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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Report on Conditions for Conservatory Lab Charter School

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
February 16, 2011

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In January 2009, the Board renewed the charter of Conservatory Lab Charter School (CLCS) with three conditions regarding implementation of its Learning Through Music program and ensuring a programmatically accessible facility. The school has met all three conditions.

Conservatory Lab Charter School

CLCS is a Commonwealth charter school located in Boston. The school opened in 1999 and is chartered to serve grades pre-kindergarten through five with a maximum enrollment of 154. In 2010-11, CLCS serves 154 students.

The school's mission statement is: "The Conservatory Lab Charter School will engage all children by using the Learning Through Music curriculum model to ensure every child's academic, creative, and social success, as validated by qualitative and quantitative measures."

On December 14, 2010 the Charter School Office (CSO) conducted a site visit to CLCS. Before the visit, the site visit team reviewed the school's 2009-10 annual report; the Year 11, 2009-10 Site Visit Report; board of trustees materials; and recent internal and external assessment data. On site, the team reviewed curricular documents and other information provided by the school; conducted group and individual interviews with trustees, administrators, teachers, students, and parents; and observed classes.

The site visit had four purposes:

  • to review the progress that the school has made in meeting the conditions imposed by the Board,
  • to corroborate and augment the information contained in the school's annual report,
  • to investigate the school's progress relative to its accountability plan goals, and
  • to provide evidence that will support decisions regarding the school's charter.

Report on Conditions

The following conditions were imposed at the time of the school's charter renewal in January 2009:

Condition 1: By December 2009, the school shall implement its Learning Through Music program in alignment with its charter or amend the charter to accurately reflect the school's current program.

Status: The school has met this condition.
CLCS has amended its charter to reflect the school's current Learning Through Music (LTM) program.

  • In November 2009, the school received approval from the Commissioner for a major amendment to add Expeditionary Learning (EL) as the school's curricular and pedagogical model. The school has used EL as a framework for the continued development and implementation of LTM curriculum.
  • In September 2010, the school received approval from the Commissioner for two minor charter amendments. The first amendment incorporated a whole-school, orchestral program called El Sistema. Beginning this school year, CLCS students engage in a variety of music classes - from choir, to music literacy, to orchestra - every afternoon from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm. The second minor amendment lengthened the school day in order to accommodate the El Sistema program.
  • As discussed below, CLCS is currently implementing its LTM program, along with additional music programs, in alignment with its charter.

Condition 2: By December 2010, the school shall provide evidence, written and as documented through the site visit process, of consistent implementation of its educational program in alignment with its charter.

Status: The school has met this condition.
The CSO's site visit team found that CLCS is consistently implementing its educational program in alignment to its charter. Evidence gathered by site visitors confirmed that CLCS has created a LTM program in alignment with its charter. The school is implementing an ambitious combination of programs that integrate music into the school's curriculum.

  • All of the school's programmatic elements are clearly reflected at all grade levels. Each element is further discussed below.
  • Expeditionary Learning (EL): Teachers and staff have done extensive work to document the LTM expeditionary curriculum units. The school continues to refine and revise LTM units to align them fully with the EL model.
  • Learning Through Music (LTM): Students have a 60 minute LTM class every day. Students participate in three LTM expeditions each year which incorporate music into an overarching theme.
  • Five Music Processes: CLCS displays posters outlining the five music processes (questioning, creating, listening, performing, and reflecting) all over the school. Site visitors observed students engaging in the processes during classroom visits.
  • El Sistema: All students engage in music classes - orchestral, choral, or theory - every afternoon from 2:30 until 5 p.m.
  • The Listening Project: In 2010, CLCS also began daily "listening project" classes in each grade level. These 15-minute lessons focus on one genre of music. Students study the genre the entire year and listen to 30 songs the represent the genre.

Condition 3: By September 1, 2010, the school will be located in a programmatically accessible facility. The school shall provide the Charter School Office with the following information prior to that date:

  1. By June 1, 2009, documentation of the vote by the school's board of trustees that determines whether the school will renovate its current facility or intends to relocate.
  2. By September 1, 2009, documentation of estimates and timelines for renovation of the school's current facility or documentation of progress in identifying a new location, including how the school will meet accessibility requirements.

Status: The school has met this condition.

  • The CLCS board of trustees voted in May 2009 to renovate the school's current facility and administrators provided the CSO with an accessibility plan that same month.
  • Over the summer of 2009, the school completed a five-week renovation of its facility to make it programmatically accessible.
  • CSO staff, along with staff from the Department's Program Quality Assurance unit, visited the school in September 2009 and found that the facility is programmatically accessible for students with disabilities.

Additional Information

The attached site visit report provides additional information in the three areas of charter school accountability: Faithfulness to Charter, Academic Success, and Organizational Viability. Based upon this information, I recommend that the Board vote to eliminate the conditions on CLCS' charter. A motion is enclosed.

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

Attachment:

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
CLCS Year Twelve Site Visit Report


Last Updated: February 24, 2011
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