Charter Application: RFP Through Approval

Many authorizers require applicants to include EL plans in their charter petitions; some authorizers demand substantial detail on how applicants will serve their EL students.

State University of New York Charter School Institute

For instance, in its annual request for proposals, the State University of New York Charter School Institute (SUNY) asks applicants to discuss the following:

  • The process for identifying students whose first language is not English and the methods for determining the scope of assistance these students may need, including how the school will ensure EL students are not inappropriately identified as students with special education needs
  • The approach, resources, and personnel (including qualifications and associated administrative responsibilities) the school will use to meet the needs of EL students (both within general education classrooms and in other settings)
  • The research and evidence that supports the appropriateness of this approach
  • The process for coordination between general education teachers and staff serving EL students and professional development for general education teachers serving EL students
  • The process that will be used to monitor the achievement and progress of EL students, including exit criteria
  • The process that will be used to evaluate the efficacy of the program and instructors and to ensure that the needs of EL students are being met
  • How the school will make all necessary materials available to parents of EL students in a language that they can understand
  • How the school will make after-school and other extracurricular programming accessible to EL students

By seeking this information in its RFP, SUNY clearly articulates the rigor and thoughtfulness it expects from applicants’ EL plans.

Chicago Public Schools

Notably, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) goes even farther. Its charter approval process requires new applicants to complete a separate, detailed application form, created by the Illinois State Board of Education, specific to serving EL students. This supplemental application seeks very specific information on every aspect of an applicant’s EL program, such as its identification process; its program structure; how its curriculum and standards will meet the instructional needs of its EL students; the affirmative steps the school will undertake to ensure its EL students will overcome language barriers and will meaningfully participate in the school’s educational program and extracurricular offerings; its staff’s qualifications and planned professional development; how the school will inform parents of their rights and implement effective community engagement; how the school will maintain and manage accurate student data and satisfy its accountability measures; and how the school will abide by its Title III obligations, if it receives these monies.

In addition, each component of this EL-specific, supplemental application form is anchored in the relevant federal and state statutory and regulatory authorities. As such, applicants are informed not only of what CPS expects but also learn their legal obligations and are provided the legal citations should an applicant seek additional information from the governing statutes/regulations.

CPS’s in-depth, comprehensive approach assists operators in designing thoughtful, well- staffed, and well-resourced EL programs from the start and simultaneously helps CPS effectively evaluate the capacity of applicants to build and deliver strong EL programs. CPS, through its charter approval process, sets a very high bar for effective EL program delivery.