Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Commissioner Holliday's new charter language

Friday, KDE released possible language for charter school legislation. The draft starts with the language from the Senate amendments to House Bill 109, and then makes changes to address concerns raised by various stakeholders.  Here's a summary of the major changes.

Jefferson exemption
New language says "A district that has, as of the date of this act, an established student assignment plan that includes school choice and magnet options shall not be required to authorize charter schools under this act."  In Kentucky, that means Jefferson County, and the change is reported to be one requested by Jefferson County superintendent Shelley Berman.

Teacher tenure
New teachers will receive "continuing contract" status on the same basis as in other public schools, meaning when their contracts are renewed after four years of service.  Teachers who already have tenure can move to the charter and get tenure there after one year.  (The Senate language called for charter applications to address all of KRS 161, which contains the tenure rules and other rules on school employment.  I can't tell whether this is really a change or only a way of underlining a requirement that was already built in.

A majority of the charter's students must come from the local district or fit under its nonresident agreements with other districts. The earlier language allowed a majority to simply be from contiguous districts.

Funding for a virtual charter
If local students enroll in a statewide virtual charter school, local districts will not be required to transfer any local funds to that school.

Testing and accountability
Under this proposal, charters will not be able to seek exemption from the main state laws on standards, assessment and accountability. For example, charter schools will:
  • Be directed by the legislature to work toward the "KERA goals" listed in KRS 158.6451.
  • Give their students the summative accountability tests required in other schools (Core Content Tests, Iowa Tests, Explore, Plan, and ACT in 2011, and new tests starting in 2012).
  • Be subject to program reviews in writing, arts, and practical living.
  • Be assigned accountability goals under state formulas.
  • Be subject to state intervention if they fall short of the goals set for them by the state.
  • Be required to provide intervention to students whose scores on Explore, Plan, and ACT indicate that they are not on track for college readiness as defined by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
  • Set achievement gap targets, plan to meet those targets, and be subject to first local and then state approval of their plans if they fall short of those targets.

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