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Massachusetts Charter Schools

Charter School Performance Criteria v.3.0 and Other Guidelines Finalized and Other Updates, Reminders, and Information

To:Massachusetts Charter School Leaders and Board Chairs
From:Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner
Date:June 14, 2013

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This memo contains important updates related to charter school accountability and oversight as first outlined in my April 3, 2013 update, along with other important updates, reminders, and information. Please review it carefully, and act as appropriate.

Charter School Performance Criteria v.3.0 and Other Guidelines Finalized

The table below provides links to the full set of document and guideline revisions related to charter school accountability and oversight completed by the Department this spring.

Document/Guidelines Key Changes and Comments
Charter School Performance Criteria, v.3.0, June 2013We appreciate the feedback that we have received from many of you throughout the spring during the revision process. CSPC v.3.0 is now final.
Application for Renewal, May 2013 The Renewal Application was revised to significantly reduce duplicative reporting. Renewal Applications for applicable schools are due August 1, 2013.
Accountability Plan Guidelines, June 2013The Accountability Plan Guidelines were revised to focus each on "faithfulness to charter" objectives and measures related to each school's unique mission and key design elements. Please note that Accountability Liaisons will be in touch with schools this summer about finalizing draft versions or helping schools create new accountability plans for a new charter term in accordance with these Guidelines.
Annual Report Guidelines, May 2013The Annual Report Guidelines were revised to significantly reduce duplicative reporting and to clarify that charter school boards operating multiple schools can submit a single document that consolidates the annual reports for each school. Annual Reports are due August 1, 2013.
Amendment Guidelines, June 2013 (previously known as the Charter School Technical Advisory 11-1: Charter Amendments.) The Amendment Guidelines are substantively similar to the previous Technical Advisory, though we have clarified the criteria for major amendments and the required information for minor amendment requests. The Guidelines have also been formatted to provide schools quick access to information regarding specific types of amendments and checklists to help guide the compilation of the required elements of any amendment submission. Certain major amendment requests are due August 1, 2013 (see details below).

As noted previously, the Department will be working over the summer and the next school year to revise other documents, including site visit and renewal inspection protocols.

Certain Major Charter Amendments Due August 1, 2013

If you are pursuing a change in maximum enrollment, grades served, districts specified in charter, and/or the move of a school facility to another municipality for the 2014-2015 school year, please remember that such major amendment requests must be submitted prior to 5:00 p.m. on August 1, 2013. This timeline has been established in order to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all requests, particularly with respect to seat availability issues under the various caps.

Proven provider status is required with requests for an increase in maximum enrollment when a charter school serves a district performing in the lowest 10 percent statewide and if the 9 percent NSS cap is or would be exceeded by the request or the combination of amendment requests and new charter applications submitted. The Commissioner determines proven provider status at the time of the request and previous determinations are not maintained for requests in future years. You are not required to submit any additional materials related to proven provider determination with your amendment request. Please contact Alyssa Hopkins, Coordinator for New Schools Development and Governance, at ahopkins@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3219 if you have any questions about charter amendment requests.

Charter Application Review Opportunity

The 2013-2014 Commonwealth and Horace Mann Applications for a Massachusetts Public Charter School are now posted, and the Department will be accepting applications for new charter schools this July. Please visit http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/new/?section=app for full details on the application process. Please note that a final information session regarding new charter applications (focused on Horace Mann charter schools) will be held on June 20, 2013, with details and registration information at http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1598.

We strongly encourage members of your leadership team, faculty, or board of trustees to consider the rewarding experience of becoming a charter application reviewer during the upcoming cycle. A review application form can be found at http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/new/. Please contact Alyssa Hopkins (781-338-3219 or ahopkins@doe.mass.edu or Lee DeLorenzo at 781-338-3227 or ldelorenzo@doe.mass.edu) for more information.

Disclosures of Financial Interest for Calendar Year 2012 due September 1, 2013

Disclosures of Financial Interest for calendar year 2012 for charter school board of trustee members who served more than 30 days in calendar year 2012 are due no later than September 1, 2013. The disclosure form can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/governance/?section=trustees. If you haven't done so already, originals should be sent to the Department and copies should be mailed to the State Ethics Commission in Boston as well as the clerk for the city or town in which the charter school is located. We would appreciate any efforts by schools to "batch" the submission of these forms if at all possible. Please note that we are exploring the possibility of moving this process online in the future. Please contact Lee DeLorenzo at ldelorenzo@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3227 if you have any questions.

Update on the Expanded Criminal Background Checks

An update regarding expanded criminal background checks to reflect the current status of implementation can be found on the Executive Office of Education's website at http://www.mass.gov/edu/2013newsupdates/frequently-asked-questions-regarding-background-checks.html.

Reminder about Changes in Reporting of Discipline Incidents for 2012-2013

All Massachusetts districts have new requirements regarding reporting of discipline incidents. The School Safety Discipline Report (SSDR) has been updated to reflect changes in law (see https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXII/Chapter71/Section37H.75). This year, the Department will collect additional data from each school via SSDR regarding discipline incidents, including:

  • the number of cases of bullying,
  • the number of cases of suspension that are non-drug, non-violent, and non-criminal related offense.
  • the total number of ALL offenses that result in suspension must be reported

Additional information, along with a training webinar, can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/data/ssdr.html. The SSDR report is due on July 26, 2013 (see http://www.doe.mass.edu/infoservices/data/schedule.html). Please contact the Data Collection Data Line (781-338-3282) or your Data Collection Support Specialist with questions about reporting SSDR data. If you have questions or concerns regarding implementation of the new law, you may contact Jane Haltiwanger at jhaltiwanger@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3229.

Two Job Opportunities

The Department is hiring for two positions related to charter schools and school redesign. The part-time Contracted TIME Collaborative Specialist will support Massachusetts' participation in the TIME Collaborative, a 5-state partnership that includes the Department and the National Center for Time and Learning (NCTL) to close academic achievement gaps through the use of high-quality, sustainable expanded learning time (ELT.) The full-time New Schools Development Specialist will support the charter application review and opening procedures processes. Please share these opportunities widely and send interested qualified candidates our way.

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. If you are unsure who to contact you can email charterschools@doe.mass.edu and your inquiry will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member.

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: June 14, 2013
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