NOTE: UAPCS supports charter schools throughout the state. The majority of schools are chartered through the State Charter School Board. For those schools with a different authorizer, we encourage you to take a look at the oversight requirements of your authorizer as well.
This summer, the State Charter School Board voted to adopt adjustments to the Charter School Accountability Framework. Fortunately, this isn’t a new process, but a refinement so we can better support you and provide accountability we believe will mean every student has access to an excellent education that meets their unique learning needs.
Over the past year, we learned that elements within the framework led many schools to believe that it was preferable to fly under the radar or that oversight only leads to closure. Not only are these beliefs wrong, but they can also have a negative effect on schools and their performance. We never want to see any of our directors in a position where they feel lost or without an ally. We believe that by reframing the model, we can better support you in your work.
With this renewed context about what good charter schools do, you’ll notice a few changes in how the model is implemented. We’ve created a new graphic (see below) that illustrates the different paths LEAs take to get to Good Standing. Every school is on the road to Good Standing, even when they are sent a Notice of Concern or are on Warning. We hope that some schools even become examples to other public schools around the state and become High-performing. We are increasing the number of professional development offerings available to you, your teachers, and your governing boards. These include many local and national experts that will help you navigate to Good Standing. We sincerely hope that you’ll join us, not just in providing unique learning opportunities, but in leading all of Utah’s schools to become better.
A comprehensive review is a requirement for all SCSB schools. State code explains that charter schools need to be evaluated every five years. We are so excited to get to engage in this process with you during this coming year. The pandemic made it very difficult to conduct these reviews, or to gather data, but it was provided a good opportunity to refine the comprehensive review process. This review has taken several different forms over the years, but we are excited about the adjustments that we have made this year.
First, we started by creating a rubric for each of the standings. The rubric is currently available on our website. (See QR Code at the end of the article.) One of the challenges we wanted to address was the uniqueness of each of Utah’s charter schools. It is difficult — and in some cases impossible — to compare two schools that might serve different grades or have different models. Our aim in this refining process was to write the expectations that would be general enough to apply to each school — regardless of model, and so as many schools as possible would be considered in Good Standing.
Our second aim in refining the process was to take as much work off your shoulders as possible. We didn’t want you to have to compile lots of information. As long as your board meetings are uploaded and complete, and you’re getting your other reports done on time, we are going to be able to prioritize that information. In some cases, there might be additional information that is needed, but we foresee that being rare. This is a great opportunity to reflect on the excellent work you’ve done over the past five years, and to strategically plan for the next five.
We’re looking forward to starting these reviews with several schools this month, and nearly 30 LEAs over the next year. Please feel free to reach out to your portfolio manager if you have any questions.