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Charter School Partners
2800 University Ave S.E, Suite 202
Minneapolis, MN 55414

 

Charter School Partners and Education Transformation Initiatives to form new partnership

Published by . Filed under Culture of Reform and Achievement. Total of no comments in the discussion.
Al Fan

Al Fan

Dear Charter Friends,

The Board of Directors of Charter School Partners (CSP) and I are very excited to announce that CSP and the Education Transformation Initiatives (ETI) – a coalition representing 75 leading education organizations that The Minneapolis Foundation helped incubate, including 26 local, regional and national philanthropy leaders – are combining our activities to increase the number of local great schools and the number of students of color and low-income students those great schools serve.

Both CSP and ETI boards have asked that I serve as the Executive Director of the new effort – a collaborative, strategic partnership to accelerate the startup, growth, and expansion of high quality schools. We will move faster and more strategically on all fronts, including investing resources to improve our education ecosystem. The current activities and initiatives of our respective organizations will remain in place.

To date, CSP has been an integral part of ETI – a coalition that has been successful in aligning partners around goals and strategies for K-12 systems change. What we found in working together was that both groups shared a vision as well as the values, alignment and an approach to increase the number of students of color and low-income students who have access to great schools.

Our shared vision includes these critical levers for systems change:

* Increase the number of rigorous and relevant schools.’

* Increase parent and family demand for high quality schools.

* Build and mobilize healthy outrage to drive school accountability and parent demand for great schools.

* Generate and allocate pipelines of vital resources (talent, facilities and finance) to ensure the strategic creation, replication, recruitment and transformation of schools.

* Increase the relevance of education to the individual student (e.g., through their personalized learning, mastery and competencies), their family and community, and to the future economy and society.

* Tie school accountability to student outcomes.

* Do what works at the school level – equip great school leaders with autonomy (staffing, budget, curriculum and time) to create optimal conditions for success and be accountable for student outcomes.

The combination of our efforts will increase the number of rigorous and relevant schools available to the families in our community – regardless of sector, whether public district, public charter or independent schools. Charter schools, which have been instrumental in improving student achievement, will continue to be a key strategy. High-performing charter schools that have utilized flexibility and autonomy – qualities that the charter model allows – continues to be the one bright spot in closing the achievement and opportunity gaps in public education nationally and in the Twin Cities. We will build upon this success.

In the coming weeks, both boards will finalize the specifics of our collaborative effort. We will then be able to announce a very exciting series of initiatives to help nurture and grow high quality schools. Specific to the charter sector, we will:

* Increase funding for innovative charter school start-ups, expansion and transformations

* Increase the talent pipeline to improve the number and quality of new school leaders;

* Increase the capacity and resources to assist charters to access more and better facilities.

We look forward to continuing to work with our ‘Partner Schools’ and providing supportive programming, special events, and collaborative opportunities for them, as we have for the last five years as Charter Schools Partners. We will be contacting our current Partner Schools soon with more detailed information about renewing as a Partner School and our specific offerings for the 2015-2016 school year.

We want to give a heartfelt thanks to Sandy Vargas, President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation, for the leadership and support she gave to ETI, and to Amy Hertel, who led the ETI strategic effort and is now moving to a national network impact role. Our greater community will now benefit from their vision and leadership.

Sincerely,

Al Fan

Executive Director

Update on Clifton, Larson Allen District/Charter Disparity Report: FAQ/Worksheets

Published by . Filed under District/Charter Funding Disparity. Total of no comments in the discussion.

We wanted to follow up on the recently release Clifton Larson Allen/Charter School Partners report Minnesota K-12 Funding Analysis: A comparison of public district and charter school revenues by providing this slightly updated version of the report as well as the following tools:

*An FAQ on the CLA District/Charter Disparity Report that can be used as a tool in sharing the information and message.

*Two additional worksheets that will allow individual schools to identify the funding gap between their charter and local districts of their choice with information available through MDE. The first is a  Charter and District Funding Difference Worksheet Template and the second is Step by step walk-through on how to determine this difference.

In short, the report stated Minnesota’s charter schools receive substantially less funding than their district counterparts, with particularly huge gaps in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. The study stated that the largest gap is in Minneapolis where there is a jaw dropping $4,919 or a 31.7 percent difference per pupil (ADM) between Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and charters in the city. In St. Paul, the difference between St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and its charter counterparts is $3,548, or 24.7 percent difference. The rest of the state’s schools (outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul) have a $954 difference, or an 8.2% difference.

The large disparity in Minneapolis and St. Paul is primarily due to the local levy/referendum in both cities. According to the report “local property taxes are the most significant driver of the differences in revenue composition. Minnesota district schools received an average of 20 percent of funding from local property tax revenues, which charter schools are unable to access.”

 

CSP offers “Partner School” boards a new resource on “Essential” policies

Published by . Filed under Charter Board Improvement. Total of no comments in the discussion.
Almost 30 board members from 12 “Partner Schools” attended a fall training session with Cindy Lavorato on “Everything You Need to Know about Charter School Board Policies (but may have been afraid to ask)" CSP Offers “Partner School” Boards a New Resource on “Essential” Policies How do we know if our school has all the policies it needs? How can we make sure our current policies are up-to-date? Where can we get help with new policy requirements? These are among the many questions that Charter School Partners has heard from our Partner Schools about the challenges of adopting and maintaining board-approved policies. In response, through a partnership with Lavorato Law Office LLC, CSP is pleased to offer schools access to a new governance resource, the “Essential Policies for Operation of a Minnesota Charter School.” For further details, please see the note below from Cindy Lavorato, a top legal expert on Minnesota's Charter School Law and a former Assistant Attorney General and MDE Assistant Commissioner. If you have questions, please contact Morgan Brown, CSP’s Director of School Relations & Governance, at mbrown@charterschoolpartners.org or 952-297-6791.

Almost 30 board members from over a dozen “Partner Schools” attended a recent training session with Cindy Lavorato on “Everything You Need to Know about Charter School Board Policies (but may have been afraid to ask)” .

How do we know if our school has all the policies it needs? How can we make sure our current policies are up-to-date? Where can we get help with new policy requirements? …these are among the many questions that Charter School Partners has heard from our Partner Schools about the challenges of adopting and maintaining board-approved policies.

In response to these questions and concerns, CSP, through a partnership with Lavorato Law Office LLC, is pleased to offer schools access to a new governance resource, the Essential Policies for Operation of a Minnesota Charter School.  For further details, please see the note below from Cindy Lavorato, a top legal expert on Minnesota’s Charter School Law and a former Assistant Attorney General and MDE Assistant Commissioner. If you have questions, please contact Morgan Brown, CSP’s Director of School Relations & Governance, at mbrown@charterschoolpartners.org or 952-297-6791.

 

Dear CSP Partner Schools,

There are now almost 100 policies that could be “essential” to the operation of your charter school. Knowing that the laws applicable to charter schools often differ significantly from those for district schools, I have worked over several years to compile a manual that addresses the unique needs of charter schools and charter school boards. An index of the policies contained in this manual is linked here.

Through an agreement with Charter School Partners, I’m pleased to offer the policy manual to Partner Schools at a discounted rate of $850, a savings of 15% from the regular price of $1,000. I will be updating the manual annually so that your school can stay in compliance with the ever-changing field of charter school law. The annual price for subscribing to the update service will be $400 for schools that have purchased the policy manual.

If you would like to purchase the policy manual or have questions about specific policies listed in the index, please contact me at (612) 868-9414 or Cindy@edlaw.co to discuss your needs. I look forward to working with you to provide this important resource!

Sincerely,

Cindy L. Lavorato

LAVORATO LAW OFFICES LLC

New comprehensive report finds Minnesota’s charter school funding well below district levels–particularly in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Published by . Filed under District/Charter Funding Disparity. Total of no comments in the discussion.

Minneapolis, MN 2/02/15. Minnesota’s charter schools receive substantially less funding than their district counterparts, with particularly huge gaps in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to a comprehensive study prepared by the Minneapolis-based Clifton, Larson, and Allen and released today.

The study, Minnesota K-12 Funding Analysis: A comparison of public district and charter school revenues stated that the largest gap is in Minneapolis where there is a jaw dropping $4,919 or a 31.7 percent difference per pupil (ADM) between Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and charters in the city. In St. Paul, the difference between St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and its charter counterparts is $3,548, or 24.7 percent difference. The rest of the state’s schools (outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul) have a $954 difference, or an 8.2% difference.

The large disparity in Minneapolis and St. Paul is primarily due to the local levy/referendum in both cities. According to the report “local property taxes are the most significant driver of the differences in revenue composition. Minnesota district schools received an average of 20 percent of funding from local property tax revenues, which charter schools are unable to access.”

“This report is the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the funding disparity between district and charter schools in Minnesota and shows conclusively that there are huge inequities in funding in our public schools in Minnesota”, said Al Fan, Executive Director of Charter School Partners, who commissioned the report. “We are hopeful that policymakers this legislative session will take up this issue and address this inequity so every child in Minnesota’s public school system are funded fairly and equally.”

According to Fan, “the inequitable funding situation is even understated given that charters in the state serve significantly more low-income students (56.7% charters/37.2% districts) and students in whom English is not their first language (18.8% charters/6.5% districts)”.

 

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*  Minneapolis:  The Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) received $17,982 per ADM while charters in Minneapolis received $13,063, a $4,919 or 31.7 percent difference per ADM each year.

*  St. Paul: St Paul Public Schools (SPPS) received $16,117 compared to $12,569 per ADM at St. Paul Charters, a $3,548 or 24.7 percent difference per ADM per year.

*  Beyond the Twin Cities: Considering the rest of the state outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul, district schools received $12,102 per ADM on average, while charters received $11,148; a $954 or 8.2 percent difference per ADM per year.

The Minnesota Department of Education reviewed the methodology and resulting report, which included a five year funding period from 2009-10 through 2013-2014, noting the approach taken in conducting the analysis was reasonable for the purposes of the study.

 

SPECIAL NOTE:  The Statewide column in the chart above states that the statewide differential is $447 per ADM, or a 3.6% disparity–a number which may seem counter-intuitive given that all other categories  have a larger difference. The reason for this is that 91 percent of district students attended schools outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul during the period of the study, compared to 44 percent of charters, while the majority (66%) attended charter schools in Minneapolis or St. Paul. This difference heavily influences or weights the average.

 

 

CSP launches MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org for the 2015 school year!

Published by . Filed under MinneapolisSchoolFinder. Total of no comments in the discussion.

iphone-preview-1Minneapolis, MN. 1.21.15. Charter School Partners today announced the launch of the 2015 version of its website that will assist Minneapolis area parents to find the highest impact public school for their child.

Now in it’s second year, the MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org website, offers parents the only online site in Minneapolis to show all public schools, both district and charter, and how well they are performing academically.  The easy-to-navigate site utilizes the state’s Multiple Measure Rating (MMR) data for each school for the last two years and translates it into an easy-to-read School Rating that will help parents quickly see and compare the academic performance of schools to each other.

(Here is a link to a 2014 MinnPost article describing the website).

13,000 postcards sent to Minneapolis families

To promote the website to Minneapolis parents, CSP recently mailed over 13,000 postcards to Minneapolis families in North, Northeast, and Southeast Minneapolis. In addition, the website will be featured at the Minneapolis School Choice Fair on Saturday, January 31st which will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“CSP has consistently heard from Minneapolis parents how difficult it is to know of all the public school options available in the city and to really know how well the school performs academically”, said Al Fan, Executive Director of Charter School Partners. “We created this website because parents deserve an easy way to find and access information about a school’s academic performance when starting the journey to find the right school for their child”.

The school rating, which includes proficiency, growth, as well as how each sub-group of students are performing, uses the most recent two-year average of the MMR to rate schools on a scale from 0-100. It further divides the schools into High Impact Schools (green), Medium Impact Schools (yellow), Low Impact Schools (red) as well as New Schools (blue). It also provides a mission statement, an enrollment link as well as additional contact information for high impact and new schools to make it easier for parents to find information on these options.

facebookLIKE the new Minneapolis School Finder Facebook page.

“Academic results are critical and have not until now been readily accessible. But we also recognize the unique needs of the individual child and other factors are also important when choosing a school.  We hope parents will use the additional information on this site to find the school that is the best fit for their family.”

Fan said that the MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org site could be expanded in the future to include St. Paul and the Greater Twin Cities region as well.

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MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org receives international web marketing award/Nashville launches similar website

The MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org website actually won an international award from Web Marketing Associations WebAward for 2014 in the education category.  The website received 69.5 out of 70 possible points with top scores for design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copy writing, and ease of use. Risdall Advertising Agency of Minneapolis assisted CSP with the development of the website.

In addition, a joint project between Nashville’s Metropolitan Public Schools, the Nashville Public Education Foundation, and the Tennessee Charter School Center launched a similar website (nashvilleschoolfinder.org) based on the Minneapolis School Finder site.

“While we’re pleased we have received outside recognition and that other cities are replicating our efforts, we are much more interested that the Minneapolis School Finder is an effective tool used by thousands of Minneapolis area parents and families to find the right school that works for them,” said Fan.

 

Charter School Partners: 2014 Year in Review.

Published by . Filed under CSP's Year in Review, Partner Tuesday Events. Total of no comments in the discussion.

Here is an overview of Charter School Partners activities in 2014.

February 2014:  CSP’s 2.0 legislation to target underperforming charters gets a boost 

Al Fan being interviewed for Charters 2.0 legislation

Al Fan being       interviewed for      Charters 2.0         legislation

  1. February, 2014: The Star Tribune editorial board wrote a powerful editorial Hold charter schools fully accountable: If they cannot educate kids they should be closed, supporting Senator Bonoff’s and CSP’s efforts to improve charter quality and accountability in Minnesota. “Some schools in Minnesota and across the country have done an extraordinary job with challenging populations of students. However, in too many programs, kids are doing as badly or worse than they did in traditional schools. That’s why proposals to intervene and close charters that aren’t doing the job merit consideration.”  Here’s an MPR News article on the legislation. 

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Febuary 2014:  CSP launches new website to help Minneapolis parents find the best schools! Here’s a MinnPost article on the launch.

March 2014:  Led by Mark Robinson, CSP launched Parent University, an 8-week school-based program designed to help empower parents to navigate the school, the education system and to learn about advocacy on behalf of their child’s education. Research has shown, parents who attend parent education trainings show great understanding of how to support their child in the educational environment. In 2014, Mark has held Parent University with Harvest Network of Schools, Hiawatha Academies, and KIPP North Star Academy.

March 2014:  Congressman Kline announces new federal charter legislation: Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, came to two top Minnesota charter schools to announce new legislation to strengthen the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP).

Rep. Kline at Global Academy.

Rep. Kline at Global Academy

May 2014:  Tennessee Achievement District luminary Chris Barbic keynote at CSP Annual Partner School Breakfast.

July 2014: CSP Fellowship: Fellows AsaleSol Young, Laura Harringa and Rachel Ose began their two year journey to new school leadership as part of the CSP Fellowship program. In September, the Tennessee Charter School Center hosted the Fellows for several days as they visited numerous Nashville charter schools.

August 2014: CSP Fellowship school, Northeast College Prep, and CSP Charter Start school, Bdote Learning Center, open in Minneapolis. 

Carl Phillips, CSP Fellow and  new school leader, at Northeast College Prep in Northeast Minneapolis

Carl Phillips, CSP Fellow and new school leader, at Northeast College Prep in Northeast Minneapolis

September 2014: CSP  hosted a Briefing on the Future of the Minneapolis Quality School Movement with R.T. Rybak, Generation Next and Amy Hertel, Education Transformation Initiative (Ms. Hertel is also with the Minneapolis Foundation).

October 2014: CSP receives $200,000 Bush Foundation ‘Education Eco-systems’ Grant: Charter School Partners was awarded a $200,000 Bush Foundation grant for its initiatives and innovations in the education arena. The grant was one of 12 given under a new effort by the Bush Foundation dubbed, Education Ecosystem Grants, which according to Kayla Yang-Best, the foundation’s Education Director, “supports organizations that help create the most favorable environment possible for education initiatives to succeed and to reduce disparities and improve education outcomes.”

October 2014: Walton Family Foundation awarded $870,000 in Start-Up dollars to three charter schools: Bdote Learning Center (opened 2014), Tesfa International School (opening 2015), and Hiawatha Collegiate High School (opening 2015). CSP serves as the Walton Family Foundation Minnesota Partner and coordinates the local grant committee which interviews the prospective schools.  Since 2010, the WFF has assisted 14 charter schools with start-up dollars totaling $3.65 million.

October 2014:  CSP hosted Everything You Need to Know about Charter School Board Policies (but may have been afraid to ask)” with board guru Cindy Lavorato for numerous board members of CSP Partner Schools. 

Sharhonda Bossier

Sharhonda Bossier

December 2014: CSP brought Sharhonda Bossier, VP of Advocacy and Engagement, EDUCATION CITIES to the Twin Cities for a series of meetings for CSP Partner Schools and community members on Community Engagement: Charter and Community Building.

December 2014:  CSP Legislative Luncheon.

Incoming House Education Chairs Rep. Sondra Erickson and Rep. Jenifer Loon joined CSP Partner Schools in an end-of the year Legislative Luncheon.

To cap off the year, CSP’s Legislative Luncheon included  incoming House Education Chairs Rep. Sondra Erickson and Rep. Jenifer Loon who joined CSP Partner Schools in an engaging discussion on the upcoming legislative session and its impact on charter schools

 

 

NACSA Authorizer Accountability study calls for MN law to include the closure of lowest-performing charters/New CSP Authorizer Scatterplots released

Published by . Filed under Authorizer Accountability. Total of no comments in the discussion.

ON THE ROAD TO BETTER ACCOUNTABILITY:   An Analysis of State Charter School Policies  

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.40.24 AMLast week, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) released a first-of-its-kind policy analysis which describes, state by state, which state-level policies promote quality and accountability among charter schools and their authorizers.

On the Road to Better Accountability: An Analysis of State Charter School Policies divided states into three different categories and then ranked the states. Minnesota was one of five states identified as having ‘multiple authorizers’.  It received 20/27 points based on seven criteria, ranking second to Indiana among the five states (See Minnesota specific report here).  Two other categories included ‘district authorizing states’ (17) and ‘states with few authorizers’  (21). Eight states have no charter law.

The one area in which the report said Minnesota clearly lacked accountability was by not having some sort of  ‘Default Closure’ for charters who fail to meet minimum academic standards, receiving zero out of a possible six points in that category.

 Study’s recommendation on closure reflects CSP’s policy efforts

The study’s recommendations echo CSP’s call to close down the state’s chronically lowest-performing charter schools. A previous blog outlined our efforts in the last legislative session. Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) sponsored legislation that would ‘flag’ some of the state’s lowest-performing charters and shine a light on the lack of academic success, empowering authorizers with more flexibility to deal with these failing schools, and closing them when warranted.

We argued that a policy of empowering authorizers to more easily close the state’s lowest performing charters would:

* Inoculate the charter community from its vocal critics who would seek anti-charter policies because of perceived failures of specific schools or the sector itself,

* Assist authorizers who have faced difficulty closing down persistently low-performing charters including potentially providing additional legal cover in case of a closure, 

* Provide families and children with more quality school choices (as more high-impact charters open, grow, and replicate), and, 

* Free up additional facilities and good teachers to work in successful schools.

Here is the Star Trib’s editorial Hold Charter Schools fully accountable endorsing Senator Bonoff’s bill from last legislative session as well as an Op-Ed supporting the closure policy by CSP’s Al Fan and Alex Medler, VP for Policy and Advocacy with NACSA.

Recommendations from the Report 

The recommendations of last week’s NACSA report included the following:

“Minnesota should continue to focus on implementing and executing a strong authorizer review and evaluation process in 2015 and beyond. The number of active authorizers in Minnesota presents challenges for school accountability, as charter applicants and schools can engage in either forum shopping to be approved or authorizer hopping to avoid closure. Minnesota should explore requiring performance frameworks and establishing a state policy on default closure to ensure that closure is expected outcome for persistently failing schools.”

“In addition, Minnesota will have appropriate instances of acceptable schools seeking new authorizers as the number of authorizers decreases. Nevertheless, the state should strengthen its charter school transfer provisions to prevent authorizers from inappropriately facilitating forum shopping or authorizer hopping by weak schools.”

 

CSP RELEASES NEW 2013/2014 TWO-YEAR COMPOSITE:  Minnesota School Ratings by Authorizer

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Charter School Partners today released new scatterplots and charts that show how Minnesota’s largest authorizers’ (only authorizers who authorize more than five schools) schools are performing academically.  This data utilizes the 2013 and 2014 two-year composite of the state’s Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) from the state’s annual assessments (MCA’s) for Grades 3-12.

2013-2014 CSP ‘Scatterplots’ released: solid gains, ongoing concern for low-performing charters

Published by . Filed under 2014 State Assessment Tests. Total of no comments in the discussion.

CSP today released its yearly set of  ‘scatterplots’, charts showing where most charter schools in the state rank utilizing the 2013 and 2014 two-year composite of the state’s Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR), which is data from the state’s annual assessments (MCA’s) for Grades 3-12. In addition, Minneapolis and St. Paul charter school scatterplots are put alongside their district counterparts. 

In broad terms, the scatterplots tell us three things:

1. More and more charters are among the top public schools in the state: 57 charters, or almost 40% of all charters in the state, are ranked in the upper right hand quadrant (60th percentile or above, which correlate to Reward and Celebration Eligible categories in the MMR ranking). This, along with the two-dozen other schools clustered near the top rankings, is a substantial improvement over previous years. (CSP will be releasing more in-depth analyses of the MMR in the coming weeks and months detailing this academic improvement).

2. There is a very strong group of charters successfully serving low-income, students of color in the urban core: As the yearly Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Beating the Odds chart illustrates, a group of charter schools, particularly in Minneapolis and St. Paul, are successfully serving low-income, students of color. In Minneapolis alone, a dozen charters serving low-income populations are either in or very near near the upper right hand quadrant. Only three MPS District schools can make that claim.

3. There continues to be a consistent group of chronically low performing charters that do not seem to be improving: There are 38 charter schools, representing 19% of charters in Minnesota, that are persistently in the lowest 15% performing public schools in the state (Priority or Focus Schools ).  One caveat: at least a quarter of these schools (such as the High School for the Recording Arts) primarily serve students who are “at-risk” for not graduating from high school. These include students in credit-recovery programs, those with special education needs, adjudicative youth, or older immigrant children who recently arrived in the U.S. as English language learners. (There is no “alternative school” designation for charter schools in Minnesota law).

CSP has an ongoing commitment to present relevant and user-friendly data. The scatterplots are just one way we do that.  We will be releasing additional research on this year’s MMR and other data on an ongoing basis.

 

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Background: MMR

In 2011, the Minnesota Department of Education released its first Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) system as part of the federal waiver from the NCLB. The multiple measures include proficiency, growth, achievement gap reductions, and graduation rates (for high schools). While this rating did a better job showing the impact schools are having on students than just basic proficiency and growth metrics, there were clearly some anomalies and single-year fluctuations that seemed to impact smaller schools, which included many charter schools.

To Commissioner Cassellius’ and MDE’s credit, the department sought input from a group of charter school representatives, including CSP, asking how the measurement could be improved to more accurately reflect charter school ratings. The October 1, 2014 release of the MMR information incorporates these changes .The MMR numbers also represent a two-year composite (2013 and 2014) utilizing the new formulas.

Al Fan: Ouch! Minnesota charters ranked 16th in new ‘Health of the Charter Movement’ report

Published by . Filed under Culture of Reform and Achievement. Total of no comments in the discussion.
Al Fan

Al Fan

Lost in yesterday’s flurry and news of the release of state test scores by the Minnesota Department of Education was a first-of-its-kind report analyzing states based upon the quality of their public charter school movements.  

As the nation’s charter pioneer and a state use to having number one rankings each year for the nation’s best charter law, being rated 16th in anything charter (by the same folks who consistently rate Minnesota the number one best charter law) is, well, a little sobering. (Here’s StarTrib reporter, Kim McGuire, blogging on the report). 

A proud Minnesota charter advocate might wish to discount this report, call it an outlier, or blame the methodology as being a bit off.  But The Health of the Public Charter School Movement: A State by State Analysis, released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, does raise some issues we at Charter School Partners have focused on over the last several years, including the need to raise the bar on the quality of all Minnesota charter schools.

The study, which is a companion to the National Alliance’s annual rankings that evaluates each state’s charter school law, ranks the ‘health” of the public charter school movement in 26 states, including the District of Columbia. It utilizes 11 different measures to determine how well a state’s charter schools are performing, innovating, and growing. Washington, D.C. and Louisiana topped the list while Nevada and Oregon found themselves at the bottom of the rankings. Minnesota was ranked 16th.

 

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The Minnesota section of the report was not in itself damning and suggested “that there is sometimes a time lag between policy changes and the impact of those changes”. The report stated that “we are optimistic that the overhaul to the state’s public charter school law in 2009 will yield stronger achievement results as more current data become available”. Todd Ziebarth, Senior VP of State Advocacy and Support at the National Alliance, echoed that sentiment in a panel discussion on October 1 about the report, stating that Minnesota (and Nevada), have perhaps the greatest potential to show rapid growth in performance, innovation, and growth of any other state.

The 11 measures included in the study, each of which have an individual weight, include:

Growth

1. Public school share

2. Public school student share

3. Students by race and ethnicity

4. Students in special populations (i.e., free and reduced-price lunch status, special education status, and English learner status)

5. Schools by geographic distribution

6. Communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools

7. New public charter schools opened over the past five years

8. Public charter schools closed over the past five years

Innovation

9. Public charter schools reporting use of various innovative practices (i.e., extended day, extended year, year-round calendar, independent study, school-to-work, and higher education courses)

Quality

10. Additional days of learning in reading

11. Additional days of learning in math

Finally, the report recommends that to increase the impact of the state’s charter movement, the state should enact policies that Charter School Partners has been advocating for many years, including providing more equitable funding to charters, particularly addressing the large funding disparity between District and Charter Schools (34.7% in Minneapolis and 23.4% in St. Paul); promoting the creation of innovative new schools; encouraging the replication and expansion of existing successful charter schools; and ensuring authorizers are closing chronically low-performing charter schools.

So we do welcome this report, not as a definitive statement about the Minnesota charter community but as another data point and perspective. It shows the need for continual improvement and more urgency and focus around growing, replicating and improving the state’s charter schools.

CSP awarded $200,000 Bush Foundation ‘education eco-system’ grant

Published by . Filed under Bush Foundation, CSP's Charter Innovation Initiative, Culture of Reform and Achievement. Total of no comments in the discussion.

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Minneapolis, MN. 10.1.14. Charter School Partners was awarded a $200,000 Bush Foundation grant for its initiatives and innovations in the education arena.

 The grant, announced yesterday, is one of 12 given under a new effort by the Bush Foundation dubbed, Education Ecosystem Grants, which according to Kayla Yang-Best, the foundation’s education director, “supports organizations that help create the most favorable environment possible for education initiatives to succeed and to reduce disparities and improve education outcomes.”  Foundation president Jen Ford Reedy added “this new, open grant program lets us provide much-needed funding for work essential to an effective ecosystem.”

The Education Ecosystem Grants offer operating support to organizations that provide critical data and analysis, advance policy and public awareness, and/or shape and spread best practices in education.

“We are very grateful to the Bush Foundation for its support of Charter School Partner’s efforts to innovate within the charter community through our many initiatives including incubating new charter schools and charter leaders and advocating for higher expectations and performance in charter schools, ” said Al Fan, Executive Director of Charter School Partners. “Innovative, high-performing charter schools is a key ingredient to improving educational options for all Minnesota kids”. 

For more information, see the Bush Foundation announcement here.

Here is a complete list of the recipients, each of which has been awarded $200,000 over two years: