Conference CliffNotes | California Charter School Association | College Attainment for Alumni

Here at Schoolrunner, we often have team members flying around the country to attend interesting conferences on both education and edtech. Being the data-dorks that we are, we love taking notes on all the things we see and learn at these talks.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend California Charter School Association’s 2016 Conference in Long Beach. I decided to go as a participant in order to observe and learn from all the fabulous presenters and fellow attendees. I discovered so much during my trip and wanted to share!




Noemi Donoso, The Wonderful Company, Wonderful Education

Lonneshia Webb, KIPP Through College

Elissa Salas, College Track – Erik Swanson, St. Hope Public Schools

  • Shifting the conversation to ‘through’ college, not ‘to’ college
    • What: Schools are experiencing a huge challenge in pushing graduating students through college
    • Why: It’s not always academics that cause drop-outs, instead, it’s the lack of structure and support received
      • A student panelist explained her 1st year of college was really difficult because the community she’d come to love and learn in was completely gone. She was different from her college classmates, away from home, financially overwhelmed, and struggling to stay focused. She has pushed through and is set to graduate this year
  • Options for schools
    • Confirm students are going to college for the right reasons – what is their purpose there and what do they hope to achieve? Just like the foundation of a school, the mission and vision will drive accomplishments and keep the focus
    • Work on the social/emotional attributes of college as much as the academics. What are students most afraid of? How are their families preparing? Are they coming to terms with the changes ahead of them?
    • Incorporate families into the college experience. Visit local schools and have the parents attend, complete workshops with parents, connect them to other parents with kids in college, help them to understand what’s in store for both their child and them as a parent 
    • Build an alumni network that helps create a solid community within a college campus and helps graduating high school seniors make the right school decisions
    • Build partnerships with colleges and programs like those listed below
    • Hire a persistence lead – someone who is responsible for checking in on students
  • Programs that focus on persistence:
  • What data is most important?
    • Competitiveness: transcripts, academic transcripts:
      • Do a deep dive into transcripts – target student weaknesses and speak to the potential challenges in their new school environment. Give them a heads-up and reassure them they can overcome those challenges just like they have done in high school – build their confidence!

You Tell Your Story!

This was a theme that carried through the conference – define your mission/vision and be able to articulate it to the entire educational community. This gives you an advantage. How? Because it is your voice that is heard first! You, in turn, are able to tell your school’s story and align it to the requirements set forth for your school. There are so many hurdles to jump through, but a defined and understood mission/vision helps to drive progress and clarify objectives.

Using your mission/vision as the foundation, you can be more broad in designing a framework of goals and associated metrics. Being broad strategically allows for alignment to a greater set of requirements – consistency and less duplication of efforts. State requirements around launch, annual reporting, and renewal require a thoughtful plan. Being able to speak deliberately to your progress reduces pressure and allows for real measurement of the changing nature of a school.

Make sure you know how your goals and metrics are being used. Create executive summaries to highlight what is most significant to you – what you’re proud of, what you’ve identified as areas of improvement, and your plan of action. These summaries are also a great solution for stakeholder communication. Notifying the board, district, parents – the entire school community – is essential.

All this is about progress reflection and adjusting strategy. Knowing your data and creating your story shows a school’s commitment to moving students forward and replicating success.

More on this conference


Lauren D.

School Happiness Ambassador at Schoolrunner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *