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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Recommendation for Renewal with Conditions: Innovation Academy Charter School and Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
December 10, 2010

stopline

This month the Board will discuss and vote on charter renewal for Innovation Academy Charter School (IACS) and Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School (PVPA). I recommend that the Board renew the charters for these schools with conditions.

Basis of Recommendations Regarding the Renewal of Charters

The charter school regulations state that "[t]he decision by the Board to renew a charter shall be based upon the presentation of affirmative evidence regarding the success of the school's academic program; the viability of the school as an organization; and the faithfulness of the school to the terms of its charter" 603 CMR 1.12. Consistent with the regulations, recommendations regarding renewal are based upon the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (Department) evaluation of the schools' performance in these areas. In its review, the Department has considered both the schools' absolute performance at the time of the application for renewal and the progress the schools have made during the past four years of their charter.

The accountability process for charter schools recognizes that in exchange for increased freedom, a school must demonstrate results within the term of its five-year charter or risk non-renewal. The summary documents that follow this memorandum compile the schools' record for the term of this charter.

The superintendents of the districts sending students to these schools were invited to submit written comment to the Department regarding the renewal of each school's charter. As of December 3, 2010, the Department received one response, from the superintendent of Frontier Regional and Union #38 School Districts. The superintendent urged the Department to deny the renewal of PVPA's charter because of the charter school funding formula. No written comments were received for IACS.

Innovation Academy Charter School

Mission Statement: "The mission of the Innovation Academy Charter School is to provide students with a challenging, interdisciplinary education that will prepare them for the 21st century through an emphasis on holistic learning, higher order and critical thinking skills, and practical application and integration of curriculum areas."

Type of CharterCommonwealthLocationTyngsborough
Regional/Non-RegionalRegionalDistricts in RegionBillerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Groton-Dunstable, Littleton, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, and Westford
Year Opened1996Year(s) Renewed2001, 2006
Maximum Enrollment600Current Enrollment591
Students on Waitlist361Grades Served5-12

IA Annual Math CPI Trend
IA Annual ELA CPI Trend

Recommendation for Renewal

IACS is before you to receive approval for its third charter renewal. As can be noted from the graphs provided above and as you will read in the school's Summary of Review, IACS is an academically successful school. The school, however, has not established a program for English language learners in compliance with state and federal requirements. The Charter School Office (CSO) conducted a federal programs renewal inspection in April 2010 and a follow-up visit in November 2010. The CSO made the following finding:

  • IACS lacks an English language learner program. Neither English language development instruction from a qualified teacher nor sheltered content instruction from fully trained teachers is available at the school.

Based on this finding and the evidence gathered in the attached Summary of Review, I recommend that the Board renew the charter of IACS with the condition that the school establish and operate a program of English language learner education in a manner consistent with the requirements of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 71A by December 31, 2011. IACS will demonstrate that it has met this condition through, at a minimum, an inspection visit conducted by the Charter School Office. I will provide information to the Board on the school's success in meeting the condition.

Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School

Mission Statement: "PVPA Charter Public School offers its students intensive exposure to the performing arts within the context of an excellent college preparatory curriculum. The goal of PVPA is to provide students with a supportive and challenging environment that is responsive to multiple learning styles, emphasizes learning through the arts, and integrates creative and critical thinking throughout the curriculum."

Type of CharterCommonwealthLocationSouth Hadley
Regional/Non-RegionalRegionalDistricts in RegionAgawam, Amherst, Amherst?Pelham, Belchertown, Brimfield, Brookfield, Chesterfield?Goshen, Chicopee, Conway, East Longmeadow, Easthampton, Gateway Regional, Gill?Montague, Granby, Granville, Greenfield, Hadley, Hampden?Wilbraham, Hampshire Regional, Hatfield, Holland, Holyoke, Leverett, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Mohawk Regional, New Salem Wendell, Northampton, Palmer, Pelham, Petersham, Pioneer Valley Regional, Quabbin Regional, Quabog Regional, Ralph Mahar Regional, Savoy, Shutesbury, South Hadley, Southampton, Southwick Tolland, Springfield, Sunderland, Sturbridge, Wales, Ware, West Springfield, Westfield, Westhampton, Whately, and Williamsburg
Year Opened1996Year(s) Renewed2001, 2006
Maximum Enrollment400Current Enrollment410
Students on Waitlist167Grades Served57-12

PVPA Annual Math CPI Trend
PVPA Annual ELA CPI Trend

Recommendation for Renewal

PVPA is also before you to receive approval for its third charter renewal. The school's mission has a dual purpose: to provide students with an excellent performing arts and college preparatory education. While it is clear that the school is providing a rich arts education and students have achieved high rates of proficiency on English language arts MCAS assessments, PVPA students have not demonstrated strong performance, or growth, in mathematics. As noted in the attached Summary of Review, student performance in terms of mathematics has produced the following results:

  • In 2010, the school had a median student growth percentile of 38.0. In the aggregate, PVPA's growth was lower than 62 percent of their peers statewide.
  • PVPA did not make AYP in mathematics in 2009. In 2010 the school did not make AYP in mathematics for subgroups.
  • The school currently has an accountability status of "Improvement Year 1 - Subgroups" for mathematics.
  • PVPA's CPI for ELA in 2010 was 95.1, for mathematics it was 79.5.

Based on these findings and the evidence gathered in the attached Summary of Review, I recommend that the Board renew the charter of PVPA with the condition that the school demonstrate academic success in mathematics by:

  1. meeting academic growth targets in mathematics, as established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or
  2. achieving Adequate Yearly Progress in the aggregate and for all statistically significant subgroups in mathematics in 2011 and 2012, and
  3. by meeting goals and objectives established in the school's accountability plan.

By December 2012, PVPA will demonstrate that it has met these conditions through, at a minimum, an inspection visit conducted by the Charter School Office. I will provide information to the Board on the school's success in meeting the condition.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner, at 781 338-6500; or Barry Barnett, Interim Director of Charter Schools, at 781 338-3225; or me.

Enclosures:

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Summary of Review for Innovation Academy Charter School
Motion to Renew
Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Summary of Review for Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School
Motion to Renew


Last Updated: December 13, 2010
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