Monthly Archives

September 2021

Reminder: Apply by October 6 for the $1 M STOP award

By News
Charter schools, you still have time to apply for the new $1 million STOP Award. The application closes at 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, October 6. As a reminder, this new award, which is sponsored by the Center for Education Reform in partnership with a CER board member and philanthropist, is for an education provider that “continued to perform for underserved families during COVID.” The winner receives a $1 million cash prize that is paid in three installments.

What does STOP stand for?

Education should have been provided in a setting that is:
  • Sustainable
  • Transformational
  • Outstanding
  • Permissionless

Learn more

Visit the award site to learn more about how CER defines these four terms. The site has a section that answers numerous FAQs. Applicants with additional questions can email or call 202.750.0016. Applicants will be notified within a week of submission if they are under consideration for the award.

A national scorecard highlights areas of charter growth

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What makes for a successful state charter movement? The Center for Education Reform has sought to answer this question since 1996, through a detailed scorecard. As a result, the group knows what works–and what doesn’t. The 2021 scorecard offers the latest look at how state laws are helping or harming the charter movement.

A national scorecard ranks the states

Here’s the scorecard for 2021. Click on the screenshot image to take a closer look, or click here to read the write-up.

Center for Education Reform: National Charter School Law Rankings & Scorecard–2021

What makes for a winner?

Here’s the fundamental idea from CER:

The simple and original principle of charter schooling is that charter schools should receive enhanced operational autonomy in exchange for being held strictly accountable for the outcomes they promise to achieve. When charter school laws honor this principle, innovative, academically excellent charter schools flourish. In turn, schools that fail to produce strong outcomes close.

How does NC’s charter movement stack up?

North Carolina ranks 13th in the 2021 scorecard, unchanged from 2020. NC does well on the issue of growth. But, the state has plenty of room for improvement. What would help? North Carolina loses significant points, for instance, for funding inequity, constraints on autonomy, and issues related to charter authorizers. (CER advocates for multiple, independent authorizers.)

Secrets for success

What promotes charter success in any state? CER sums up:

… [C]harter school success depends on the policy environments in which charter schools operate. Some state laws and regulations encourage diversity and innovation in the charter sector by providing multiple authorizers to support charter schools and allowing charters real operational autonomy …

… Too many states, however, hamper charter schools with weak laws and needless regulations. These make it difficult to distinguish charters from their district counterparts.

Share the basics about charter schools with CER’s Charter FAQs.

Welcoming new schools as Coalition members!

By News
We have exciting Coalition news to share! All of our member schools have renewed for the 2021-22 school year. Welcome back, Coalition member schools. Thank you for your trust and confidence in us.

Welcoming 8 new member schools

In addition, we extend a warm welcome to our new school members. Eight NC charter schools have just joined the Coalition:
As a result, the Coalition now counts 62 NC charter schools as members. Thank you, all, for your partnership with us. We are grateful and we look forward to working together in the year ahead.

Sallie B. Howard named National Blue Ribbon School

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Congratulations to Sallie B. Howard School of Arts & Science in Wilson! A public charter school and a Coalition member, Sallie B. was named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School today. Nationwide, Sallie B. was one of 325 schools commended for exemplary performance.

Graphic: U.S. Department of Education

Access the pdf graphic here or click on the map image.

Fifteen public charter schools win Blue Ribbon Awards nationwide

In addition, Sallie B. is one of 15 public charter schools across the country to win the award. Find the list of charter school honorees here. We are so proud of Sallie B.’s accomplishments on behalf of charter school students in North Carolina!

Eight NC schools earn top honors in 2021

Blue Ribbon schools earn honors for their overall performance or for their success in closing achievement gaps over the past five years. Sallie B. was one of three N.C. schools to earn the award in the achievement gap category.

Here are the three NC winners in the achievement gap category:
  • Blue Ridge Elementary School
  • Sallie B. Howard School of Arts & Science
  • Sampson Early College High School
Here are the five N.C. winners in the overall performance category:
  • Brush Creek Elementary School
  • Elkin Middle School
  • Pearsontown Elementary School
  • Pender Early College High School
  • Union Elementary School

About the Blue Ribbon Award

Here’s the description of the Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education:

“The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.  Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools.”

Learn more about all of the award winners here.

Read today’s press releases about the award from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Department of Education.


State Superintendent releases plan for NC’s public schools

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Yesterday, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt released her strategic plan for the state’s public schools. It’s called “Operation Polaris,” and it captures her vision for improving student outcomes.

The Superintendent’s plan pivots around learning recovery, given the widespread learning loss from the pandemic. The Department of Public Instruction noted in a press release:

“The focal point for Operation Polaris is the Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration, launched earlier this year to serve districts and schools with support in making evidence-based decisions to help students overcome the impact of lost instructional time and also accelerate their learning. The new office will work in tandem with four key areas within DPI: literacy, student support services, accountability and testing and human capital.” 

In her statement, Superintendent Truitt said:

“The disruptions to education caused by the pandemic demand an urgent and effective response, but we must not miss this opportunity to rethink and retool our strategies for teaching and learning to ensure a sound, basic education for all students.” 

Find the Operation Polaris report here.

Read more from EdNC and WRAL.

Another call to action on 2021-22 hold harmless provisions

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In this post, we share more information about our ongoing push for ADM hold harmless provisions. As we mentioned in last week’s call to action, numerous charter schools have experienced unexpected drops in enrollment this fall as a result of the COVID Delta variant and the uncertainty families feel. Moreover, charters were not authorized to provide planned virtual instruction until August 30.

What we’re doing

We’re pushing on a couple of fronts. First, we’re working with leadership at the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. We are asking leaders to treat charters like district schools for 2021-22 funding. This would mean basing funding on the best of Day 20 OR Day 40 ADM counts. Second, we’re working with General Assembly leaders, urging them to use COVID relief funds to hold public schools harmless in the state budget for 2021-22 ADM.
But, we need your help too!

A Call to Action

Please contact Appropriations Committee Chairs in both chambers (listed below). Ask them to hold public schools harmless in the state budget for 2021-22 ADM. Share this information with parents in your school community.
You can educate parents about what will happen to your school if public schools are not held harmless for 2021-22. Then, they can take action on their own. Lawmakers need to hear directly from you and parents in your community about potential impacts for your school!
We have talking points for you as well. If you prefer to send an email, you can access sample email text from last week’s call to action.

General Assembly leaders to contact

House Appropriations Committee
919.715.3007 and 704.282.0418
House Appropriations/Education Committee
919.733.5865 and 336.625.9210
919.733.5868 and 704.263.9282
Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee
Senate Appropriations/Education/Higher Education Committee
In addition, feel free to reach out to lawmakers who represent you directly–or to those you know personally. Find your legislators here.

Talking points

Causes of significant drops in ADM for 2021-22
  • The COVID Delta variant has fueled major changes in K-12 enrollment that schools could not have foreseen. Such changes were not clear in June when public schools provided 2021-22 ADM projections.
  • Authorization to offer virtual instruction for 2021-22 did not come until August 30. This occurred after most schools had begun the academic year. Enrollments have been impacted significantly by families leaving charter schools for a remote learning option.
  • Because public schools must follow mask mandates from local public health departments, numerous parents have opted this fall for home schools or private schools.
Why ADM hold harmless provisions for 2021-22 are essential
  • Preserving capacity for students and sustainability for schools hinges on sufficient funding for 2021-22. Drastic reductions in funding will lead to long-term consequences that will not be easily undone.
  • We do not want schools to be in the position of having to downsize staff or lower enrollment caps. We expect that students and families will come back, and we must be ready for them when they return. Please ensure that charter and district schools are held harmless in the state budget for 2021-22 ADM.

Pinnacle Academy outperforms NC average by wide margins on state tests

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Congratulations to Pinnacle Classical Academy! Students at the Shelby, NC public charter school performed well in 2020-21, despite the pandemic. Such findings were evident when the state released 2020-21 test results recently.

In numerous instances, Pinnacle’s passing rates were 20 to 30 points above the state average. A press release from the school features a comparison table with passing rates by grade and subject.

Pinnacle’s press release notes:

Students at Pinnacle Classical Academy had significantly higher passing rates on North Carolina’s 2020-21 end-of-grade and end-of-course tests than the statewide average, according to data released in September by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

In a year in which only 45.4% of students across North Carolina scored at or above Achievement Level 3 (grade-level proficient), 70.6% of students at Pinnacle Classical Academy did so.

Especially noteworthy:  58.5% of Pinnacle’s economically disadvantaged students passed EOG and EOC tests. This figure compares to just 28.8% of their peers across the state.

Learn more about Pinnacle Academy’s mission and values here. Find 2020-21 test data for all NC public schools here.

Action alert: Contact lawmakers about ADM hold harmless provisions

By News
The COVID variant and the uncertainty families now feel have led to unexpected drops in enrollment for public charter schools. As a result, we’re working hard on ADM hold harmless provisions for 2021-22.

Take action

We also need you, as school leaders, to take action–and to ask your parents to do so as well. The power to allocate COVID relief funds for hold harmless provisions rests in the state budget and with leaders in the NC General Assembly. These leaders need to understand how the drop in ADM and concurrent loss of funds could impact your school.

What you can do

Please contact Appropriations Committee Chairs in both chambers of the General Assembly. Ask them to hold public schools harmless in the state budget for 2021-22 ADM. Share information with parents in your school community, urging them to take action as well. We have developed talking points and sample email text; click here to access that information.  Contact the General Assembly leaders listed below by phone or email today, Friday, and over the weekend. 

House Appropriations Committee
919.715.3007 and 704.282.0418

House Appropriations/Education Committee
919.733.5865 and 336.625.9210
919.733.5868 and 704.263.9282

Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee

Senate Appropriations/Education/Higher Education Committee
Feel free to reach out to lawmakers who represent you directly–or to those you know personally. Find your legislators here. Thank you for taking action!

September 14 launches Coalition “lunch and learn” events

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The Coalition is launching a new virtual “Lunch and Learn” series for charter leaders. Each month during the 2021-22 school year, we’ll tackle tough topics and important issues–through the eyes of charter experts. Bring your lunch. Connect with  colleagues. Learn from experts!

A September “lunch and learn” event

What’s on the agenda for September? We address data collection and reporting around economically disadvantaged students. This is especially important to understand, given new guidance. Charter expert Jesse Smith, Department Head of Quality Control at Roger Bacon Academy, leads September’s session.
WHAT: Learn more about identifying economically disadvantaged students
WHEN: Tuesday, September 14, 2021 01:00 PM Eastern Time
WHO: NC charter leaders
Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

We look forward to seeing you on September 14!

ICYMI: Lindalyn and other experts discuss empowering parents

By News

Want to learn more about empowering parents in your school and community? If so, we have a new resource for you. On Monday, Lindalyn joined other education experts to discuss this topic at a virtual event hosted by the John Locke Foundation.

In addition to Lindalyn, panelists included:

  • Shamike Bethea, Engagement Director, Frederick Douglass Foundation of NC
  • Angie Cutlip, Homeschool Consultant, ATC Educational Services
  • Dr. Terry Stoops, Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation

Check out the video below of “Empowering Parents and Nurturing Kids.”