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Charter Schools Review Board Archives - North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools

New survey data: NC charter teachers are happy at work

By News

New survey findings presented this morning to the Charter Schools Review Board offer an encouraging report about job satisfaction among the state’s charter school teachers. More than 9 in 10 are proud of their schools and feel good about working there.

Dr. Jeni Corn, the director of the Office of Research and Evaluation at the Department of Public Instruction, shared the findings in a presentation with disaggregated charter school data.  Data come from the 2024 North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey. Regarding charter school teachers’ high levels of job satisfaction, Dr. Corn stated, “This is data to be celebrated.”

Here are some highlights about what the state’s charter teachers think:

  • 93% believe their school is “a good place to work and learn.”
  • 93% say they’re proud to work at their school.
  • 91% believe they are are “an important part” of their school.
  • 89% say they feel loyal to their school.
  • 83% say there is “an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect” at their school.

The slide below summarizes these items relevant to teacher retention:

Dr. Jeni Corn, “CSRB Update: 2024 NC Teacher Working Conditions,” Presentation to the Charter Schools Review Board, June 11, 2024.

Who responded to the survey?

  • 72% of NC charter schools had a greater than 50% completion rate (the minimum threshold to receive school-level data back).
  • Overall, the charter sector had a 68% teacher response rate. Most survey participants, 88%, were classroom teachers (6,986 out of 10,279 total respondents). Other respondents worked in school services, and included school counselors, school psychologists, instructional coaches, and more.
  • More than half (54%) of survey respondents were experienced educators.

“CSRB Update: 2024 NC Teacher Working Conditions.”

View Dr. Corn’s presentation here. Listen to the audio from the presentation this morning. (Dr. Corn’s presentation is at the beginning of the video.)

Alex Quigley Perspective: For Charters, ‘Slow and Steady Wins the Race’

By News
Alex Quigley, a member of the Charter Schools Review Board and the executive director of Durham Charter School, has a new EdNC editorial out on the charter authorization process. Alex co-authored the article with David Griffith of the Fordham Institute. You may recall that Fordham recently released a report evaluating North Carolina’s charter authorization decisions and later charter school outcomes. Read more about that report in an earlier Coalition blog post.

Alex Quigley is the executive director of Durham Charter School and a member of the Charter Schools Review Board. Photo credit: Alex Quigley.

Here’s an excerpt from Alex’s piece:

North Carolina’s charter school movement is at a crossroads.

The recent passage of House Bill 618 gave the newly constituted Charter School Review Board (CSRB), the state’s only charter school “authorizer,” the authority to create new schools without the approval of the State Board of Education — a move that could lead to even more new schools in the years to come.

Now, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has released a study that looked at the old CSRB’s track record between 2011 (when North Carolina’s charter school cap was lifted) and 2019 (when the COVID-19 pandemic struck) in an effort to understand how the authorization process that defined the last era of charter school growth might be improved.

The evidence

As the study notes, research from other states suggests that charters tend to improve over time, and that some low-performing schools are likely to close. Consequently, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions [about] potential based on initial performance.

Fortunately, because North Carolina does an unusually good job of tracking school performance — despite the disruption associated with the pandemic — it’s possible to see how the performance of recently established charter schools has changed over time.

See our Summer 2023 Q&A with Alex.

Read the rest of the article on EdNC.

New Fordham Report on N.C. Charter Authorization and School Success

By News, Research

Do charter authorizers successfully predict which schools will flourish and which will fail? A new report from the Fordham Institute tackles that very question, evaluating North Carolina’s track record for applications filed between 2012-13 and the summer of 2017. Study authors then followed schools from one to four years, until the start of the pandemic, to see how they fared.

At the time, members of the then-Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB) served as frontline reviewers, making recommendations on new charter schools to the State Board of Education (SBE). SBE then voted as the sole authorizer to approve or reject recommendations.  (Now, due to 2023 legislation, the state’s Charter Schools Review Board approves or rejects new applications and renewals. The State Board of Education serves as an appellate entity.)

During the time period researchers studied, CSAB considered 179 applications, representing four cohorts of applications. CSAB recommended 53 of those applications–around 30%–and 43 opened as schools. The State Board of Education acted in line with CSAB’s recommendations for 90% of the applications.

Here’s the application table from the study:

Source: Adam Kho, Shelby Leigh Smith, and Douglas Lee Lauen, “Do Authorizer Evaluations Predict the Success of New Charter Schools?” Fordham Institute, March 2024.

To characterize the strength of an application, researchers assessed five main application domains: mission and purposes; education plan; governance and capacity; operations; and financial plan. What did they learn? Authorizers’ views were linked to several components of charter success–but there was no surefire way to predict a winner. Specifically, schools with more support from CSAB reviewers were better prepared to launch, but not to meet enrollment goals. In addition, reviewer approval was linked to stronger math performance; the quality of applicants’ education and financial plans also impacted math performance.

Here are the more detailed report findings from Fordham:

First, schools that more reviewers voted to approve were more likely to open their doors on time but no more likely to meet their enrollment targets. In other words, there is some evidence that reviewers were able to identify applicants that had their ducks in a row (though many schools that received fewer votes from reviewers also opened on time).

Second, schools that more reviewers voted to approve performed slightly better in math but not in reading. In other words, reviewers’ collective judgment also said something about how well a new school was likely to perform academically (though again, most of the variation in new schools’ performance was not explained by reviewers’ votes).

Third, ratings for specific application domains mostly weren’t predictive of new schools’ success, but the quality of a school’s education and financial plans did predict math performance. Importantly, these domain-specific ratings were based exclusively on evaluations of schools’ written applications (unlike reviewers’ final votes, which also reflected their interviews with applicants and whatever other information was at hand).

Finally, despite the predictivity of reviewers’ votes, simulations show that raising the bar for approval would have had little effect on the success rate of new schools. For example, reducing the share of applications that were approved from 30 percent to 15 percent wouldn’t have discernibly boosted approved schools’ reading or math performance, nor would increasing the number of “yes” votes required for approval.

Researchers provide three key takeaways from the study:

  • In general, CSAB was able to differentiate between stronger and weaker applications.
  • Board members’ professional judgment is at least as important as whatever appears in a school’s written application.
  • Raising the bar for approval wouldn’t significantly improve charters’ chances of success.

Finally, researchers make several recommendations for charter authorizers, moving forward:

  • First, closely evaluate applicants’ education or financial plans.
  • Next, include “multiple data sources and perspectives” in consideration.
  • Finally, hold “approved schools accountable for results.”

Read EdNC’s coverage of the study. View the full report by clicking here or below.

Charter Review Board Reverses State Board Decision on Union County Charter School

By News

The N.C. Charter Schools Review Board voted this week to reverse the State Board of Education’s decision on a prospective charter school. The charter applicant, American Leadership Academy-Monroe, sought approval last year to launch a K-8 campus in Union County. As part of this process, ALA-Monroe successfully secured a recommendation in Fall 2022 from the then-Charter Schools Advisory Board. Despite that recommendation, however, the State Board of Education voted in January 2023 to deny ALA-Monroe’s application.

Review Board empowered to reconsider State Board applicant decisions–and open or close schools

Now, thanks to a new 2023 session law, reconsideration is possible. That law converted the Charter Schools Advisory Board into a Charter Schools Review Board, with authority to open, renew, and revoke charters. In addition, the law includes a provision that allows the Review Board to reconsider applications on which Advisory Board recommendations and State Board decisions differed. The provision does include key stipulations, however: Applicants seeking reconsideration needed to notify the Review Board within 60 days of the law’s enactment. And the timeline for reconsideration includes only those decisions occurring after July 1, 2022.

This week’s reconsideration features both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes for charters

As a result of the new law, ALA-Monroe and another applicant–Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy–applied to the Review Board for reconsideration. At this month’s meeting, school leaders from both prospective schools appeared before the Review Board for Q&A. During ALA-Monroe’s presentation, leaders referenced the school’s robust interest list, which includes over 1,100 students.

The Review Board voted on Tuesday to approve ALA-Monroe’s application. The school now moves directly into the Ready to Open process and is slated for a Fall 2024 launch. Read more about the Review Board’s decision in Yahoo! News and NC Newsline.

Charter One Presentation to the N.C. Charter Schools Review Board, October 17, 2023.

For Heritage Collegiate, however, the Review Board on Wednesday voted to uphold the State Board’s denial. As a result, this charter applicant will not move forward.

Fast Facts on the new Charter Schools Review Board

By News

The state’s new Charter Schools Review Board (CSRB) meets for the second time today and tomorrow in Raleigh. This summer state lawmakers created the Review Board through Session Law 2023-110 (formerly H.B. 618), giving it the authority to authorize and renew charter schools in North Carolina. The law converts the former Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB) to the Review Board, maintaining continuity in membership.

Previously, CSAB made recommendations to the State Board of Education on charter applications and renewals, but did not have the authority to make final decisions as a charter authorizer.

At today’s meeting, members welcomed Alex Granados as the State Superintendent’s new designee to the Review Board. Prior to his service as a special advisor at the Department of Public Instruction, Alex served as the senior reporter for EdNC, covering education in North Carolina for more than eight years.

For the 2023 year, the Review Board has set the following leadership offices and committees:

  • Chair: Bruce Friend (committee floater)
  • Vice Chair: John Eldridge

Performance Committee

Policy Committee

  • John Eldridge, Chair
  • Stephen Gay
  • Todd Godbey
  • Eric Sanchez
  • Shelly Shope (also a Coalition Board member)

At this month’s meeting, the Review Board is interviewing 2023 charter applicants and reconsidering two applicants that the State Board of Education denied in 2023. These applicants are American Leadership Academy-Monroe and Heritage Collegiate Leadership Academy.

Learn more about the new Review Board’s duties and responsibilities–and the 2023 charter application process by clicking on the image below.

CSRB October 2023 Applications Presentation

Response to Governor’s veto of H.B. 618, Charter Schools Review Board

By News

The Coalition on Monday released a response to Governor Cooper’s veto of H.B. 618, Charter School Review Board. We are sharing our response in full below. Access a pdf version of the press release here.

Gov. Cooper Wrong to Denounce Charter School Supervisors

Raleigh, NC – On Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill to streamline the approval process for public charter schools by creating a new Charter Schools Review Board.

In his veto message, Gov. Cooper used unnecessarily charged language to attack public charter school supervisors, calling the new board a “commission of political friends and extremists.”

We’re a bipartisan organization that has praised, endorsed, and otherwise supported both Democrats and Republicans. But when a policymaker, even the Governor, makes such a wrongheaded public statement, we feel compelled to respond.

The new board created by House Bill 618 would be appointed in the same exact manner as the body it partly replaces, the Charter Schools Advisory Board (CSAB).

CSAB is not comprised of hacks and “extremists,” as Gov. Cooper would have people believe. Taken together, CSAB’s eleven members have 295 years of combined education experience, including in managing and overseeing public charter schools.

CSAB’s chair, Bruce Friend, has been an education professional for 30 years. One member is a professor at N.C. State University with a doctorate in financial economics. Another operates one of the longest-serving charter schools in the state and has a doctorate in education. The list goes on.

It appears that Gov. Cooper’s basis for attacking the new Charter Schools Review Board is the fact that the legislature would appoint a majority of its members.

Even though Gov. Cooper appoints a majority to the State Board of Education, we have not, nor would we ever, call that body a “commission of political friends and extremists.”

The Board of Education’s chair is an engineer by training. Its vice chair is a partner at a law firm. Despite those backgrounds, we consider both to be qualified and capable members, not mere “political friends” to the Governor.

And despite past controversies involving the State Board of Education, we do not consider its members to be “extremists.”

Gov. Cooper’s statement about public charter school supervisors was off the mark. Public charter schools offer North Carolina children innovative curricula. They complement, rather than compete with, district schools.

Those who oversee public charter schools approach their work with rigor and good faith. They deserve to be treated as the professionals they are.

Contact: pat@ryanpublicrelations.com