Monthly Archives

May 2022

New State Resource Helps Educators Understand Learning Loss

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The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recently launched a new initiative to help educators understand the size and scope of pandemic learning loss. The brainchild of DPI’s Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR), the initiative encompasses a new blog–called “Research & Recovery Roundup” — as well as a series of monthly white papers.

Here’s the summary from OLR:

Through these blog posts and whitepapers series, each month we will focus on a key finding or student group to explore in more detail and use existing literature to identify and propose key evidenced-based interventions intended to help those students combat the impact of lost instructional time and accelerate learning.

OLR, a relatively new office, was established by State Superintendent Catherine Truitt. Its preliminary report came out in March 2022 and sought to quantify just how much learning students lost during the pandemic. Findings are the result of a partnership with the SAS Institute.

What’s next?

According to OLR:

Future white-papers will describe subgroup trends, present additional analysis, and provide evidence-based policy recommendations. See here for OLR’s preliminary report to the General Assembly. The final technical report is due December 2022.

The State Board of Education will hear an update on this effort at its June meeting later this week.

Nationwide, states enact charter-friendly legislation

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North Carolina lawmakers are back in Raleigh, having just launched the 2022 Short Session last week. Nationwide, legislators have been taking action this spring to boost the charter movement with a number of charter-friendly bills. That’s the upshot of a national legislative round-up from Todd Ziebarth, the senior vice president of state advocacy and support at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In a new blog post, he outlines recent gains for the charter movement. For instance:

Charter schools are coming to Kentucky–finally

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill that establishes “a permanent funding mechanism” for charter students. While Kentucky Governor Beshear vetoed the bill, lawmakers overrode his veto in April. Although Kentucky has had a charter law since 2017, the state has had only a temporary funding mechanism in place. So, Kentucky has been just one of seven states with no charter schools in operation. Thanks to this permanent funding mechanism, however, Kentucky students will soon have access to greater educational choice through public charter schools.

In Missouri, charter students get a shot at fair funding

Legislators in Missouri passed a bill that provides for more equitable charter funding. The change will increase the state’s per-pupil allocation by $1,700 to $2,500 a student. Read more from the Missouri Charter Public School Association or the Kansas City Beacon.

Two other states include funds for charter facilities in their budgets

Illinois lawmakers set aside a $35 million appropriation in the state budget to address charter facilities costs, for the first time ever. Distributed on a per-pupil basis through the FY23 budget, funds will target every charter school statewide. Read more from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Tennessee’s budget also allocates $32 million for charter facilities.

Read Ziebarth’s full blog post to learn about action in other states, such as Georgia, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington state. View the Alliance’s press release celebrating Kentucky’s passage of charter funding legislation.

Fast Facts on NC Charters: What’s in the 2021 Annual Report?

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The 2021 Annual Charter Schools Report is due to the General Assembly in June 2022. Earlier this month, the State Board of Education discussed it. What’s in the report? Data affirm the charter movement in North Carolina is growing in size and popularity.

North Carolina statute directs the State Board to report information annually to the state legislature, including:

  • Impacts of charter schools on district schools
  • Student progress
  • Charter best practices

What are some key takeaways from this year’s annual report?

Enrollment and waitlists

  • State charter schools continue to grow in popularity: For instance, in 2019-20, charter schools enrolled 117,000 students. That number increased to more than 126,000 students in 2020-21. This year, in 2021-22, over 130,000 students are attending public charter schools.
  • N.C. charter students represent less than 10% of public school enrollment: The latest charter enrollment figure comprises 8.6% of the overall public school population.
  • Thousands of students languish on charter waitlists: According to self-reported data, 73% of charter schools have waitlists, totaling more than 60,000 students.

2021 charter growth

  • The charter movement continues to expand each year: Six new charter schools opened in 2021 and eight are scheduled to open in 2022.
  • The state received 21 charter applications: Three of these applications were accelerated approvals, five were approvals on a standard timeline, and two are pending approval on a standard timeline. The State Board will vote on the two pending applications in June.

Performance Framework

  • Charter schools exceed state financial and operational performance goals: 96% of charter schools in North Carolina met or exceeded all financial and operational goals. The target set by the State Board of Education is 90%. See the report graphic below.

Source: 2021 Annual Charter Schools Report

Find the report here. Access the presentation from the Office of Charter Schools here.

North Carolina Ranks 11th in New 2022 Ranking of State Charter Laws

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North Carolina ranks 11th in new rankings of state charter laws, tying with Massachusetts and New York. North Carolina earned a “C” grade overall. Those are some key findings from the Center for Education Reform‘s (CER) new 2022 annual ranking and scorecard.

Scorecard criteria for state charter laws emphasize equity, autonomy

Each year, CER evaluates state charter laws based on several factors:

  • Charter authorizers (multiple authorizers and authorizer independence)
  • Growth (no caps on the number of charter schools, scalability)
  • Operations (charter autonomy, teacher freedom, flexibility to innovate)
  • Equity (fair funding for operations, facilities, Pre-K)

What makes for a better ranking and higher grade? No surprise here: States that provide equitable funding, freedom to grow and innovate, charter autonomy, and flexibility for charter authorizers produce stronger charter movements.

Topping the scorecard this year: Arizona, which dethroned Florida to lead the nation in charter laws. However, both states earn an “A” grade from CER for their charter laws.

How do the top charter states compare to North Carolina?

Here’s what CER says about Arizona and Florida:

While both states have aggressively responded to the needs of parents to provide a wide array of education opportunities, Arizona made a comeback to overtake Florida as the first place winner in the advancement of charter schools.  The Grand Canyon State increased funding and the proportion of students in charter schools, which have been innovatively creating new models of education – like microschools – which appeal to a broad array of parents.

Clearly, all of this makes a difference in overall growth–as measured by a state’s number of charter schools and charter students. In Arizona, for instance, about 28% of all public schools are charter schools and 20% of students attend public charter schools, according to CER.

What about Florida? CER notes that 17% of public schools are charter schools while around 12% of students are enrolled in charter schools. In Washington, D.C., which ties Michigan for third overall, almost 50% of students attend charter schools.

In North Carolina, about 10% of public schools are charter schools. Charter students comprise 8.6% of the total public school population, according to 2022 state data.

So, strong laws and policies matter a great deal. They help foster an environment that is favorable to charter growth and a sustainable charter movement. The inverse is also true, as CER notes: “Overregulation and underfunding force charters to behave as district schools by another name.”

Here’s the 2022 Scorecard:

CER’s 2022 Scorecard of Charter Laws & State Rankings

Read CER’s press release here.

TMSA Hosts State Lawmaker and Local Mayor for School Visit

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We want to recognize Triangle Math and Science Academy (TMSA) in Cary for inviting a state lawmaker and an elected official for a school visit during National Charter Schools Week 2022. Reaching out to state lawmakers and elected officials is a great way for charter schools to ensure that top state and local decision-makers know about charter successes! This practice also helps to build relationships. Such relationships are critical to have in place before the time comes to promote bills and policies–or to work to have them changed. Read more below about officials’ visits.

Rep. Julie von Haefen visits TMSA’s campus

Following the Coalition’s press release about 2022 U.S. News & World Report high school rankings, TMSA reached out to Rep. Julie von Haefen to invite her to visit, and she took TMSA up on the offer last Wednesday. In addition to placing among the top 50 high schools in North Carolina in the U.S. News ranking, TMSA also ranked among the top 300 most challenging high schools nationwide in the Jay Matthews Challenge Index. Read more about Rep. von Haefen’s visit here.

Photo credit: TMSA

Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht tours TMSA

In addition, the school also hosted Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht for a tour of the school on Friday. You can read more about Mayor Weinbrecht’s visit to TMSA here.

Photo credit: TMSA

Celebrating Real-World Learning at Northeast Academy for Aerospace & Advanced Technologies

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Congratulations to Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies (NEAAAT), a Coalition member school led by CEO Andrew Harris. On Tuesday evening, the Elizabeth City charter school held its Spring Internship Expo and Business Appreciation Celebration. This event served as the culmination for the school’s internship program this semester. Twenty-eight high school juniors and seniors shared presentations about their experiences. NEAAAT’s program requires students to complete 80-hour internships in a field that they choose, deepening their capacity for real-world learning. Along the way, they also learn valuable skills to prepare them for the world of work.

The Daily Advance covered NEAAAT’s event. In addition, NEAAAT has released a new video, “The NEAAAT Way.” The video showcases the difference the school’s hands-on approach and project-based learning makes in students’ academic and career pathways.

We invite you to watch more below. Learn how one student’s high school project and passion for racing developed into a collegiate pursuit of mechanical engineering and helping to build a Formula 1 racecar–from scratch.



State Leaders Praise Charter Schools During National Charter Schools Week

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National Charter Schools Week launched yesterday, with state leaders affirming the contributions of these innovative public schools. In a Coalition press release, Lindalyn Kakadelis, the Coalition’s executive director, said,

Public charter schools are part of the public school family. Just like different  colleges have different strengths, different public charter schools can specialize in areas like STEM or the arts for students interested in those pathways. I’m so proud of the work of public charter school operators, teachers, and especially students.

N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger said,

North Carolina’s public charter schools offer families the option to send their child to a school that best fits their educational needs and curiosities. The tremendous growth of our charter schools shows how valuable they are to students, their families, and the entire education  community.

Read what other leaders have to say about public charter schools here.

Popularity coexists with political fragility

Yet, despite the contributions of charter schools, the movement finds itself at a crossroads. Political uncertainty threatens growth–even as the charter movement reaches peak popularity. That’s the message of a new op-ed from Lindalyn Kakadelis, published by North State Journal.

A North Carolina charter leader is named a 2022 Changemaker

Meanwhile, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has released its list of 2022 Charter Changemakers. One of the 10 award winners nationwide is from North Carolina. Her name is Blair Williams and she is the community and communications coordinator at Island Montessori School in Wilmington. Congratulations, Ms. Williams!

Read more about the 2022 Changemakers here. The 2022 honorees will be recognized at a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday. Register here.

Participate in other events to mark National Charter Schools Week. Learn more here.

National Charter Schools Week 2022 Starts Sunday, May 8

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National Charter Schools Week 2022 is right around the corner! This year, NCSW launches on Sunday, May 8, and runs through Saturday, May 14. The theme is “Charter Schools Rising.” This theme seems especially appropriate this year, given the hard work of so many charter schools to help mitigate student learning loss during the pandemic.

Resources for schools

Schools, please use your platforms and networks to promote charter leaders, teachers, students, and schools–and the broader charter movement.

To help you celebrate, we’re passing along resources from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

  • You can access social media graphics from the Alliance here. Be sure to use the hashtags #CharterSchoolsWeek and #charterlove.
  • Learn more about NCSW here.

In addition, we want to share two great 1-minute videos from North Carolina charter leaders. Watch them talk about the benefits of public charter schools! Charters work so well because of their autonomy and ability to pivot quickly.

  • The first video features John Marshall (Union Academy), Cheryl Turner (Sugar Creek Charter School), and Coalition Board member Jonathan Bryant (Lincoln Charter School).
  • The second video features Tammy Finch (The Expedition School) and Barry Ross (Apprentice Academy High School).


Charter Schools, in NC and Nation, Comprise Disproportionate Share of Top High Schools

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Charter schools are leading the way in academic excellence. That’s clearly true in North Carolina, as last week’s blog post noted about new rankings from U.S. News & World Report. But, it’s also true nationwide, as the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools pointed out in a recent press release.

“This year, charter schools account for 12% of all public high schools on the list, but they make up 22% of the top 100 public high schools,” the Alliance observed.

In a press release yesterday, Lindalyn Kakadelis, the Coalition’s executive director, said, “Public charter schools are part of the public school family. I’m so proud, but not surprised, that public charter schools hold a disproportionately large share of the top-ranked high schools in North Carolina.”

The Coalition release also shared this: Public charter schools make up about 10% of all public schools in NC, but they account for 30% of the state’s top-ranked high schools.