Advancements for Charter School Transparency and Accountability
Last year, the Delaware State Board of Education approved regulation changes which require all charter schools to be measured by charter school performance frameworks. These frameworks will hold charter schools accountable in two keys ways. First, schools will be required to submit a performance agreement, to be approved by the charter board and the State Board, which outlines expectations for improvement around academic, financial, and organizational performance. Second, performance reviews of each school will be conducted annually, providing data on each school’s academic performance, organizational responsibilities, and financial viability. Charter schools will meet with the state annually to measure their performance reviews against their performance agreements. This process is expected to provide greater transparency and ultimately, greater accountability for charter schools moving forward.
At last week’s state board meeting, the first eight performance agreements were approved, with more expected to be approved next month. In addition, the first performance review reports were released, providing extensive data on the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. Updated reports with more extensive data are expected to be released later this year. These reports will provide the most extensive data we have seen on Delaware charter schools to date. A summary report of the data released so far can be seen in the State Annual Charter Report also released last week.
Overall, the data provided by the performance reviews will be used to help inform key decisions around charter schools including renewals, major modifications, and formal review. In addition, a proven track record of success as measured by the performance reviews will be one of the components considered in awarding the funding provided to charters under the Charter Performance Fund.
Moving forward, the performance reviews are expected to assist in setting goals and expectations for charter schools, and provide data to help schools determine the steps most essential to meeting these goals. The reviews will also provide greater transparency into the available charter schools data and how close these schools are to meeting their goals. This is a huge step forward in continuing to improve the Delaware charter system. A step, that could ultimately be expanded for further improvement of all Delaware schools.