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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Accountability

Accountability Guide

The purpose of the Accountability Guide is to provide schools and other interested parties with information on the accountability system that is unique to charter schools in Massachusetts. Each component of the Guide provides specific information regarding a particular aspect of the accountability process. This process was conceived when charter schools were first opened in the Commonwealth and has been added to and improved upon through years of implementation.

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Guide to Charter School Accountability

Annual Report Guidelines

A charter school's Annual Report must be submitted to the Charter School Office at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on or before August 1, as set forth in the charter school statute. The Annual Report will be used by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to review the school's performance and progress for the past academic year, be corroborated and augmented by site visits, and will serve as one of the primary pieces of evidence that the Board of Education will review when it considers a school's application for charter renewal.

The Annual Report Guidelines provided the required elements that must be included in each report.

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Annual Report Guidelines 2015-2016

The webinar reviews the various required components of the Annual Report including updates on how school's should report budget information. The focus of the webinar is on the changes to the 2015-16 Annual Report Guidelines. Please contact the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, charterschools@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3227, if you have specific questions about the Annual Report Guidelines or submission.

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Annual Report Guidelines Webinar 2016

Charter School Performance Criteria v.3.3 (Revised June 2016)

The Charter School Performance Criteria (Criteria) are presented in the three guiding areas of charter school accountability defined in the current regulations, 603 CMR 1.00: faithfulness to charter, academic program success, and organizational viability.

The purposes of the Criteria are to:

  • Articulate the expectations for all aspects of charter school accountability, from the application process to the renewal process;
  • Provide charter schools with clear guidance about how the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board), the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department), and the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education (Commissioner) define charter school success and on what basis charter schools will be evaluated; and
  • Clarify the connections between Massachusetts charter school accountability and state and federal accountability standards.

The Criteria were first developed in 2005 and were subsequently revised in 2010. The Department developed the third revision (Version 3.0) after research and review of best practices from other high quality charter school authorizers. The Department has subsequently adjusted the Criteria annually based on the best practices, suggestions, or challenges that have arisen in the prior year.

There are ten (10) Criteria that define expected performance in the three guiding areas of charter school accountability: faithfulness to charter, academic program success, and organizational viability. The Department evaluates these criteria through the use of quantitative and/or qualitative data as well as affirmative evidence presented by the school, compiled over the course of the school’s charter term.

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Charter School Performance Criteria v.3.3 (Revised June 2016)

Charter School Renewal

Considerations for Charter School Renewal

This memorandum documents key considerations related to accountability decisions for charter schools, including decisions to not renew or to revoke schools' charters. These considerations are not new; they have been developed and employed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) for the past several years.

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Considerations for Charter School Renewal Memo

Application for Renewal of a Public Charter School

According to the Charter School Regulations (603 CMR 1.00), a school may apply for renewal of its charter anytime from March 1 of its third year of operation to August 1 before the fifth and final year of its charter. The application process culminates with a Board of Education vote regarding the school's renewal. Renewal of a public charter school is based on affirmative evidence in three areas:

  • the success of the academic program,
  • the viability of the organization,
  • the faithfulness to the terms of the charter.

A fourth area is addressed in the renewal application regarding the school's capacity and plans for the term of the next charter.

The application for renewal of its charter is the school's opportunity to present evidence that demonstrates success in the three areas of charter school accountability. In short, it is the school's explanation of why the Board of Education should renew the school's charter. The application should provide affirmative, credible evidence of the school's success in each of the three accountability areas, as well as compelling information about the school's plans for the future. The application should address what steps have already been taken to improve any areas of weakness, as well as strategies for improvement that are likely to be effective during the next charter term. Schools should view this as an opportunity to advocate for themselves, provide deeper analysis of student academic achievement, underline successes, explain past troubles, and preempt questions that might arise during the renewal process.

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Application for Renewal of a Public School Charter

Renewal Inspection Protocol and Renewal Inspection Report Template

This protocol provides information about the Massachusetts public charter school renewal site visit process to a wide range of stakeholders in public charter schools. Individuals who participate as team members on the renewal site visits and public charter schools going through renewal can draw practical knowledge on how to prepare for and successfully implement renewal site visits. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education depends upon this protocol to describe the process used by evaluators to gather and analyze school performance data that will be considered when determining renewal or non-renewal of a public charter school. Parents and the general public may turn to this protocol for an explanation of one component of the greater accountability system that monitors public charter school performance over the five-year life of every charter.

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Renewal Inspection Protocol (Revised July 2015)
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Renewal Inspection Report Template (Revised September 2015)

Guidelines for Writing Charter School Accountability Plans

A charter school creates an Accountability Plan to articulate to the community and the state what goals the school will use to measure its success. These Guidelines for Writing Charter School Accountability Plans are intended to give schools guidance on the type of data that provide compelling evidence, the desirable structure for goals and objectives, and how to most clearly present results. With these tools in mind, schools can write rigorous and measurable accountability plans that will serve them well as they participate in the charter school accountability process, especially at the time of renewal. Accountability Plans are written in a school's first year of operation and serve as an important tool to guide the use of data and policy decisions regarding the school's program.

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Guidelines for Writing Charter School Accountability Plans

Site Visit Protocol

In conducting site visits, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) is carrying out the requirements of the charter school regulations (603 CMR 1.00) which outline the ongoing review of charter schools. The Site Visit Protocol is designed to be a resource for charter school leaders, external site visitors, the Department staff, and contracted vendors who may conduct site visits for the Department. It articulates the types of visits, site visit processes, roles and responsibilities of all parties, and expected outcomes. The Protocol is meant to provide useful information about site visits so stakeholders and visitors can know what to expect and how to prepare.

The Site Visit Protocol was revised in February 2016 to reflect new guidance from the Massachusetts Attorney General's office regarding the Open Meeting Law and board of trustees member participation during site visits.

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Site Visit Protocol (Revised March 2016)
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Classroom Observation Form

Volunteer to be an External Site Visitor

The Department seeks external volunteers with expertise in classroom instruction, school leadership, and/or school governance to serve as external site visitors on charter school accountability visits. If you are interested in applying to be a site visitor, please fill out a brief online survey. See below for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about serving as a site visit volunteer.

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Site Visitor FAQ

Charter School Closing Procedures

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Charter School Closing Procedures


Last Updated: Jul 11, 2016
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