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					Massachusetts Charter School

Renewal Inspection Protocol
Revised May 2008




Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education
Charter School Office
350 Main Street
Malden, MA 02148
Phone: (781) 338-3227
Fax: (781) 338-3220
Table of Contents
Preface............................................................................................................................................. 1
I. Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 2
   A. Charter Schools in Massachusetts ........................................................................................ 2
   B.      Overview of the Charter Renewal Process .......................................................................... 2
      1.      Sources of Evidence ............................................................................................................................. 3
      2.      Summary of Review ............................................................................................................................. 5
      3.      Major Components and Sequencing of the Charter Renewal Process ................................... 5
II. Planning and Scheduling the Renewal Inspection Site Visit ..................................................... 6
   A. Role of the Renewal Inspection Site Visit ........................................................................... 6
   B.      Required Renewal Inspection Documents ........................................................................... 6
   C. Preparing the Renewal Inspection Site Visit Schedule ........................................................ 8
   D. Overview of Renewal Inspection Activities, Responsibilities, and Schedule ................... 11
III. Analyzing Charter School Performance ................................................................................. 12
   A. Developing Findings Using High-Quality Evidence ......................................................... 12
   B.      Renewal Inspection Areas of Inquiry ................................................................................ 13
   C. Renewal Inspection Report Structure ................................................................................ 18
IV. Responsibilities of the Renewal Inspection Organization and Team, the School, and the
Charter School Office ................................................................................................................... 19
   A. Renewal Inspection Organization and Team Responsibilities........................................... 19
   B.      School Responsibilities ...................................................................................................... 22
   C. Charter School Office Responsibilities.............................................................................. 23
V. Renewal Inspection Team Code of Conduct............................................................................ 24
Appendix A: Common School Performance Criteria .................................................................. 25
Appendix B: Helpful Documents................................................................................................. 31
   A. Massachusetts Charter School Law and Regulations ........................................................ 32
   B.      Charter School Accountability, Oversight, and Renewal .................................................. 32
Massachusetts Charter School Renewal Inspection Protocol


Preface
The Massachusetts Public Charter School Renewal Inspection Protocol explains the process by
which independent evaluators gather, analyze, and report information regarding the performance
and progress of Massachusetts charter schools applying for charter renewal. In determining
whether or not to recommend charter renewal, the Department of Elementary and Secondary
Education (ESE) Charter School Office (CSO) considers the information provided in the renewal
inspection report prepared in accordance with this Protocol, along with other sources of
evidence. This version of the Protocol replaces the 2002 version.
In September 2007, the CSO contracted with Clarus Group to update and revise the Protocol. To
identify potential improvements to the renewal inspection process, Clarus Group solicited the
views of stakeholders including officials of charter schools that had recently participated in a
charter renewal process, private vendors that had completed renewal inspection visits using
previous versions of this Protocol, staff of the CSO, and the Office of Educational Quality and
Accountability. The information provided by all participants helped to inform the development
of this document.
This Protocol is consistent with the requirements of the Massachusetts charter school law,
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 71, §89, and accompanying regulations, 603 CMR 1.00; it
also is aligned with the Massachusetts Charter School Common School Performance Criteria
issued by the CSO in October 2006. Additional copies of this Protocol are available at the CSO
website.




                                               1
I. Introduction
   A. Charter Schools in Massachusetts
The Education Reform Act of 1993 authorized the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to establish
independent public schools that operate under five-year charters granted by the Board of
Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE) and are governed by public boards of trustees. The
charter school law, M.G.L. c. 71, §89, and regulations, 603 CMR 1.00, permit the BESE to grant
charters to two types of charter schools: Commonwealth charter schools, which operate
independently of any school committee; and Horace Mann charter schools, which must obtain
the approval of the local school committee and the local collective bargaining agent before
applying to the BESE for charter status (603 CMR 1.02).
 A group or entity other than a for-profit business or corporate entity may apply for a public
school charter by initiating the charter application process established by the ESE (M.G.L. c. 71,
§89). Charter schools are free to organize around a core mission, curriculum, theme, and/or
teaching method, to control their own budgets, and to hire and fire teachers and staff. In return
for this freedom, charter schools are held accountable for producing positive results over the
five-year charter term. At the end of the first year of the school‟s charter, each charter school
must develop an Accountability Plan establishing specific five-year performance objectives for
the purpose of measuring the school‟s progress and success in raising student achievement,
establishing a viable organization, and fulfilling the terms of its charter (603 CMR 1.05(g)).
The BESE is obligated by law to conduct ongoing performance reviews of each charter school
and, by the fifth year of the school's charter term, decide whether or not to renew the school‟s
charter. The charter renewal decision is based upon the school‟s performance over the term of
the charter in three areas:
   1. The school‟s faithfulness to the terms of its charter,
   2. The success of the school‟s academic program, and
   3. The viability of the school as an organization (603 CMR 1.12).
The school‟s Accountability Plan and the Massachusetts Charter School Common School
Performance Criteria (a copy of which is provided in Appendix A) provide the analytical
framework used to hold charter schools accountable for performance in these three areas and to
decide whether or not their charters should be renewed (603 CMR. 1.12(3)).

   B. Overview of the Charter Renewal Process
The charter renewal application process begins with the charter school‟s submission to the ESE
of an Application for Renewal of a Public School Charter. After the CS0 has reviewed the
Application and determined that it is clear and complete, the school is notified of the
Application‟s acceptance. The ESE contracts with an independent organization to conduct a
detailed review of the school‟s performance. The renewal inspection organization assigns a team
of specialists to conduct a renewal inspection site visit and prepare a renewal inspection report
summarizing the team‟s findings regarding the school‟s performance relative to its
Accountability Plan and the Common School Performance Criteria.



                                                2
After the renewal inspection site visit, the team prepares a draft of the renewal inspection report
and submits it to the CSO and the school for review. The school is given approximately one
week in which to make factual corrections to the report, if appropriate. After incorporating any
factual corrections, the team submits the final report to the CSO, at which point the team‟s
involvement in the charter renewal process ends. While the CSO may seek clarification from the
team regarding the renewal inspection report findings, the team does not participate in the
process of drafting the CSO‟s Summary of Review (discussed below). The school may provide
the CSO with a formal response to the renewal inspection report; this response becomes part of
the school‟s permanent record. Other interested parties, including the superintendent in the
district in which a charter school is located or the region from which the school draws students,
also have the opportunity to submit written comments to the ESE regarding the renewal of a
school‟s charter.
Sources of Evidence
The principal focus of this Protocol is the process used in conducting the renewal inspection site
visit and preparing the renewal inspection report. The renewal inspection report constitutes only
one source of evidence among the many reports, data, and other evidence informing the charter
renewal process. Other sources of evidence include, but need not be limited to:
       Charter and charter amendments. The charter is a license issued by the BESE
       allowing the grantee to operate a charter school for a period of five years (M.G.L. c. 71,
       §89(kk); 603 CMR 1.03). Charter schools are required by law to operate in accordance
       with their charters (M.G.L. c. 71, §89(kk); 603 CMR 1.13(b)). If a charter school plans
       to change the material terms of its charter, the school must request approval of a charter
       amendment through the process required by the charter school regulations (603 CMR
       1.11).
       Accountability Plan. Every charter school is required to develop an Accountability Plan
       by the end of the first year of the school‟s first charter or subsequent charter renewal
       periods. As noted above, the Accountability Plan establishes specific five-year
       performance objectives for the purpose of measuring the school‟s academic success,
       organizational viability, and faithfulness to the terms of its charter. For each objective,
       the Accountability Plan identifies one or more quantifiable and objective measures of
       progress as well as the assessment tools to be used by the school in measuring progress
       toward the objectives. The Application for Renewal requires each charter school
       applying for charter renewal to propose an Accountability Plan for the new charter term.
       Annual reports. Every charter school is required to submit an annual report, no later
       than August 1 of each year, to the Charter School Office and the local school committee
       of each district from which the school draws its students. The annual report must also be
       made available to the parents and guardians of enrolled students and of prospective
       students (M.G.L. c. 89(gg)). The annual report, which covers the preceding school year,
       must include a discussion of the school‟s progress toward its charter and Accountability
       Plan objectives as well as other information, including a financial statement, projections
       of income and expenses for the upcoming school year, and evidence that the charter
       school is developing or has provided models for replication and best practices in
       education (603 CMR 1.09).



                                                3
Annual independent audit reports. Every charter school is required to have an
independent audit of its accounts conducted and to file the audit annually, on or before
January 1, with the ESE and the State Auditor. The independent audit reports provide
evidence to the CSO with respect to each school‟s financial condition and internal
controls.
MCAS and AYP performance. The CSO analyzes the school‟s performance on the
Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exams over the charter term
and on making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind
Act (NCLB). The focus of this analysis is the school‟s demonstration of proficiency, or
progress toward proficiency, in all subject areas, grade levels, and student subpopulations
and in comparison with the district in which the school is located or a composite of the
districts served by the school.
Site visit reports. The CSO conducts charter school site visits in the second and third
years of the charter term and may conduct site visits at other times when deemed
necessary. Site visits are usually completed in one day, but they may span a longer
period because of a particular school‟s size, location, or specific conditions. Each site
visit team prepares a site visit report, which is provided to the school and becomes part of
the school‟s permanent record.
Federal programs renewal review. The CSO conducts a federal programs review near
the end of the school‟s five-year charter term and prepares a report summarizing the
CSO‟s findings regarding the school‟s implementation of federal programs serving
special education, Section 504, and English Language Learner (ELL) students.
Other documents, data, and information. The CSO analyzes other documents, data,
and information reported to or otherwise known to the ESE pertaining to the school‟s
operation and performance over the charter term. These sources of evidence include:
      Results of past Coordinated Program Reviews, Corrective Action Plans, Progress
       Reports, and mid-cycle reviews;
      The school‟s compliance with state and federal requirements, including those for
       teacher qualifications;
      The school‟s enrollment and waitlist history over the charter term; and
      Other relevant information, as appropriate.
Application for Renewal. A charter school seeking renewal of its charter must submit a
completed Application for Renewal of a Public School Charter to the BESE no earlier
than March 1 of the third charter year and no later than August 1 after the end of the
fourth school year in the charter term (603 CMR. 1.12(1)). The Application provides
specific data and documents, reports on the school‟s progress relative to each objective
and measure in the school‟s Accountability Plan, and provides information regarding the
school‟s plans for the next charter term.
Renewal inspection report. The renewal inspection report is a detailed site visit report,
prepared near the end of the five-year charter term that provides the CSO with the most
current available information about the school‟s performance relative to the school‟s
Accountability Plan and the Common School Performance Criteria. The renewal


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       inspection site visit and resulting report are conducted in accordance with this Protocol.
       The renewal inspection report does not make any recommendations regarding renewal,
       nor does the report make any recommendations to the school regarding its operations.
Summary of Review
The Summary of Review, which is prepared by the CSO, is a detailed summary of the school‟s
performance over the five-year charter term, taking into account all of the above-listed
documents, reports, and data, together with other information as appropriate. The Summary of
Review is presented to the BESE along with the recommendation of the Commissioner of
Elementary and Secondary Education. The BESE then votes either to renew, to renew with
conditions, or not to renew the school‟s charter.
Major Components and Sequencing of the Charter Renewal Process
Figure 1 depicts the major components and sequencing of the charter renewal process.


               Figure 1. Renewal of a Massachusetts Public School Charter

                                  Application for Renewal


                         Renewal Inspection Site Visit and Report


                                 CSO Summary of Review
                       Based upon review and analysis of:
                             Charter and amendments
                             Accountability Plan
                             Annual reports
                             Annual audit reports
                             MCAS and AYP performance
                             Site visit reports
                             Federal programs renewal review
                             Other relevant documents, data, and
                              information
                             Application for Renewal
                             Renewal Inspection report


                             Commissioner’s Recommendation


                              BESE Charter Renewal Decision




                                               5
II. Planning and Scheduling the Renewal Inspection Site Visit
   Role of the Renewal Inspection Site Visit
The charter renewal application process begins with the charter school‟s submission of an
Application for Renewal no later than August 1 of the fourth year of the school‟s charter. The
CSO reviews the Application for clarity and completeness and notifies the school of the
Application‟s acceptance. A renewal inspection team is then assigned to conduct the renewal
inspection site visit, and the site visit dates are set in consultation with the school.
The renewal inspection site visit is the final, and most extensive, site visit to the charter school
conducted during the charter term. This site visit supplements the earlier, briefer site visits
conducted by the CSO with a closer review of teaching and learning in the school as well as the
systems and structures that support and promote teaching and learning. Guided by the school‟s
Accountability Plan and the Common School Performance Criteria, the renewal inspection team
reviews relevant documents and information prior to visiting the school, spends three or four
days on site conducting observations and collecting information, and prepares a renewal
inspection report summarizing the team‟s findings and supporting evidence. The renewal
inspection report thus provides a detailed and current portrait of a public charter school during or
near the final year of the school‟s charter term. The report becomes part of the evidence base for
the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education‟s charter renewal recommendation
and the BESE‟s charter renewal decision.

   Required Renewal Inspection Documents
A successful site visit requires careful planning and preparation by the school as well as the
renewal inspection team. The renewal inspection team receives and reviews documents in
advance of the site visit; the team also has access to documents during the site visit. These
documents are listed below.
Documents provided by the CSO
Approximately one month before the scheduled site visit, the CSO provides the team with the
following documents, in electronic form (Microsoft Word or pdf format) if possible:
   a. Application for Renewal and accompanying materials.
   b. Charter or Charter Executive Summary.
   c. Approved charter amendments.
   d. Approved Accountability Plan.
   e. Site visit reports (previous two or three years).
   f. Annual reports (previous two years).
   g. ESE analyses of MCAS and AYP performance.
   h. If the school contracts with an educational management organization for
      substantially all educational services, a copy of the current contract.
   i. Other documents as appropriate, such as a School Improvement Plan or previous
      charter renewal conditions and pertinent documents.


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Documents provided by the school in advance of the site visit
Approximately one month before the visit, the school provides the renewal inspection team with
the following documents in electronic form (Microsoft Word or pdf format), if possible:
   a. The school‟s current Accountability Plan.
   b. Most recent MCAS and AYP results, including schoolwide results, results for
      grade levels, and results for subgroups, if available from the school but not yet
      available on the ESE website.
   c. Updated external assessment data not included in Application for Renewal, if
      referenced in the school‟s Accountability Plan.
   d. Current student enrollment by grade and student adequate yearly progress
      subgroups: first language not English; limited English proficient; low income;
      special education; African American; Asian; Hispanic; Native American; White;
      Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander; Multi-Race, Non-Hispanic.
   e. Waitlist data for each year of the term of the charter by grade.
   f. Current organizational chart showing all administrative and instructional positions
      and reporting relationships.
   g. Current list of teachers employed at the school indicating subject area, full-time or
      part-time status, years of teaching experience, years employed at the school, and
      highly qualified status, in the format prepared for the Education Personnel
      Information Management System (EPIMS).
   h. Current non-teaching staff list, including names and titles or roles and full-time or
      part-time status.
   i. School handbooks, including staff handbook, student handbook, and parent
      handbook.
   j. Board and board committee minutes (previous two years), including executive
      session minutes, if now publically available, and all attachments.
   k. List of current members of the board of trustees, including name, years of service
      on the board, and role (if applicable) of each current member.
   l. List of active board committees and committee members.
   m. Strategic plans or other planning documents approved by the board of trustees, if
      available.
   n. For a Horace Mann charter school, a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding
      with the local school district.
   o. Map of the school facility or facilities showing room locations.
   p. Class schedules identifying teacher, subject, and location for the dates of the visit.
   q. School schedules for the dates of the visit, including special meetings (e.g.,
      meetings of grade-level teams or departments), assemblies and field trips.
   r. Directions to the school facility or facilities.


                                                  7
   s. A copy of the school‟s District Curriculum Accommodation Plan (DCAP).
Documents provided by the school on site
The school should assemble the following documents for the renewal inspection team‟s review
during the renewal inspection site visit:
   a. Curricular documents and materials.
   b. Summaries of external and internal assessment data, if not provided in the
      Application for Renewal.
   c. Performance evaluations of the head(s) of school.
   d. Bylaws and any written policies and procedures of the board of trustees.
   e. Any other materials that the school believes will assist the team in efficiently
      reviewing the school‟s performance under its charter and Accountability Plan.
The renewal inspection team will have access to all school documents while on site including
performance evaluations of other school staff.

   Preparing the Renewal Inspection Site Visit Schedule
The renewal inspection team leader meets with the school administrator to begin the planning
process two to three weeks prior to the renewal inspection site visit. (The team leader may
designate other individuals to fulfill planning process tasks.) From this point forward, the team
leader and the head(s) of school communicate as frequently as necessary to ensure that all
necessary documentation is provided to the team and that an initial site visit schedule is prepared
before the team arrives at the school to begin the renewal inspection site visit.
The team‟s work during the renewal inspection site visit requires advance scheduling of
interviews, focus groups, and classroom observations to enable the team to obtain the evidence
required to prepare the renewal inspection report. However, the site visit schedule requires
sufficient flexibility to enable the team to follow up on evidence reviewed or to pursue issues
that warrant further inquiry. Since the issues that will emerge from the evidence collected cannot
always be predicted in advance, the team has the ability to move about the school, observe
classrooms or other activities without advance notice, engage in further conversations with
administrators, staff members, and teachers; and review documents other than those requested in
advance.
The team leader and the head(s) of school are responsible for developing the site visit schedule
prior to the team‟s arrival at the school. In developing the site visit schedule, the team leader and
head(s) of school should take into consideration that CSO staff may also be on site during and/or
immediately after the renewal inspection site visit, conducting a separate federal programs
review involving document reviews, focus group interviews, and classroom observations. The
CSO‟s federal programs review is conducted in accordance with a separate protocol not included
in this Protocol.
Figure 2 is a sample schedule for the renewal inspection team‟s work at the school. It is
provided as an illustration of the types of activities that occur during a typical site visit. The
actual schedule will be developed by the team leader in consultation with the school.



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               Figure 2. Sample Schedule for a Renewal Inspection Site Visit
           Day 1                  Day 2                 Day 3                  Day 4
7:30       Team meeting          Team meeting and meetings with head(s) of school
8:00       Meet with head(s) of Board of trustees                              Team moderation
           school               focus group                                    and follow-up
           Tour school
                                                        Classroom
9:00       Administrator focus                          observations
           group                                        Interviews
                                  Classroom
           Classroom              observations          Document reviews
10:00
           observations
                                  Interviews
           Interviews
                                  Document reviews
11:00      Document reviews


12:00      Team working lunch                                                  Exit   discussion
                                                                               with head(s) of
                                                                               school
1:00       Classroom                                    Classroom
           observations                                 observations
           Interviews                                   Interviews
2:00                              Student focus group
           Document reviews                             Document reviews

3:00       Note writing           Parent focus group    Note writing
           Team moderation                              Team moderation
4:00       Document review                              Document review
           Follow up                                    Follow up


Major activities that should be incorporated into the site visit schedule are discussed below. In
addition, the schedule should enable the renewal inspection team to observe all aspects of the
school‟s program, including, for example the school‟s extended day program and mission-related
activities.
        Entrance interview and daily meetings with head(s) of school. During the entrance
        interview, the head(s) of school will provide the team with an overview of the school and
        a context for the team‟s subsequent observations, including a description of the
        pedagogical practices that the team should expect to see during the classroom
        observations; the head(s) of school can also address any questions raised by the
        documents provided to the team in advance of the site visit. The daily meetings provide a
        scheduled opportunity for the team and the head(s) of school to communicate about the
        team‟s renewal inspection work, including initial observations and team questions and



                                                 9
requests for information. The team may request additional meeting times with the
head(s) of school during the visit as necessary.
Interviews with other school leaders, specialists, and administrators. Before the site
visit, the team leader and the head(s) of school will identify the staff with whom team
interviews will be scheduled in advance, including key administrators such as a
curriculum director and business manager. During the site visit, the team leader may
arrange with the head(s) of school for the team to interview other staff identified by the
team.
Classroom observations. The team should give priority to conducting classroom
observations during the site visit. The site visit schedule will include classroom
observations scheduled to ensure coverage of all grades and core subjects. While on site,
the team is free to visit classrooms selected by the team, without advance notice to the
school or the classroom teachers. Each classroom observation should span a minimum
time period of 20 minutes; the team‟s classroom observations should include
observations of full class periods, including transitions.
Board of trustees focus group. The site visit schedule will include an interview with the
board of trustees. The school should request that all members of the board attend this
interview.
Administrator focus group. The site visit schedule will include a focus group with all
school administrators.
Teacher focus group. The site visit schedule will include one or more focus groups
consisting of teacher representatives of each grade and core academic subject.
Student focus group. The site visit schedule will include one or more focus groups
consisting of student representatives of each grade, if possible.
Parent focus group. The site visit schedule will include one or more focus groups
consisting of parents of students in each grade, if possible. Prior to the site visit, the
school should notify all parents of, and invite their participation in, the forthcoming site
visit. All parents expressing an interest in participating in a focus group should be
included unless space limitations require otherwise.
Open team time. The site visit schedule will include blocks of otherwise unscheduled
time throughout the site visit during which the team will review documents on site, make
additional classroom and school observations, and record and discuss observations
conducted, data and other evidence obtained, issues identified for further review, and
preliminary findings regarding the school‟s performance and progress.
Exit discussion. The site visit will conclude with an exit discussion with the head(s) of
school. This meeting provides the team with an opportunity to obtain clarification of any
outstanding questions or issues and to thank the head(s) of school for the assistance
provided during the site visit.




                                        10
Overview of Renewal Inspection Activities, Responsibilities, and Schedule
Figure 3 presents an overview of the major activities, participant responsibilities, and a sample
schedule for the renewal inspection process. Part IV of this Protocol provides a more detailed
discussion of participant responsibilities.
        Figure 3. Major Activities, Participant Responsibilities, and Sample Schedule
                                         Responsibility                      Sample
               Activity             School   CSO      Team                  Schedule
Submit Application for Renewal      X                           By August 1 of fourth year
Preliminary review of Application            X
and     assignment    of renewal                                Upon receipt of Application
inspection organization
Submit CSO documents to renewal
                                             X                  Upon assignment of team
inspection team
Set dates for site visit            X        X        X         One month prior to visit
Submit school documents to team     X                           One month prior to visit
Schedule site visit activities      X                 X         Three weeks prior to visit
Prepare for site visit              X                 X         Within one month prior to visit
Conduct site visit                  X                 X         Three to four days on site
                                                                Two weeks after completion of site
Prepare draft report for review                       X
                                                                visit
Review draft report for factual                                 One week after submission of draft
                                X
errors                                                          report
                                                                One week after submission of draft
Review draft report                          X
                                                                report
                                                                One week       after   receipt    of
Revise and submit final report                        X
                                                                comments




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III. Analyzing Charter School Performance
   A. Developing Findings Using High-Quality Evidence
The renewal inspection process is an evidence-based process that produces a series of findings
about the school‟s performance. Findings require high-quality evidence, as discussed below.
       Findings. Findings are summary statements within each section of the renewal
       inspection report that describe conditions identified by the renewal inspection team as
       relevant to the three areas of charter school accountability. Findings synthesize the
       renewal inspection team‟s analyses of evidence collected from multiple sources prior to
       and during the renewal inspection visit.
       High-quality evidence. Each finding must be supported by sufficient evidence collected
       during the renewal inspection process and, when appropriate, corroborated from multiple
       sources, including but not limited to observations, documents, data, and information
       derived from interviews and focus groups. In conducting the renewal inspection site visit
       and writing the renewal inspection report, the renewal inspection team must ensure that
       the evidence collected and analyzed by the team is of high quality. High-quality
       evidence is both sufficient in quantity to support the finding and appropriate in nature.
       The team must use its professional judgment to determine the sufficiency of the evidence
       collected. In assessing the appropriateness of the evidence, the team must ensure that the
       evidence is relevant, valid, and reliable:
              Relevant evidence is logically related and important to the matter or issue under
               consideration.
              Valid evidence is based on accurate information and sound reasoning.
              Reliable evidence is verifiable and consistent.
Although information obtained from team interviews with school participants is an essential
component of the evidence base used by the team, the team should keep in mind that interview
and focus group information can in some cases be unreliable if not corroborated by other types of
evidence such as direct observations, board of trustees meeting minutes, and curriculum
documents. For instance, similar focus group questions can be asked of each group and
information can be verified from documentation and/or additional interviews. Situations of
alignment or misalignment may become findings if they are of sufficient depth or provide
evidence that school operations are affected in any of the three areas of accountability.




                                                12
                                   Triangulation of Evidence
 Triangulation, which means corroboration of evidence from a variety of sources, is one method
 of testing the reliability of evidence. For example, if the administrator focus group tells the
 renewal inspection team that a particular behavior management technique is in use at the
 school, the team should seek corroboration of this statement through documents, direct
 observations, and interviews with the school‟s teachers and students. If the team finds a
 written policy requiring use of this technique, observes many teachers using this technique in
 the classrooms, in the hallways, and at recess, and learns through interviews with teachers and
 students that this technique is used, the team may reasonably conclude that the school
 administrator‟s statement is accurate. Accordingly, the team might draft a report finding
 stating that the school uses the specific behavior management technique; as supporting
 evidence, the finding would cite the team‟s direct observations and interviews with the school
 administrator, teachers, and students.

   B. Renewal Inspection Areas of Inquiry
As previously discussed, the school‟s Accountability Plan and the Common School Performance
Criteria provide the framework for the renewal inspection team‟s collection and analysis of
evidence relating to each of the three areas of charter school accountability: faithfulness to
charter, academic success, and organizational viability. Each of these areas is discussed in more
detail below.
Faithfulness to Charter
The renewal inspection team‟s assessment of the school‟s faithfulness to charter must
encompass, but need not be limited to, the following topics:
       Progress toward Accountability Plan Objectives and Measures. The team will review
       the school‟s performance relative to each Accountability Plan objective and measure
       pertaining to the school‟s faithfulness to the terms of its charter and approved charter
       amendments in order to determine whether or not each objective and measure has or has
       not been met. For those that have not been met, the team will describe the progress made
       toward each objective and measure (603 CMR 1.05(1)(g)).
       Other Performance Topics
       Consistency of school operations with the school’s charter and approved charter
       amendments. The team will examine the extent to which the school has operated in a
       manner consistent with the school‟s charter and approved charter amendments in the
       following areas:
            mission, vision, and educational philosophy;
              governance and leadership structure; and
              academic program, including but not necessarily limited to pedagogical approach,
               curriculum, assessment practices, and other unique elements of the school‟s
               educational philosophy.
       Major deviations from the charter should be documented, and the reasons for the
       deviations should be explored with the school.



                                               13
      Contract with educational management organization. If the school contracts with an
      educational management organization, the team will assess the effectiveness of the
      contractual relationship, taking into consideration evidence of the educational
      management organization‟s performance of its contractual responsibilities and the impact
      of the contractual relationship on the school‟s academic progress and organizational
      viability.
      Horace Mann charter school Memorandum of Understanding. In the case of a
      Horace Mann charter school, the team will verify that the school has executed a
      Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the host school district and review the
      effectiveness of the MOU.
Academic Program Success
The renewal inspection team‟s assessment of the school‟s academic program success must
encompass, but need not be limited to, the following topics:
      Progress toward Accountability Plan Objectives and Measures. The team will review
      the school‟s performance relative to each Accountability Plan objective and measure
      pertaining to the school‟s academic program success in order to determine whether or not
      each objective and measure has or has not been met. For those that have not been met,
      the team will describe the progress made toward each objective and measure (603 CMR
      1.05(1)(g)).
      Other Performance Topics
      MCAS performance. The team will review the school‟s AYP history over the charter
      term, as reported on the ESE website. The team will also assess the actions taken by the
      school to analyze MCAS results and implement programs to address student needs,
      including the needs of special education, Section 504, and ELL students and of other
      student subpopulations.
      External assessments. The team will review the school‟s performance relative to
      external assessments administered by the school.
      Internal assessments. The team will review the school‟s implementation of internal
      measures of student achievement and their linkage to promotion or exit standards.
      Curriculum. The team will review the school‟s curriculum and curriculum development
      process including:
            The current status      of   curriculum   development,    implementation,    and
             documentation.
            The school‟s curriculum development process, with a focus on roles and
             responsibilities for curriculum development and approval.
            The major texts, school-created curriculum, or other resources used by the school
             in core academic subjects and major curriculum changes during the charter term.
            The extent to which the school‟s curriculum, as implemented in the classroom, is
             aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks; articulates the skills and
             concepts that all students must know and be able to do in order to meet state

                                             14
       standards; meets the needs of diverse learners; and guides lesson planning and
       delivery by teachers.
Program evaluation. The team will assess school systems and structures for reviewing
the quality and effectiveness of the school‟s academic program. Specifically, the team
will consider the extent to which the school has implemented regular, systematic,
effective procedures for evaluating its academic program. Where a school lacks a formal
program evaluation system or structure, the team will assess the school‟s capacity to
determine whether or not its academic program is achieving the school‟s educational
objectives.
Classroom and school environment. The team will assess the classroom and school
environment, taking into consideration factors such as the following:
      The orderliness of the environment in classrooms, hallways, and common areas
       inside and outside the school.
      The school‟s implementation of a code of conduct and student compliance with
       behavioral rules.
      The extent to which the classroom and school environment supports student
       understanding and mastery of skills.
      The consistency of the classroom and school environment with the school‟s
       mission.
Instruction. Prior to conducting classroom observations, the team will elicit from the
head(s) of school and/or leadership a description of the instructional practices that the
team will observe in all classrooms. In conducting classroom observations, the team will
assess the quality of instruction provided to all students, taking into consideration:
      The consistency of the team‟s observations with the description provided by the
       school.
      The alignment of school-wide instructional practice with the school design and
       student learning objectives
      The consistency and effectiveness of instruction observed by the team.
      The clarity of expectations conveyed to students
      The extent to which teachers are purposeful in their lessons and students are
       engaged in meaningful learning.
A classroom observation tool is provided for use by renewal inspection teams.
Instructional planning. The team will assess the school‟s instructional planning process
and efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of its instructional program, including the
school‟s use of qualitative and quantitative evidence, including evidence from external
and internal assessments, to inform and guide instructional planning and practice.
Instructional leadership. The team will determine whether school leaders provide
teachers with feedback and guidance on a regular basis, whether these feedback and



                                       15
      guidance efforts have improved instructional practice, and whether improvements in
      instructional practice have contributed to increased student achievement.
Organizational Viability
The renewal inspection team‟s assessment of the school‟s organizational viability must
encompass, but need not be limited to, the following topics:
      Progress toward Accountability Plan Objectives and Measures. The team will review
      the school‟s performance relative to each Accountability Plan objective and measure
      pertaining to the school‟s organizational viability in order to determine whether or not
      each objective and measure has or has not been met. For those that have not been met,
      the team will describe the progress made toward each objective and measure (603 CMR
      1.05(1)(g)).
      Other Performance Topics
      Financial management. The team will evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of the
      school‟s financial solvency, stability, internal controls, and oversight, as evidenced by:

             Realistic budgets that support student achievement and can be sustained by the
              school‟s enrollment.
             Positive net assets.
             Adequate cash flow to support the school‟s academic program and sustain school
              operations.
             Expenditures within budget.
             Implementation of an effective system of internal controls and exercise of sound
              business practices with respect to school revenues, expenses, and fixed assets.
             Implementation by the board of trustees and the school leadership of effective
              structures and systems enabling responsible fiscal oversight of the school.
             Appropriate long-term financial planning by the board and the school leadership.
      Board governance. The team will review the nature and effectiveness of the oversight
      provided by the board of trustees to determine whether the board is fulfilling its
      governance obligations, taking into consideration:
             The extent to which the members of the board understand their responsibilities to
              the school community and are engaged in oversight of the school‟s academic
              progress and financial condition.
             The process by which the school budget is prepared, discussed, and approved by
              the board each year.
             The clarity of the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making authority of the
              board and the school staff.
             The goals set by the board, including goals listed in the school‟s Accountability
              Plan, and mechanisms providing the board with sufficient information to
              understand the school‟s progress toward the goals.


                                             16
      The effectiveness of the board‟s interactions with the head(s) of school, including
       frequency and effectiveness of communications, timeliness and effectiveness of
       board evaluations of the head(s) of school, and the extent to which the board and
       head(s) of school share a common understanding of the school‟s mission and
       objectives.
      The board‟s planning process and capacity, including financial planning,
       academic planning, and facility and operational planning.
School leadership. The team will assess the effectiveness of the school leadership in
creating a professional teaching environment that promotes and supports student learning.
The team will consider factors that may contribute to or detract from the school‟s
professional environment, such as the following:
      The school‟s recruitment and hiring practices.
      The school‟s approach to and process for providing professional development,
       including curriculum-related professional development.
      The school‟s philosophy and procedures for evaluating the head(s) of school,
       teachers, and other staff.
      The school‟s ability to hire and retain qualified head(s) of schools, teachers, and
       other staff over the charter term.
      The school‟s retention rates for the head(s) of school, teachers, and other staff.
      The school leadership‟s planning process and capacity, including academic
       planning, financial planning, and facility/operational planning.
      The frequency and effectiveness of communication and collaboration among
       school leaders and among all school staff to improve instructional practice and
       student achievement.
      The extent to which school leaders use qualitative and quantitative evidence to
       inform and guide instructional planning and practice.
Program planning and evaluation. The team will review the available evidence of
family satisfaction with the school‟s program. This evidence can take the form of student
and/or family surveys conducted by the school; it can also include information obtained
by the team from interviews with students and parents. The team will also review the
school‟s plans for program improvement and, if applicable, school expansion and its
adequacy relative to planned improvements and any planned expansion.
School safety. The team will assess the physical safety of the school‟s environment for
students and staff and determines whether the school has established an environment that
is free from harassment and discrimination.
School facilities. The team will assess the suitability of the school‟s facilities for
delivering the school‟s programs.
Dissemination of best practices. For Commonwealth charter schools, the team will
review the school‟s efforts to provide models for replication and best practices, with



                                        17
       emphasis on dissemination of such models and best practices to other public schools,
       including schools in the district where the charter school is located.

   C. Renewal Inspection Report Structure
The renewal inspection report prepared by the renewal inspection team will follow the format of
the companion document to this Protocol, the Massachusetts Charter School Renewal Inspection
Report Template.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is committed to providing information to the public that is
accessible to all, including those utilizing assistive technology to access information. This
means that you must prepare an accessible Microsoft Word version of the report for submission
to the Charter School Office (CSO). The Microsoft Word version must be consistent with the
ESE Website Accessibility Policy and Web Content Standards checklist found on ESE‟s
website. The document will meet the minimum requirements by keeping the file size less than
5MB, adding alternative text (alt-text) for all images, adding an electronic title and author under
File > Properties, and by removing track changes and comments.




                                                18
IV. Responsibilities of the Renewal Inspection Organization and
Team, the School, and the Charter School Office
This section briefly summarizes the significant responsibilities of the renewal inspection
organization and team, the school, and the CSO. This summary is not intended to be
comprehensive; the specific tasks undertaken by each participant will vary depending upon the
size, past history and performance, and unique characteristics of the school.

   A. Renewal Inspection Organization and Team Responsibilities
Prior to the renewal inspection site visit, the renewal inspection organization has the following
responsibilities:
      Assemble a team of individuals whose professional backgrounds and expertise are
       relevant to the school‟s mission, operations, program, population, and/or environment.
       The renewal inspection organization should contract with a person or organization with
       an understanding of charter school finance to conduct a review of the school‟s finances
       and financial management.
      Ensure that the number of team members is sufficient to perform a comprehensive review
       of the school, as required by this Protocol.
      Ensure that all team members have a sufficient understanding of charter schools and the
       legal and programmatic requirements for charter schools in Massachusetts.
      Ensure that the team includes a member or members who can provide expertise related to
       the mission of the school.
      Disclose to the CSO any prior or current business or personal relationship between a team
       member, or an organization employing the team member, and the school.
      Designate a renewal inspection team leader who will serve as the team‟s point of contact
       with the school and the CSO, coordinate the work of team members while on site, and, if
       appropriate, lead the team‟s work in preparing the renewal inspection report.
      Schedule a meeting at which the head(s) of school and the renewal inspection team leader
       will begin the planning process and discuss the requirements of the site visit.
      Whenever possible, assign two team members to be present during interviews and focus
       groups.
      Endeavor to accommodate reasonable requests from the school for minor changes to
       document production plans or schedules.
      Ensure that all team members have familiarized themselves with this Protocol, including
       the Code of Conduct, and the Common School Performance Criteria.
      Ensure that all team members participate in training provided to renewal inspection
       teams.
      Ensure that team members have reviewed the documents and information provided to the
       team in advance and developed interview/focus group questions and inspection tasks that
       are informed by that review.

                                               19
During the renewal inspection site visit, the renewal inspection team has the following
responsibilities:
      Review relevant documents before each interview in order to ask informed questions.
       Seek clarification of areas of ambiguity.
      Take accurate, pertinent notes during interviews and observations. Recollections of
       statements or events are unreliable and inappropriate sources of evidence.
      Consult this Protocol, the school‟s Accountability Plan, and the Common School
       Performance Criteria to ensure thorough coverage of the areas of inquiry for the team‟s
       renewal inspection work.
      Review all academic and other mission-related programs provided by the school,
       including regular education, inclusion, and pull-out classrooms and after-school
       programs.
      Communicate with the head(s) of school on a daily basis to ensure that the team‟s work is
       thorough and accurate.
      Provide a clear, accurate explanation of the renewal inspection process and schedule in
       response to questions from school community members.
      Use open time to share, sort, and substantiate relevant evidence through a team
       moderation process. (See text box below.)

                              The Team Moderation Process:
                      Sharing, Sorting, and Substantiating the Evidence
The team leader is responsible for guiding the team through a moderation process through
which team members share the evidence that they have collected and use their professional
expertise to evaluate the quality of the evidence collected. As a result of their interviews,
observations, document reviews, and data collection efforts, members of the team accumulate
pages of notes and volumes of information. During and after the site visit, the team members‟
individual viewpoints on this body of information must evolve into a collective perspective on
the school‟s performance and progress. For example, team members might discuss whether
comments by certain school community members are relevant to the team‟s evolving findings.
Team members also ensure that individual members‟ interpretations are not distorted by their
personal or professional biases. The team moderation process thus provides an essential filter
that will, if used effectively, produce findings that are substantiated by sufficient, appropriate,
high-quality evidence, and that represent the consensus of the team.




                                               20
After the renewal inspection site visit, the renewal inspection team and team leader have the
following responsibilities:
      Ensure that all team members devote the necessary time and effort to draft, review, and
       edit the renewal inspection report in order to ensure overall report consistency and clarity,
       particularly if there are multiple report authors.
      Contact the school by telephone or e-mail only for clarification of important questions.
       In most cases, minor factual issues do not warrant continued communications with the
       school.
      Develop a draft report that contains clear, accurate, complete, and objective findings,
       supported by sufficient and appropriate evidence regarding the school‟s performance
       relative to its Accountability Plan and to the other areas of inquiry set forth in Part III of
       this Protocol. (See text box, below.)
      Revise the draft report when warranted by factual corrections identified by the school.
      Communicate with the CSO to determine whether the report meets standards for quality
       of writing and adherence to this Protocol.
      Meet the scheduled deadlines for submitting the draft and final reports. Schedule delays
       can affect the charter renewal process.


                           Writing the Renewal Inspection Report
Writing the renewal inspection report is a challenging task that requires the analysis of evidence,
the development of findings based on that analysis, and the presentation of evidence supporting
those findings in a clear, readable, well-organized document, all within the limited time
schedule afforded by the renewal inspection process. The renewal inspection report should meet
the following standards of quality:
Accuracy. The report findings must be supported by sufficient, appropriate evidence.
Objectivity. In addition to providing evidence and context information for each finding, an
objective report is written in a neutral and professional tone, without adjectives or adverbs that
characterize the evidence in a way that implies either criticism or praise, without unsupported
conclusions, and without critiques of individuals in the school.
Completeness. The evidence presented in the report must be sufficiently detailed to ensure that
the findings are persuasive.
Persuasiveness. High quality evidence in support of each finding must be presented clearly and
logically.
Clarity. The report must be written in language that is clear and understandable, without jargon
or flowery language.
Conciseness. The report is not intended to be a compilation of every fact gathered by the
renewal inspection team. Extraneous detail can detract from the report and obscure important
issues. The report should be sufficiently detailed to be accurate and persuasive, yet it should be
as concise as possible.



                                                21
   B. School Responsibilities
Before the renewal inspection site visit, the school has the following responsibilities:
      Participate in a meeting at which the head(s) of school and the renewal inspection team
       leader will begin the planning process and discuss the requirements of the site visit.
      Provide the renewal inspection team leader with the documents required in advance by
       this Protocol, in electronic form (e.g., in email attachments or on a CD) when feasible, by
       the required date.
      Work with the renewal inspection team leader to develop the site visit schedule and
       inform the school community of the schedule and the team‟s open access to classrooms
       and activities taking place in the school.
      Invite all parents and guardians in the school community to participate in the focus
       group(s) scheduled during the renewal inspection visit.
      Designate a first and second school contact person who will be available to respond to
       team inquiries and requests prior to and during the site visit.
      Provide the team with comfortable, private, and secure working space that will not be
       used for other purposes during the site visit.
      Provide for light refreshments and lunches to be available to the team at appropriate
       times, at the team‟s expense.
      Provide suitable parking and school entry procedures for team members according to
       local conditions and regulations
      Provide directions to the school and a map of the area around the school.
      Provide private space for focus group interviews.
      Explain the charter renewal process and Protocol procedures to school community
       members.
During the renewal inspection site visit, the school has the following responsibilities:
      Ensure that the documents required by this Protocol are assembled in the secure room to
       which the team has unimpeded access at all times during the site visit.
      Provide documents and information requested by the team in a timely manner and in a
       usable format.
      Provide access to all personnel as requested by the team.
      Provide informative, accurate, and responsive answers to team questions. Assume that
       all responses are “on the record.”
      Communicate any concerns regarding the team‟s actions or behavior to the team leader
       and to the CSO.




                                                 22
After the renewal inspection site visit, the school has the following responsibilities:
      Respond promptly to any requests for clarification from the team.
      Review the draft report and notify the team of any factual errors by the scheduled
       deadline. Examples of factual errors would include errors in the titles of school staff or
       documents, dates, or statistical information.
      Submit to the CSO a written response to the report, if the school so desires.

   C. Charter School Office Responsibilities
Before the renewal inspection site visit, the CSO has the following responsibilities:
      Review the school‟s Application for Renewal for clarity and completeness; notify the
       school when the Application for Renewal has been accepted by the CSO.
      Ensure that the selected renewal inspection organization and team have the requisite
       expertise and capacity to conduct all assigned facets of the renewal inspection.
      Provide required documents, data, and information listed in Part II of this Protocol to the
       renewal inspection team.
      Coordinate with the renewal inspection team and the school regarding the dates of the
       renewal inspection site visit.
During the renewal inspection site visit, the CSO has the following responsibility:
      Visit the school during the renewal inspection site visit to monitor the conduct and
       progress of the team‟s work.
      Communicate as necessary with the renewal inspection team and the school regarding the
       conduct and progress of the renewal inspection site visit.
After the renewal inspection site visit, the CSO has the following responsibilities:
      Review the draft renewal inspection report for writing quality and adherence to this
       Protocol.
      Notify the renewal inspection organization when the final renewal inspection report has
       been accepted by the CSO.
      Prepare a Summary of Review summarizing the school‟s performance over the five-year
       charter term, taking into account the multiple sources of evidence discussed in Part I of
       this Protocol.




                                                 23
V. Renewal Inspection Team Code of Conduct
The renewal inspection team‟s conduct throughout the renewal inspection process can
significantly affect the team‟s ability to obtain and report information regarding the school‟s
performance; it can also influence perceptions of the school community about the objectivity of
the renewal inspection process and report. This Code of Conduct provides guidance for team
members in fulfilling their assigned responsibilities.
   1. Ensure that you have reviewed all necessary materials, including this Protocol
      and, the documents and information provided in advance of the renewal
      inspection site visit by the CSO and the school.
   2. Understand your obligation to conduct the site visit without personal or
      professional bias and act accordingly.
   3. Ensure that all of your communications with the school are professional and
      courteous in tone.
   4. Avoid unnecessary disruptions to school and classroom routines while performing
      your assigned tasks such as classroom observations.
   5. Honor scheduled appointments and inform the school contact immediately of any
      changes to the agreed-upon schedule.
   6. Where appropriate, ensure the confidentiality of school information such as
      student names, health records, and personnel information.
   7. Phrase interview questions without explicit or implied biases.
   8. Do not offer personal or professional opinions or recommendations, even if
      solicited by interviewees.
   9. Reject requests from those interviewed to speak “off the record”; all
      conversations and other evidence gathered during the site visit are considered “on
      the record.”
   10. Do not provide reassurance or warnings regarding charter renewal to school
       personnel; remind school personnel that the renewal inspection report is only one
       of many sources of evidence used by the CSO in developing a charter renewal
       recommendation.
   11. Do not evaluate the performance of individuals, either orally or in the renewal
       inspection report.
   12. Treat the draft report findings and related evidence as confidential until the report
       is finalized and accepted by the CSO. Refer queries from the school regarding the
       status of the renewal inspection report to the CSO.
   13. Refrain from communications with outside groups or individuals, including the
       media, regarding the status of the report or opinions regarding renewal of the
       school‟s charter or individuals working at the school. Do not discuss the status of
       the renewal inspection your opinions regarding individuals working at the school
       or renewal of the school‟s charter with outside groups or individuals, including
       the media.


                                                24
Appendix A: Common School Performance Criteria
The following is the text of the Massachusetts Charter School Common School Performance
Criteria dated October 2006.               This document can also be found at
http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/acct.html?section=common.


What are the Massachusetts Charter School Performance Criteria?
In the summer of 2005, the Charter School Office contracted with SchoolWorks to provide
assistance with the task of reviewing and revising the criteria used for charter school
accountability. The goals of this work were:

      to use the experiences of the past to build a stronger accountability system for the future;
      to bring greater alignment to the criteria used across all aspects of charter school
       accountability, from the application process to the renewal process;
      to provide schools with clear guidance about how the Department defines school success
       and on what basis they will be judged; and
      to clarify the connections between charter school accountability and state and federal
       accountability standards.

The following criteria have been developed using the three guiding areas of charter school
accountability defined in the current regulations as a starting point.

How do I read the Massachusetts Charter School Performance Criteria?
The three guiding areas of charter school accountability provide the framework for the school
performance criteria: academic success, organizational viability, and faithfulness to the terms of
the charter. For each area of the three areas of inquiry,

      general categories have been defined, and are in the gray shaded boxes; and
      criteria have been developed, articulating levels or degrees of performance/
       implementation.

The left most column contains key words so that readers can easily locate specific criteria.

There is a wide range of sources of evidence that will provide the data to help schools, the
Charter School Office, and the Commissioner and Board of Elementary & Secondary Education
(BESE) know if the school has met performance expectations. A partial list of sources of
evidence is attached after the criteria.




                                                25
  1. THE SCHOOL IS FAITHFUL TO THE TERMS OF ITS CHARTER.

MISSION OF THE SCHOOL

     Mission             The school is faithful to the mission, vision, and educational philosophy defined in the
                           charter application and subsequent approved amendment(s), if applicable.



ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

     Governance/         The board of trustees implements the governance and leadership structure as defined
     leadership            in the charter application or subsequent approved amendment(s), if applicable.

     Contractual         The board of trustees and school leadership establish effective working relationships
     relationships (if     with their management company. Changes in the school‟s relationship with its
     applicable)           management company comply with required charter amendment procedures.

                         The board of trustees of a Horace Mann Charter School establishes and operates under
                           a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the host district.


EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM

     Academic            The school establishes an academic program, including pedagogical approach,
     program               curriculum, assessment, and other unique elements of the educational philosophy
                           defined in the charter application or subsequent approved amendments.

     Student services    The school provides services for all students, including but not limited to those with
                           special education and English Language Learner needs, as defined in the charter
                           application or approved amendments and as required by law.

     Enrollment          The school‟s student recruitment and enrollment process is faithful to that intended in
                           the charter and as defined by statute and regulation.




                                                    26
             2. THE SCHOOL’S ACADEMIC PROGRAM IS A SUCCESS.
STATE MANDATED ASSESSMENT
            MCAS                 Students at the school demonstrate Proficiency, 1 or progress toward meeting
                                   proficiency targets on state standards, as measured by the Massachusetts
                                   Comprehensive Accountability System (MCAS) exams in all subject areas and at
                                   all grade levels tested for accountability purposes.2
           Accountability        The school meets, or shows progress toward meeting, MCAS goals set in their
           Plan goals              Accountability Plans.3

           AYP                    The school makes Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the aggregate and for all
                                    statistically significant sub-groups.4 The school is not identified for accountability
                                    purposes (not designated as in Needs Improvement, Corrective Action, or
                                    Restructuring).


OTHER ACHIEVEMENT, IMPROVEMENT, AND ASSESSMENT MEASURES

           Accountability        The school meets, or shows progress toward meeting, the external assessment goals
           Plan goals              set in its Accountability Plans

           Internal              Students demonstrate progress on internal measurements linked with
           measures of             the school‟s promotion or exit standards.
           student
           achievement
           Accountability        The school meets, or shows progress toward meeting, internal
           Plan goals              assessment goals set in its Accountability Plans




1
    „Proficiency” includes attaining either Proficient or Advanced classification
2
    Accountability purposes” is any test at any grade level that “counts” toward AYP determination
3
  Accountability Plans should outline goals for absolute student performance as measured by the MCAS. Goals
should be measurable, rigorous, consistent with the school‟s mission, vision, and purpose, and the Commonwealth‟s
School and District Accountability System Adequate Yearly Progress indicators. As noted in the Guidelines for
Writing Charter School Accountability Plans, “MCAS goals in each accountability plan should be consistent with
the overall goals of making AYP. While AYP determinations do not replace the accountability system that has been
established for Massachusetts charter schools, charter schools should not overlook the importance of AYP
determinations, both in their yearly practice as well as in their Accountability Plan. Objectives indicating successful
overall school performance on the MCAS must be consistent with AYP goals” (Guidelines for Writing Charter
School Accountability Plans, page 5).
4
 Making AYP requires meeting state determined targets in participation, absolute performance, improvement gains,
competency determination, and attendance.


                                                            27
      2. THE SCHOOL’S ACADEMIC PROGRAM IS A SUCCESS.


CURRICULUM

     Skills and          The school‟s curriculum, as implemented in the classroom, consistently addresses
     knowledge             the skills and concepts that all students must know and be able to do to meet state
     expectations          standards, and supports opportunities for all students to master these skills and
                           concepts.

     Diverse learners    The school‟s curriculum articulates the skills and concepts that all students must
                           know and be able to do, and supports opportunities for all students to master
                           established skills and concepts.

                         The school establishes and implements an accommodation plan that addresses the
                           needs of diverse learners.
     Program             The school has systems and structures in place to regularly and systematically
     evaluation            review the quality and effectiveness of the academic program.

     Implementation of   The school‟s curriculum is documented, and teachers plan and deliver lessons
     the curriculum        directed by the school‟s curriculum guidelines.


TEACHING AND LEARNING

     Organization        The classroom and school environment is orderly and supports the goal of student
                           understanding and mastery of skills and is consistent with the school‟s mission.
     Instruction         School-wide instructional practice is aligned with the school design and student
                            learning objectives, is consistently and effectively delivered, and conveys clear
                            expectations to students.

                         Teachers are purposeful in their lessons and students are engaged in meaningful
                           learning.
     Assessment and      Teachers and school leaders use qualitative and quantitative evidence to inform and
     instructional         guide instructional planning and practice.
     decision-making
     Instructional       School leaders provide teachers with feedback and guidance that leads to improved
     leadership             instructional practice and student achievement.




                                                 28
              3. THE SCHOOL IS A VIABLE ORGANIZATION.


FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

     Solvency and        The school develops budgets that are realistic and in support of student academic
     stability             achievement.

                         The school demonstrates a history of positive net assets, adequate cash flow to
                           sustain operations, and support the academic program, and consistently operate
                           within budget.

                         The school develops a budget that can be sustained by its enrollment.
     Fiscal oversight    The Board of Trustees and school leadership implement effective structures and
                           systems to enable responsible fiscal oversight of the school.

                         The Board of Trustees demonstrates long-term fiscal oversight through appropriate
                           planning processes.
     Internal controls   The school implements an effective system of internal controls over revenues,
                           expenses, and fixed assets, and exercises good business practices.


LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE

     Board               The Board of Trustee is responsible to the school community(ies) it serves.
     accountability
     Decision making         The school has a clear understanding of decision-making and communication
     and                     that result in a common sense of purpose for all school constituencies.
     communication

     Roles and           The school defines and delineates clear roles and responsibilities among board and
     responsibilities    staff.
     Board oversight     The Board of Trustees regularly and systematically assesses the performance of
                           school administrators against school-wide goals and makes effective and timely
                           use of the evaluations.

                         The Board of Trustee operates with a clear set of goals for the school and has
                           developed a set of tools for understanding progress toward meeting those goals
                           including those outlined in the school‟s Accountability Plan.

     Personnel           The Board of Trustees employs leadership who demonstrate effective leadership of
                           the school‟s programs.


                         The school‟s leadership establishes an appropriate professional climate, resulting in
                           a purposeful learning environment, reasonable rates of retention for effective
                           school leadership, staff, and teachers, and manageable levels of overall staff
                           turnover.




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                  3. THE SCHOOL IS A VIABLE ORGANIZATION.


PROGRAM PLANNING AND EVALUATION

     Family satisfaction    The school demonstrates that families are satisfied with the school‟s program.

     Organizational         The school has realistic plans for program improvement, possible future expansion,
     needs                    and adequate facilities based on evaluation and analysis of data, if applicable.
     Academic program       The school evaluates the impact of its academic programs on student achievement
     needs                    and modifies its programs to ensure improvement.



COMPLIANCE

     Coordinated            The school documents its compliance with the Coordinated Program Review (CPR)
     Program Review
                               process.


     Safety                 The school establishes and maintains a physically safe environment for students and
                              staff.

                            The school establishes an environment free from harassment and discrimination for
                              students and staff.
     Facilities             The school provides facilities that meet applicable state and federal requirements,
                              are suited to its programs, and are sufficient to serve diverse student needs.

     Staff qualifications   Staff employed by the school meet all applicable state and federal qualifications and
                               standards.



DISSEMINATION

     Dissemination and      The school has provided models for replication and best practices.
     best Practices




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                                       Possible sources of evidence:


Accountability Documents:                                  Student Achievement Data:
       Original charter application                              MCAS scores
       Accountability Plan                                       Sub-group analysis (including those that may
       Charter amendments                                         be statistically insignificant for state reporting
       Annual reports                                             purposes) for English language learners and
       Site visits                                                special education students
       Renewal Inspection Report                                 AYP mid-cycle and end of cycle reports
       Contract and/or MOU                                       School identified and collected data
                                                                  Annual reports on progress towards meeting
                                                                   Accountability Plan goals
                                                                  Parent/family surveys

Governance and Leadership:                                 Academic Program Components:
       Site visits – focus group interviews with                 Site visits – classroom observations and
        leadership stakeholders                                    school walk-through
       Annual financial audits
                                                                  Review of curriculum documents
       Budgets
                                                                  Site visits – interviews
       Board minutes
                                                                  Site visits – sample feedback tools, evaluation
       Staff data reports including exit interview                instruments
        summaries and teacher qualifications
                                                                  Internal program evaluation reports
       Staff surveys
       Policy documents
       Parent/family surveys
       Opening Procedures activities
       Board of Trustees self evaluation or self study
       Evaluation of Head of School and/or school         Compliance Documents:
        leadership                                                Coordinated Program Review (CPR) reports &
       Handbooks- family, staff, student, board                   Mid-Cycle Review reports
       Operation manuals, including fiscal policies              Problem Resolution System complaints
        and procedures guides                                      received and resolution status
       Enrollment numbers and student demographic                District Curriculum Accommodation Plan
        profile                                                    (DCAP)
                                                                  Special Education and English language
                                                                   learners program self-evaluation.
                                                                  Verification of compliance with Asbestos
                                                                   Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)
                                                                   requirements
                                                                  Documentation of current Certificate of
                                                                   Occupancy, Health, Safety, and Fire
                                                                   inspections.
                                                                  Accessibility analysis




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Appendix B: Helpful Documents
Massachusetts Charter School Law and Regulations
  Massachusetts General Law Chapter 71, § 89: Charter Schools
  603 CMR 1.00: Charter Schools
     Available at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/laws.html


Charter School Accountability, Oversight, and Renewal
  Accountability Guide
  Guidelines for Charter School Annual Reports
  Massachusetts Charter School Guidelines for an Application for Renewal of a Public School
  Charter
  Massachusetts Charter School Common School Performance Criteria
  Guidelines for Writing Charter School Accountability Plans
  Massachusetts Charter School Renewal Inspection Report Template
     Available at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/acct.html




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