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Public Charter School Performance Tops New Study on Global Competitiveness

In his New York Times column, Thomas Friedman shared the results of a new study. Rather than just comparing themselves to others in the United States, some schools signed up to see how they stack up relative to the international average. The America Achieves’ “Middle Class or Middle of the Pack?” report goes through this data to better understand exactly how our schools are underperforming. Both Friedman and the report debunk the myth that it’s America’s poverty rate that keeps our schools uncompetitive on a global scale. America Achieves’ report formally shows what numerous other studies have already demonstrated: that the highest-performing schools are not always filled with well-to-do students. Several schools across the country, including two public charter schools, demonstrate that poverty is not to blame for our low rankings on the international test. The report mentions two schools in particular which stand out: North Star Academy in Newark, N.J. and BASIS Tucson North in Ariz. Both schools have been on my radar for years as very high-performing public charter schools, and I’m thrilled to see that not only are they knocking it out of the park here in the U.S. but are also excelling on a global scale. North Star Academy outperforms the average student in all but nine countries in reading—impressive for a school with 80.3 percent of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch. However, BASIS Tucson North took the prize with performance that beat the global competition, outperforming the average school in every country in the world in math, science, and reading. It is with great pleasure that we will welcome Craig Barrett, President and Chairman of BASIS schools, to participate in a keynote panel at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference. His schools set high expectations for all students—six AP classes is the norm—and the students step up and achieve. Dr. Barrett will share why this matters in terms of making sure that children are not only college and career ready but able to step up and become leaders in future generations. Congratulations to both of these schools! Dr. Barrett           Craig Barrett, President and Chairman of BASIS schools Uncommon school       Image via North Star Academy website

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Charter School Graduates Ready to Serve in Uniform Face Obstacles Even Before Boot Camp

Did you know all high-school diplomas awarded to public school students are not equal in the eyes of the military? Unfortunately, students attending many of our nation’s public charter schools are learning this the hard way. Why? Well for enlistment purposes, the military classifies education in three overall categories: Tier I, Tier II and Tier III:
  • Tier I - High-school graduate
  • Tier II - Alternative high-school credentials including test-based equivalency diplomas (GED), occupational program certificate of attendance, correspondence school diplomas, home-study diplomas, online/virtual public school diplomas or high school certificate of attendance.
  • Tier III - Non high-school graduate
The vast majority (more than 90 percent) of all enlistments are from the Tier I category. However at times, graduates from traditional and virtual public charter schools are labeled as Tier II candidates when they attempt to enlist in the armed services, making it a bit more difficult to enlist. It seems charter school graduates are being penalized for choosing a different public school option. To correct this unjust policy, the U.S. Senate included language in the National Defense Authorization Act that requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a new policy guiding the recruitment and enlistment of charter school graduates in the Armed Forces. Unfortunately, that legislation has yet to pass and faces significant hurdles due to other social policies. Nonetheless, given the Secretary of Education’s recent comments about many students being unable to successfully enlist, either because they didn’t graduate, have obtained a criminal record or are physically unfit, it seems counterintuitive to handicap a potential recruit who has graduated from a high-quality, state-accredited public school simply because it is a charter school.

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Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement

Village Charter School (VCS), a K-8 school of 360 students in Trenton, NJ, with 80 percent of the student body receiving free or reduced-price meals, is the epitome of an urban charter school that can go from a school not meeting state standards to one that does—in two years’ time! In the 2009-2010 school year, only 33 percent of the school was proficient in mathematics and 37 percent was proficient in language arts on the NJ Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (the state’s standardized test for NCLB ratings). VCS had to significantly improve its standardized test scores to meet the high academic standards demanded by the NJ DOE Office of Charter Schools. Beginning September 2010, VCS transformed itself in a few ways, mainly through two technology initiatives. You might have read about one of them in Tech & Learning Magazine during the 2010-11 school year, when the VCS SuccessMaker-Dell Project was covered monthly in The Long Review section of the magazine. For this project, Pearson (publisher of SuccessMaker, a dynamic software program) and Dell computer donated a site license and two, twenty-station computer labs, respectively, believing that the fidelity to a data-driven approach in a first rate software-hardware environment would yield significant benefits. SuccessMaker is interactive and diagnostic. Teachers used the wealth of data provided by the software to differentiate the instruction, student-by-student, standard-by-standard, skill-by-skill in real time. Administrators reviewed student progress on a weekly basis, met with teachers to discuss the results, and visited classrooms to see the differentiated instructional approaches. Students accessed the software in in two formats: in three weekly thirty-minute sessions in the labs and at various times in class. Students are accustomed to immediate feedback when engaged in technology, and this activity helped them become more successful and more aware of their progress in real time. They, as do all people, enjoy being successful. This practice set the trajectory to incorporate more technology into the day-to-day curriculum, which made the other major technology initiative a natural one. That other initiative was the 1:1 netbook project. VCS started with grades one and five, then expanded to grades one, two, five, and six, then to grades one through seven, with eighth graders receiving netbooks in September. Kindergartners will receive netbooks sometime soon as well. Having a 1:1 changed the teaching-and-learning environment. Teachers and students thought differently; they acted differently; they approached teaching and learning from a more sophisticated perspective. The students became self-starters and took ownership for their own learning. The netbooks became “primary learning resources,” for students, and soon they might be replaced with other technologically appropriate devices. It’s very cool to watch first-graders get a netbook from the charging station, go to their desks, and start working independently in the same way many students get a book off the shelf. The environment mirrors one usually found in private schools. VCS continued expanding its technological bandwidth. This year, it is piloting the Discovery Education Techbook, a digital textbook, in middle school science, and is looking at corresponding techbooks in social studies for next year. VCS is not saying that all you need are the two technology initiatives referenced herein and your school will have the same dramatic and rapid increase in student achievement. The staff has a deep commitment to the school and community, creating a nurturing environment fostering connections with the students. In 2012, one-half of the VCS students were proficient or advanced proficient in math and almost the same number were proficient in language arts—which placed VCS in the “meets standard” category relevant to academic performance. The technology initiatives created sparks of excitement, and a heightened awareness to what is possible for all students. VCS             Students at Village Charter School in Trenton, New Jersey, use their individual netbook computers in class. Image by Michael Mancuso/The Times.

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More than 700 Texas Charter School Parents, Students, Teachers and Charter Leaders call for passage of strong charter legislation at TCSA Rally at the South Steps of the Texas State Capitol

During National Charter Schools Week and in the final 20 days of the 83rd Legislature, the Texas Charter Schools Associationwelcomed to Austin more than 700 parents, students, teachers and charter leaders from across Texas to rally on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol to show their strong support for public charter schools and charter legislation this session. On that same day, the TCSA’s first charter bill, SB 1538, which helps to accurately measure drop out recovery charters and traditional public schools, passed and is headed to the Governor’s desk. TCSA executive director David Dunn praised all the charter school parents, like our two parents from Dallas and Austin who spoke at the rally, students, teachers and leaders across the state, who are working this session with the Texas House and Senate to pass legislation that will strengthen and support effective charter schools in Texas, lift the arbitrary cap on charter schools, and more accurately measure drop out recovery schools and the work they do with students returning to high school to recover credits and graduate. He also thanked our Legislators for leaving the House and Senate chambers and addressing charter parents and supporters at the rally.  During the rally, we cheered and thanked them for their support and for all the hard work they are doing this session to pass good and needed charter legislation. Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst addressed the rally participants as well as Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick, House Public Education Committee member and Representative Marsha Farney and Representative Diane Patrick.  During National Charter Schools Week, public charter school parents, leaders and supporters traveled from Houston, San Antonio, San Marcos, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Angelo and locally from Austin, Tex., to rally for legislation that helps their children and strengthens overall charter school policy to benefit all charter schools statewide. We began the day with lunch on the Capitol grounds, and then TCSA led a supporter march from 11th and Congress up to the Capitol south steps, chanting our support for public charter schools and options for parents and students. We rallied at the south steps and then entered the Senate gallery to watch the Senators in action.  Senator Dan Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education committee, recognized our charter parents, students, teachers and leaders in the gallery and we stood to applaud and wave.  Rally participants ended their day at the Texas Capitol by visiting their district House rep and asking for support on TCSA’s list of charter bills. All of the rally participants represent more than 154,000 students on 500-plus open-enrollment charter school campuses across the state, and equally as important, the larger-than-expected crowd represents the more than 101,000 students on waiting lists for a spot at a charter school.  The Texas Charter Schools Association is the statewide association representing open-enrollment charter schools in every part of our great state of Texas, and we continue to advocate for quality charter schools and state policy that will create an environment for more charter growth, more innovation and more options for parents and students in Texas. Public charter schools are making a difference for students in Texas.
  • In 2011 (the last year of rankings in Texas), in public charter schools rated under Texas’ Standard Accountability System, higher percentages of African-American and Hispanic students passed the TAKS test in every core subject area than in traditional public schools.
  • According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in her annual Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST), Texas charter schools account for nearly 30% of the state’s most fiscally efficient public schools, even though they represent only 3% of the student population.
  • Texas public charter schools, as a percentage, serve more African-American students, more Hispanic students, more economically disadvantaged students and more at risk students than traditional public schools. Public charter schools serve only slightly fewer limited English proficient and special education students, as a percentage, than traditional public schools.
  • U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools Rankings: 8 out of the top 20 in Texas are public charter schools.
TCSA2             Image via Austin American-Statesman: Texas Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick speaks at TCSA rally TCSA1           Image via Austin American-Statesman

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Public Charter School Community Heard During INCS’ “Have Your Say Day”

The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) is delighted to spread the word about our successful INCS 8th Annual Lobby Day in Springfield this past Thursday, just ahead of National School Choice Week. We had over 500 parents, teachers, and students travel to Springfield to join forces and advocate for equal funding for charter public school students. Together, we made great progress:
  • We put the final nail in the coffin of House Bill 2660, a proposal designed to starve funding for state-approved charter schools.
  • We built momentum in support of SJR 33, a joint resolution to establish a 6-month charter school funding task force to recommend equity legislation for the 2014 legislative session.
  • We explained to elected officials the critical role charter schools play in creating educational opportunities statewide and why charter school parents deserve to be heard.
This year our theme was Have Your Say Day, and that’s exactly what parents and students did.  We started with an early morning rally at Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy on the South Side, followed with a Springfield kick-off rally in the rotunda of the Illinois Capitol, and culminated with dozens of visits with elected officials representing districts where charter schools and parents reside. The value of the INCS Lobby Day goes beyond the critical personal connections and myth-busting that occur in every legislative meeting.  The day is also about inspiring participants who are on the front lines of the charter movement every day.  As Lobby Day participant and charter school alumna Dennise Medina put it, “I just wanted my voice to be heard.  Meeting Representative Silvana Tabares was a great honor, as was sharing my story as an  UNO Rufino Tamayo charter school graduate. Thanks to charter schools, I am what I am today: a successful college student.” Our work doesn’t end here. Over the next few months we will continue our efforts to engage parents and empower them in leadership roles.  Most critically, we are back in Springfield already with a group of parents from Catalyst Charter School continuing the smaller group visits that we’re conducting throughout the legislative session with targeted officials. Lobby Day is a critical event, but nothing is more important than a continuing, consistent presence with elected officials. We will continue to fight until the law treats all Illinois public school students equally. INCS Rally

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Colorado Students Celebrate 20 Years of Public Charter Schools

This month, nearly 800 students, teachers and administrators gathered at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver to celebrate public charter schools. The rally, hosted annually by the Colorado League of Charter Schools, had a special theme this year, as 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Colorado Charter Schools Act. In 1993, the state’s first two charter schools opened their doors (The Connect School in Pueblo, and Academy Charter School in Castle Rock) – both schools are still very successful and boast high student achievement. Over the course of a week, the rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol was brought to life with displays of charter school student artwork from T.R. Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge (Fort Collins) and CIVA Charter High School (Colorado Springs). In addition, the Capitol was lined with visual statistics highlighting facts and figures about the state’s charter community. For example, “More K-12 students are enrolled in Colorado charter schools than any school district in the state,” and “The average Colorado charter school student receives 15 percent less public funding than the average peer student in a traditional public school.” CO2a                   The event offered a variety of activities for public charter school students of all ages. Preceding the rally were two student debates (held in the Old Supreme Court Chambers) by middle school students in the Charter School Debate League, as well as various tours of the State Capitol. The rally itself began with the National Anthem performed by the Belle Creek Charter School band (Henderson, CO) and the Rocky Mountain Deaf School (Golden, CO). During the rally, attendees heard from students, teachers, principals, elected officials and more. The event was high-energy and a fun learning experience for all. Many of the speakers took the stage and revved up the crowd while celebrating public charter schools. “I love charter schools,” “I love charter school teachers,” and other upbeat slogans were chanted in unison by the crowd. The students proudly waved signs that read, “Thank You for My Charter School,” and “Celebrating 20 Years of Colorado Charter Schools.” CO1                 Winners of the 5th annual Colorado Charter School Essay Contest were honored during the rally. Over 1,200 essays were submitted this year, from students across the state. There were four age categories. Click here to learn more about the contest and read about the topics. Runners Up Winners
  • Shruthi Rajesh, Grade 2, SkyView Academy (Highlands Ranch; Winner of a $250 College Scholarship from S&S Worldwide
  • Hadley Fisher, Grade 3, Excel Academy (Arvada; Winner of a $250 College Scholarship from S&S Worldwide
  • Lauren Kloser, Grade 7, Rocky Mountain Deaf School (Golden); Winner of a $250 College Scholarship from S&S Worldwide
  • Ricardo Galdamez-Escobar, Grade 12, Colorado High School Charter (Denver); Winner of a $500 College Scholarship from S&S Worldwide
A special thank you to Cenpatico for sponsoring the rally and to S&S Worldwide for sponsoring the essay contest. The next celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Colorado Charter Schools will be at a special luncheon and silent auction event scheduled for Monday, June 3 in Denver. This date is significant as it falls exactly 20 years to the day that Governor Roy Romer signed the Colorado Charter Schools Act. The event will include an awards presentation, a documentary film and featured speaker Chester E. Finn, Jr. Please visit www.coloradoleague.org/luncheon to learn more and to register. CO3

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Moving to a Common System of Choice in D.C.

The growth of public charter schools in Washington, D.C.—coupled with out-of-boundary options for the traditional public school system, and vouchers—have made D.C. one of the most robust school choice environments in the nation. But as executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB), I’ve seen and heard how in the charter sector, the proliferation of options has brought its own problems when it comes to picking and enrolling in a school. D.C. has 57 charter organizations that operate 102 campuses, each with its own means of enrolling students. Parents said that with so many different application dates, the process was confusing and headache-inducing, leading some to throw up their hands and opt out. It can also act as a subtle barrier to the least advantaged families. For oversubscribed public charter schools that held lotteries, each school’s lottery was separate, meaning that some families get into many schools, while others into none–with no account taken for a family’s first or second choices. And with uncoordinated enrollment systems, families enroll in several schools and decide at the last minute which to attend, triggering a cascade of students switching schools after classes start, a phenomenon known as the “waitlist shuffle.” With more than 35,000 students enrolled, or 43 percent of the public school population, our charter schools haven’t been entirely happy with the application and enrollment process either. They have to contend with higher student turnover, phantom enrollment, and mobility in the first month of school that can exceed 10 percent of the student body. Clearly collective action was needed to address these issues, and it made most sense for PCSB to facilitate. But to make progress, we knew our action had to be respectful of charter school autonomy and voluntary, with charter schools themselves designing and directing the path forward. Enrollment is a charter school’s lifeblood. Only if we moved gradually, without laws, regulations, and mandates, and in a way that was informed by the schools’ perspectives, would this succeed. The first issue we would tackle was having a single, common enrollment deadline. Our schools had more than 30 separate deadlines for applying—along with different dates for lotteries, notification, and enrollment. Looking at every school’s process, the most common date was March 15. My team and I individually called each school leader to ask for their support. Many schools initially said “yes.” Others signed on when they saw how many of their peers were. In the end, just four or five schools opted out. The schools joined a working group that became a key forum for addressing other related issues. They agreed, for example, to set a common enrollment deadline of April 12 as a way of minimizing duplicate enrollments. They agreed to share enrollment information as a way to flag dual enrollments that do occur. The facilitator of this workgroup, Abigail Smith, built tremendous trust among the schools. (Two weeks ago D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray appointed Smith to be his Deputy Mayor for Education.) And we had key philanthropic support from NewSchools, which helped launch a media campaign called Your Charter Your Choice, which that put signs at bus stops and ads on the radio and in newspapers, to make sure parents knew about the date. The April 12 acceptance deadline has just passed, and we’re eager to hear the final numbers. But early data indicate tremendous success. One public charter school saw a 66 percent increase in applications. Another charter school said that this year they saw their highest interest level from parents yet, showing that awareness of the deadline was high. With schools sharing information about their acceptance lists, we expect far fewer duplicate enrollments. Now the working group is turning its attention to the next issues, a common lottery and common application, for charters and the traditional school system. Many schools are enthusiastic about these next steps; others are understandably more cautious. I’m confident that through the same collaborative process that created the common deadline, we can develop a common system of choice that will work well for parents and for charter schools. Scott Pearson 3                   Scott Pearson Executive Director DC Public Charter School Board

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Raising the Bar: Reviewing STEM Education in America

Serving as the CEO of Denver School of Science and Technology Public Schools (DSST), I can readily say that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is an important priority for me. But more importantly, it must be a priority for our nation. On behalf of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, I recently testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education on how the public charter sector is leading the way in providing students – of all backgrounds–with high-quality STEM education. As we continue to see the trend of public charter school students outperforming their traditional public school peers, policy makers should consider the lessons we have learned–particularly in the field of STEM education. DSST Public Schools serves more than 2,000 students at six open-enrollment STEM public charter schools on four campuses; our schools are focused on preparing every student to succeed in four-year college with the opportunity to pursue a STEM field of study in college. DSST schools are not magnet schools or in any way selective and as a result, our student body is very diverse. Yet DSST Public Schools operates some of the most successful public schools in Colorado. We are most proud of measures that show growth–meaning, how much did a student learn from the first day of school to the last day of school. Most importantly, DSST proves, without a doubt, that all students, regardless of race or income, can earn a rigorous STEM high school diploma and attend four-year colleges and universities. Preparing every student to succeed in a four-year college with the opportunity to study STEM is at the center of DSST’s academic program. Every single senior in the history of DSST Public Schools has earned acceptance to four-year college–an unprecedented track record of success in Colorado. Preparing our nation’s students for our highest-need, hardest-to-fill jobs is one of the most important tasks of our public education system. Today, we are not providing our students from low-income families with access to the highest-quality STEM education and the preparation needed to enter critical fields like engineering, computer science and bioscience. We have long reserved STEM education for the gifted and talented, denying our students and our nation’s employers with the opportunity to fill a critical national need. DSST Public Schools represents an important and growing movement to open up high-quality STEM education to all students regardless of their ethnic, economic or academic background. If we are to tackle the issue of providing effective STEM education for all students, educators and policy makers should consider some key building blocks of any successful STEM program. First, our schools are uniquely built on the premise that all students deserve access to a high-quality STEM education. A majority of DSST students enter well below grade level in the 6th and 9th grades and could never be accepted into a magnet science program on the basis of a test. Many students are conditioned to believe that science and advanced math “is an extra” and only for “smart kids.” In our schools, these subjects are not extras, but a core subject for all students. All students are required to take a STEM college preparatory curriculum–there is no remedial track in our school. Our second key belief is that schools must provide a rigorous STEM preparatory curriculum. We believe that the most important factor in a student choosing and ultimately completing a STEM degree is his or her preparedness to succeed at the college and graduate level. Thus we design our curriculum to provide students with the best possible preparation to succeed in STEM fields in four year colleges. Lastly, we believe the success of any school must be rooted in a strong school culture that focuses on building character and creating an environment that expects all students to be college ready. Students are challenged, but supported in our schools. A peer-driven culture is reflected in each of our schools where going to college is “cool” and expected. Of course, DSST and our students would not be successful without the dedication and expertise of our outstanding teachers. Teachers at DSST are driven by their unwavering belief in our students, driven by data, and continually reflect on student performance. They receive extensive support, including observations and feedback, peer-driven professional development, and targeted development in new instructional techniques to ensure they are incorporating the best instructional strategies in their classrooms. For our country to continue to lead the way in the 21st century economy, we must re-double our efforts to provide every child with access to a high-quality STEM education. DSST             Image via DSST website

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Ohio’s charter law remains a laggard

This week, The Charter Blog will feature guest posts from state charter support organizations capturing their reaction to their state’s ranking on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS model law (see Massachusetts and Washington).   Ohio’s charter law remains mediocre despite numerous reform efforts over the last decade. According to the latest “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of the State Charter School Laws” produced by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) the Buckeye State’s charter school law ranks 27 out of 43 states and the District of Columbia. NAPCS ranks state laws based on two primary factors: 1) the freedoms and flexibilities state laws provide charter operators; and 2) the quality of accountability provisions for both charter school operators and authorizers. There are 20 Essential Components of the NAPCS rankings and these range from freedoms such as “No Caps on Charters,” “Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemptions,” and “Equitable Operational Funding” to accountability measures such as “Authorizer and Overall Program Accountability” and “Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal and Revocation Decisions.” Ohio has made some progress – and this is reflected in the NAPCS state rating of Ohio inching up from #28 last year to #27 this year. But, other states are making progress faster. Big charter states, those that have at least 4.5% of their students enrolled in public charter schools, that have made steady progress and improvements to their laws in recent years include number one ranked Minnesota (with 4.7% of students in charters), number four Colorado (with 9.8% of students in charters), number five Florida (with 6.8% of students in charters), number six Louisiana (with 6.4% of students in charters) and number seven California (with 6.7% of students in charters). These states are serving hundreds of thousands of students under state laws that are superior to Ohio’s in both allowing charter freedoms and ensuring charter performance. Louisiana, for example, jumped from #13 to #6 due to significant enhancements in its laws, such as strengthening the authorizing environment and increasing charter school autonomy. While South Carolina leapt from #25 to #12 because of improved laws related to better authorizing. The NAPCS rankings make clear that Ohio’s lawmakers can do better by its 113,000 charter school students, while setting the conditions for better charter schools and opportunities for more kids in need of better schools in the future. Specifically, legislative leaders in Ohio can help promote charter school quality by crafting policies that ensure would-be school operators are carefully vetted in advance of opening; that all schools are thoroughly monitored by responsible authorities for their academic performance; and that poor performers exit the market in a timely fashion. Failed schools should not be able to skirt academic accountability; whether they are traditional district schools, virtual charter schools or charter schools operated either by for-profit management companies or nonprofit ones. But, in return for performance, successful charters should receive equitable funding. Charters in Ohio, on average, receive about $2,200 less funding per pupil than traditional district schools. This disparity is due in large part to charter schools’ lack of access to local revenues and facilities funding. Successful charters should also be able to replicate their successes through innovations like multi-school charter contracts and multi-charter contract boards. If, for example, a high quality charter school board can successfully oversee ten or even 15 great charters in a city there should be no laws preventing this from happening, but there currently is in the Buckeye State. The states with the best charter schools also have the strongest charter school laws. According to Nina Rees, President and CEO of NAPCS, the national charter school association release their annual rankings so they “can be used by charter school supporters to help them push for laws that support the creation of high-quality public charter schools, particularly those students most in need of a better school option.” Ohio can and should learn from other states when it comes to improving charter school policies and NAPCS makes this easy to do with their rankings and model law. It is smart policy to build on the lessons of higher-performing charter states. Model law map-3   This blog originally ran on the Ohio Gadfly Daily on January 30, 2013.

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California Charter Leadership Program Teaches Tailored Skills for Success

This guest blog series describes approaches that seek to address one of the most critical issues facing the rapidly growing public charter school movement: its leadership pipeline. The examples from Georgia and California show how partnerships have been developed to create training programs that teach the specific skills public charter school administrators need to run a successful school. If you would like to share additional examples of leadership pipeline programs, post them to @charteralliance or #charterleadership on Twitter. In 2012, the Charter and Autonomous Leadership Academy (CASLA) sent out a national survey to public charter school stakeholders to determine training needs for charters school leaders. These results presented a strong interest in charter leadership training.  After several years of research and development, the CASLA program has created and implemented an innovative university-based charter leadership program in which participates earn a master’s degree in education (charter leadership) and a state credential authorization.  Just as successful K-12 charter leaders must be entrepreneurial and creative, the CASLA university team successfully navigated the public university institutional system to create an accelerated, efficient, and personalized entrepreneurial program. The CASLA program is based on research, best practices, and creative solutions to meet the needs of charter school leaders in Los Angeles and eventually nationwide. CASLA is housed at California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), a four-year urban public institution located in the urban city of Carson in Los Angeles County. CSUDH is one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the California State University system. The school is accredited by both the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Since California has a very high percentage of start-up schools (as opposed to conversion schools), CASLA’s innovative program is focused on start-up schools. During our research, aspiring and current charter leaders requested relevant and current content, and alternatives to weekly evening classes in traditional university credential programs—due to the traffic congestion in Los Angeles and responsibilities of charter leaders.  In addition, current charter leaders requested assistance with career options beyond their tenure as charter school leaders.  The CASLA program is addressing the needs. The CASLA leadership curriculum is designed based on the knowledge, skills, and disposition as articulated by current and former successful charter leaders, as well as small area public school district superintendents.  The CASLA program incorporates sophisticated video conferencing using technology-based instruction to personalize and individualize the delivery and content. Participants attend two weeklong seminars in the summer, and content courses are web-based.  One charter conference attendance is required. Content courses are six weeks in length; field research, extensive reading, and personal reflection are critical components.  Charter case study is a major strand throughout the 15-month credential/certificate program.  The critical internship component incorporates shadowing, field-research, and residency. Current and retired successful charter school leaders teach the content courses.  Participants are grouped in a cohort.  Current charter leaders benefit from web-based certificate programs, on topics such as master schedule development, essential elements of instruction, conflict resolution, improve rigor through effective use of data, etc. The elements of the CASLA program form a comprehensive system that prepares and supports charter leaders who are committed to improving teacher practice and student achievement.  CASLA school leaders are now leading over 10,343 charter students in the greater Los Angeles area, with 57 percent of our CASLA leaders representing the minority groups of our diverse student population. Over 4,000 charter students have been positively impacted by our field research to improve student achievement. CASLA plans to create national regional centers. We invite inquires.  The CASLA program is the beneficiary of a supportive relationship with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, our California Charter School Association (CCSA), and a federal grant funded through the Office of Innovation and Improvement in the Department of Education. CASLA Image               Image via CASLA website