Evaluation Framework

Some authorizers go even farther than Florida’s model charter contract by explicitly establishing performance criteria; in other words, these authorizers set forth not just expectations but also the criteria that must be satisfied in order to meet those expectations.

Massachusetts Department of Education

The Massachusetts Department of Education (MDE), for example, articulates an “access and equity” criterion and a “program delivery” criterion, each with a distinct list of key indicators that must be demonstrated by a school in order to comply with its performance obligations.

To illustrate, the MDE’s “access and equity” indicators include but are not limited to “eliminating barriers to program access…[by]…ensuring that information is readily available to parents, students, and the general public regarding non-discriminatory enrollment practices and the availability of specialized programs and services at the school to meet the needs of all students, particularly…English language learners….” In addition, the key indicators for the MDE’s “program delivery” criterion require that a “school has systems in place to identify students in need of support and provides supports, interventions, and resources to meet the academic needs for all students, including but not limited to…English language learners.”

Finally, the MDE goes on to specify the sources of evidence it will consider when evaluating a school’s performance against the articulated criteria. The MDE states it will consider “a wide body of evidence” which may include student subgroup analysis (including those that may be statistically insignificant for state reporting purposes) for EL students and also may consider EL program self-evaluations.

The MDE’s approach provides substantial clarity to applicants and operators about what is expected and how to demonstrate how those expectations have been satisfied. While not all authorizers may choose to undertake this kind of approach, the MDE’s policies and practices offer significant guidance on how an authorizer may choose to evaluate the strength of a school’s EL program.

DC Public Charter School Board

The DC Public Charter School Board has similarly developed an annual assessment for EL program compliance. The assessment requires schools to certify that their EL programs and related policies/practices meet the minimum legal requirements established by federal and local law. The assessment serves as a mechanism for DCPCSB to monitor compliance with these laws while also flagging for schools what is required. In their initial rollout of this assessment, DCPCSB used the tool as a self-assessment, giving schools a year to use the tool to bring their programs/policies into compliance before it became part of the authorizer’s annual monitoring practice. During that year, DCPCSB offered training and “office hours” for schools as additional resources to support compliance with the requirements of the assessment.