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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Charter School Accountability and Other Updates

To:Massachusetts Charter School Leaders and Board Chairs
From:Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner
Date:April 3, 2013

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It was great to meet with many of you during the series of policy discussion forums we held during late January, as well as at the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association (MCPSA) delegate assembly last week. It has been very helpful to hear your thoughts on the charter school accountability system, our site visit process, reporting requirements and the unique issues facing both networks of charter schools and Horace Mann charter schools. Your responses to our Survey of MA Charter School Protocols and Guidance Documents were also appreciated. In this memo, I provide you with an update on how we anticipate moving forward on a number of policy fronts based on this initial feedback.

Charter School Accountability

We are in the process of finalizing revisions to the Common School Performance Criteria (Criteria). The current version (August 2010) is posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/acct.html?section=common and we will post the third revision of the Criteria (version 3.0) at this same webpage in early April for review and comment. The Department developed this third revision of the Criteria based on preliminary field feedback.

Opportunities to discuss, review and comment on these proposed changes continue throughout April:

  • April 5 from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Department Offices in Malden: Another Massachusetts Charter School Accountability Update Forum (largely repeated material from the MCPSA Delegate Assembly presentation on March 22). Please register at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1528. This meeting will also include follow-up discussion on the topics raised in the Policy Forum on January 22 with a Horace Mann Charter School target audience (there is still time to submit questions for consideration as discussed during this forum. Please do so as soon as possible to ldelorenzo@doe.mass.edu).
  • April 10 at 2:00 p.m. and April 16 at 11:00 a.m. via Feedback Conference Calls: These one-hour conference calls provide two opportunities for charter school leaders, board chairs, and other interested parties to discuss and provide feedback on the revised Criteria, v.3.0. Please register at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1541
  • April 22 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Department Offices in Malden: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Charter School Committee will be discussing issues related to the charter school accountability system—including the Criteria v.3.0—among other topics at this meeting. The committee meeting is open to the public and interested individuals are encouraged to attend. Information about meeting is posted at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=7322.

If no major issues arise during this feedback process, we hope to finalize revisions to the Criteria following accountability-related documents according to the schedule below:

Accountability Document Target Release Date
Common School Performance Criteria, v. 3.0 May 1, 2013
Accountability Plan Guidelines (rolled out by renewal cohort) May 1, 2013
Application for Renewal May 1, 2013
Annual Report Guidelines June 1, 2013
Amendment Technical Advisory June 15, 2013
Other documents and guidelines, including site visit and renewal inspection protocols. Summer/Fall 2013

Charter School Facts and Data

As many of you know, February is always a busy month for decisions regarding new charter schools and proposed charter school expansions. Below, please find updated information related to the newly expanded sector as well as data related to finance and enrollment.

Other Opportunities

Please note these additional opportunities and respond as appropriate.

  • Forum on Accountability for Alternative Schools: The Department has been taking part in a national working group devoted to accountability systems for alternative charter schools. Nelson Smith of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has been leading this working group and would like to meet with alternative school operators from charter and non-charter alternative schools. See http://www.doe.mass.edu/alted/ for more information about the target school audience. This forum will take place on Monday, April 29 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Department Offices in Malden. Nelson is interested in discussing current accountability practices nationally and sharing some of the preliminary work of the group. If you are interested in participating, please register at http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1546. Please feel free to contact Alison Bagg at abagg@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3218 for more information.
  • Performance and Progress Index Data Webinars: We have scheduled two webinars related to the Progress and Performance Index (PPI), on May 1 and May 22 at 3:00 p.m. Please register at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1549.
  • Charter School Network Working Group: Representatives of charter schools who consider themselves as part of a "network" have been meeting in a series of working group sessions to develop policy recommendations regarding the oversight and operation of networks. If you are interested in participating and have not been part of these conversations or have questions, please feel free to contact Puja Garg at pgarg@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3230.
  • Open Meeting Law Trainings: This series of workshops held in various locations around the state (April 10 – Waltham; April 24 – Wenham; May 9 – Springfield; and May 15 – Greenfield; April 24 in Wenham) will provide an update on and guidance about compliance with the Open Meeting Law. The educational forums will be conducted by attorneys and staff from the Division of Open Government and will be a terrific opportunity for municipal officials, members of local public bodies, and members of the public to understand this important law. The forums are open to the public and offered free of charge. We encourage members of charter school boards of trustees to attend these trainings to ensure current understanding of the requirements for conducting open meetings. Information about specific training dates, times and how to register can be found at http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/oml-trainings.html.
  • Information Sessions for Potential New Charter Applicants: Information sessions for prospective founding groups on how to apply for a Massachusetts public school charter are held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Interested individuals should register at http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1472

Ongoing Communication

We are committed to ensuring open lines of communication with charter school operators. Please feel free to contact us (http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/contact.html#) with your questions or concerns.

Who should get these messages? The person listed as "charter school leader" and "charter school board chair" in Directory Administration should have received this message. If for some reason they did not, please ask your school's directory administrator (see http://www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/data/diradmin/list.aspx) to update this contact information with Directory Administration. Your directory administrator can contact Lee DeLorenzo at ldelorenzo@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3227 for assistance.



Last Updated: April 3, 2013
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