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!
This week you can take a peek at my notes from a session focused on replicating or starting high-quality schools. The most important question to start with, of course, is: ‘What is a high-quality school?’ Here’s what I learned:
Session: DEFINING “QUALITY” SCHOOLS INSIDE AND OUT
- First and most important are the People: Are they good humans and do they have the right purpose in starting/running a school?
- Youth Engagement: School provides options for students (afterschool programs, tutoring, diverse class offering, community projects, etc.), and kids are taking advantage of what their school has to offer
- Family Engagement: Get parents’ ideas on what makes a great school. Structure or restructure to incorporate their perspectives
- Community Engagement: Make sure you’re creating a culture of involvement and awareness. Have an open door – Come in, evaluate (general school operations, student projects, etc.), and help to improve processes
- Environment: Safety First (check out the CA Healthy Kids Survey!)
- Academics: Personalized learning, incorporating core values, social/emotional elements, college completion goals – You define what makes your academic offering sound and appealing
- Accountability: Schools actually evaluating themselves. Creating and implementing procedures that identify risk and ensuring you’ve built into your plan the ability to take action
- Transparency: Practices and grades are regularly communicated to parents/teachers
- Ratios: Student–teacher, student–counselor, etc.
- Strong Board: Having a strong board is key! Assemble a board that includes representation from the community you’re serving
- Money Allocation: Make sure your funds are being distributed appropriately (i.e., if you’re an art school, you’re spending a large % of funds on art programs)
- Operations: Compliance/ SpEd, replicability, lenders, establish growth plans
- Leadership Tenure: Administrative team has experience and is dedicated to improving the entire school. They are expected to stay with the school and if transitions are approaching, they have a solid succession plan. This also relates to teacher satisfaction – do teachers feel valued and able to progress in their careers? Is there a good relationship between admin and teachers?