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.
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. For more detailed information on the Criteria, select the Accountability tab to the left.
Criteria 2: Access and Equity is under the guiding area of faithfulness to charter in the Criteria. Criteria 2 defines the expectations for schools to ensure program access and equity for all students eligible to attend the school. The following links are a collection of laws and resources for schools to reference related to Criteria 2.
The Primers were created to provide charter school information to a variety of stakeholders regarding federal and state special education laws and regulations. Each Primer is intended for a specific stakeholder group and contains information related pertinent to specific stakeholder groups.
Section I: General Information
Part I provides an explanation of a charter school's legal status within the Massachusetts public education system and a synopsis of federal laws that are most relevant to special education in charter schools. The information is intended for those who may not fully understand the legal status of charter schools within the Massachusetts public education system or need a brief update on federal and state special education laws and regulations.
Section II: Information for State Officials and Others
Part II provides an overview of topics related to Massachusetts students with disabilities enrolled in Massachusetts charter schools. The information focuses on the primary issues related to policies and procedures that govern special education in all stages of implementation for Massachusetts charter schools and is intended to answer questions frequently raised by employees of state agencies and others.
Section III: Information for Charter School Operators
Part III addresses the issues concerning the education of students with disabilities at all stages in the development and operation of a Massachusetts charter school. The Primer is intended to inform those who are responsible for the design, development, and operation of a charter school. The information is focused on specific aspects of implementing a special education program during the pre-authorization, start-up, and operating phases of the school.
Every charter school must submit a Recruitment and Retention Plan every year as part of the Annual Report. The plan must list deliberate, specific strategies the school will use to attract, enroll, and retain a student population that includes students who are:
The Department has created tools to help schools create annual Recruitment and Retention Plans:
CHART is designed to assist charter schools in monitoring progress toward the goal of enrolling a demographically comparable population. It is a tool that specifically helps schools formulate annual Recruitment and Retention Plans that include deliberate, specific strategies the school will use to attract, to enroll, and to retain a student population that is demographically comparable to similar grades in schools from which the charter school enrolls students. The tool provides multi-school, multi-year demographic comparison data in three categories: Enrollment percentages by subgroup, attrition percentages by grade level and subgroup, and student indicator statistics, including suspensions.
This spreadsheet contains a list of charter schools that are located in districts that enroll 10 percent of more of limited English proficient students and the most prevalent languages spoken at each school. The first tab is sorted alphabetically by charter school, the second tab is sorted alphabetically by the district in which the school is located, and the third tab is sorted by prevalent language(s) spoken in each district.
If the charter school is located in a district that enrolls 10 percent or more of limited English proficient students, the charter school’s recruitment strategies must include a variety of outreach efforts in the most prevalent languages of the district. Charter schools should check this list and ensure that recruitment plan strategies reflect the languages listed. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign.
The compendium of strategies was collected from both Commonwealth and Horace Mann charter schools recruitment and retention plans from across the state. These are samples of activities designed to increase applications and enrollment for students' in particular demographic groups.
In 2015, the Department and the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association (MCPSA) presented a joint webinar on the purpose, successful practices, and suggestions around Recruitment and Retention Plans found in Annual Reports .
Here is a sample Recruitment and Retention (R&R) Plan for a variety of potential situations using the current R&R Plan template.
Intentionally Diverse Charter Schools: A Toolkit for Charter School Leaders:
This toolkit is designed to help design and implement intentionally diverse charter schools. Leaders will learn how to: measure student diversity, intentionally recruit and retain students, ensure that diversity is supported and experienced at a variety of levels.
The charter school regulations (603 CMR 1.05(4)) state that charter schools shall notify all applicants in writing of the rights of students with diverse learning needs to attend the charter school and to receive accommodations and support services, including students who may have disabilities, require special education, or are English learners (EL). Charter schools must include this notice as part of the school's application and enrollment materials as well as make it generally available in the school's outreach materials, through the student handbook, and on the school's website. Below are sample notices created by DESE that schools may use to meet this requirement.
Students with Disabilities Notice
Students with Disabilities Notice — Chinese Traditional
Students with Disabilities Notice — Haitian Creole
Students with Disabilities Notice — Portuguese
Students with Disabilities Notice — Spanish
EL Notice — Chinese Traditional
EL Notice — Haitian Creole
EL Notice — Portuguese
EL Notice — Spanish
For information regarding Commonwealth Charter School Staff Qualification Requirements for Special Education and ESL instruction, reference the Charter School Technical Advisory 20-1: Educator Qualifications in Commonwealth and Horace Mann Charter Schools.
All principals, assistant principals, and supervisors who evaluate core academic teachers of English language learners must earn a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Administrator Endorsement by within the first year of employment. This ensures that educational leaders have essential knowledge and skills necessary to support SEI classrooms and the academic success of EL students.
All staff implementing specialized instruction included in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) must meet the qualifications for a service delivery provider established by DESE of Elementary and Secondary Education, pursuant to the IDEA at 34 CFR 300.156(a). The qualifications to deliver specialized instruction independently are the following:
Specialized instruction provided by staff who do not meet the above qualifications must be delivered under the direct supervision and oversight of a qualified individual. This supervision must be documented in students' Individualized Education Plan Grid A.
Every charter school that enrolls English language learners must have the appropriate number of teachers who are licensed for ESL. Every ESL teacher in a charter school must be licensed.
The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) are designed to help ensure that Massachusetts educators can communicate adequately with students, parents/guardians, and other educators and that they are knowledgeable in the subject matter of the license(s) sought. The MTEL includes a test of communication and literacy skills as well as tests of subject matter knowledge.
The Office of Educator Licensure provides information for teachers, administrators, teacher specialists, and professional support personnel on educator licensure requirements. The site includes information on types of licenses and general requirements of those licenses.
SEI is an approach to teaching academic content in English to ELs. To better serve these students, all core academic teachers and those administrators who supervise and evaluate core academic teachers are required to obtain an SEI teacher or SEI administrator endorsement. The Office of Educator Licensure provides information on how to obtain the SEI endorsement.
As one part of its accountability system, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education oversees local compliance with education requirements through the Coordinated Program Review (CPR). All reviews cover selected requirements in special education, civil rights methods of administration, English learner education, and career/vocational technical education.
The Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign outlines the steps stakeholders may use if they have a concern or complaint.
Roxbury Preparatory Self Assessment Template
KIPP Academy Boston Self Assessment Template
The Massachusetts Charter School Site Visit Protocol specifies that all charter schools will provide the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign with copies of any special education program self-evaluations in preparation for full site visits.
A self-evaluation for either program should be a synthesis and analysis of different data points. Schools should not submit information that simply describes the special education programs. The program self-evaluation should include the following elements:
The following resources are highlights from the Special Education page on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website. To view all DESE special education resources, visit Special Education page or contact the Special Education Planning & Policy department directly at (781) 338-3375 or email@example.com.
The Systems for Student Success (SfSS) is a blueprint for school improvement that focuses on system structures and supports across the district, school, and classroom to meet the academic and non-academic needs of all students. It was developed to help guide the establishment of a system that provides high-quality core educational experiences in a safe and supportive learning environment for all students and targeted interventions/supports for students who experience academic and/or behavioral difficulties and students who have already demonstrated mastery of the concept and skills being taught.
This site contains a guidebook, which includes tools for districts, schools, and educators that are aligned to the MA Educator Evaluation Framework, that promotes evidence-based best practices for inclusion following the principles of Universal Design for Learning, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and Social and Emotional Learning.
DESE is working collaboratively with a cohort of Massachusetts districts (LEAP districts), collaboratives and agencies to assess why disproportionality in special education identification and/or placement is occurring for low-income students. This website disseminates its findings through tools, technical assistance, sustainable professional development, and other resources to support all Massachusetts districts.
This state-funded grant program creates new partnerships between high schools in public school districts and public colleges and universities for an inclusive concurrent enrollment program on campus for students with severe disabilities between the ages of 18 and 22.
The Office for Career/Vocational Technical Education governs vocational technical education programs in public school districts. This site includes resources, regulations, guidelines, programs, toolkits, and frameworks.
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) recently released three new sets of guidance to help the public understand how USED interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. The guidance includes:
In addition, USED also released a Know Your Rights document to provide parents a brief overview of the rights of public charter school students with disabilities and the legal obligations of charter schools under Section 504 and the IDEA.
Secondary Transition Services help young adults to live, work, participate in the community, and go on to further education or training as independently as possible when they leave high school. This site contains translated IEP and Transition Planning forms, notices, and translation glossary in 16 languages. This site also contains the updated Transition Planning Form for students with disabilities who are 14 years of age and over.
To ensure that parents have the information that school districts are required by law to provide, school districts must provide the Notice of Procedural Safeguards to them. This site has this document translated into nine languages and schools may need to obtain interpreters or prepare additional translated materials describing the procedural rights of parents and students under IDEA-2004.
English Language Arts and Literacy (PreK–Grade 12)(incorporating the 2017 ELA and Literacy Standards)
Mathematics (PreK–Grade 12)(incorporating the 2017 Mathematics Standards)
Science and Technology/Engineering (STE)(preK–Grade 8; and High School Biology and Introductory Physics only)(incorporating the 2016 STE "Next-Generation" Standards)
The Massachusetts Charter School Site Visit Protocol specifies that all charter schools will provide the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign with copies of any English Learner (EL) program self-evaluations in preparation for full site visits.
In order to fulfill this request, schools can opt to submit the English Language Education program self-evaluation that is described in Appendix N of the Guidance on Identification, Assessment, Placement, and Reclassification of English Learners.
Otherwise, a self-evaluation for either program should be a synthesis and analysis of different data points. Schools should not submit information that simply describes the EL program. The program self-evaluation should include the following elements:
Recommendations for any needed changes in the program based on the conclusions reached.
Please see the exemplars above for examples
The following resources are highlights from the Office of Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement page on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website. To view all DESE EL resources, visit English Learners page or contact the Office Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement directly at (781) 338-3584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This site contains guidance on programming for ELs and federal and state laws.
This site contains guidance on programming for ELs, information on NCLB and ESSA laws, Annual Measureable Achievement Objectives (AMAO), Massachusetts and Federal information, and other resources.
This site contains a model ESL curriculum unit and framework for English language proficiency development standards corresponding to the MA Learning Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (CCSSO). ESL Model Curriculum Units (ESL MCUs) and ESL curriculum resource guide are now posted. ESL MCU facilitator training and other supports will be posted in the near future.
This site contains the WIDA standards, participation requirements for ACCESS testing, and materials and resources for test administration.
This tool helps school leadership facilitate SEI walkthroughs. The data collected can be used to focus on professional development, allocate resources, such as materials and coaches, evaluate current SEI practices, and plan for ELE improvement.
This site contains a variety of forms, letters, model resources, program evaluation, guidance documents, surveys, and translated parent notification forms and waiver requirements and procedures.
These sites contain information on the Migrant Education Program (operated by EDCO Collaborative), which serves children of migratory agricultural workers and fishers. EDCO provides advocacy and outreach, interpreting, ESL (English as a Second Language), family literacy, parent empowerment workshops and preschool services. The site also contains guidance for school districts and families, orientations for new homeless education liaisons, upcoming trainings, meetings and orientations, and data.
This site provides Massachusetts resources and information on discipline laws and regulations, checklists for implementation, a model high school protocol, and federal resources and information.
These resources may be useful for schools when creating and updating local Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans.
Providing a safe and supportive learning environment is a key to helping students develop essential skills and knowledge necessary for college and career readiness. A wide range of services and supports are needed to establish and maintain these learning environments. This web page outlines a number of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education programs and related resources that can help school districts and communities build safe and supportive learning environments for all students.
The Safe Schools Program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) offers a range of services designed to help schools implement state laws impacting LGBTQ students, including the state's anti-bullying law, gender identity law, and student anti-discrimination law.
Trauma Sensitive Schools provide an environment that may include: staff awareness of trauma, training on teaching students affected by trauma, linking with mental health professionals, academic instruction for traumatized children, and nonacademic strategies for traumatized children.
This checklist provides tasks which local school districts and charters must complete throughout the year with suggested timelines, deadlines, resources, and contact information.
Last Updated: June 14, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.