. Turnaround initiatives are the only pursued as a last resort, after an exhaustive and comprehensive accountability process. The DC PCSB incorporates turnarounds into its broader efforts to serve as a national role model for charter school authorizing and accountability.
  • Webinar: For SEA Staff – Overview of CSP’s Recently Released Dear Colleague Letter on Fiscal Oversight: The webinar is intended for staff from SEAs who administer grants under the CSP program. The U.S. Department of Education discusses a recently released Dear Colleague Letter, covering fiscal monitoring responsibilities. Topics included monitoring and oversight of CSP subgrantees and authorizers, including expectations for monitoring and oversight in the context of charter school closures.

Recent NCSRC Partner Resources

  • Lights Off: Practice and Impact of Closing Low-Performing Schools: The latest study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) examines closures of both charter schools and traditional public schools. This national study examined the students in schools that close as well as impact of closure on learning. CREDO found that schools that close tend to serve more low income and minority students than schools that have similar levels of performance but are allowed to stay open.The impact on learning depended on various factors, including the quality of the school a student enrolls in after a closure and the state in which a closure takes place.
  • Top Ten Reasons to Join a Charter School Board: Here are the top ten reasons to join a charter school board, according to Charter Board Partners.
  • Bridging the District-Charter Divide to Help More Students Succeed: Animosity between school districts and charter schools has been the norm since the nation’s first charter school opened in 1992, but that is now starting to change. In at least 35 urban school districts with significant numbers of charter schools, efforts are under way to jointly improve instruction, align policies, address inequities, or garner efficiencies. About a dozen of these districts are using cooperation, also commonly referred to as district-charter collaboration, to drive decisions and address systemic challenges, including tracking school performance, student enrollment, and school closure.