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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Success off the Court: Graduation and Gaps at UK and Elsewhere

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

In the midst of March Madness, the Education Trust has taken to Twitter to push Sweet Sixteen schools on their graduation gaps between black students and white students.  Here's their tweet to the University of Kentucky:


The statistics there are pretty small, but they show a 45.2% graduation rate for black students and a 60.6% rate for white students, with both figures drawn from EdTrust's new Black Student Success report

The report's data files include eleven Kentucky institutions, so here's a comparison of that full group.  Only Berea has essentially gap-free results for the two groups of students, and it's painful to see that UK's graduation rate for black students, low as it is, is still the fourth highest of this set.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Charter Funding: About $7,178 Per Student Total?

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

In addition to calling for charter schools to share in SEEK funding and categorical funding, House Bill 471 specifies that "any state appropriation for retirement, health, or life insurance benefits made on behalf of a local public school employee shall also be made on behalf of a public charter school employee."

For 2016-17,  those on-behalf payments average out to:
  • $1,027 per student for school employee health insurance 
  • $574 per student for certified employee retirement
  • $2 per student for employee life insurance           
  • $1,603 per student for the three kinds of benefits

Those can also be added to the estimates in earlier posts:
  • $4,672 as the average per student from SEEK base and add-ons
  • $758 as the average per student from categorical programs
  • $1,603 as the average above for the three kinds of benefits
  • $7,178 as the average per student combining all those sources

All of these numbers are, of course, estimates based on the most recent figures available. Budgets and enrollments change every year, so these amounts are sure to shift at least a little before the first Kentucky charter schools open. Still, they're an early shot at estimating the resources charter applicants will be able to use to implement their programs.

Sources and Methods:
1) The on-behalf averages simply divide entries from the 2016 state executive budget by 676,796 (the 2015-16 enrollment total for 173 districts reported in school report card files). 

2) The categorical average was explained in this earlier post.  
3) The SEEK average takes a different approach than an earlier post on this topic. The Department of Education's FY 2016-17 final SEEK summary lists a total calculated base SEEK amount of $3,259,961,132, and that amount has divided by the same 676,796 enrollment figure just described. Finally, the per-pupil result has been reduced by three percent to reflect the amount that will be retained for use by the charter authorizer. Calculated base SEEK includes the base guarantee plus add-ons for at-risk (free lunch), disabilities, home and hospital,  limited English proficiency, and transportation, and the total amount is funded with a combination of local and state funding.

Charter School Funding: The Categorical Portion

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

Following up on yesterday's post about SEEK funding for charter schools under House Bill 471, here are some estimates of what Kentucky charter schools may receive from state and federal categorical programs.

Some categorical programs are focused on students with specific needs, and a charter school's share is likely to depend on its enrollment of eligible students. Those figures may include:
  • $1,614 per student with a disability (from federal IDEA)
  • $511 per low-income student (from federal Title I)
  • $60 per gifted and talented student (from state gifted and talented)
Other programs target students at particular stages in their educations, so that a charter school's share may depend on how many students at that stage it enrolls.  Those amounts may include:
  • $50 per elementary student (from state read to achieve)
  • $36 per elementary or middle school student (from state instructional resources funding)
  • $29 per high school student (from federal Perkins money)
Other amounts, less dependent on student traits, may include:
  • $49 from federal Title II, Part A for teacher quality work
  • $36 from state extended school services
  • $14 from state safe schools
  • $13 from state professional development 
  • $71 from an array of smaller state and federal programs
Overall, combining all those programs, Kentucky charter schools may be working with the SEEK funding discussed yesterday plus average categorical funding of:
  • $758 per student
I've used the word "may" steadily above, because each program has additional rules that can result in individual schools receiving or less. Still, I think these estimates give a ballpark idea of what categorical funding will be available to Kentucky charter schools.

Sources and Methods:
For this analysis, I used total funding to Kentucky's 173 school districts from the Department of Education's allocation spreadsheets for 2016-17 state programs and federal programs, along with student counts for the 173 districts from 2015-16 school report card files.  Here's my arithmetic:


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Charter Funding: the SEEK Portions

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

On March 15, shortly after approving legislation to create Kentucky charter schools, the  General Assembly approved House Bill 471, an appropriation bill that was amended to include rules for charter funding. Based on that bill, here’s a rough idea of what Kentucky charter schools may receive from SEEK funding:
  • $3,862 per pupil (counting average daily attendance rather than enrollment)
  • $579 more for each student eligible for federal free lunches
  • $927 more for each student with a communication disability
  • $4,518 more for each student with a moderate disability
  • $9,075 more for each student with a severe disability
  • An average of $346 per pupil for transportation, with the amount varying by district
The funding bill provides that a “local school district where a public charter school is located shall transfer the public charter school's portion of the local school district's funding calculated pursuant to KRS 157.360" and then adds that three percent can be retained for use by charter school authorizer. The amounts above show this school year's SEEK fund base guarantees and add-ons as set in 157.360, reduced by the three percent. A combination of local and state tax dollar provide those amounts in each district.

However, charter schools may not be allocated those exact amounts. House Bill 471 goes on to say that the "public charter school's portion shall be allocated in the same manner as the school allocation model used by the local school district based on applicable data provided by the public charter school.” That school allocation model seems to be a formula each district will create and transmit to Frankfort, where the Kentucky Board of Education will have authority to find models deficient and request revisions.

For transportation, the amount a charter school can receive will depend on whether the school district chooses to transport the charter school students. If the district transports, the district keeps the transportation dollars. If not, that part of the funding goes to the charter school.

SEEK also has two optional parts that allow districts to raise additional revenue:
  • For Tier 1, districts can set tax rates to raise more than the minimum 30¢ per $100 of taxable property, and the state contributes to equalize resulting revenue. This year, Tier 1 revenue averaged $1,101 per pupil statewide, drawn from both local and state funds.
  • For Tier 2, districts can set even higher rates, but receive no state equalization. This year, Tier 2 revenue averaged $1,282 per pupil statewide, drawn solely from local funds.
House Bill 471 does not give charter schools any access to those Tier 1 and Tier 2 dollars. That's clear in two ways. First, the passage quoted above in blue refers to KRS 157.360, but Tier 1 and Tier 2 funding is governed by KRS 157.440. Second, the bill has explicit language saying that the funds allocated to charter schools shall not include “local funds raised pursuant to KRS 157.440(2)(a),” and that subsection sets the Tier 2 rules.

Beyond SEEK, charter schools will be eligible for categorical funding, meaning the kinds of state and federal dollars that come with strings attached. Watch for a future post that estimates those amounts.

For number lovers, here are my calculations for SEEK base, add-ons and the retained 3%:


The Tier 1 and Tier 2 estimates flow from the statewide version of these recent reports from the Council for Better Education.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Charter Legislation Finalized (with an Eight Question Summary)

The General Assembly has agreed on new charter school legislation, and Governor Bevin is expected to sign House Bill 520 into law soon.  The bill approved on March 15 included Senate amendments including:
  • Requiring instruction at charter schools to be given by teachers with state certification
  • Giving charter schools a choice of complying with state purchasing rules in KRS Chapter 45 A or providing monthly reports on spending to their boards of directors 
  • Allowing existing public schools to convert to charter schools three different ways (by petition of 60% of parents at a school in the lowest 5%, by local school board approval of a 60% parent petition at other schools, or by local school board action on its own motion
Major features of the finalized bill are summarized in an new "Eight Key Questions" overview available here.

In a separate action, legislators amended HB 471 to establish funding rules for charter schools. PrichBlog will share more about those rules soon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Finding Common Ground on Charter Schools in Kentucky

| By Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Executive Director |

Charter school legislation hangs in the balance in the waning days of the 2017 session of Kentucky’s General Assembly.  At the center of the ongoing debate is HB520 – passed on the House floor after three hours of intense discussion and yet to be heard in Senate committee. 

We agree with strong assertions on both sides of the conversation:  Charters can be a tool to increase student achievement and begin to close achievement gaps. True.  According to Stanford University’s CREDO study, charter effects vary sharply by student background, with the worst losses for white students and the best gains for black and Hispanic students in poverty. True. There are other strategies we can use to increase student achievement and close gaps, instead of charters. True. With current funding, charters will erode funding for existing public schools and compromise the progress that can be made for all students. True.  If we add charters to our system, additional resources will be necessary to support additional fixed costs. True.  Charters can create a dual system, that leaves new cracks for kids to fall through. True. High-performing charters can bring effective expertise into Kentucky and innovation that can spillover to other schools and districts. True. 

We agree with the dialog’s most important assertions: This is a significant change to Kentucky’s public education structure.  If we get this wrong, it could set us back, and worse, our kids will lose hard-won progress. True!  If we get this right, it could help us narrow achievement gaps, and better, we might have kids who are given a new sense of hope that education is their path to a larger life. True!

Our assertion: While charters will ever only affect a handful of Kentucky’s 650,000 students, there are significant opportunity costs and energy spent on this reform measure, that could be spent on other – possibly just as successful reform measures.  We MUST get this right. Our students are depending on us.  I hope this is something to which we can all agree – now, and on whatever path we choose. 

Our commitment: Whatever the years ahead hold for education policy in Kentucky, 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.  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 our next giant leap.  Together, from a place of common ground for every person and group who cares about the future of our children and our state’s prosperity, we must make that leap. 

As the hours pass and we hear the Senate is putting final touches on HB520, I’d like to reassert the Prichard Committee’s research-based findings to support legislation that has the best shot of serving our students well – within the promise of our public school system that must serve each of them well:


  • Authorizers -- Researchers repeatedly point to the importance of authorizers who have been highly trained to support key principles and standards such as those outlined in the NACSA Quality Authorizing Guide (2015)The Prichard Committee supports a moderate approach to charter legislation with authorizing by locally elected school boards and an appeal mechanism to the Kentucky Board of Education as a secondary authorizer in the case of community outcry about persistently low performing schools.
  • Accountability and oversight -- Charter school accountability is a key component of overall quality of the public education system. The Prichard Committee supports monitoring and oversight by the Kentucky Board of Education with default renewal/closure standards that are tied to student achievement and charter contract requirements with clear performance expectations for raising achievement and closing achievement gaps.
  • Enrollment -- Charter schools should not discriminate in the enrollment of students in any fashion. The Prichard Committee asserts that no student or group of students should be prohibited from enrollment on the basis of ability, performance, geography, socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, and also that charter schools must provide free and reduced-price meals as well as services for students with learning differences.
  • Funding -- Funding for charter schools should not diminish the resources currently available to school districts to educate and increase achievement for all students. Federal funding will likely be available to support public charters in Kentucky and, historically, states have been asked to outline their strategy for using charters to increase student achievement (USDOE Public Charter Program). The Prichard Committee supports the expression of an explicit, bold goal in the legislation that seeks to increase student outcomes, particularly for students who are currently left behind, and corresponding investment of public resources to achieve these bold goals.

Lastly, AND THIS CANNOT BE OVERSTATED - instilling collaboration between public charters and traditional public schools, that engages and inspires community support, will be critical to ensuring all children are served well (Center for Reinventing Public Education (2016)). This will happen if local school districts are the primary authorizer of charters – but likely NOT without this approach. Collaboration has been a hallmark of education policy in Kentucky for years and should be leveraged as a position of strength – allowing us to uniquely benefit from some of the most current research on charters. 

As we count the days and wait for negotiation on charters to be resolved this week, we look forward to uniting on common ground -- in a place where everyone who cares about student achievement can work together to focus on quality public schools and the resources necessary to support access and opportunity for each and every one of Kentucky's 650,000 students. That shared aspiration will help move Kentucky toward the ultimate goal of leading the nation in preparing students to achieve in school and in life. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Accountability Changes: A Proposal from the Kentucky Department

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

Over recent months, the Kentucky Department of Education has coordinated a wide array of discussions about our next accountability system.  The most recent published proposal based on those discussions was shared with the Kentucky Board of Education at its February meeting. 

Here's a look at how that proposal answers the "six big questions" from my November blog post about accountability change, along with a few notes on topics for further exploration.


1. What should our rising generation know and be able to do?
The proposal does not require revisions to Kentucky’s academic standards.

2. What indicators can we use to track our progress toward those desired results?
The elementary and middle school indicators for school accountability ratings will include:
  • Proficiency on state assessments
  • Student growth data, using progress toward a student’s annual personal target for improvement
  • Achievement gap closure data by income, race, disability status, English learner status, plus a “consolidated group” based on race, disability status, and English learner status
  • Transition readiness, focused on learning about non-tested subjects, career fields, and essential skills, using measures that are under development
  • Opportunity and access measures that include arts opportunities and standards-based teaching and learning in science, social studies, health, physical education and career studies
For high schools, the indicators used for ratings will include:
  • Proficiency on state assessments
  • Achievement gap closure data
  • Transition readiness, shown by graduation rates and by academic readiness (ACT, SAT, AP, IB, or dual credit) or technical readiness (industry certification, KOSSA, dual credit) or military readiness (ASVAB)
  • Opportunity and access measures that consider advanced coursework, arts, writing, global competency/world language, practical living/career studies, and specialized career pathways
In addition to the indicators used for ratings, state reporting will include additional opportunity and access measures (discussed under Question 7).
Topics To Explore
• How will annual personal targets be set?
• When will transition readiness measures be announced?
3. How far and how fast do we intend to raise those indicators?
For students overall, the proposal calls for base goals that reflect recent history, asking for improvement that matches the statewide improvement for the highest scoring student group in 2014-16.

For student groups with lower scores, the proposal calls for additional goals that will cut achievement gaps in half by 2030. Those gaps will be defined by comparing one group to another.
Topics To Explore
• Will there be custom goals for each school?
• Will there be interim benchmarks on the way to each goal?
• If the highest scoring  group declined, how will goals be set?
4. How will we rate (or differentiate) schools each year?
For elementary and middle schools, the proposal calls for public reporting of four performance levels (low, moderate, strong very strong) for:
  • Proficiency and growth
  • Transition readiness
  • Opportunity and access
  • Achievement gap closure
For high schools, the same four levels will be use for:
  • Proficiency and transition
  • Opportunity and access
  • Achievement gap closure
Based on a matrix of all of those results, schools will also receive
  • An overall school ratings using six categories from outstanding to intervention
  • A gap closure designation or a gap issue designation
Topics to Explore
• How will standards be set for the four performance levels?
• How will citizens be included in the standard-setting?
• How will those levels relate to the state’s long-term goals?
5. How will we identify schools for added support?
The proposal calls for:
  • Tier I targeted support (early warning) for schools where one or more student groups have results like lowest 10% of schools
  • Tier II targeted support for schools where one or more student groups has results like the lowest 5% of schools
  • Intervention for schools where 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
Topics to Explore
• How many schools will qualify for targeted support?
• Will all targeted support schools get a gap issue designation?
6. What support will we provide to identified schools?
The current proposal promises an additional document to describe the kinds of support and adds that the “breadth, depth, and intensity of school support will depend in large part on the available resources.”
Topics to Explore:
• When will the support document be available?
7. How will we promote accountability for results not included in the ratings and support rules?
A major innovation in the proposal is a call to report an additional set of indicators that are not counted for the ratings.

For schools, the proposal calls for reporting on:
  • Reading and math proficiency as good or better than kindergarten readiness rates for all groups of third-grade students
  • Global competency and/or world language exposure for elementary and middle school students
  • Proportional identification rates for the Primary Talent Pool and Gifted and Talented services for all student groups
  • Proportional out-of-school suspension rates for all student groups
  • Chronic absence rate (percent of students who miss 10% or more days in a school year)
  • Teachers with appropriate certification
  • Teacher turnover rates
  • First year teachers as a share of all teachers
  • Librarian/media specialists and guidance counselors, with attention to the professional roles they play
For districts, the reporting may also include:
  • ALL STAR ratings for the state-funded preschool program
  • The percentage of of students served in half-day and full-day kindergarten programs 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Charter Legislation Passes House (With Eight Question Summary)

On Friday, March 3, the House Education Committee and the Kentucky House of Representatives voted on an amended version of House Bill 520 on charter schools. The amendments:
  • Allow mayors in Fayette and Jefferson Counties as additional authorizers for charter schools
  • Limit most charter schools to admitting students from the district where the school is located
  • Allow ‘’regional achievement academies” as a form of charter school to be formed in Campbell and Kenton Counties that will be allowed admit students from all the districts of those counties
  • Prohibit virtual charters
  • Remove rules for how charter schools will be funded and how charter school employees will participate in retirement systems
  • Allow Kentucky Board of Education appeals rulings to be further appealed to the “district court of appeals"
You can download the updated Prichard Committee analysis of the legislation using the “Eight Key Questions For Any Charter School” here, and the complete bill text here.

The bill now moves to consideration by the Senate Education Committee.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A New Postsecondary Funding Model – A Positive Step for Future Investments, but Details and Transparency Matter

| by Perry Papka, Senior Policy Director |

The Kentucky State Senate this week passed Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Senator David Givens, establishing a new, comprehensive funding model for Kentucky’s public postsecondary education institutions.  The legislation is an outgrowth of recommendations made in December of last year by the Postsecondary Education Working Group and would tie a significant portion of state support for both 2-year and 4-year institutions to performance metrics.

What could this new approach mean for future investment?
Properly structured and adequately funded, a new comprehensive funding model represents an opportunity to move toward a more transparent and accountable system of postsecondary education – better ensuring that Kentuckians have access to affordable, high-quality postsecondary education.

This approach can be a positive step to help close persistent attainment gaps and be a vehicle to support additional investments in postsecondary education – investments that are undoubtedly necessary to reach the state’s educational goals. 

This can also be the first step Kentucky needs to more effectively link decisions and policies on state appropriations, student aid, and tuition to better define the expectations of institutions and students.  Lack of transparency in how postsecondary education is financed, and how the varying financial components interact, ultimately leads to less effective and efficient use of public resources and makes it more challenging for Kentuckians to reach their educational, economic, workforce, and civic potential.

What does Senate Bill 153 actually do?
Calls for renewed accountability for the state’s investment in postsecondary education are not new. Over the last three budget cycles, the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has proposed some level of performance funding for institutions based on either achievement toward targets and goals or shares of degrees produced. All of these proposals applied only to new funding requests, and with budget reductions of 18.2% since 2008 – equivalent to $197 million – none of these proposals were adopted by the General Assembly.


The current state budget initiated the process to create a new, comprehensive funding model that would include performance metrics. As part of that process, the Postsecondary Education Working Group - comprised of institutional presidents, the Governor, and legislative leadership - provided formula recommendations for the new model on December 1, 2016 after meeting five times throughout the latter half of 2016.  The budget included a powerful incentive for this group to reach consensus - in 2018, 5% of funding ($43 million) must be allocated through the new model.  (The Prichard Committee provided feedback to the working group during the development of the funding model.)


 
Senate Bill 153 essentially codifies the recommendations of the Postsecondary Education Working Group, which all institutional presidents endorsed.  A new, comprehensive funding model would ultimately distribute 100% of allocable resources to postsecondary institutions via three major categories: 30% for campus operations, 35% based on student credit hours earned, and 35% based on student success outcomes represented by a set of performance metrics.  You can download our complete summary of the legislation for easy reference.


Can Senate Bill 153 be improved?
As with any legislation, details and transparency matter.  While Senate Bill 153 overall represents a positive step forward, certain elements would benefit from greater consideration and would provide CPE and postsecondary institutions clearer guiderails to follow during implementation:
  • Weighting for Priority Populations - Additional weight for underrepresented student populations is critical to close the state’s attainment gaps and reach statewide attainment goals.  The working group’s recommendations would weight STEM-H degrees more heavily than priority populations for the 4-year institutions. Given the state’s need to close attainment gaps between diverse population groups, priority populations should be weighted equal to or higher relative to types of degree fields.
  • Fields of Study Definition - STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, math, and health) degrees need appropriate classification and definition to align with the state’s employment and educational needs.  Helpful would be a STEM-H definition establishing the process by which degree fields are classified, and that also includes STEM educators in primary and secondary education to align with high demand for qualified K-12 teachers. 
  • Implementation and Review of Comprehensive Funding Model -The formal review process established in the bill is critical to guard against unintended consequences, foster engagement, and ensure transparency.  To fully achieve these goals, the working group should be inclusive of other stakeholders such as students, business and civic leaders, and other public policy experts - including representation from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) and the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS).
  • Transparency of Funding Model and Data  - To broaden public understanding and stakeholder engagement, the funding model and its data elements should be made publicly available by a date certain annually on CPE’s web-site – including definition and funding levels of non-formula mandated programs, specific formula adjustments related to cost and level and type of degrees and credentials, STEM-H degree field classifications and justification for inclusion, and data with regard to enrollment and distribution of priority populations.  This same level of public reporting should apply to any report and recommendations made by the working group every three years.
  • Ambitious Statewide Goals - CPE’s target in the 2016-2021 Strategic Agenda of increasing Kentucky’s educational attainment to 58% by 2025 is laudable and inclusion by reference of the attainment goal adopted in the strategic agenda would enhance the funding model’s link to statewide goals.
  • Respect for Institutional Missions – Given the unique missions assigned to institutions by the 1997 Postsecondary Education Improvement Act, concerns remain about unintended consequences related to how the research and comprehensive sectors are treated relative to one another – particularly with regard to affordability to students and families.  Guidance to the permanent working group to evaluate every 3 years should include - at a minimum – the effect of the model on key principles, including:
    • Access – Ensuring educational opportunities remain inclusive of all Kentucky students.
    • Affordability – Affordability is not explicitly addressed in the funding model, yet is a significant barrier for many students.  Understanding the impact of the new model on tuition, as well as state and institutional financial aid is critical to more adequately link the financial components of postsecondary education.
    • Quality – Assessing quality presents significant challenges, but the review process should begin to consider potential measures - such as student learning and engagement – on which a future framework can be built.



(Learn more about performance-based funding in our report from the symposium we hosted in June of 2016 in partnership with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce - Performance & Outcomes-Based Funding: Lessons for Accountable Investment for Postsecondary Progress in Kentucky.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kentucky Revenue for Schools, Four Ways

| Susan Perkins Weston |

Here are four quick ways to benchmark the revenue Kentucky puts into elementary and secondary education.

1. Kentucky State and Local School Revenue Compared To U.S. Average
Over the last 12 years, Kentucky has consistently funded schools at a level well below the national average. The dollar amounts have grown, though inflation has worked to reduce what schools can buy with the dollars.

2. Kentucky State and Local Revenue Adjusted for Inflation
This version gives a clearer sense of how the buying power of the available dollars have changed over the same set of years.
 
3. Kentucky State and Local Revenue As Proportion of U.S. Average
Here, we can see some slow movement closer to the national average, but with a recent setback. From 2002 to 2012, we edged upward from 77% of U.S. average funding to 82%, but 2014 (the most recent year available) has us slipping back to 80%.

4. Kentucky State and Local Revenue Ranking Among the 50 States
Finally, here’s how our revenue for schools has placed us compared to other states. We ranked:
  • 42nd in FY 2002
  • 41st in FY 2004
  • 41st in FY 2006
  • 41st in FY 2008
  • 41st in FY 2010
  • 36th in FY 2012
  • 39th in FY 2014
A Note on Federal Dollars
The discussion above looks at the funding Kentucky governments provide for our Kentucky schools.   The federal government provides some further revenue, designated mainly for added services to low-income students and for a fraction of the added costs of serving students with identified disabilities.  For 2014, federal revenue to Kentucky schools was $1,202 per pupil.  That was $108 more than the national average of $1,094, with the difference happening mainly because Kentucky serves more students with the targeted kinds of needs. Combining local, state, and federal revenue, Kentucky schools had 82% of U.S. average revenue in 2014, and that combined school revenue placed us 38th of the 50 states.

Sources: Chart 1 figures are the sum of state and local revenue per pupil shown in the Census Bureau’s “Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finance Data” reports. Chart 2’s inflation-adjustments use the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI Inflation Calculator.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

New Accountability: SB 1 Amended in Committee

On Thursday, Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senator Mike Wilson was approved by the Senate Education Committee with amendments in a committee substitute. On Friday, the bill passed the full Senate. House Committee consideration will be the next step.

Along with some smaller changes, the amendments:
  • Removed a change to the arts-based high school graduation requirement  
  • Deleted a requirement for the new accountability system to include a "band of schools" approach to school improvement
  • Revised the rules for identifying schools for targeted support and improvement based on weak results for student groups

To reflect the amendments, the Prichard Committee has updated its bill summary. Key issues include:
  • Standards for what students know and can do
  • Assessments and approaches to meeting standards
  • Accountability steps to ensure progress toward meeting standards
  • Other changes (including certified staff evaluations, school council changes, and Department of Education changes)

You can download the complete summary here or the full bill in its current edition here.

Eight Charter Questions: Rep. Carney's HB 520

| Susan Perkins Weston |

Representative John Carney, chair of the House Education Committee, filed a new charter school bill on Friday. Using the eight questions from the Prichard Committee's Informational Guide, here's a summary of his legislation. A two-page version to print out is available here, and you can download a complete copy of the bill here.

SPECIAL NOTE
Charter schools created under this bill will be “bodies politic and corporate.” That will make them a type of government body, rather than private entities that could be classified as for-profit or nonprofit organizations.

WHAT STUDENT RESULTS WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS BE EXPECTED TO DELIVER?
 Each charter school will have annual student achievement targets that are in accordance with the state accountability system. Each charter contract will also include a performance framework that includes student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, and college or career readiness at the end of grade 12, and also includes data on school operations and on student attendance, suspensions, withdrawals, exits, and continuing enrollment from year to year. Charter applications will include a plan for “using external, internal, and state-required assessments to measure student progress on the performance framework.”

WHICH PUBLIC SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS WILL BE WAIVED, AND WHICH REQUIREMENTS WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE TO FOLLOW?
Required:
  • State assessments and school report card data reporting
  • Health and safety laws (including vaccinations, emergency drills, criminal record checks, weapons rules, student seclusion and restraint rules)
  • Civil and disability rights (including individualized education programs)
  • Plans for identifying and serving gifted students and students who are academically behind “including but not limited to the school's plan for compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations” on serving those students
  • Financial audits and purchasing requirements under Kentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 45
  • KTRS retirement for certified personnel and CERS retirement for other employees
Not required:
  • Free and reduced-price meals for low-income students (application must describe “the health and food services to be provided to students attending the school”)
  • Student learning services, including primary talent pool, primary program, family resource and youth services centers, individual learning plans, college-level courses in high school, and class size caps
  • State teacher evaluation rules, continuing contracts (tenure), and single salary schedule
  • MUNIS accounting and 2% contingency reserve
Possible questions:

Will health requirements include physical activity in grades K-5?

Will disability rights include alternate diplomas?

Will public school laws on suspensions and expulsions apply?

Will all teachers have to be certified by the Education Professional Standards Board?

Will purchases be subject to the bidding and conflict of interest rules in KRS Chapter 45A?
HOW WILL STUDENTS BE ADMITTED OR ASSIGNED TO CHARTER SCHOOLS?
Students who wish to attend will be admitted. If the number wishing to attend exceeds the charter school’s capacity, preference will be given to students who already attend the school, their siblings, and students who live in the district where the school is located. Charter schools will also be allowed to give preferences to students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, who attend persistently low-achieving school, or whose parents are board members or full-time employees. At conversion charter schools, a preference will also be given to students who attended the school before the conversion. Remaining slots will be awarded by lottery.

WHO WILL AUTHORIZE CHARTER SCHOOLS?
Charter schools will be authorized by the local school board in the district where the school will be located or by a collaborative of local boards formed to set up a regional charter school.

The Kentucky Board of Education will hear appeals of rejected applications, with power to order further authorizer consideration and (on a second appeal) order the charter approved after determining that the decision “was contrary to the best interest of the students or community.” Charters authorized after appeal will have joint oversight from the authorizer and KBE.

WHO WILL BE ABLE TO APPLY TO RUN A CHARTER SCHOOL?
“Teachers, parents, school administrators, community residents, public organizations, nonprofit organizations, or a combination thereof” will be able to apply. Each charter application will include by-laws and initial members of the school’s board of directors, which must include two parents of students at the school and must not include employees of the school or educational service providers that will serve the school. The board will be sworn in after the application is approved.

If a charter school plans to contract with an education service provider, the planned terms of the contract will be included in the charter application. (The bill defines an education service provider as “"Education service provider" means 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.")

Conversion charter schools will be allowed when the local school board votes for the conversion or 60% of parents sign a conversion petition. Applications for schools controlled wholly or partly by religious denominations will be rejected.
Possible question: Will private schools be able to apply to become public charter schools?
WILL CHARTER SCHOOL NUMBERS AND ENROLLMENTS BE SUBJECT TO CAPS?
No.

HOW WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS BE CLOSED IF THEY DO NOT DELIVER?
A charter authorizer will be able to refuse to renew a charter school’s contract if the school:
  • Fails to “meet or make significant progress toward” performance expectations
  • Persistently fails to correct violations of its contract, the charter school law, or financial management standards
  • Substantially violates material provisions of laws that apply to the charter school
There will be a formal process for hearing evidence for and against renewal, and decisions will be subject to appeal to KBE.

The charter authorizer will be able to revoke a charter school’s contract immediately if a violation threatens student health and safety.
Possible question: Will it be possible to revoke a charter (close it before the contract ends) for any reason other than threats to health and safety?
WHAT FUNDING WILL CHARTER SCHOOLS RECEIVE?
Charter schools will receive funds from the school district where each student lives, including a proportionate per pupil share of state and local funds except for those for transportation, capital outlay, and an administrative fee. That fee will be 3% for students from the district where the charter is located and 1% for students from other districts. Charter schools will also share in federal and state categorical programs in proportion to the eligible students enrolled at the school and follow reporting requirements for each of those programs.
Charter schools will be able to accept gifts, donations, and grants, so long as those funds are included in their annual reports and do not come with conditions that violate law or the charter contract.

Students who live in the district where the charter school is located will receive district transportation and the district will keep the funding allocated for transportation.

Charter school employees will receive state contributions for retirement, health, or life insurance on the same basis as other public school employees.

Virtual charter school applications will propose a funding level based on a detailed statement of the school’s costs.
Possible question: Will virtual charters be funded based on the costs listed in their applications or will they receive a proportionate per pupil share of all state and local funds?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kentucky's accountability redesign is taking shape

| by Cory Curl, Associate Executive Director |

On Tuesday evening, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) discussed the most recent draft proposal for a new accountability and data reporting system for all Kentucky school districts and elementary, middle, and high schools.

This will be one of the most important policies that the Commonwealth of Kentucky sets for K-12 education. The Prichard Committee has been an active participant with KBE and other stakeholders in creating the new system.

The proposed accountability model will be how the state communicates ambitious goals for student learning, how it educates and empowers parents with information about schools, and one of the ways it provides education leaders and policymakers with data to make more informed decisions to improve opportunities for each student.

We hope that you will review and discuss the draft plan in your community. We will publish summaries and analysis of the draft over the next few weeks.

We believe that for the system to work effectively, it must drive outcomes in core subject areas, increase postsecondary readiness and provide every student opportunities to explore and perform in areas of interest. Additionally, the system must encourage ambitious goals for student outcomes to guide Kentucky to the top of national education rankings in the next ten years.

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) plans to release the final plan for public comment in March and to submit the final accountability plan to the U.S. Department of Education in September. So there is ample time to share your suggestions, concerns, and questions before the plan takes its final form. Your engagement is critical to the successful implementation of the accountability system.

For more background, see our earlier post Accountability Changes: Six Big Questions and view our webinars and fact sheets about several considerations for accountability systems:

Please also reach out to us at any time if you have questions or want to learn more.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Charter School Success for Kentucky's Students -- Is in the Details

| by Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Executive Director |
With the General Assembly back in session this week, pending legislation to allow for charter schools in Kentucky is top of mind for legislators and education advocates.  

For the past two years, the Prichard Committee has worked to ensure that Kentucky policymakers and citizens have access to facts and research about the potential impacts of charter schools on education in our state and on student outcomes (see our report Exploring Charter Schools in Kentucky: An Informational Guide (2014) and corresponding blog post What the Research Tells Us About Charter Schools & How That Informs Our Next Steps (2014)).

Now, given the near certainty of charter school legislation this session, it’s important that we all work to make charter schools a reliable “tool in the toolbox” of our public education system -  one that can be part of a clear overall strategy to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps. Kentucky’s improvement in education over the past 26 years is in the top quarter of all states.  Any charter school action (like any adjustments to our education system) should be entertained thoughtfully to ensure our public resources are  used to, not only maintain progress but to, quicken the pace of further improvement (see the Prichard Committee Policy Statement on Charter Schools in Kentucky (2016)).


Kentucky's leaders have learned a great deal in the last few months.
In late November 2016, the Kentucky Department of Education and Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development hosted a Kentucky Board of Education Special Meeting on Charters to learn from researchers who have studied the impacts of charter schools. The event included presentations from the Education Commission of the States, Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, University of Kentucky, and the Prichard Committee. Researchers agreed on some common themes:
  • Charters show the largest learning gains for low-income students and African-American students in urban areas, with less clear results for other student groups;
  • High-quality charter schools with a trackrecord of success are realizing these gains for students; and
  • Many charters that incorporate a ‘no excuses’, ‘whatever it takes’ model and attract teachers with that same mindset have achieved great success with educationally disadvantaged student populations.

As a result of the learning session with researchers, KBE issued a position statement on charter schools which expresses a preference for local authorizing with an appeal to the state Board, a focus on “at-risk and underserved students” and funding that doesn’t negatively impact overall funding for public schools.

In December 2016, we joined several Kentucky Board of Education members, including Ben Cundiff our host for the day (KBE member and Prichard Committee member), on a visit to two public charter schools in Nashville, TN -  East End Prep and Explore! Community School. KBE member Dr. Gary Houchens archived the visit in this post.

Our visit helped us see the faces of leaders, teachers, and kids behind the numbers in the 2015 Urban Charter School Study from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). This study indicates that high-quality charter schools in cities such as Boston, Newark, Memphis, and Nashville have spurred strong learning gains among some of our nation’s most disadvantaged children.

Our visit also underscored the importance of an emerging issue we hear frequently in national meetings of education reform researchers and advocates – an issue that Kentucky will be wise to put at the forefront as we move forward:
  • Instilling collaboration between public charters and traditional public schools, that engages and inspires community support, will be critical to ensuring all children are served well (Center for Reinventing Public Education (2016)).  Collaboration has been a hallmark of education policy in Kentucky for years and should be leveraged as a position of strength – allowing us to uniquely benefit from some of the most current research on charters.  

What happens in Frankfort over the next few weeks MATTERS.
Kentucky’s legislative framework to be shaped in the coming weeks can be the first step in building conditions for success, and aiming for the positive results charters have provided for some students. The broad parameters of the legislation, as well as the details, are still very much in play (see our bill summaries for HB 103 and SB 70).
Kentucky will likely be the 45th state (including the District of Columbia) to approve public charter schools and, as many have noted before, we owe it to ourselves (in fact, our students) to learn and benefit from the successes and challenges in other states. For any legislative framework, we see four major issues as essential:
  • Authorizers -- Researchers repeatedly point to the importance of authorizers who have been highly trained to support key principals and standards such as those outlined in the NACSA Quality Authorizing Guide (2015)The Prichard Committee supports a moderate approach to initial charter legislation with authorizing by locally elected school boards and an appeal mechanism to the Kentucky Board of Education as a secondary authorizer. All authorizers should be trained in and required to adhere to nationally recognized standards for quality authorizing. 
  • Accountability and oversight -- Charter school accountably is a key component of overall quality of the public education system. The Prichard Committee supports monitoring and oversight by the Kentucky Board of Education with strong renewal/closure standards and charter contract requirements with clear performance expectations for raising achievement and closing achievement gaps. 
  • Enrollment -- Charter schools should not discriminate in the enrollment of students in any fashion. The Prichard Committee asserts that no student or group of students should be prohibited from enrollment on the basis of ability, performance, geography, socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, and also that charter schools must provide free and reduced-price meals as well as services for students with learning differences.
  • Funding -- Funding for charter schools should not diminish the resources currently available to school districts to educate and increase achievement for all students. Federal funding will likely be available to support public charters in Kentucky and, historically, states have been asked to outline their strategy for using charters to increase student achievement (USDOE Public Charter Program). The Prichard Committee supports the expression of an explicit, bold goal that seeks to increase student outcomes for all student groups in the Commonwealth and the investment of resources to achieve the goal.  

As citizen advocates for improved education in Kentucky, we are committed to working in partnership with educators, community and faith leaders, philanthropy, and the business community to ensure only exceptional public schools – public traditional schools, and public charters if legislation does indeed become law.  Our public education system should leave nothing to chance as we put each student in Kentucky on a meaningful path to academic and life success.

Ultimately, our success – as individuals and as a state - will be measured in the excellence and equity of the education our students receive and the deep engagement by parents and communities in the process.