September 2020 Newsletter

Resource Selection
01 Sep, 2020

The Charter Connection

photo of Director Hinton

Dear Grantees, Educators, and Colleagues,

Educating all children and youth is one of society’s imperatives, and quality education—and the choices and opportunities it fosters—changes lives. I believed this on my first day at the U.S. Department of Education, and I still believe it now, nearly 17 years later, as the new Director of the Charter School Programs (CSP). Today, I am grateful and excited to work with colleagues who, even during a historic pandemic, tirelessly pursue education freedom with resolve, creativity, and empathy.

Improving awareness of and access to high-quality K–12 education opportunities for students and families is one of the Department’s Agency Priority Goals. We strive to increase the number and percentage of total charter schools and students nationwide, and our CSP grantees are integral to achieving that goal. During my tenure at the Department, I have overseen several programs and place-based initiatives that support alternatives in education such as the Magnet Schools Assistance Program, the Full-Service Community Schools program, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, and the Promise Neighborhoods program. I have also developed policy and best practices for the Title I, Part A parental involvement and school choice provisions, and recently led evidence-based policy making efforts for discretionary grants as a Division Director of Evidence-Based Policy in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

CSP has awarded more than $2,327,447,710 in grants for 5,166 schools over the past 14 years. As CSP Director, my new charge is to build upon CSP’s impact on the educational landscape. Now, amid the pandemic, how we educate students continues to evolve and the importance of alternatives to education and school choice are evident. For us all to succeed—CSP and our grantees—the current CSP division will be reimagined, expanding upon what has worked well, and addressing what has not. Expect more details—and the opportunity to weigh in—in the future.

I am eager to connect and collaborate with grantees and the charter school community in the weeks and months ahead. Please continue to contact the National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) to access high-quality publications, reports, webinars, and toolkits, and to receive new resources as they are published.

Thank you for your efforts, your passion, your vision, and your patience. I look forward to working together to achieve excellence and equity for all students. 


Anna Hinton, PhD
Charter School Programs

Welcome to The Charter Connection!

Identifying Indicators of Distress in Charter Schools

New resources from NCSRC! Coming soon: Identifying Indicators of Distress in Charter Schools Part 1: The Role and Perspective of Charter School Authorizers. This new report labels and categorizes the indicators of distress that authorizers encounter as a school’s quality begins to decline – and can thereby help facilitate action toward the goal of school improvement. Look out for this report and a live learning opportunity with NCSRC and charter school stakeholders.

“What is the most common myth about charter schools?” We asked readers for their opinions and the results are shared below! In this issue of The Charter Connection, we draw from Charting the Course to Equity: K-12 Leaders of Color and Student Success. Haven’t read it? It’s worth your time. Read on and test your knowledge! 

Questions or feedback? We’re here to help.

New Resources

CMO Grantee Profiles

Check out what your fellow grantees are doing! New NCSRC profiles of AppleTree Schools, Brooke Charter Schools, Family Life Academy Charter Schools (FLACS) Inc., and Hiawatha Academies detail each grantee’s grant goals and activities, project successes, and lessons learned during grant implementation. CMO Grantee Profiles

Learn more! Hear directly from CSP CMO Grantees in a recorded webinar with Hiawatha Academies and AppleTree Institute on how they have approached partnerships, expanded enrollment, and are planning and operating in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. CMO Grantee Webinar

SE Grantee Profiles

Don’t miss this NCSRC webinar with leaders from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and New York State Education Department. The speakers offer insights on how their organizations are working to increase the number of high-quality charter school seats and close the achievement gap. They also share how they are disseminating best practices in their States.

How do State Entities utilize their CSP grant funds?

Check out new NCSRC profiles of the Indiana Department of Education, the New York State Education Department, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for descriptions on their innovation subgrants, technical assistance expansion, and new support programs. SE Grantee Profiles

Shifting to At-Home Learning

Explore this timely addition to the NCSRC website from TNTP. This toolkit provides school and network leaders with a framework to plan for improving their approach to serve all students during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes action steps and questions to prompt system leaders, school leaders, teachers, families and caretakers, and students at different points in the shift to implementation of virtual instruction. Shifting to At-Home Learning

Policy Framework for High-Quality Authorizing Practices

The State role in creating strong authorizing environments is critical. The “Policy Framework for High-Quality Charter Authorizing Practices” is a tool for assessing the State policy environment’s support for high-quality authorizing practices. By legislating and creating State requirements in policy, States guide authorizers in using best practices that ensure the quality of charter schools. Learn more about this important new resource. Policy Framework for High-Quality Charter Authorizing Practices

Test Your Knowledge!

Charting the Course to Equity: K-12 Leaders of Color and Student Success, a report from the California Charter Schools Association, analyzed the relationship between having a leader of color and academic outcomes in California’s public schools during the 2017-2018 academic year. Their analysis found that, on average, students at schools with a leader of color scored higher on state tests, especially at high schools. In recognition of this important research finding, this issue of The Charter Connection asks:

How many Distance from Standard scale points higher did students at high schools with a leader of color score, on average, on California’s standardized test for Math and ELA in SY2017-18? (Look for the answer in the next issue of The Charter Connection!)

Bonus question! What proportion of California public school leaders (including charters) are leaders of color? What proportion of public school students (including charters) are students of color? (Look for the answer in the next issue of The Charter Connection!)

A Common Myth-Conception

Last issue we asked, “What is the most common myth about charter schools?” Here’s what you, our readers, said were the most common:

46% - Charters schools are not public schools. (Fact: Charter schools are public schools that receive public funds and operate as schools of choice. Source)

27% - Charter schools pick and choose students. (Fact: Charter schools that meet the federal definition of a charter school do not have selective application processes. Charter school students receive admission via lottery. Source )

13.5% - Charter schools charge tuition. (Fact: Charter schools that meet the federal definition of a charter school receive public funds and do not charge tuition to families. Source)

13.5% - Charter schools are run by big CMOs. (Fact: More than half of charter school students are enrolled in independent charter schools not managed by a CMO. Source)

What's Happening

COVID-19 Resources

NCSRC continues to update its COVID-19 Resource Directory. Resources include federal guidance, available guidance from each State Entity and State Education Agency with a CSP grant, as well as links to resources supporting schools, students, and families during COVID-19. All resources are free and accessible to the public.

Check out From Pandemic to Equity for All, a recent NCSRC webinar, for a discussion on how some CSP grantees across the country are executing purpose-driving initiatives in response to current events in public education.

Updated FAQ Page

NCSRC has good news for the persistently curious: an updated FAQ page. Wonder no more!

What'd I Miss?

Wondering where your next grant is coming from? The previous issue of The Charter Connection announced the launch of a new email digest focused on national funding opportunities for the charter school sector. You can sign up here.

Missed a webinar? You can watch NCSRC webinar recordings at your convenience or view the presentation slides. Visit the NCSRC website for recorded webinars and other great resources.

Don’t worry! If you lose an issue of The Charter Connection, you can find it on the NCSRC Newsletter Archive.