Saturday, July 1, 2017

Charter Schools: Collaboration, Excellence with Equity Must Drive Implementation

| Post by Brigitte Blom Ramsey |

This year’s robust legislative debate about public charter schools ended in a deep divide about how to improve education for all students. In spite of their disagreements, lawmakers on both sides of the charter issue affirmed three decades of educational progress in our state while acknowledging that achievement gaps persist among historically underserved students.

Now that the debate is over, we must turn our attention to making public charters, and all schools, the best they can be so every child in Kentucky receives the excellent education that he or she deserves.

As we move into this new era of public education, the Prichard Committee will continue to track our state’s progress, as we have for nearly four decades.  We will continue to study, inform and engage policymakers and citizens alike about how to make continued progress toward the goal of bringing Kentucky to the nation’s top tier of education excellence.  The urgency of this moment is to not let a quarter century of progress be pushed to the wayside – but to mobilize, galvanize, energize – for this next leap involving charter schools.  

Kentucky’s newly-passed charter school legislation benefits from 25-plus years of national experience by explicitly stating a desire to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps while bypassing more competitive structures in favor of local authorizing.

Kentucky’s approach intentionally positions locally elected boards of education as primary authorizers, promoting critical collaboration among charters and districts, to inspire and engage community support from the beginning. If local authorizers embrace this approach, they will create and sustain meaningful partnerships that provide alternative paths for students to meet their potential. Collaboration has been a hallmark of education policy in Kentucky for years and should now be leveraged as a position of strength.

Accountability is a key component of overall quality for traditional and charter schools alike. For new Kentucky charter schools, school boards and mayors will play key roles in monitoring and oversight, including default renewal/closure standards, all aligned to student achievement.

Those authorizers must spell out their criteria from the very beginning. Charter schools that fail to meet the ambitious vision set forth in the new legislation should be closed so communities can pursue other innovative options for student success. Indeed, a charter school that fails to improve on the performance of a traditional public school has no reason to exist.

Charter schools will not be right for every district in Kentucky, but in some districts they may prove powerful in lifting up students who have been farthest behind to new levels of proficiency and long-term success. Together, we must recommit to rigorous accountability and proper resourcing of the entire public system with an aim to increase success for all students.

Proper implementation of public charter schools will be the lynchpin of their success or failure in Kentucky. For more details and data on just what that means, please see my June 30, 2017, editorial with John B. King, Jr., president of The Education Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education: How to get charters right? Keys to success the same for all schools.

The singular purpose of any school must be to prepare young people for a bright future with an excellent education that allows them to begin to realize their unique potential. Keeping our eyes on that ambitious goal is the best way to ensure Kentucky’s future prosperity. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Draft Accountability Regulation: Support and Additional Data

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

The Kentucky Board of Education recently held its first reading of a new accountability system regulation. My earlier posts looked at how the draft deals with standards and with indicators and how it deals with goals and with ratings. This post takes on a final three questions (identifying schools for support, providing support, and sharing additional data)

For more background, take a look at this quick summary of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Kentucky’s Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) or at the full regulation draft included in the June 7 KBE agenda (scroll down to item XXI).

5. How will we identify schools for added support?
The draft regulation does not address support, but SB 1 provides identification rules that include:
  • Tier I targeted support (early warning) for schools where one or more student groups have results like the lowest 10% of schools for two or more years
  • Tier II targeted support for schools where one or more student groups has results like the lowest 5% of schools
  • Comprehensive support for schools where overall results are in the lowest 5% of schools, high schools where graduation rates are below 80%, and schools that have qualified for tier II targeted support for three or more years
For ESSA approval, each state needs three tiers of support:
1. Targeted support must be given to schools where any student group is “consistently underperforming,” but leaves states to define that category. Kentucky’s Tier I (like lowest 10%) rule is a viable option for providing that definition.
2. Additional targeted support must be given to schools with groups like the lowest 5% of schools, and Kentucky’s Tier II targeted support rules tightly fits that rule.
3. Comprehensive support must be given if overall results are in the lowest 5% of schools, graduation rates are below 67%, or a school has not additional targeted support after multiple years. Do notice that SB 1's 80% graduation rate sets the bar substantially higher than the federal minimum.
6. What support will we provide to identified schools?
The draft regulation does not address this issue, but (again) SB 1 provides a process for this work. As a very brief summary of those steps:
  • For schools identified for targeted support, local school personnel will work with parents and educators to develop a revised school improvement plan for local board of education approval.
  • For schools identified for comprehensive support, the local board of education will select a turnaround audit team to study the school. Once the report is in, the board will select a turnaround team and collaborate with others to develop a three-year plan, with the Kentucky Department of Education monitoring and reviewing the plan’s implementation.

7. How will we promote accountability for results not included in the ratings and support rules?
The draft regulation does not address reporting data that will not be used for accountability. The Department will, of course, have the option of including additional data in school report cards, and recent discussions across the state has shown substantial interest in seeing and using that added information.

Draft Accountability Regulation: Goals And Ratings

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

The Kentucky Board of Education recently held its first reading of a new accountability system regulation. My earlier post looked at how the draft deals with standards and indicators, matching the first two questions I’ve been using to track accountability ideas. This post takes on questions 3 and 4, and my next post will deal with questions 5-7 (identifying schools for support, providing support, and sharing additional data)

For more background, take a look at this quick summary of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Kentucky’s Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) or at the full regulation draft included in the June 7 KBE agenda (scroll down to item XXI).

3. How far and how fast do we intend to raise our indicators?
For students overall, the draft regulation does not identify any goals or methods for setting goals.

For student groups with lower recent results, the draft regulation mentions goals that will be used to rate achievement gap closure, but does not specify how they will be set.
For ESSA approval, states must set “ambitious state-designed long-term goals” for “all students and separately for each subgroup of students.” For groups that are behind, the goals must call for improvement quick enough to “make significant progress in closing statewide proficiency and graduation rate gaps.” For both kinds of goals, states must also set interim measures of progress on the way to meeting those goals.

The Department’s June 12, 2017 PowerPoint does propose an approach to long-term goals, aiming “to increase student proficiency rates significantly for all students in the state by 2030” and “to decrease the achievement gap of lower-performing student groups by 50% by 2030.”

4. How will we rate (or differentiate) schools each year?
Low, moderate, strong, very strong ratings will be given on each indicator, but the draft does not say how ratings will be determined.

One to five stars will be given to each school based on the indicators, but the draft does not say what formula or rules will be used to award the stars.

In addition to the stars, a gap closure designation will be given for “closing the differences in achievement between students demographic groups” and a gap issue designation will be given for “very large achievement gaps and low-performing students.” The draft does not give specifics on how either designation will be earned.

The draft does not provide for changing schools’ ratings if any student group is “consistently underperforming.”
For ESSA approval, each state’s system for “meaningfully differentiating” its public schools must “include differentiation of any such school in which any subgroup of students is consistently underperforming.” The schools with an underperforming student group must also be offered targeted support.

SB 1 requires targeted support for schools with a student group with results “at or below that of all students, based on school performance, in any of the lowest-performing ten percent of all schools for two consecutive years.”

That SB 1 rule looks like a workable way for Kentucky to fill in ESSA’s call for a definition of “consistently underperforming.” To meet ESSA requirements for differentiating/rating schools, however, that “like-lowest-10%” rule will also have to matter in the school rating system.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Draft Accountability Regulation: Standards and Indicators

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

The Kentucky Board of Education recently held its first reading of a new accountability system regulation, and this post summarizes how that draft addresses two of the questions I’ve been using to summarize accountability issues. I’ll address the goal and rating questions in my next post, and I’ll cover plans for identifying and supporting schools with performance weaknesses in a post after that.

For more background, take a look at this quick summary of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Kentucky’s Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) or at the full regulation draft included in the June 7 KBE agenda (scroll down to item XXI).

1. What should our rising generation know and be able to do?
Kentucky’s academic standards are established in another regulation, and SB 1 calls for each subject to be reviewed on a six-year cycle for “possible revision or replacement to ensure alignment with postsecondary readiness standards necessary for global competitiveness and with state career and technical education standards,” using a process of public input, subject-area committees, legislative committee attention, and KBE final decisions. Accordingly, the draft accountability regulation does not need to address standards.

2. What indicators can we use to track our progress toward those desired results?
For elementary and middle schools, the draft regulation calls for indicators that include:
  • Proficiency on state assessments, with partial credit for apprentice results extra credit for distinguished work, and extra credit for proficient or distinguished work on assessments for higher grade levels
  • Achievement gap closure on state assessments, looking at income, race, disability status, English learner status, and a “consolidated group” based on race, disability status, and English learner status
  • Growth, using state reading and math assessments to check whether individual students move to higher performance levels from one year to the next and also checking English learners’ progress toward English proficiency
  • Opportunity and access, including chronic absenteeism, gifted and talented services, rich curriculum (arts, health and physical education, science, and social studies), and access to counselors, nurses, and librarians. For middle schools, career exploration will also be part of the curriculum data.
For high schools, the draft calls for indicators that include:
  • Proficiency
  • Achievement gap closure
  • Growth, checking English learners’ progress toward English proficiency
  • Opportunity and access, including chronic absenteeism, graduation rate, advanced coursework, rich curriculum (global competency/world language, career and technical), and access to nurses, librarians, and career counselors
  • Transition readiness, shown by earning a diploma, demonstrating essential skills, and showing either academic readiness (college entrance exam, AP, IB, dual credit) or technical readiness (industry certification, KOSSA, dual credit) or military readiness (ASVAB)
One more element:
  • A local measure will be chosen by districts and charter schools and included in district and charter ratings. (The Kentucky Department of Education’s June 12, 2017 PowerPoint includes a small modification, calling for the local measure to included as a part of the Opportunity and Access indicator rather than being a separate indicator in the overall design.

For ESSA approval, four-year graduation rates must be used as a measure, with five-year rates and other extended periods allowed as optional additions. Kentucky’s ESSA plan will need to include the four-year approach.

For ESSA approval, indicators must be reported and used “for all students and separately for each subgroup of students.” The one exception is the English proficiency measure, which can be used without disaggregation. In recent discussions, Department leaders have noted that it may not be possible to break out access to nurses, librarians, and counselors that way. Data that cannot be disaggregated by student groups will not be used in accountability ratings, but could still be included in other reporting.

ESSA, SB 1, and Kentucky's Draft Accountability Regulation

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

On June 7, the Kentucky Board of Education held a first reading of a new accountability system regulation intended to encourage rising student performance and to meet the requirement of two new laws. I'm planning a set of posts on the main elements of the draft regulation, but first, here comes a quick look at the two bills that shape how the regulation will work.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act replaces the older No Child Left Behind Act. Signed in December 2015, ESSA changes the rules for how states qualify for Title I funding. States must still set academic standards, create assessments of those standards, and have ambitious goals for raising results on those assessments and graduation rates, along with interim measures of progress toward meeting those goals. The goals must still apply separately for low income students, students with disabilities, and students of color, and states must still plan steps to get the schools with the weakest result back on track. However, ESSA allows states considerably more flexibility in using additional measures of school quality and student success, in choosing their goals and their timelines for achieve goals, and in planning out support for schools with weak results.

ESSA is one reason Kentucky needs a new accountability regulation: it will show our choices about how to use the new federal flexibility.

Senate Bill 1, enacted this year, fills in some of those details. It sets a process for revising our academic standards and calls for matching changes to how we test those standards. It adds new ways to measure college readiness and career readiness, including giving added weight to career tests in fields that are in high demand in each region. It defines three new categories of schools in need of support and new approaches to providing that help, filling in some of the ESSA blanks. Notably, where ESSA requires comprehensive support for schools with graduation rates below 67%, SB 1 commits Kentucky to provide that support anywhere graduations are below 80%.

SB 1 is another reason we need a new accountability regulation: we need to fill in how the changed measures will be used to set goals, rate schools, analyze achievement gaps, and decide which schools qualify for the new support methods.

So, in the posts that follow, I’ll look at the June 7 draft of the regulation, and I’ll also share a few more specific details from ESSA and SB 1 at the points where they matter.

One more thing: I should underline that word draft. During the KBE discussion, the Department recommended additional changes and took input from Board members on upcoming improvements. A revised version of the draft regulation is scheduled to get its second reading at the August 2-3 state board meeting, to be followed by a board vote, a public comment period and reviews by legislative committees. You can see the Department's "Data and Measures" document shared with the Board (including a set of proposed further changes) here, and find a more recent PowerPoint about KDE’s recommendations here. For the draft regulation itself, go to the state board's June 7 agenda and scroll down to item XXI.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Charter Schools: Applying Will Not Be Easy

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

Kentucky's new charter school law (House Bill 520) requires those who want to open public charter schools to complete demanding applications. Here, I'll summarize of the requirements, but readers should know that the law itself adds further details for nearly all of the items listed.

The Big Idea
Each charter school application must specify:
  • The school's mission and vision 
  • The student population and community the school will target
  • Ages and grades the school will served
  • The academic program the school will offer
  • The instructional methods the school will use
  • An explanation of how the school's program can improve the achievement of traditionally under-performing students 
Goals and Measures
The application must identify:
  • Student achievement goals and evaluation methods
  • A plan for programmatic audits and assessments
  • A plan for measuring progress on school’s performance framework
(Added note: I'm puzzled about how those three requirements relate to one another, and especially about how the goals and the performance framework are related.)

Students and Services
Next, the application must share the school's plans for:
  • Recruiting and enrolling students
  • Identifying and serving students with disabilities, English language learners, bilingual students, and students who are academically behind and gifted
  • Offering extracurricular and co-curricular programs
  • Offering health services and food services
  • Disciplining students
  • Involving parents and communities
Staff and Leadership
A school needs adults as much as students, so the application must propose:
  • Staffing charts for five years
  • Plans for recruiting and developing staff
  • A draft personnel handbook
  • Ethics rules for staff, officers, directors
  • A governance structure, including initial board members and draft board by-laws
Other Operating Details
In addition, the application must address core business issues, including:
  • Planned, minimum, and maximum enrollment
  • Calendar for the school year
  • Schedule for the school day
  • A five year budget
  • Fiscal policies
  • Facilities
  • Insurance coverage
  • Start-up steps for opening the school
  • Process for resolving disputes with the charter authorizer
  • Process for closing down the school if required
On the one hand, this application process seems likely to require deep expertise, sustained thought and very careful planning. On the other hand, schools are complex organizations doing intense and important work: everything on that list truly needs attention before a new public school opens its doors.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Supreme Court Insists on Education for Individuals with Disabilities

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |
The IDEA demands more. It requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”
The words above are from the Supreme Court's March 22 ruling in Endrew F v. Douglas County School District. IDEA is short for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the ruling applies to all states that take IDEA funding.

Under IDEA, participating states commit to providing “free and appropriate public educations” (or "FAPE") for all eligible students. Endrew F confirms that what is appropriate for a particular student must be decided based on individual evidence and dialogue in the committee responsible for that student’s individualized education program (IEP), with options for seeking outside resolution if that group cannot agree.

Frankly, what surprised me in the case was the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which argued that an IEP can be adequate if it offers progress that is "merely… more than de minimis.” De minimis is legal Latin for “too trivial or minor to merit consideration,” so the appellate court seemed prepared to accept any level of progress better than that “too trivial or minor” level. I don't see how that could ever fit what IDEA explicitly says must be done for each student.

The Supreme Court's ruling rejects the Tenth Circuit view, and boils down to insisting that  "appropriate" means nothing less than "appropriate."

Reading with Kentucky in mind, I did notice one other Endrew F feature. The opinion speaks repeatedly of a state’s obligation to implement IDEA for students. States often delegate much of their duty to school districts, but the states themselves take the dollars and pledge to provide the required education. That’s why states cannot create charter schools exempt from IDEA, and it’s why states can’t create any other kind of K-12 school that doesn’t have to provide FAPE and implement IEPs. As Kentucky continues to expand its public non-district educational options, it’s helpful to have a new ruling confirming that states must implement IDEA for each and every child enrolled in each and every one of those schools.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Erk! Failure to Identify Author!

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

I messed up in a post shared this morning.  Specifically, my post about E.D. Hirsch's Why Knowledge Matters was written in a first-person voice but had no first-person attribution at the beginning of the piece. I apologize any resulting confusion or frustration to readers!

Charter Regulations: Lottery, Conversion Rules, Revocations, Authorizer Evaluation

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

House Bill 520, Kentucky's newly-signed charter school law, empowers the Kentucky Board of Education to issue regulations on four elements of how charter schools will operate:
  • Admissions, including student applications, admissions lotteries, and enrollment
  • Conversions, setting the process for  turning existing public schools into charter schools (the conversion option has been used less often in other states than the "start up" approach, but both methods are allowed under the new Kentucky legislation)
  • Closure rules for revoking charter school contracts or denying contract renewal
  • Authorizer evaluation rules, setting expectations for how school boards and mayors will carry out their charter roles and creating procedures for handling any performance weaknesses.
New regulations take six months or more to enact, including two readings by the Board, a comment period and public hearing, Board consideration of the resulting input, and a set of legislative review steps. The official steps cannot begin until HB 520 takes effect in late June, but Commissioner Pruitt plans to begin preparations much sooner.

Potential applicants may not want to wait for the regulations before proposing start-up charters. If their applications are approved, charter schools will need the admissions rules before they seek students, and once they start classes, they'll certainly want to avoid the closure process. Still, it seems possible to create and file applications that include a simple commitment to follow the regulations that are being developed.

Authorizers may see this issue differently. Knowing that there will be regulatory rules on how their work is evaluated, they may want to organize their activities around meeting those expectations –and therefore want to wait to see the final version before starting on application reviews.

A recent PrichBlog post estimated a minimum five-month timeline from application filing to first day of classes. If those five months can't start until after six months of regulation work, it's going to be a fairly tight schedule to open charter schools for the 2018-19 school year.

A Radical Possibility: E.D. Hirsch's Case for Communal Learning

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |
(edited to include that author identification)

I’ve been an E.D. Hirsch fan since 1987, when Cultural Literacy hit the bookstores. There, he argued that people with power and privilege share a body of cultural knowledge and went on to argue that schools should make sure that children from less privileged families learned that content. For Hirsch, that was an equity issue, because children of privilege will get that knowledge at home, but others need public school to give them equivalent opportunity. I found that argument compelling (especially after understanding Hirsch’s argument that the shared knowledge can and does and should change over time).

Over the last decade, I’ve become an even bigger fan of Hirsch’s argument about reading. His claim, backed by an array of research, is that reading is a process of making meaning that draws on what readers already know, and that therefore schools should be intentional about teaching students key content from the very earliest years. In PrichBlog’s first year, I blogged about that concept here, here, and here.

Even so, I wasn’t ready for the radicalism of Hirsch’s most recent book, Why Knowledge Matters: Rescuing Our Children from Failed Educational Theories. In that new work, Hirsch argues that failing to equip students with a shared body of content knowledge is why:
  • Preschool learning gains fade out by third grade
  • Nationwide high school reading scores have barely changed since 1971, even though grade 4 scores have risen significantly
  • American school systems continue to use “technically valid, educationally invalid reading tests” with questions that can easily confuse students and mystify parents
Hirsch adds two kinds of evidence I hadn’t seen him use before:
  • Cognitive research on how expertise is domain specific, depending on a built up body of connected knowledge and with very few skills that can be studied apart from that knowledge or transferred to other domains.
  • Long-term results from French education, which switched from a nationally shared curriculum for each grade to local control of content and national concern only for broad skills, and (on Hirsch’s account) saw a substantial decline in achievement and a sharp increase in achievement gaps as a result.
Why Knowledge Matters concludes with a sharp statement of the change Hirsch thinks is needed:
Only a well-rounded, knowledge-specific curriculum can impart needed knowledge to all children and overcome inequality of opportunity. Whether we can summon the will to break the romantic intellectual monopoly that has held us in thrall will be determined by the following concrete test: Will any large American locality be willing to institute a good, content-specific curriculum grade-by grade throughout all the elementary schools of the district? If one single big district does so, it will be a watershed event in our educational history.
Hirsch is confident that a sustained effort like that in a single jurisdiction would result in deeper student engagement, yield greater parent satisfaction and teacher enthusiasm, and produce academic results that would be “significantly better and fairer than current results.” Over time, that record would draw attention and wider adoption, contagiously changing education across the country.

I’m partially convinced and ready to do more thinking about whether Kentucky should aim for a shift that big.

The first thing I see, though, is that the shift truly would already be big. Our use of Next Generation Science Standards may already call for a grade-by-grade cumulative approach to knowledge as well as skills, but a matching approach in history, literature, and the arts could require some substantial changes in Kentucky thought and practice.

The shift Hirsch wants would be a revolution, and I'm cautious about major social upheavals.  Accordingly, I need to read more and discuss more before I know whether this big move is the right big move for Kentucky’s learners.

Kentucky Charter Schools Will Be Government Bodies

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |
"Public charter school" means a public school that (a) Is a public body corporate and politic, exercising public power, including the power in name to contract and be contracted with, sue and be sued, and adopt bylaws not inconsistent with this section...
That's the beginning of Kentucky's new legal definition of a charter school, and the words "body corporate and politic" deserve attention. They mean that a Kentucky charter school will be a government entity, like a housing authority or a library board. With that government status, the school will be neither a nonprofit corporation nor a for-profit corporation, with no "owners" and no way to pay out dividends or profits.

Other provisions of House Bill 520 underline that government status for Kentuck charter schools:
  • Although the members of the charter school's board will not be elected, the application for a charter school will include initial board members and draft board by-laws that specify how future directors will be chosen. At least two members must be parents of children who attend the school. 
  • Board members will take a statutory oath of office. 
  • Board members will file "full disclosure reports and identify any potential conflicts of interest, relationships with management organizations, and relationships with family members who are applying to or are employed by the public charter school or have other business dealings with the school, the management organization of the school, or any other public charter school and shall make these documents available online through the authorizer."
  • Board meetings will follow the Open Meetings Law.
  • School records will be subject to the Open Records Law.  

Added note: Since the "body corporate and politic" is created after the charter application is approved, the application must come from someone else. HB 520 allows applications from "teachers, parents, school administrators, community residents, public organizations, nonprofit organizations, or a combination thereof." That list excludes for-profit companies, and the debates on the House and Senate floor provide a legislative record that underlines that exclusion.

Another note: The bill allows contracts with nonprofits and for-profits. It defines an education service provider as "an education management organization, school design provider, or any other partner entity with which a public charter school contracts for educational design, implementation, or comprehensive management." If a charter school will work with that kind of provider:
  • The charter application must include the provider's history, its past results, and planned terms for the provider contract. 
  • Providers must submit monthly detailed budgets to the charter school board.
  • Providers paid $10,000 or more must be subject to Open Records requests for records associated with the contract.
However, the charter school board will be required to retain "oversight and authority over the school" in any contract it enters. Control and responsibility cannot be ceded to another organization, even if that other group does much of the daily work of the school.

Bottom line: Kentucky public charter schools will be directed by an new kind of government body, not by for-profit or nonprofit organizations.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

First Charter Schools Open In 2018? That Seems Likely

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

WDRB is reporting that Commissioner Pruitt thinks Kentucky's first charter school is likely to open in 2018-19, rather than this summer. Based on House Bill 520's requirements, that estimate seems pretty sound. Kentucky's newly-signed legislation sets up the process for opening a charter school:

1. An applicant submits a detailed application to an authorizer (a school board, a collaborative of school boards, or the mayor of Lexington or Louisville) and the Kentucky Department of Education

2. The authorizer approves or denies the application within 60 days after the application is filed

3. The approved application goes to the Commissioner for final approval

4. Members of the charter school's board of directors takes their oath of office as government officials within 60 days after the Commissioner's approval

5. The charter school board and the authorizer agree on and sign a charter contract within 75 days after the Commissioner's approval

6. The charter school receives student applications and conducts a lottery if there are more applicants than spaces, following a lottery regulation that will be set by the Kentucky Board of Education

7. The charter school opens its doors and begins teaching the admitted students

That looks like a process of at least five months. In theory, the application could be approved and the contract signed more quickly than the allowed 60 and 75 days. In practice, both will be long documents that need careful review and could easily need the full allowed time for action. The Commissioner's final approval probably cannot be given the day the application reaches his office, and gathering student applications will certainly take a few weeks.

Plus, those five months start at the end of June. HB 520 will become law 90 days after the General Assembly adjourns at the end of March. That makes late November the earliest time a school could notify students of admission.

Bottom Line: HB 520 says charters can happen in 2017-18, but HB 520's calendar says it'll take a bit longer.