Though English learners (EL) are the fastest growing student demographic in the United States, public schools, including charter schools, are challenged to effectively engage EL families in a way that ensures the academic success of EL students. Research suggests that EL families’ socioeconomic status, lack of social connectivity, language barriers, differing cultural perspectives about family engagement in education, and lack of familiarity with U.S. school procedures are all factors that constrain EL families’ awareness of school options and opportunities. Given the flexibility afforded to charter schools, they are well-positioned to develop new strategies to counterbalance these challenges. This paper, co-authored by Safal Partners and Public Impact for the National Charter School Resource Center, examines practices used by some charter schools to engage EL families during recruitment, communicate with EL families with limited English proficiency, and meet the special needs of enrolled EL students and their families, and also highlights the funding mechanisms that support these strategies. Based on the approaches and practices presented, the paper identifies program, support, resource and policy issues for charter school leaders, developers, and policymakers to consider when planning strategies to enhance EL family engagement.
Help for Charter Schools
Charter schools are well positioned to serve the needs of English Learner (EL) students, but need to be aware of the legal parameters governing public education of ELs. The greater flexibility afforded to charter schools offers opportunity to develop innovative approaches to providing ELs, one of the fastest growing demographic groups among students in the United States, with a quality education. But as charter schools are still subject to all federal and some state education laws, charter schools must understand their legal obligations to EL students. This report, co-authored by Safal Partners and Public Impact for the National Charter School Resource Center, examines federal requirements under civil rights laws and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and state laws governing charter school recruitment, retention, enrollment of EL students and their accountability for EL student performance; requirements and current challenges related to EL data reporting; and whether existing laws are adequate to address the needs of this growing population of ELs in charter schools.
More than 40 North Carolina education leaders convened in January 2014 to consider the challenges and opportunities of an expanding charter sector since the cap was lifted in 2011, and ways that district and charter leaders can work collaboratively to improve how charter schools serve North Carolina students. This report, from Self-Help, The A. J. Fletcher Foundation, and Public Impact, reflects their thoughts on policies, practices, and outcomes related to the state’s charter application and approval process, and the oversight and measurement of charter school performance. It details recommendations to improve charter authorizing practices and increase accountability. The report also addresses equity and funding issues that exacerbate distrust between districts and charter schools, and examines ways in which the two sectors may work together to improve opportunities for all students to attend charter schools and to increase charter schools’ access to district resources that would enhance their ability to serve all types of students.
Recommendations include convening district and charter leaders regularly to discuss district-charter collaboration; bringing North Carolina charter authorizing and performance legislation, policy, and practices in closer alignment with national standards to improve charter school quality; and using charter-district pilots to explore mechanisms such as common enrollment and sharing of resources that would give all students equal access to all public schools.
The Role of Charter Restarts in School Reform: Honoring our Commitments to Students and Public Accountability
The report, prepared by Daniela Doyle and Tim Field for NewSchools Venture Fund, explores a variation on school closure where a charter school’s operator and governance (board) changes, while the school continues to serve the same students — charter school “restarts.” The report examines how charter restarts fit within the larger context of charter school quality and accountability and describes how restarts have played out at five charter schools. It concludes with a series of recommendations for board members and charter authorizers interested in pursuing a restart strategy.
High-performing charter schools have shown that disadvantaged students can achieve at high levels. Unfortunately, too few of these schools exist today, severely limiting access among the highest-need students. Charter school incubation – recruiting, selecting, training, and supporting promising leaders as they launch new schools – is a crucial strategy for increasing the number of high-performing charter schools in cities across the country. This policy brief, released by the organization now known as Education Cities and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, explores current experience with charter incubation and the local policies and funding needed to create and sustain healthy markets for successful incubators.
[pdf] Charter incubation is the process of intentionally building the supply of high-quality schools and charter management organizations by recruiting, selecting, training, and supporting promising leaders as they launch new charter schools. This white paper identifies and analyzes four critical focus areas for charter incubators: attracting and developing effective school or CMO leaders; partnering strategically to help leaders open and operate high-quality charter schools and CMOs; championing school leaders in the community; and coordinating advocacy to support new charter leaders. The authors distilled these four areas from research and discussions with members of the organization now known as Education Cities, an initiative of Indianapolis-based education reform organization The Mind Trust. The white paper discusses these focus areas and presents innovative responses by Education Cities members to the challenges of charter incubation in each area. This white paper is part of a three-piece series continuing the discussion from a National Charter School Resource Center / U.S. Department of Education conference exploring emerging city-based movements that embrace high-quality charters as an integral component of their reform strategy. On September 21, 2011, Joe Ableidinger joined Ethan Gray, vice president of The Mind Trust and director of Education Cities, to offer a webinar based on the white paper, Expanding the Supply of High-Quality Charter Schools: Innovations in Incubation, available through the National Charter School Resource Center at http://www.charterschoolcenter.org/webinar/expanding-supply-high-quality-charter-schools-innovations-incubation.
This webinar explores charter school incubation, a promising strategy for intentionally accelerating the growth of high-quality charter schools by recruiting, selecting, training, and supporting promising leaders as they launch new schools. Presenters discuss the need for incubation, the promise of incubation, and some of the early evidence from established incubators. They introduce the organization now known as Education Cities, an initiative of Indianapolis-based education reform organization The Mind Trust, and discuss the work that Education Cities members have been doing to incubate new high-quality charter schools. The webinar then details four critical focus areas for charter incubators as described in the companion white paper, Incubating High-Quality Charter Schools: Innovations in City-Based Organizations, and innovative approaches taken by Education Cities members in each focus area. Finally, presenters discuss five major policies that policymakers can address to support charter incubation, and how changes in these areas would help incubators.
This white paper highlights six indicators of a robust talent pipeline so that charter supporters of all kinds—including charter school leaders, talent providers, charter support organizations, philanthropies, and politicians—can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their own efforts. It also shows through the examples of Indianapolis and New Orleans how charter supporters have been able to grow the supply of effective charter school teachers and leaders by focusing on these indicators. This white paper is part of a three-piece series continuing the discussion from a National Charter School Resource Center / U.S. Department of Education conference exploring emerging city-based movements that embrace high-quality charters as an integral component of their reform strategy.
[pdf] Drawing on lessons learned from cities trying to kick-start a new charter market, as well as from some of the most developed markets in the country, this white paper offers guidance for philanthropies on how to invest wisely as part of a city-based strategy. It also identifies potentially high-yield investments in the charter sector. This white paper is part of a three-piece series continuing the discussion from a National Charter School Resource Center / U.S. Department of Education conference exploring emerging city-based movements that embrace high-quality charters as an integral component of their reform strategy.
Commissioned by Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) in 2010, this report examines how philanthropic organizations in four American cities—Albany, N.Y.; Denver, Colo.; Harlem, N.Y.; and Houston, Tex.—have affected the charter sector. This scan includes information about how a select number of philanthropic organizations in each city developed their investment strategies, made investment decisions, and evaluated the impact their investments are having on public education. Read more…
Corporations, Chambers, and Charters: How Businesses Can Support High-Quality Public Charter Schools
This guide for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools captures recent developments in the charter sector and the advice of business leaders, leading donors, and partners on how businesspeople and chamber leaders can support high-quality charter schools, both in their local communities and on a national scale. This guide builds on the lessons philanthropists (including successful business leaders) have learned that will be particularly applicable to the business community. Businesses will find information throughout the guide not only on corporate financial giving, but also on developing meaningful partnerships and volunteer opportunities with schools, creating a welcoming policy environment for charters, and leveraging the skills and talents employees already possess for the benefit of charter public education. The report recommends that businesses and chambers work to strengthen charter schools in the following ways:
• Build a robust supply of high-quality new schools in the communities that need them;
• Fuel the pipeline of teachers and leaders needed to operate the schools;
• Address critical operational challenges the schools face;
• Forge charter-friendly public policies through state and local lawmaking.
Case study, conducted for Seton Education Partners, explores the 2009 effort by Miami Archdiocesan leaders, parish priests, charter school operators, and charter support organizations to open eight charter schools in former Catholic school facilities. Quick, coordinated action created public charter options for the former Catholic school students and others seeking alternatives to traditional district schools while preventing the closure of several Catholic parishes. Report provides several early lessons for other dioceses considering this option.
Co-authored by Education Sector co-director Thomas Toch, this installment of Ed Sector’s “Connecting the Dots” series describes the Walton Family Foundation’s impact on the charter sector via its investments in individual charter schools, charter management organizations and networks, support organizations, advocacy, and research and information.
[pdf] This report, written for Education Commission of the States, outlines the charter district design issues faced by school district leaders, explaining the key questions and discussing options for addressing them.
[pdf] Some national organizations that find good schools a way to further their own mission are now moving to create – and support – new schools in the charter sector. The YMCA of the USA is an example; so is the National Council of LaRaza.
This toolkit provides creative ideas for financing charter school facilities based on pioneering schools’ experiences. From the Charter Friends National Network, 1999.