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Adult Public Charter Schools

Colleagues,

Today we begin a week-long discussion about adult (including young adult) public charter schools.

Over the past few years I have observed a pattern of expansion of adult public charter schools. There are now adult public charter schools planned or operating in at least the District of Columbia, Arizona, Arkansas (planned for 2016), California, Colorado, Indiana, New Hampshire (planned for 2015 as a New Hampshire and national online option for adults, but with a fee required), New Mexico, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas. Most are in California and D.C., but there is some expansion in other states, as well.

One purpose of our discussion this week is to look at the opportunities and challenges for adult education program managers, teachers and others who may be considering applying to become charter schools. It may also be useful to look at broader implications of public adult charter schools for public education, including public adult basic skills education.

I would like to begin the discussion today by inviting our guest experts to introduce themselves. I hope that as part of their introduction our panelists who are managers of adult charter schools will describe their experience as an adult charter school administrator and/or advocate, describe their adult charter school (location, population served, mission or vision, number of years operating, etc.) and explain if they or their colleagues created an adult charter school from scratch, or if their existing adult basic skills/English language program had applied to become an adult charter school.

I would also like to invite other participants in the discussion to begin to post their questions now for our panelists to begin to answer tomorrow and throughout the week. If there are other participants in the discussion, in addition to our invited panelists, who have experience in creating and/or operating adult public charter schools, I hope we may benefit from their thinking and experience, too.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management Community of Practice

Djrosen123@gmail.com

Comments

Allison Kokkoros's picture
First

Hello everyone.   David, thank you for the invitation to participate in this discussion.  I have worked in adult education for 20+ years, much of that time at the Carlos Rosario School in Washington, DC.  As a very brief overview of our history, the school was founded in 1970 as a program dedicated to serving immigrants, then was incorporated under the umbrella of the DC School system in 1978 and in 1998 became the nation's first adult education charter school.  (I wrote our charter application in 1997 and still remember vividly the day we submitted our application.)

Our school's model has been recognized nationally including by the US Department of Education for its effectiveness in supporting immigrants in integrating into this country in a holistic and comprehensive manner in partnership with regional employers.  We've lived through different funding models (including a DCPS adult ed school, federal ABE and ESL grantee, DOES grantee), and I can state unequivocally that being structured as an adult education charter school is by far the best experience.   The autonomy and predictable enrollment-based funding structure allows us to best meet the unique and diverse needs of the community our model is designed to serve. (http://www.carlosrosario.org/about/school-model/)  

Our mission is to provide education that prepares the diverse adult immigrant population of Washington, DC to become invested, productive citizens and members of American society who give back to family and community. Today we are serving 2,000 adults at a time at two campuses (AM,PM, and EVE sessions), providing foundational skills including ESL, GED, computer literacy, and citizenship; career training in high demand fields (Culinary Arts, Allied Health, and IT); and comprehensive student support services.   Our adult learners are highly diverse, ranging in age from 16 to 80, speaking over 70 different languages, and hailing from 40 different countries and the District of Columbia. 

Operating as a charter school has brought with it the highest level of accountability that we have experienced in the school's 45 years of operation. Since becoming a charter school in 1998, we have created multiple new systems, process, become accredited, and developed a staffing plan oriented to meeting the expectations of District charter schools.   As one example- we created a registration department to manage the enrollment and records requirements: prescribed proofs of DC residency for students, conducting a lottery per DC code when there are more applicants than slots, immunizations requirements for students 26 and under, an enrollment report to determine funding, enrollment audit, and conducting managed enrollment throughout the school year to maintain the enrollment level for which we are funded.   

Though managing and responding to the requirements of charter schools is intense, we welcome the accountability that comes as a charter school in exchange for the autonomy and funding stability.  We are grateful that other adult education leaders have navigated the process of applying for and becoming an adult ed charter school.   We are now in a field of eight schools with a new school joining our ranks next year. In the District, 44% of K-12 public schools are chartered public schools.   

Although adult ed charter schools are obviously unique and distinct from our K-12 counterparts, we are all dealing with policy questions now related to the 44% market share charter schools have in the District.  If you'd like to read in more detail about some of the conversations taking place around charter schools generally in the District, here is an article from this weekend's Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/public-charter-schools-grapple-with-admissions-policies/2015/10/31/c40a4390-7128-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html.   And here is the recent testimony by our chartering authority before the District of Columbia City Council giving an overview of policy recommendations as well as a brief summary of the eight adult ed charter schools in the District:  http://www.dcpcsb.org/testimony/testimony-rashida-tyler-state-adult-education-and-adult-literacy-initiatives-district

I look forward to the discussion with you and our colleagues in this field this week!

Allison

Allison R. Kokkoros, Executive Director & CEO

S Jones's picture
One hundred

I had never thought about the "accountability" issue and becoming a charter school.   Of course I wonder about the people *not* being served, too (especially reading the article about the charter schools' admission policies), but I also reflect on the years I taught in private school and watched peoples' lives be so deeply and positively changed for the experience.  

I'm curious -- how much student turnover do you have -- how long do students stick around?   Does the charter school structure lend itself to students making more long-term goals (because of those accountability factors -- they'll actually *have* more than 'just knowing more' at the end) and stick around? 

Allison Kokkoros's picture
First

Hi Susan - We find that how long students stick around is based on their goals and individual life circumstances.  For example, many students will enter at a beginning ESL level with a hope to learn enough English to, for example, go from working as a bus boy to working as a waiter, making more per hour.  She'll be tested, placed in the appropriate ESL level, communicate this goal to her teacher who then coordinates with our student services team to support and follow up on the work-related goal, complete a semester or two of English and then exit, having reached her goal.   While the she is studying to reach the goal of becoming a waiter, she becomes a part of our school community, learns about our GED program, sees fellow students walking in the hallways wearing chef's jackets and nursing scrubs and learns about our career training programs, or learns about our small business club, and this exposure within an encouraging community environment ignites a new dream.   So after a time of working as a waiter, she returns to the school with a more ambitious goal, for example to enter in the GED program and then into our Culinary Arts training program or enter into our allied health integrated career pathway.   

Some students stop out not because they've reached their goals, but because life intervenes: a child becomes ill or their work schedule changes, and they find that they are not able to persist at that time.  We go out of our way in these circumstances to ensure that these students can return and pick up where they left off, whether it is a month, three months, or a year later. 

Regarding goals setting, our students set short and long-term goals in class.  We've integrated this as part of our curriculum, and hold ourselves accountable for checking in with the students at the mid point and end point of each semester of study on their progress towards goals.  Teachers link students to the services team to provide supports in reaching their goals, and school wide data on students' goals informs program improvements and growth.

Specifically as an adult charter school in the District we report on student retention calculated by the number of students that stay long enough to both pre- and post-test with the CASAS.   For this past school year we had a 79.7 retention rate.   

Bottom line, students persist because, as they put it, the school is a "community" and is like "a home" for them.   They are within an environment where they are respected, where they are supported, where they build connections with fellow community members, where they gain and practice leadership skills, all while they are gaining the skills necessary to achieve their dreams.  Our students see that they are making measurable gains that they can apply directly at work and in navigating this country's school, health, and transport systems.  Our goals setting practice and tracking is a positive factor, as are our attendance incentives for perfect attendance.    

I hope this begins to answer your question!

Allison Kokkoros, Carlos Rosario School

Simran Sidhu's picture
First

YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School (YBPhilly) was one of the first charter schools approved in Pennsylvania. We were founded to meet the unique needs of young people, ages 18-21, who had dropped out of Philadelphia high schools. We do this by providing a comprehensive and rigorous 12-18 month academic and vocational training program that focuses on transitioning graduates to post-secondary schools and meaningful careers. 

 

Recruitment efforts are citywide, and our facility is centrally located and easily accessible by public transportation so that we are able to serve youth from throughout the city.  Our targeted age range, 18-21, is a particularly underserved and vulnerable group – overaged and undercredentialed to fit into most schools. On average each year:  45% of our participants are parents; 48% have been arrested; 26% have spent time in a juvenile or adult correctional facility; 30% have an incarcerated parent; 18% have been in foster care; 90% are low or very low-income; 15% are homeless, and 40% of our students live in unstable housing.

 

Our design is highly comprehensive and integrated around students’ multiple needs. Entering students are divided into two groups and spend the first 9 months alternating between six-week long academic and vocational training sessions. After successful completion of these rotating sessions (which include attainment of an industry recognized credential), students participate in college and career bridges through dual enrollment programs or meaningful internships/work experiences. Through the entire program we emphasize personal connections to students, and work to address barriers to work and education. Students earn diplomas after they successfully complete academics, earn vocational certifications, earn community service awards and complete bridge programs.  All graduates are provided with tangible supports and services in their post-secondary education and/or their career-entry jobs for a full year after graduation by a team of transition services staff.  

 

Because we serve young adults who have an urgent need to connect to post secondary careers and education our curriculum is competency-based and responsive to the real-world needs of employers, colleges and trade schools. We integrate classroom instruction with a pretty robust vocational training program. We currently offer students four vocational training track options: construction, healthcare, early childhood education and business administration/customer service.  Each training track is connected to an industry certification (so students will have a real-world credential), addresses a labor market gap (so students can quickly connect to employers and the workforce) and a community need (so students can serve their communities). For example, in our construction training, students develop carpentry skills and earn an NCCER credential as they complete the full-gut rehabilitation of an abandoned property for sale to a low-income family and   Healthcare students earn home health aide (HHA), nursing assistant (CNA) or emergency medical technician (EMT) certifications and practice those skills volunteering in hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

 

We were urged to become a Charter by the School District of Philadelphia’s leadership in 1996, and in 1997 became one of the first Charters in Pennsylvania. Before then we had operated as a YouthBuild program that partnered with one of the District’s comprehensive high schools to award a diploma. We became a charter to have more control over the rigor of the academics we offered, and to be more nimble as we responded to the needs of our students and the world of work and post-secondary education that our students needed to connect into. We are currently in the process of renewing our charter for the third time.

 

Being a Charter provides us with a stable base from which to leverage job training and national service funding –we use Charter funds as a match on these grants. Less than 40% of our total funding over the last five years has been Charter-related funding. We’ve also enjoyed having control over our calendar, curriculum and staff so that we can adapt to meet the very individualized needs of our students. Because of the unique population we serve, we tend to be an outlier on many fronts and either have waivers or explain ourselves (outcomes, calendar, design, operating style) often.

Phil Matero's picture
First

Hello everyone, and thank you, David, for inviting me to be a part of this discussion.  I always enjoy the opportunity to talk about what we are doing here in California and to learn from what others are doing across the country. 

My entire professional life has been dedicated to young adults who have not been well-served by the traditional education system.  I did a TED-X talk once that gives many of the personal reasons for my passion for this work, but I’ll stick to school operations in this introduction.

Before the opportunity existed to create a charter school for young adults, the best we had was the GED.  I spent 17 years at the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, and for most of those years we raised money and hired as many teachers as we could afford to assist our corps members in the pursuit of a GED, which did not open the doors for them that a high school diploma could, but it was the best we could offer at the time.  I taught there, then moved into administration, and when the opportunity to open a charter school became a reality, we jumped on the chance.  Finally, we had the funding we needed to provide the long-term, intensive, classroom-based education program that we knew was most effective in meeting the educational and personal needs of our students.  But it wasn’t just about the funding.  We also moved into the role of being a State authorized school, awarding accredited diplomas, and, as a charter, we were allowed the curricular and instructional freedom to design a school that championed the educational values that we believed in.  We were able to write a school design that really met the needs of our students. 

After seeing that school off to a solid start, I moved on to design a charter school called YouthBuild Charter School of California.  Sangeeta Tyagi, current President of YouthBuild USA, and I created a school that relied heavily on theorists such as John Dewey, Abraham Maslow, Erick Erickson, and Jean Piaget, and was heavily inspired by Paolo Freire, Linda Darling-Hammond and Pedro Noguera.  The idea was to create a solid education program that would meet state requirements and that would, at the same time, fit the YouthBuild model for comprehensive youth development.  That school has just finished its seventh year, and over 3,000 young people have graduated from the school.  I continue in the role of Founder and CEO, and lead a staff of over 100 social justice educators who believe in the power of education as a force for justice and who feel grateful and honored to be able to work in this space that allows us to live what we believe. 

Of course, we have had to fight many battles to get where we are today and resist many forces that have tried to dissuade us from offering an authentic education experience to our students.  We are project-based, and for us that means that we do not use tests to assess student learning, and we do not rely on textbooks for the information our students need to lead transformative projects their communities.  We often found ourselves alone in resisting NCLB, and we haven’t connected very well with some of the mainstream charter operators who are all about test results and getting numbers that beat the district schools.  So it’s been challenging to find comrades in this work, though that has been changing dramatically for us with the Common Core.  Now, we actually find ourselves being asked to present at conferences about our work and talk about our curriculum and instruction model and also about our school culture-building strategies such as restorative and transformative justice.

I’ll end this introduction with some of the basic information about the school.  We started in 2008 at three YouthBuild program locations with about 200 students and are currently at 19 locations with about 1,500 students.  Students enroll first in a YouthBuild program and then enroll in our school.  Our school only enrolls students who are in an affiliated YouthBuild program, per the California Education Code requirements.  They are 16-24 years old, with the average age being 19.2, and on average it takes students a year and a half to graduate.  Students come to us after they have either been pushed out or have aged out of their district school system and stay in the school as long as they want—they are typically beyond compulsory education age.  The YouthBuild program provides leadership skills, vocational training, counseling, and post-program connections, which, along with our school, completes the YouthBuild model for youth development.  Our students tell us that they had exhausted their options for education in the community prior to joining YouthBuild Charter School of California.  They had no chance of graduating in the traditional system due to their age and lack of credits earned, and the Adult School system didn’t work for them because it was packet-based independent study, which they found impersonal and difficult.  We started this school because a classroom-based, interactive, community-connected school that respects youth as leaders and as intellectuals, is effective for young adults who have been marginalized by society and have not yet achieved their full potential.

Ljohnson's picture
First

Hello everyone.  David, thank you for inviting me to participate as a panelist.

Academy of Hope (AoH) was founded in 1985 to serve adults ages 18 and older.  Our mission is to provide a high quality adult education in a manner that changes lives and improves our community.The founder, Marja Hilfiger, started the school along with Gail Boss as a mission of the Church of the Savior. They began the small, community school in response to a local job placement group’s struggle to find individuals with a high school diploma or basic skills to meet the demands of entry level employment. 

Over the years, Academy of Hope grew from two volunteers, four students and four GED books in a small guard room to serving more than 500 students annually with over 70 active volunteers. In addition to GED preparation, AoH subsequently added the National External Diploma Program (NEDP), technology training (Microsoft Office), career counseling and workplace literacy (working with employees who need literacy services onsite at the workplace).

When I joined Academy of Hope as the executive director in 2006, it had consistent, predictable performance in grade level gains, GED attainment and diplomas awarded through NEDP. By all accounts, as a small grassroots organization,we were doing well.  We were stable and had relatively dependable funding through individuals, foundations and government funding (WIA title II).

In 2007, with seed funding from the then state education office, we added a pathways to college program and have since secured articulation and dual enrollment agreements with the local community college, University of the District of Columbia Community College. With growing conversations about integrated programs (adult education and workforce training) as well as career pathways in 2007 and an increasing demand by our learners for workforce training, we began serious discussions about how to best create the quality workforce training that our learners so desperately needed to secure better than entry level employment. It was clear to us that our funding model at the time was not going to get us there. We applied for our first charter in 2008. While we did not receive a charter that year, our application served as a blue print for developing a strong career/college pathways program model.

In 2010, there was a serious push locally for adult education providers to begin integrating college and career preparation into their program models.  Additionally, the radical overhaul of the GED and its alignment to the Common Core were abuzz. By our calculations, we would need to do some serious scaling up to meet the demands of the new exam and to build a more robust career pathways model.  After weighing all funding options, becoming a charter school was the best route to the stable, long-term funding needed to grow.  In 2013, we submitted a new charter application, and we were approved to open in fall 2014.

Becoming a public adult charter school, has been one of the best decision we have ever made. The uniform per pupil funding provides the stability we need to do great work for adult learners. No longer do we have to choose between a classroom set of materials or hiring a much needed teacher. In addition to the uniform per pupil funding, we also fundraise.  We have had a long history with the local funding community, and they have continued to support us even after the transition to charter.  In 2014, post charter, we grew from fifteen full and part-time staff to now forty-seven and counting.  In addition to hiring professionally trained teachers, we were also able to add a student support team including a special education coordinator, a college and career navigator, a vocational evaluator, a case manager and a job placement specialist. We were also able to completely revise curriculum to meet the demands of the new GED, enhance our instructional methods and train all teachers and volunteers in our new approach.  This would not have happened without the resources from the charter funding. 

The transition has also meant greater accountability.  As a result of our charter, we now must meet performance standards that exceed the National Reporting Standards. We have completed our first year, and we have some very impressive outcomes.  There was a 19% increase in grade level gains since receiving our charter and a 58% increase in Educational Functional Levels gains. We are also beginning to see improved employment outcomes. I am excited that there is an increased discussion about adult charters.  I believe that it is the way forward for adult education providers.  It is certainly proving to be the way forward for Academy of Hope.

I look forward to a week of rich discussion with you.

Lecester Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

 

Adult Public Charter Schools Discussion Day 2: Tuesday, November 3rd Opportunities and Challenges in Becoming an Adult Charter school.

Today, and then throughout the week, we will look at the opportunities and challenges in becoming an adult charter school. I have five questions for our experts who may not have already answered these in their terrific introductions.

1.     Please describe when and why you and/or your colleagues decided to apply to have an adult charter school.

2.     As you considered applying, did you have any concerns or reservations?

3.     What were the opportunities you anticipated?

4.     Can you tell us what the process of applying was like? (What kinds of things were required? How long did it take to prepare the application? Who was involved in the process of putting the application together?  What were the challenges, if any, in having your application approved?)

5.    What are the opportunities and challenges you see now in operating your public adult charter school?

I also have some questions prompted by some of the introductions yesterday:

6.   Allison, how did the Carlos Rosario Public Adult Charter School in D.C. get accredited? How do adult public charter schools get accredited in the District? What are the opportunities and challenges of accreditation?

7. Allison, what are some of the policy questions that are now related to the 44% market share charter schools have in the District?

8.  Simran, you mentioned that in the YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School (YBPhilly) 45% of your participants are parents. Does being a charter school enable the school to provide services to better meet their needs as parents?

9, Simran, You mentioned that 90% of your students are low or very low income. Does being a charter school enable you to meet their needs for work and income, and/or are those needs met by funding through being a YouthBuild model?

10. Simran, can you tell us more about your competency-based curriculum. Why did you choose that model? What do you see as advantages and challenges of using a competency-based model?

11. Simran, how do the YBPhilly calendar and operating style differ from other schools and education programs in Philadelphia?

12. Phil, I am very interested to hear more about how YouthBuild Charter School of California was inspired by John Dewey and Paolo Freire. Is it unusual in California to have charter schools inspired by them?

13. Phil, and others who have YouthBuild Charter Schools, can you describe the YouthBuild model for comprehensive youth development?

14. Lecester, can you tell us more about how having charter school funding provided the opportunity for Academy of Hope to revise your curriculum?

Susan Jones has asked two questions that I also hope everyone will respond to:

  1. How much student turnover do you have -- how long do students stick around?  
  2. Does the charter school structure lend itself to students making more long-term goals (because of those accountability factors -- they'll actually *have* more than 'just knowing more' at the end) and stick around? 

I hope other participants in this discussion will continue to post questions as well.

David J. Rosen

Moderator Program Management Community of Practice

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

lyliruth@yahoo.com's picture
First

Good Morning Everyone,

Thank you for this wonderful discussion, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  With all of the recent changes in policy surrounding adult ed, charter schools are the way of the future. I commend each of you for your vision and leadership in creating more opportunities for adult learners. Here are a few questions: 

 

  1. Allison, does Carlos Rosario offer diplomas as well?

  2. Allison & Lesester, how long does it take your students to prepare for the GED exam?

  3. Allison, are the ESL students pursuing a secondary credential, if so how long does it generally take them to prepare for the GED exam?

  4. Lecester & Allison, during 2014, there was a significant decline in the pass rate for the GED exam nationally, how has the new GED exam affected the pass rate for the GED?

  5. To all, how are student outcomes measured?

  6. To all, which placement test are utilized for students?

  7. To all, what incentives, if any, are offered to increase retention of students?

Many, many thanks,

Ayana

 

 

 

 

Phil Matero's picture
First

I wanted to share a resource that will give you an idea of what is being done across several states with regard to measuring student outcomes and school accountability in alternative programs.  The issue is that the way district schools determine adequate progress for students in a four-year cohort model does not work for those of us who are enrolling adult students into a public charter school.  The measurements just don’t work.  So, we look to other comparison groups—ideally we could look at alternative schools nationally to find a way to define success.  For the past four years, a group of us operating alternative schools have been gathering annually to discuss this topic, compare notes, and share ideas.  We are now in our fifth year of these gatherings, and the group now includes state and local education reps, researchers, policy-makers, and funders, along with a wide variety of school operators.  This link will give you the proceedings from the gathering last November.  http://issuu.com/siatech/docs/aapf_proceedings-2015-v6_update

We are trying to answer this question:  Is there a way to define success in alternative education programs?  That is a tough question to answer.  Certainly such a standard would include academic outcome data, but each state has different standards and tests to determine an adequate level of achievement.  Here in California, we just abandoned the exit exam and have wiped out the requirement retroactively.  Thousands of former students who completed all their coursework but did not pass the exit exam will soon be awarded diplomas, essentially saying that the test we’ve been administering for the past 12 years was a big mistake.  So, with each state coming up with different ways to set the bar, how do we talk about what we would consider an acceptable level of academic achievement in alternative schools?  And then we factor in things like personal skills development, work readiness, vocational certificates, and other measurable outcomes that are also indicators of future success.  Several school districts have developed elaborate systems of weighting each of the these indicators to come up with a final number and scale that alternative schools need to hit to be considered successful.   But each one sets different values on the indicators, making it difficult to come up with a national standard. And then you look at resources.  How do you compare an alternative school that receives $7,500 in per student funding with a school in another state that receives nearly twice that amount?  Looking at the landscape of what is happening across the country to define success in our schools will make your head spin.  But we’re making some progress.  Check out what we’ve done in the conference proceedings, and if you want to join us, we are meeting again in San Diego for the Alternative Accountability Policy Forum November 15-17.

Here’s a link for registration:  http://www.alternativeaccountabilityforum.org/register.html

If you haven’t seen the agenda:  http://www.alternativeaccountabilityforum.org/agenda.html

If you’ve never attended:  http://issuu.com/siatech/docs/aapf_proceedings-2015-v6_update

If you want more information, call:  Ernie Silva (916)449-8919.

Scott Emerick's picture
First

I'm responding to Ayana's question re: student outcome measures and placement tests.

Obviously super important questions for us at YouthBuild and most every other school model - charter or otherwise. So a central part of our conversation is balancing accountability with districts, public and private funders, and partners; while also allowing for enough flexibility for the myriad of ways that young people can demonstrate real and authentic learning beyond standardized tests.

For the vast majority of YouthBuild programs funded by the US Department of Labor, we commit to some core metrics re: grade level increases (looking for 2 years of growth in reading & math in a program year - roughly 10 months for most YB programs), the completion of either a HS diploma, GED, HiSET, or TASC (depending on state/local context), placement in postsecondary and/or career at the conclusion of programming, and retention of placement for 12 months.

In terms of placement tests, most YB programs are still using TABE or CASAS at entry to the YB program and at exit, most are focused on Compass or Accuplacer with community college and technical college partners. We are working on expanding the universe of assessment and placement tests used across the YB movement. And this requires ongoing conversations with our funding partners and our postsecondary partners across the country.

Some of the most powerful demonstrations of learning from YouthBuild students consistently come from portfolio demonstrations, community based projects, and opportunities for learners to show their competency in a real world setting. Programs like YouthBuild Charter School of California and YB Philly have been great partners in helping make the case for the value and legitimacy of comprehensive approaches for students to demonstrate learning.

There is a complex art and science of balancing formative and summative assessments; balancing the wide range of ways to demonstrate learning/competence; responding to the needs of donors/districts; and ensuring that students don't enter programs and schools feeling like they are facing a constant and overwhelming testing schedule that might have been part of the reason they left 1st chance comprehensive HS in the first place.

I honestly don't think that YB has yet reached a sufficiently comprehensive level of assessment and outcome measure options that we would like to provide for schools, educators, and learners. But I think we are moving in the right direction. I am also excited about the potential of technology and online learning and micro-credentials/badge efforts to contribute to this conversation. And the potential that learners could demonstrate learning within student-centered online learning systems, where relationships are still central, and where demonstration of competencies is built into learning management systems in ways that are more transparent for learners and for educators.

Ljohnson's picture
First

Hi Ayana,

I will tackle your questions on the GED

Prior to the GED 2014, it took our learners 18-24 months of part-time study to pass the GED exam. Learners who were at the secondary level, took a little over 100 hours of instruction to pass the exam.  With our first cohort of GED 2014 passers, we are seeing much higher hours of instruction (300 -400) needed to pass even at the secondary level.  Our 2014 passers are also much younger. The oldest is in her late 20s.  We, like so many other providers saw a huge drop in the number of individuals ready to take the 2014 exam.  It is just taking longer to prepare learners.  Those who have passed are much better prepared for college and are going directly into credit bearing classes. They are breezing through the Accuplacer and other entry exams at the community college level. 

Interestingly, our interim measures (Grade level and Educational Functioning Levels) are seeing huge increases.  Because of our curriculum changes, these numbers are much higher than previous years. We still don't know how long our ABE learners will take to pass the new exam. They are making steady gains in our classes.  The first cohort of GED passers all entered with secondary and high secondary academic skills.

Because we are also receiving WIA title II funding, we are currently required to use the CASAS exam in DC.  There is a huge misalignment of the CASAS with what is required on the new GED.  Unfortunately, we must use CASAS to measure grade level and EFL changes.  This is unfortunate because we now run CASAS preparation and tutoring outside of our primary instructional program.  

We recognize learner throughout the semester for every 25 hours of instruction. We also do end of term celebrations recognizing, achievements and attendance.  Learners can win gift cards in increments of $25 -$50 dollars.  Our goal is to encourage learners to persist to 100 hour or more.  We know that with 100 hours or more, learners will start to see grade level gains, and they are more likely to persist to achieving their high school credential (GED or Diploma through the National External Diploma Program).

Simran Sidhu's picture
First

Our evolution to embrace a competency based curriculum really came from our desire to see students succeed after graduation. We spent a lot of time talking with our post secondary education and employment partners and tried to distill down to what they were repeatedly saying they would like to see graduates be able to do. We also realized that a traditional academic approach did not fully leverage and complement our hands-on training program component.

Our hope is that our competency based curriculum is responsive to both: the real-world needs of employers and post secondary institutions and our students’ urgent need to connect to these worlds. We try to strengthen students’ academic competencies and professional skills within a meaningful context so that students engage in work that matters to them and to the world.

We require our students to demonstrate mastery of the transferrable academic competencies they need to be successful in postsecondary settings.  Our model of assessment includes regular formative assessment and demonstrations-- summative assessments that ask students to show they can apply their mastery of the competencies to authentic, complex tasks that prioritize critical and creative thinking. We use this competency-based approach for three reasons: 

  1. in our condensed time-frame it allows for laser focus on the skills students can apply in diverse settings beyond YBPhilly;

  2. it allows us to individualize education and gives us the flexibility to meet students where they are in their development;

  3. it allows us to empower students to take charge of their learning and have a central voice in their education and career journey.

    Collaborative strategies are practiced across the school and allow for student learning to be highly engaging, challenging and exciting.  Teachers hone differentiated strategies to support students with a diverse set of strengths and needs. 

    We integrate this classroom instruction with our robust and unique vocational training program. YBPhilly currently offers students four vocational training track options: construction, healthcare, early childhood education and business administration/customer service.  Each training is deeply connected to industry certification (so students will have a real-world credential), labor market gap (so students can quickly connect to employers and the workforce) and addresses a community need (so students can shift their self identity and go from being seen as problems to being problems solvers). For example, in our construction training, students develop carpentry skills and earn an NCCER credential as they complete the full-gut rehabilitation of an abandoned property for sale to a low-income family.  Healthcare students earn home health aide (HHA), nursing assistant (CNA) or emergency medical technician (EMT) certifications and practice those skills volunteering in hospitals and long-term care facilities.  In the early childhood education training, students earn a child development associate (CDA) certification as they volunteer in daycare centers, drop-in stations and community children’s festivals.  In the customer service/business training track, students earn customer service excellence training (CSET) credential endorsed for 4 college credits by ACE and Starbucks, and practice skills at a food pantry distribution center as they help meet the needs of food insecure families. Students earn education awards of between $900 and $1300 for this service as AmeriCorps members. These awards can be used towards postsecondary education expenses for up to seven years after graduation and are an extremely valuable asset to our low-income students.   

In addition to teaching transferrable academic competencies, we take responsibility for cultivating the school-wide core values and professional skills our students need to be successful.  We provide space in our classrooms for students to engage with and reflect on these core values (Respect, Excellence and Perseverance) and professional skills (motivation, high quality work, people skills, teamwork, self development and resilience), and we give regular, useful feedback that will lead to students’ growing expression of the traits which are highly valued by our employer and post secondary education partners.

 Our support systems are individualized and wrap around students. They include:

  • Case Management: Each student is assigned a case manager who serves as the central coordinator for all the support services that the young person needs. Students meet with their case manager to develop a comprehensive personal assessment of their goals, self-esteem, substance abuse, sexual health and practices, family, relationships, educational history, employment history, medical history, health insurance, finances and legal issues. They have access to individual counseling sessions with their case managers, and a counselor from Shalom, Inc. provides on-site intensive psychological and substance-abuse treatment as well as psychological assessment for youth who need such services.  The understanding, guidance and support provided through the case management relationship create an immediate connection to the program for young people who have lacked family support.

  • Coaches:  In addition to the case managers, each participant is assigned another YBPhilly staff member who serves as their coach, offering youth another adult connection and support system. These coaches build relationships through after-hours phone check-ins, informal lunches and organized activities at school. Year after year, youth cite their relationships with a positive adult role model as the reason they succeeded in the program.

    GPS Groups: All YBPhilly staff meet together in small “Graduation Pathways Support” groups (GPS) to discuss students’ issues, challenges, pathways and future plans on a weekly basis.  These small groups consist of a case manager, teacher, vocational instructor, mentor, administrator and service learning coordinator, who work together to strategize about each youth each week. Some weeks the focus is on attendance or housing issues, while other weeks, the group is helping with transition planning or placement support. This small group of highly involved staff create individual action plans for each student which are monitored weekly by the GPS cohort.

Throughout the program cycle we provide students with the opportunity to earn incentives, paid internships and we raise private funds for need-based grants. We actually extend these resources for one year past graduation. YBPhilly has seven full time staff who assist students as they transition into post-program placement and develop follow up supports for graduates as they meet critical milestones in their post program journeys (first job, attaining certification/credential, moving up from entry level position, reconnecting to college).  In addition to connecting graduates to community resources they provide on-the-job and on-campus support services.  Staff visit graduates placed on-campus regularly and arrange on-campus group meetings with peers attending the same schools to foster peer support. They follow up with graduates proactively, helping them anticipate and plan for potential obstacles.  Each graduate is also assigned a post-program coach (all YBPhilly staff members also serve as coaches to current students and grads) who develops monthly action plans with graduates to ensure they are getting and/or staying on track with their post-program goals. Staff members stay in regular contact with graduates through phone calls, text messages, social media and face-to-face meetings at a minimum of a monthly basis for one year after graduation.  This year all Class of 2015 graduates are eligible to receive monthly transportation passes (and we have a great opportunity to check in with them as we distribute these) and just in time need-based grants. Some of these grants are designated specifically for graduates who are parents.

During the program we provide students who are parents with very intentional and early case management to ensure that they have stable arrangements for childcare. We have resisted the temptation to open our own day care because we feel it doesn’t solve their longer term need for quality childcare as they transition to post secondary work and school. A counselor from one of our partner agencies that specializes in finding childcare resources for parenting teens spends four days a week at the school assisting students. We also organize parenting classes and resources for students through our other community partners like Educating Communities for Parenting.

In terms of calendar our school is year- round. Students enroll in the program early in September and graduation is in late August (incoming students attend graduation for the previous cohort). A second graduation for students who need more time to attain competencies is held in November. Students spend a minimum of 12 months enrolled in the program but may stay as long as it takes to complete.

Students spend alternating six week sessions between our vocation and academic rotations for the first 6 to 9 months of the program. All students must earn an industry recognized certification and meet our competencies. As they meet these requirements they participate in one or more bridge experiences: Through each of its training tracks YBPhilly offers opportunities for a sequential second, in-industry credential, as well as industry internships, and supported transition to job training/college programs that create a seamless progression from one educational stepping stone to another. For example, students who earn their home health aide (HHA) certification early in the school year can earn a nursing assistant (CNA) or emergency medical technician (EMT) certification or begin to take college classes towards a licensed practical nurse (LPN) degree while still enrolled at YBPhilly. 25% of graduates earned these second certifications last year. Students also complete dual enrollment programming and internships during this phase. Students gain a true sense of work and college environments and expectations, while also getting a head start earning college credits, prepping for entrance exams or gaining valuable on-the-job work experience.  Dual enrollment opportunities at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (Thaddeus), Esperanza College and Peirce College help participants gain the confidence and skills they need to enroll and persist in post-secondary education through to credential attainment.

Students are eligible for graduation after completing our core requirements: academics, vocation, earning a certification, earning service hours, successfully completing at least one bridge—but we very intentionally message to them that our program continues for another year of post-graduation support and programming (described above).

Ljohnson's picture
First

Hi David,

Academy of Hope (AoH) first applied for a charter in 2008.   We were not awarded a charter on our first attempt.  With a much stronger program plan and additional experience in workforce development, we re-applied in 2013 and were granted a charter to open in fall 2014.  There were a confluence of events that helped Academy of Hope to move to becoming an adult charter school, but the primary reason was an economic one.  As a school, we wanted to enhance the services we offered to our learners.  Those services included adding workforce training and strengthening our college transition program.  We also desperately needed critical support services (case management, career/college navigators, special education, and job placement) to better assist our learners during their time with us. 

In addition to our desire to enhance services for learners, the local push for more integrated services (adult education and workforce development), and the pending changes to the GED (alignment with common core) came with a hefty price tag.  To achieve the level of instructional quality, workforce training and support services we needed to be effective, AoH would have to double its revenue within a three year period. Our fundraising efforts at the time were not enough to get us there in a timely manner.  The stability of the uniform per pupil rate, along with our strength in fundraising and a 15 year charter were very appealing for improved services and long-term sustainability.

Reservations about Applying

In considering charter status, we had quite a few reservations.  The first major concern was that we were entering a system that did not fully understand the nature of adult education.  Some of the earlier adult charters in DC shared with us a few of the challenges they were having with the local chartering authority. Essentially, adult charters were operating in a system that was overwhelming focused on children and youth.  Many of the compliance requirements and accountability measures simply did not fit adults.  Additionally, there would be a significant increase in compliance and reporting requirements. Would we have enough resources to staff a compliance and accountability team to the level needed to stay on top of all of additional reporting and compliance?  Finally, as a private, nonprofit, we maintained independence and flexibility in deciding who we could best serve.  As a public charter school DC, you must participate in the local lottery and you must be able to meet the needs of all learners who apply.

Anticipated Opportunities

With the additional resources as a charter, Academy of Hope was able to hire professional teachers, and completely revise its curriculum and teacher training to meet the new demands of the GED.  Our curriculum is now inquiry based and project focused, and we are aligned with the common core, and the college and career readiness standards. The charter resources enabled us to hire trainers and support for curriculum development.

We were also able to add an entire student support team and a three person accountability and data unit.  This has greatly enhanced our ability to meet students’ needs and better track their progress. We use our fund raised dollars to support workforce programs, and to try new approaches to instruction.  Additionally, our staff and teachers are able to access significantly more professional development resources offered to LEAs throughout the city. Because of enhance quality of services we are seeing much stronger outcomes than prior to our transition to charter.

Ljohnson's picture
First

Applying for a charter was an extremely time consuming process for Academy of Hope (AoH).  During the application process, we continued to operate our year round school. It was a very difficult time for the organization, and applying for a charter put a huge strain on the existing staff.  While the burden of writing the application primarily fell on me, program staff and some board also contributed a lot.  From planning to being approved, it took us nearly one year. The actual writing of the application took us four and a half months.  Critical components of the application in DC were

  • Clearly articulated educational philosophy/qualifications of staff & board
  • Educational outcomes
  • Strong business plan  
  • Five year enrollment and budget projections

In addition to writing and submitting the application, there were numerous site visits by the chartering authority, a hearing and a final vote by the charter school board.  One of the challenges in having the application approved was helping the local chartering authority to understand the high cost for supportive services.  Most K-12 schools have higher costs for the instructional team.   As an adult charter, we were also not eligible to receive start-up funds during our planning year (year of planning before opening).  K-12 schools are eligible Walton Foundation start-up funds and state and federal start-up dollars.  In addition to our regular operating funds, I had to raise an additional $500,000 to support start-up cost (instructional lead, curriculum developer, data and accountability).

Opportunities and Challenges

The greatest opportunity in operating a charter for AoH, at this time, is having the resources to operate a school the way it should be operated.  For the first time in my almost 10 years at Academy of Hope, we can buy classroom materials, hire teachers and provide the wrap around services that our learners need. Prior to the transition to charter, we were operating on less than $2000 per student, and we were very dependent upon volunteers to staff our classes.  With the transition to charter, we are now over $11,000 per student, if you include the facilities allowance.  While this is great, we are still only getting 80% of the K-12 per pupil allowance.  Additionally, 30% of our learners disclose that they have a disability, however, we are not able to access IDEA funds for individuals over 21, but we are required to meet the needs of all learners regardless of ability. We have continued to fund raise, to help bridge any gaps in funding.

In DC, charters also have first priority for any of the vacant schools and there are a number of programs to assist with the cost of facilities. The business model of the charter, in many ways, makes it much easier to focus on the real mission of providing adults with the best quality education and workforce training available.  While the accountability for performance is very demanding and sometimes not the best fit for adult learners (in seat attendance measures, for example), we are grateful for the intense focus on student learning.  We are early in the process, and I am sure some of the other panelists can share more about their challenges as mature adult charters.  For community based organizations who are considering the transition, I think it is well worth a second look.  

Allison Kokkoros's picture
First
We had been operating as part of the DC School system, then because of the financial crisis in the mid-1990's in Washington, DC, adult ed DCPS schools were eliminated from the school system budget.  Sonia Gutierrez, our school Principal at the time and today board member and President Emeritus, reestablished the school with broad support from the local philanthropic community.  There was a tremendous demand for education for immigrants, and the foundation funding was limited.  When we saw that DC was passing legislation for charter schools and that they had specifically including a provision for adult education, it was a blessing, an opportunity to get adequate funding to run a holistic adult education program.  The first chartering authority in DC was the Board of Education. Sonia applied to the Board of Education for charter status, but at that time for purely political reasons they refused to open an adult ed charter school.  Then the DC Public Charter School Board was formed as a second (and now the only) charter authority in DC. Sonia was reluctant to apply again.  One of the concerns was that there was a very strong anti-immigrant sentiment in the country at that time.  She asked for me to write an application for the Public Charter School Board and gave me the application to the Board of Ed to draw from, but we were not able to use it as the guidelines and requirements of the Public Charter School Board were completely different.  We received technical assistance from NCLR, a national advocacy organization for the Latino community based in Washington, DC, specifically with crafting the budget and adapting our CBC curriculum to the Performance Based Standards that were required.   We were in the first batch of applicants for the Public Charter School Board and the only applicant seeking to be an adult education charter school. The fact that we were an existing school, compared to some other applicants that were seeking to start a school from scratch, was an advantage.  We already had a strong and proven curriculum, a demonstrated demand with a long waiting list, a deep experience in running a school and honing our model.  
 
Regarding concerns or reservations, we had none whatsoever.  Sonia had reviewed the legislation and saw that it provided the freedom to do what we needed to do to run a school in a way that works.  It was our only possibility to have adequate funding with all the components needed including intensive classes, student services, job placement.    
 
Regarding challenges when starting up: The Charter School Board unconditionally granted a charter contract to our school in 1998, but we quickly learned that there was no money to operate.  There was no mechanism for receiving funding. Per pupil funding formulas had been established for elementary, middle, and secondary schools only.  Sonia advocated with the chair of the education committee of the DC City Council who had created a task force to work on revising the per pupil funding for K-12 schools.   The Chair of the education committee assigned this group to also create a formula for adult ed now that there was an adult ed charter school. The task force created a formula which was a fraction of the K-12 formulas, considering that per DC Code full-time for adult learners is 12 hours of instruction per week.   With Sonia's advocacy, the formula was approved in the DC City Council.  
 
Now that the charter movement has matured, K-12 charter schools in the District have access to start up funds, and as my colleague Lecester from Academy of Hope mentioned, adult ed charter schools do not.   When we applied seventeen years back, the movement was so new that there were no established start up funds for charter schools.  Fortunately we had the curriculum and model already developed and were operating as a nonprofit.  In addition to a small (I believe $25K) grant from NCLR, we were able to reprogram some of our unrestricted funds to support the transition to charter school operations.  
 
Another challenge that we have faced and continue to face is that many of our immigrant students had very limited formal education in their home countries.   Many grew up in rural communities, were needed to support their families and left school before completing elementary school.   Some grew up in countries torn deeply by civil war and there was no school operating in their towns.   So though our students are highly motivated, and have a tremendous work ethic, they are many, many years "behind grade level", lack literacy in their native language, and have never had schooling in the United States until they came to our school.  What helps is their eagerness and incredible desire to study, learn English, find their way in this country.  They will and do achieve their goals but over a longer time frame, which affects for example the rate of progress for those seeking to pass the new GED.   We see our students' goals evolve from the initial goals related to survival, getting food on the table for their family members, to beginning to have bigger dreams like gaining a high school diploma, exploring entering into a career.   
 
I am inspired every day by our adult learners and their efforts and commitment to learn in the midst of navigating in a country that is new, amidst a language that is foreign, and while working multiple jobs.  Operating as a charter school is truly a blessing which has enabled us at the Carlos Rosario School to best support our amazing adult learners to achieve their potential. 
 
 
 
David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Thanks, Allison, for your description of some of the opportunities and challenges. You mentioned that one challenge is students with very limited formal education in their home countries, who may need many years of instruction to achieve their (as you pointed out) evolvingly more ambitious education goals like getting a high school diploma, perhaps post-secondary education, and entering a career. For these students who have a long education row to hoe, I wonder what your school sees as patterns of participation. What percent of these beginning level students would you say participate without interruption for several years? What percent participate intermittently but, by returning, over time make progress toward their education goals? What percent participate for a short time and do not return? Also, are there other patterns of attendance you have observed?

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management CoP

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

 

Scott Emerick's picture
First

Hello everyone,

My name is Scott Emerick and I'm the Senior VP of Education, Career, and Service Pathways at YouthBuild USA.

Simran Sidhu and Phil Matero have already described some of the amazing work they are leading within the YouthBuild movement in Philly and LA respectively. So I am adding some of the national context for our broader movement and how we hope to empower young learners.

YouthBuild programs operate in 46 states and 17 countries. We enroll a bit less than 10,000 young people a year in the US and almost that many internationally. In the US, our learners are 100% low-income; 93% lack a HS credential at entry; 63% are male; 49% are African-American; 26% are Latino; 20% are White; 3% are Native American; and 2% are Asian American. More than 53% of learners receive public assistance, 31% are court-involved; and 29% are parents. The average age of learners is just over 19 years old. Most importantly, we believe that 100% are ready to be leaders in their community and to succeed in a wide range of postsecondary and career pathways.

As Simran and Phil described, the YouthBuild model places leadership development and youth development at the center of our movement as the north star for programming. Young people experience a mini-community of adults and peer learners who are deeply committed to each other's success. And in an average length of programming of 10 months (has been steadily increasing), young people participate in a comprehensive mix of leadership development, academic learning, vocational/career training, community service, and counseling.

The academic work of YouthBuild has been evolving to become more aligned with postsecondary and career readiness standards. 2012 was the first time that YouthBuild programs provided young people with more diplomas than GED's. Approximately 65 YouthBuild programs offer high school diplomas via various governance structures and relationships with school districts. And approximately 30 YouthBuild charter schools operate in DC-CA-FL-IL-MN-NF-NM-OH-PA and TX.

I joined the YouthBuild movement in 2008 because I believed deeply in the model. And also believed in the potential for the YouthBuild model to apply 35 years of excellence in youth development toward a movement to become a college & career prep programs instead of a GED program.

The secret sauce of YB will always be our relationships with young people, but we are raising the bar on what Opportunity Youth can do academically and the proof point that we can provide for how low-income learners succeed and lead in college and careers.

Phil and Simran are operating two of the very best YouthBuild programs in the country and I"m really excited for them to represent our YouthBuild experience in empowering learners as critical thinkers and change agents in their community.

Lastly, I'm excited to describe new and emerging career pathways that we are pursuing in health care, customer service, information technology, and green energy.

And I'm thrilled to be part of a great community conversation with impressive instructional leaders and program leaders at amazing programs for adult and young adult learners.

Looking forward to the conversation.
Scott

Phil Matero's picture
First

David asked me about Dewey and Freire as figures who inspire our work.  Dewey and Freire are certainly two of the education theorists who inspire us, but I could go back as far as Aristotle and find a lineage of educators and education theorists who view education much in the same way as we do here at YouthBuild Charter School of California.  We are educators who believe that there must be a purpose to what we teach.  We don’t just teach things because the state tells us our graduates need to have a specific set of information in their brains—a set of information that they could pull up on their smart phones, by the way.  We see our job more as helping our students develop their ability to grow as intellectuals and leaders. Dewey would say that students must interact with their environment and experience things in order to really learn, and that is certainly foundational to social justice educators and project-based instruction.  Creative educators have always made connections to the world outside the classroom, and that’s great.  But what do you connect with?  What real world experiences do you choose to connect your students to as an educator?   What we love about Freire is that he took the experience of education and found a way to address injustices and inform action that will create a more just society.  Instead of just being connected to experience, Freire connected education to culturally responsive experiences.

Projects at our project-based school are opportunities for our students to protest against sheriff brutality in the county jails, raise awareness about ever-increasing homelessness, and work for food justice issues in our local neighborhoods.  Our students are on the streets, at City Hall, holding town hall meetings, and bringing testimony at the County Board.  They prepare for these actions in the classroom by researching their communities and learning the history, science, math and language skills they will need to be effective in their advocacy and in their actions.  They take up their rightful roles as intellectuals and leaders because they experts in the subject of their communities and they care deeply about the issues that affect them.  They care about economic, environmental and social justice, and the projects our students do to earn credits allow them to take the lead in addressing them. 

Our school’s commitment to social justice education is what makes our school such a good fit for YouthBuild programs.  We work alongside 19 YouthBuild programs that follow the model that Scott Emerick described in his introduction where there is a comprehensive mix of leadership development, academic learning, vocational/career training, community service, and counseling, with the secret sauce being caring relationships with the participants. Our school operates as a part of this mix.  Our particular role in the mix is to provide the young adults in the program with a public school education so they can earn an accredited high school diploma, but our passion is to join with YouthBuild programs and support our young leaders to create a more just society.  For school folks like us, it’s a rare and wonderful opportunity to be so connected to a social justice, community-based organization like YouthBuild. 

I can’t help but mention a new book that we are reading here by Dr. Antonia Darder, called Freire and Education.  Dr. Darder spoke at our professional development this summer and we were so taken with what she said that we are all reading her book.  It’s a very personal reflection about how Paolo Freire’s work has inspired her.  It’s definitely worth the read. 

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Adult Public Charter Schools discussion Day 3: Wednesday, November 4th Teacher Compensation and Professional Development

Colleagues,

Thanks to the great questions so far (let's have more -- only three days left for the discussion), and especially to our panel of experts for their thoughtful, well informed and to me, at least, fascinating replies.

Teacher and administrator professional development, in public k-12 education, has recently been discovered by some as the most important ingredient to education program success. It is, but unfortunately it rarely is given the resources or attention needed to make a significant difference. In a new model such as adult charter schools, it may be even more important. Compensation (salaries, benefits, paid professional development time) is also very important in attracting well-qualified teachers. Let’s see what our experts think about compensation and professional development.  Here are my questions for today

1.     What experience, skills and qualities do you look for in teachers you hire? Are these teaching positions full-time or part-time?

2.     Are you able to provide benefits to teachers?

3.     Are salaries comparable to those of teachers in public schools in your area? To other adult basic education programs?

4.     What professional development do you think teachers in adult charter schools need?

5.     If you are able to provide teacher professional development, what do you provide, and how?

 

David J. Rosen,

Program Management CoP Moderator

djrosen123@gmail.com

Phil Matero's picture
First

I couldn’t agree more with the idea that getting the right teachers and paying and training them well is a key to success in operating a school program that is effective for our students.  We need the best teachers we can get for this work because it more challenging than a traditional school teaching assignment.   At YouthBuild Charter School of California, we only hire teachers who are credentialed to teach at the high school level.  So, at a minimum, they have a single subject credential and a Bachelor’s Degree.  We like to hire teachers with a Master’s Degree in Education, along with their Bachelor’s in their subject area, and 70% of our teachers have those qualifications.  We employ about 100 teachers and they are all full time. Our starting salaries are higher than district schools, and we also provide a generous benefits package, which includes medical, dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance, and we pay into the State Teachers Retirement Systems so that our teachers will retire with a pension.   We definitely compensate at a rate that is higher than average for teachers, and we dedicate a lot of our time and budget to professional development.

The compensation package is part of what allows us to attract highly qualified teachers, but of course, people sign on to work here because they believe in the mission, want to make an impact on the lives of their students and the community, and want to develop their professional skills as a teacher.  So we are very careful in the interview process to be sure that we hire folks who are committed to social justice education and are ready for the challenges associated with our work environment.  Most of our teachers come from progressive teacher education programs, have been trained in project-based learning, and are familiar with social justice education concepts, but their university training does not fully prepare them for this work. Putting their skills into practice at our school requires a good bit of training, planning and preparation time.  So in order to make sure that our teachers are ready and able to teach in a YouthBuild program, we spend two weeks in the summer prior to the start of the school year in professional development, and then we have two break periods during the school year when we have a week of staff development and planning time.  The professional development is designed by teachers to develop their skills as they see fit and includes a lot of sharing of resources and best practices from across our 19 campuses.

In addition to the professional development that we provide at our all staff PDs, we provide a professional development budget of $500--$1,000 for every employee so they can select a professional development experience (conference, class, workshop, etc.) that meets their personal professional development goals.

Scott Emerick's picture
First

agree with Phil on the many factors that influence educators' decision to come to and remain at a school, and also agree strongly with his take on the priority of making sure that core commitments of educators align very closely with the core mission of the school.

three years ago, a group of really talented YB educators (Teacher Fellows), including a few teachers from YB charter schools, and one educator from one of Phil's schools, wrote an excellent paper on the conditions that matter most for attracting and keeping talented educators at YB schools. These leading educators named 1) Time, 2) Professionalism, 3) Physical Learning Environment, 4) Program Culture and 5) Professional Development.as the conditions that mattered most. They addressed salary and compensation within the paper as well, but it did not top their list of factors. 

The entire piece is framed in a very constructive way for how program directors/principals/school leadership can work with educators to create conditions that attract and keep talent:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bt3e0hiq3zl4sui/TeacherFellows_ConceptPaperFINAL.pdf?dl=0

Allison Kokkoros's picture
First

Qualifications, Full-Time and Part-Time

In hiring teachers at Carlos Rosario School, we look for educators who are committed to working with diverse immigrant adults and have a proven record that demonstrates an ability to teach their content. Teachers need to be committed to the mission of the school. A Master’s degree is preferred. We currently have 28 part time teachers and 43 full time teachers. Full time positions are nearly always filled from our pool of part time teachers.

Teachers do not have to be certified when they start, but are expected to begin our credentialing process once they become full time. We have requirements that are similar to other public schools and the requirements differ depending on whether the teacher is in GED, ESL or Career Training. All are expected to complete coursework in Adult Education. Once certified, teachers have to maintain their certification by taking classes, writing articles, presenting at conferences, etc. A credentialing specialist works with faculty to achieve and maintain their Carlos Rosario certification.

We also have a team of paraeducators and tutors who have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree when hired.  They are bilingual in English and another language that is commonly spoken at the school, usually Spanish and/or Amharic. We encourage and support paraeducators and tutors to become teachers and so our faculty includes teachers who are members of the communities that we serve.

Benefits and Salaries

We provide benefits to teachers. Full and part time teachers receive paid sick/personal leave, paid holidays and professional development. Full time teachers receive health insurance, 401k with employer match, long and short term disability, reimbursement for coursework, and opportunities to attend local and national conferences.

Salaries at Carlos Rosario are comparable to other public schools in the region. We have done salary studies to ensure that salaries are competitive. Salaries are based on college degree and years of experience in the field.

 

Professional Development

Teachers at adult charter school mainly need the same professional development as other teachers of adult learners. However, it is critical for teachers in adult charters to stay focused on the accountability that is so crucial to a charter school’s survival. Charter schools are highly accountable and can be closed if performance targets are not met. In Washington, D.C. we are accountable through the Adult Education Performance Management Framework (PMF). Success on the PMF means reaching targets related to student gains in Educational Functioning Levels, GED pass rate, job gains and retention, persistence, attendance, and mission specific measures.

Teachers at Carlos Rosario receive information on the PMF targets and teacher cohorts analyze student performance data to make instructional decisions to ensure our students have the supports necessary to reach expected targets. PMF performance is published for each charter school in D.C. including the adult charters. This year we will join the K-12 charters and will be tiered for the first time. Tier 1 schools are high performing and Tier 3 schools are subject to closure.

The PMF is a rough way to evaluate whether we are achieving the mission of the school and although the PMF informs our professional development, it is our school’s mission along with input from teachers that determines our PD program. We have professional development specialists at the school who plan and coordinate sessions and provide individual coaching to teachers. In addition, experienced teachers act as cohort leads and serve as mentors to new teachers. We determine a PD theme that is revisited throughout the school year and individual teachers also develop their own PD plan to fulfill their own professional goals. This year’s PD theme is Soft Skills and Workforce Development. Within cohorts, teachers determine ways to implement the year’s theme and participate in peer observations, lesson studies and action research.  In the past we have looked at contextualized instruction, literacy instruction for low level readers and other topics requested by teachers through surveys. We include PD on other topics as well. Throughout the school year we have teacher-led lunchtime sessions that focus on improving the use of technology in the classroom. Additionally, there is always interest in learning more about our student’s countries of origin, for example. As a result, we have hosted guest speakers from the community to discuss a range of cultural topics and we have ongoing training on diversity and inclusion as well.

(Special thanks to Dr. Ryan Monroe, Chief Academic Officer, for the response to these questions.)

Allison Kokkoros, Carlos Rosario Int'l PCS

Ljohnson's picture
First

Hi David,

Thanks for your questions on teacher qualifications and benefits.  I feel in general that adult educator are wholly underpaid for the work that they are asked to do.

Teacher Qualifications

Beyond the obvious skills in instructional pedagogy, our teachers must be skillful with dealing with the emotional baggage that our learners bring into the classroom. With some content knowledge and foundational skills in instructional practices, we believe we can teach teachers to teach.   More than anything, Academy of Hope is looking for the right fit for the our organizational culture.

That culture at  Academy of Hope (AoH) is one of community, deep caring, complete respect and non judgment of the adults we serve.  Every person in the AoH community (students, teachers, staff, volunteer, etc.) is valued and adds value to our school.  We meet our learners where they are, and we are working to create an environment of compassionate accountability.  As many of us who have worked in adult education for many years know, learners accessing adult education services have often experienced multiple traumas and have had very negative experiences with school.  Any teacher or staff we hire must have a deep appreciation for what our learners have experienced and must have the ability to work with our learners without judgment or blame.

So often you will hear someone say,  "The student just isn't motivated".  We find that beneath the apparent lack of motivation, learners are experiencing an overall sense of being completely overwhelmed by the road ahead and deep fear.   Many are  fearful of repeated failure and being judged as incapable. Our teachers must be able to see beyond the fear and be prepared to help adults realize their inherent qualities as a learner.  Empathy, compassion and the ability to meet students where they are critical skills for us.

Salary & Benefits

The transition to charter has enabled us to bring our salaries closer to the salaries of professional educators in the region.  While we cannot yet completely match the salaries in DC Public Schools (they got a huge bump in their pay scale a few years back), we are in line with salaries for k-12 charters in the area.  Like the local school districts, we do have pay differentials for additional education. For example, we pay about $3500 over the base salary for a Masters.  Lead teachers are also paid more.

We are beyond competitive when compared to our colleagues in community based organizations. We were also able to enhance our benefits package.  In addition to the standard health, we are now doing a match for retirement and provide long and short-term disability benefits.  We were not able to do this prior to transition to charter.

Professional Development

Regarding professional development, we have done a lot of training around critical thinking, cross curricular integration, and writing and reading across the curriculum.  These were all critical trainings needed to prepare learners for the new GED.  We also worked closely with Steve Hinds, University of Chicago and now Active Learning in Adult Numeracy (alanproject.org).  He worked with our paid and volunteer instructors to revamp our approach to math instruction.

We are also slowly transitioning to a mindful school.  We hired a breath coach in 2014-2015 to work with staff on cultivating mindfulness in their everyday work.  It is now a staff led initiative.  We have begun to slowly introduce mindfulness to our learners. Because we ask so much of our teachers and staff beyond instruction, I wanted to ensure that they had the skills to self manage and deal with the high pressure situations with some of our learners.  We are starting to see some small changes in the overall atmosphere of the school and the stress levels of our staff. We have a long way to go, but I am encouraged by simple changes in the way that we speak about the issues of our learners and the way staff are starting to diffuse conflict.

Upon  transition to charter, we added individual training accounts for continuing education for each staff person.  Currently, the account is about $750 per person and it can used for anything related to their current position including conferences or college courses.  We are really proud of this commitment and hope to grow our investment in staff and teachers.  Finally, as  a charter, we can now access a number of the free trainings offered through our state education office. This has been extremely helpful and cost effective for us.

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Adult Public Charter Schools Discussion: Day 4: Thursday, November 5: Career Pathways

Colleagues,

The thoughtfulness and depth of our guest experts' replies are terrific. This is a great opportunity for adult education practitioners to understand the potential opportunities and challenges of public adult charter schools. At the end, I will try to summarize the discussion both for those who have been following it, and for others who may be interested.

Today's topic is the world of work, and especially Career Pathways. Some of our guest experts have already mentioned the importance to their public adult charter schools of preparing students for work and careers;  today we will look at that in depth.

I will cross-post today's post to the LINCS Career Pathways Community, and Michael Cruse, the Career Pathways CoP Moderator, and I will will check to see that replies and other comments about career pathways and adult charter schools are posted back to the Program Management Community. So, if you are a member of either CoP you will see today's posts. I look forward to to having members of the Career Pathways CoP join in the discussion.

Everyone, If you haven’t asked your question(s) yet, please do so today or tomorrow! Tomorrow is our last day for this discussion.

Thanks to Michael Cruse and Scott Emerick we have a lot of thoughtful questions today on this important topic.

Today's Questions

Engaging Employer Partners

1. If you have employer partners, in what ways are you engaging them to review and proactively contribute to your work with your students?

2. What specific strategies have worked to improve the meaningfulness and usefulness of these partnerships for employers, your charter school and for students?

3. What unique opportunities do you think adult charter schools can provide for engaging employer partners?

Working with Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Funding

4. If your adult charter school provides work-based learning opportunities for your learners, what has been your experience in working with Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to leverage WIA/WIOA dollars to support these opportunities?

5. Have you found specific outreach or partnership approaches particularly useful in working with your local WIB to use WIOA funds in support of your learners?

6. Do you think adult charter schools have particular advantages in leveraging WIOA funding? If so, please share what you think they are.

Contextual Learning 

Contextual(ized) learning may include: sector knowledge, technical job skills, and basic skills. Sometimes it means teaching basic skills in a work-related learning context rather that in the abstract. 

7. Does your adult charter school use contextualized curriculum or other contextual approaches? If so please describe them.

8. How does your adult charter school find the right balance of these basic skills, contextual sector knowledge, and technical skills at the right time for learners?

9. What advantages, if any, do you think adult charter schools may have in developing work-contextualized learning opportunities?

Norms, Routines and Cultural Reinforcement between the classroom and job site. An important place to start for many adult charter schools is working toward more consistent norms, routines, and culture across classrooms and job sites.

10. If you are doing this, in what ways are you connecting norms and rituals for academic and work-based learning?

11. How are these connections and consistent cultures influencing student readiness, for example for work or for post-secondary education?

-----------------------------

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management CoP

djrosen123@gmail.com

Scott Emerick's picture
First

Thanks David, I'm starting with a response on the employer engagement questions from your post.

YouthBuild believes this is really important and promising work, but it also entails lots of challenges. It's relatively easy for an employer to express dismay over the readiness levels of workers/young people coming into their sector or company. And relatively common for employers to express rhetorical interest in being part of the solution. But usually proves really difficult to meaningfully engage employer partners over the long term in ways that are really helpful for both sides of the partnership - the school and the employer/company.

Some YouthBuild programs have found success in starting the partnership at a lower bar of engagement and extending the continuum of engagement over time. A simple, low-risk, low-time, and limited resource ask that evolves over time to include more engagement with more partners from the company has proven effective. This evolution might include an invitation for a site visit to get to know the school, students and staff; an invitation to attend and celebrate graduation; an invitation to view a student portfolio demonstration; an invitation to participate in a community service event; an invitation to serve on a workforce advisory board; an invitation to serve as a mentor for a student; an invitation to serve on the Board; an invitation for engagement in contributing to curriculum / training review & development; and a full-fledged internship-hiring relationship.

Employer partners are often excited by the hands-on nature of our career development approach and inherently understand the value of on-the-job learning. We often ask partners to describe or share (when allowable) the training approaches they use with entry level works. And we offer the opportunity to co-construct curriculum-training models that combine the technical expertise they bring to the partnership with the youth development expertise that YouthBuild represents. The employer partner understands the specific skill requirements for their career pathways better than we do. And we understand how to support, empower, counsel, and develop young leaders that have experienced severe trauma. Employers are increasingly recognizing that the Opportunity Youth we enroll in our schools represents an increasingly large share of their customer base and potentially their employee base. So understanding the supports and engagement strategies we use in our schools benefits their corporate bottom line.

This work has proven particularly effective in our partnership with Starbucks that Simran mentioned in one of her posts earlier this week. Starbucks has provided us with access to world-class customer service training they use with their partners (employees) around the globe. And YouthBuild has been able to infuse our leadership development approach, community service model, and student support/engagement strategies throughout the curriculum. More details on this partnership and the Customer Service Excellence Training approach are described in a recent blog post I did on CTE pathways:
https://www.noodle.com/articles/what-to-look-for-in-career-and-technical-education-programs

Lastly, a big part of this work is how we recognize and celebrate the contributions of employer and community partners for their work. In additional to the ways that local programs and staff/students appreciate individual corporate volunteers and partners, it is also useful to connect employer partners to a broader collective movement of their peers. Two of the more effective national movements engaging and recognizing corporate partners for their support of Opportunity Youth are Grads of Life: http://gradsoflife.org/ and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative: http://www.100kopportunities.org/

 

 

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Hi, Scott -

Thanks for sharing your experience with establishing employer/community partnerships.  The idea of "starting the partnership at a lower bar of engagement and extending the continuum of engagement over time" is one that I think many programs may benefit from exploring.  Also, thanks for sharing The Grads of Life and 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, as resources for recognizing and celebrating these partnerships.  Each one has good, general information about mission on their website.  I'm wondering if you can tell us what you see as the difference between the two organizations?  Does YB work with both, or is there a preference for each site to choose only one to work with for their programs?  

I'm also interested in what other local and regional resources you see as good opportunities for recognizing these partnerships?  Does YB work with local Workforce Investment Boards, or Chambers of Commerce, to recognize partners?  If so, what has worked to engage these organizations in supporting these efforts?

Thanks,

Mike Cruse

Scott Emerick's picture
First

Hi Mike, good questions.

I encourage folks to check out both Grads of Life and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. The Grads of Life effort has a few more regional employers and small-medium sized business partners. Most of the 100K Initiative partners are large national corporate partners. Both efforts are focusing on Opportunity Youth who enroll in schools like those participating in this discussion. The 100K Opportunities Initiative is also more employer focused, with a few emerging launch events in cities of interest where schools and programs can participate in job fairs. The Grads of Life effort actually allows schools / CBO's to sign up for their partner directory: http://gradsoflife.org/get-involved/partner-application/

From here, schools and CBO's can be linked with employer partners in their community who are participating in the campaign.

The question about working with local workforce development boards, or chambers of commerce to recognize employer partners is also a good one, but I would hesitate to make many generalizations about those relationships from the national perspective. Each of those engagement strategies is so driven by local context and relationships that it looks fairly different in each of the 260 US communities where we operate.

This also relates to one of David's initial questions re: access to WIOA dollars through relationships with Workforce Investment Boards (WIB's). In some instances, we have YouthBuild programs with amazing working relationships with their WIB's. And when WIOA was passed, the increased focus on Opportunity Youth was a great way to deepen the partnership and extend funding for YouthBuild career development efforts. So you have some YB programs receiving WIOA funds from WIB's to cover costs (stipends) for the time YB students spend on job sites. In other communities, WIB's have longstanding relationships with a range of agencies and breaking into a funding relationship with a WIB to access WIOA funds is proving difficult, even with the increased focus on Opportunity Youth. At end end of a conversation re: WIOA with YB directors last week, we came to the conclusion that if you understood the relationship between a WIB and a YB program in 1 community, that you really only understand and know 1 relationship, because the work is so inherently relational and different from community to community.

I imagine that others in the discussion forum have great insights re: their local strategies for and successes/challenges working with their local WIB's?

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Hi, Scott,

I'm wondering if you can tell us how you, or YB, define 'contextualized learning'?  I'm interested in your thoughts to question #9: What advantages, if any, do you think adult charter schools may have in developing work-contextualized learning opportunities?  You may have seen the U.S. Department of Labor's announcement yesterday proposing a rule to help employers, sponsors grow, diversify their apprenticeship programs.  

The proposed rule would update existing Equal Employment Opportunity regulations for Registered Apprenticeship programs. It would serve to ensure equal opportunity for Americans to take part in apprenticeship programs regardless of their race, sex, color, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, or sexual orientation.

According to the DOL announcement, the proposed rule would improve on existing regulations by:

  • Extending protections against discrimination to include a broader swath of America's workforce, including protections based on disability, age (40 or older), sexual orientation, and genetic information
  • Simplifying and clarifying the affirmative steps employers and sponsors must take to ensure equal opportunity in apprenticeship
  • Providing new apprenticeship programs with more time to develop initial affirmative action programs, as well as providing all apprenticeship programs that meet their responsibilities under the rule with additional flexibility in how often they must update their plans
  • Simplifying and clearly defining the process for analyzing the talent available in the labor market to establish clear and achievable goals for diversity in apprenticeship
  • Clarifying the outreach, recruitment, and retention activities expected of employers by specifying four specific and common-sense required activities, such as advertising openings and partnering with educational institutions to recruit diverse talent
  • Creating a more flexible framework for the Office of Apprenticeship and States to provide technical assistance and work with apprenticeship programs that are not meeting their affirmative action responsibilities to bring them back into compliance

The public will have until Jan. 5, 2016, to provide comments on the proposed rule. Comments can be submitted electronically athttp://www.regulations.gov. Additional information about the proposed rule is available at www.doleta.gov/oa/eeo.

Question: How do you anticipate YB, and other educational institutions, may benefit from this potential rule, if it becomes a compliance requirement?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

This video from an NBC News segment highlights the work of Youth Build, one of the organizations supporting adult charter schools in helping graduates find and develop skills in career pathways.  If you need a better reason to support the work of organizations like Youth Build, check out this video.

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com 

 

 

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Adult Public Charter Schools Discussion: Day 5: Friday, November 6: Assessment and Evaluation

Colleagues,

Although your questions and comments are welcome on any of this weeks' topics, our topic today, the official last day of our discussion on adult public charter schools, is Assessment and Evaluation. I have also added questions about policy recommendations, and recommendations for those who want to start adult public charter schools. I hope our guests might respond today, or if they wish, this weekend or Monday, to any of the previous questions that they might not yet have had a chance to answer. Of course, our guests and others who may have joined us for this discussion, are welcome if they wish to continue on as members of this -- and/or other -- LINCS Communities of Practice.

Here are my questions for our guest experts today:

1.     What are the ways that your public adult charter school is accountable to what was proposed in your charter?

2.     How do you assess adult learners’ progress?

3.     How often, and how, do you evaluate your services, and your charter school as a whole?

4.     Are there ways of assessing and evaluating learning progress, curriculum and services that you would like to be able to do, or are planning? If so, please describe them.

5.     Some adult public charter schools may have a continuous improvement model. If yours does, can you please describe it and tell us if and how it has been effective for improving what your school does?

6.     What state (and in some large states, regional) or federal policies do you think are needed for adult public charter schools?

7.     What recommendations do you have for others who are interested in having their programs or adult schools become public adult charter schools?

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management CoP

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

 

 

Simran Sidhu's picture
First

YBPhilly’s charter at founding had very little by way of academic accountability embedded in it. At every renewal since then (we are currently in the middle of our fourth renewal) we have tried slightly different accountability models that included measuring academic gains and work certifications. We continue to be an outlier among charters both in terms of who we serve and what students do when they are with us and so have always needed. Most alternate education programs in Philadelphia work as contractors with the district. This means that we bear a fairly heavy burden each cycle trying to give context for our outcomes—which don’t look like anybody else’s but which are in fact quite good for what we do. In some ways we do well when they have well thought out accountability in the renewal process. In our last renewal cycle the district used an independent review team from School Works who sent three former superintendents to the school as part of a two-day review. At the end they said we were among the top 5% of schools they had reviewed and commended us for our innovation, individualization and strong climate and culture.

Like many other Youthbuilds and as Scott mentioned in an earlier thread-we use the TABE to measure individual student progress (largely because we are required to),have students test to achieve industry-credentials in each training track and use a lot of locally designed assessments. The truth is that none of these felt full satisfactory, or like they fit well so we are always in pursuit of the perfect test--that will give us a great diagnostic, show evidence of gains and be meaningful to students' lives in some way. Instead we have different things to do each of these. So it feels sometimes like we spread ourselves trying to focus on real learning, while also preparing students to do tests that matter to our existence (TABE for funders) and their advancement (Accuplacer, Compass).

The thing is that because at our core the vision is to substantially change the trajectory of our students’ lives and put them on the path to long-term success, we felt a better measure of our program and its rigor would be post program placement and retention. This focus to have long-term impact on our students’ lives is quite layered and complex--but has been included in our past and current strategic plans, and we have incrementally developed the capacity to measure toward this goal. First we developed the capacity to rigorously measure and report on post program placement (with evidence of this placement for each graduate) and are currently working on the capacity to report just as rigorously on retention in placement. This currenlty puts us a little ahead of what most schools report on in their outcome measures at their renewal cycles (but is more routine in the world of workforce development).

In three weeks representatives from our Charter office will come out to ensure that we are meeting our mission. There are pages of interview questions, observations and documented outcomes that they will be looking for. Of course we also submit a ton of evidence of good governance practices as well as financial oversight.

In addition to submitting lots and lots of information at charter renewal points we also submit a ton of this information annually for review and go through State Department of Education audits, particularly for special education.

We certainly like to think we follow a continuous improvement model at YBPhilly in that program refinement and improvement is constant and is driven by two important factors (1) the specific strengths, deficits and challenges of a new student body enrolled each year and (2) long term goals which require us to backward map our entire design from where we want graduates to be a year after graduation. To this end we are intentionally responsive to employers, postsecondary partners and industry trends and have adapted many aspects of our program including graduation requirements (piloting and expanding high demand industry tracks, including rigorous certifications and bridge experiences) the school calendar (going year-round instead of Sept-June, matching college calendars to maximize dual enrollment opportunities) and learning content (including practice and evaluation of professional skills valued by post-secondary institutions and employers) to meet those needs. 

In general I would say that our staff and leadership embrace change, growth and learning and we have established a culture where staff and leadership at all levels are in the habit of examining both short terms indicator data (collected through daily attendance, formative assessments etc.), as well as longer term data (graduation, placement) regularly with a view to improve and innovate. We raise lots of additional funding to allow us to pilot innovative programs and keep up with best practices. Approximately 60% of our total funding is non-charter and leveraged from other public (workforce investment, housing, national service) and private (United Way, Foundations, Individuals) sources.

We have also been very diligent with Strategic Planning and following up on those plans. We are in the first year of our current three-year plan and the whole organization knows it and works on various aspects of it. Our Board is very highly engaged with overseeing it and with learning as we progress. We have also put in place very intentional mechanisms and time to reflect on the program and solicit feedback from students, graduates and staff on how we are doing and what needs to be changed. Lots of on-going feedback moments and staff retreat times are essential to this process.

In terms of advice for other adult programs interested in becoming Charters, I would say work as hard as possible to get the most flexibility you can at the State level and only apply if your State’s authorizer understands the value of having a portfolio of adult ed schools or is willing to participate in an out-of-the-box pilot. Otherwise the formality of the k-12 world combined with having to run innovative programs becomes very difficult to manage. However, if you have some flexibility to be really adult-learner oriented the funding stability and curricular freedom that being a Charter provide are invaluable anchors for programs like ours.

 I think collectively we need to push definitions of what accountability should look like for adult learners specifically—with much more focus on how well adult learners are prepared to transition to next steps rather than on years of missed content. I think there is so much to learn from this space that we should be allowed to be hotbeds of innovation and then pass what we have learned from individualizing and contextualizing education to high schools and even middles schools.

In the next five year charter term we will continue to strive for improvement in all areas of our program including:

  • Attendance and retention (Despite the significant personal challenges our students face, we would like to see attendance and retention increase as these have impact each outcome measure and long term success).

  • Academic skill building and instructional practice (How do we best focus on competencies while also addressing content gaps? Which strategies are most engaging for students who have been out of the classroom for years? How do we incorporate technology into instruction in the most meaningful way who have been away from the classroom for many years)

  • Certifications (which will be most meaningful to students in ever-evolving workplaces and industries, which are stackable and/or earn college credits);

  • Post-Secondary Education and Career retention (How best to practice and learn all of the transferrable skills needed for success in employment and/or postsecondary education settings circumstances? What are the supports that are most meaningful for students and graduates? How best to have students assess for career and post-secondary fit? How best to work with Employers and Post-Secondary partners to provide supports for graduates in these highly contextualized settings?)

 

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Thanks Simran, for your very thorough response to these questions.

You wrote: "...because at our core the vision is to substantially change the trajectory of our students’ lives and put them on the path to long-term success, we felt a better measure of our program and its rigor would be post program placement and retention. This focus to have long-term impact on our students’ lives is quite layered and complex--but has been included in our past and current strategic plans, and we have incrementally developed the capacity to measure toward this goal."

I have recently learned from a U.S. Department of Education-commissioned research brief by my colleague, Stephen Reder, based on his ten-year longitudinal study of nearly 1000 randomly chosen school dropouts in Portland Oregon, that for students who have participated in adult education programs for 100 hours or more, on average their annual earnings increase is close to $10,000; however, that this impact doesn't show up until at least the fifth or sixth year after participation. (Reder, S. (2014).  The Impact of ABS Program Participation on Long-Term Economic Outcomes. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education.)

This Research Brief makes me wonder if there is a way for your public adult charter school, and for those in other states, to link students' outcomes (completion, certification(s), entry into post-secondary education or occupational training to (already-collected) state employment earnings data, usually tracked annually by employee social security number. If so, it might be possible to capture significant earnings impact data for students that might demonstrate the effectiveness of your school's long-term success goals for them. Reder found that for some program participants, for example, their earnings increased so significantly they were able to lift their families out of poverty.

I would love to hear your thoughts -- and the thoughts of others here -- about ideas for measuring long-term impact, including changes in earnings and wealth accumulation, especially for students from the lowest or low-income families..

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management CoP

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Colleagues,

I think we may have overwhelmed some of our guests with more questions than they had time to answer in only five days. A couple have asked if we could extend the discussion for a few days, a very reasonable request. Let's extend the discussion at least through Monday. Then we'll see if they need more time.

Thanks so much to all of our guests for giving us such thorough answers to our questions, especially since most also have very demanding responsibilities as program managers of adult public charter schools. I am sure that many members of the LINCS Program Management Community of Practice understand from their own work responsibilities how difficult it can be to manage a school or program and participate in an in-depth conversation about practice in a community such as this.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management CoP

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

 

Allison Kokkoros's picture
First

Accountability

As I’d mentioned earlier, for our past 17 years as a charter school, we have received much greater oversight and monitoring than we previously received as a DC Public School or as a nonprofit receiving federal grants.   The DC School Reform Act which governs DC’s charter schools imposes many requirements on charter schools including obtaining accreditation, conducting a lottery when there are more applicants than slots available, specifying the constitution of the school’s board of trustees, requiring submission of board minutes quarterly, and requirements for our contracting and procurement practices.  The requirements of the School Reform Act and the additional monitoring requirements of the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB) result in nearly daily accountability activities including: a detailed annual residency audit; over 100 submissions to the PCSB’s online monitoring system with evidence of performance in financial, governance, emergency preparedness, staff qualifications, and other compliance areas; a detailed data audit of the source documents backing up our performance data for our charter contract goals and Performance Management Framework; a Qualitative Site Review involving random classroom observations evaluating the quality of instruction; and ensuring all adult learners under the age of 26 obtain immunizations in spite of the fact that there are scant resources or support for them to accomplish this; and this is just naming a few. 

According to Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), the DC PCSB is a nationally renowned model of school accountability. It monitors every public charter school to guarantee its academic achievement, managerial competence and financial health and conducts a high stakes review every five years. Data around these measures is readily available to the general public on the DC PCSB website.

Another requirement of being a charter school is ensuring that our instructional staff is highly qualified.   We have designed a rigorous credentialing process requiring 36 credits in adult education, teaching methodology for ELL’s, and specific courses related to teaching their content areas such as ESL, GED, or nursing.

Assessment of Learner Progress

We assess our adult learners’ progress in multiple ways.   Teachers utilize formal and informal formative assessments through-out the course of the semester to gauge learning and progress.  Informal formative assessments include: teachers checking for understanding during lesson plan delivery, review of portfolios documenting student progress at various stages of the semester (our instructional period) to monitor progress, in-class quizzes, take home exercises, etc.

Formal assessments that gauge student progress vary across each of our core programs, ESL, GED in English, GED in Spanish, and career training. A pre-test is given at the beginning of the semester to establish a student’s starting point. A post-test is then given at the end of the semester and is cross-referenced with the pre-test.  Our comprehensive testing process includes: assuring complete test security from the dissemination of tests to the collection and inventory of tests; proper proctoring of the assessments; proper scoring, recording and reporting of test results. Teachers then analyze test outcomes and conduct individual student conferences to discuss learning goals and progress.

Student progress is reported to DC PCSB through the Adult Education Performance Management Framework (PMF).  Two years ago the DC PCSB rolled out the adult education PMF designed to rate adult charters in such a way that they can be compared. We have spent the past two years aligning our systems which entailed substantial adjustments in our student information system, data collection systems, and staffing plan.   We have done about 80% of the work to align to this new performance framework.   

The PMF measures each charter school on key indicators: student progress (test score improvement over time), student achievement (meeting or exceeding standards), College and Career Readiness (employment and post-secondary outcomes), and the leading indicators or predictors of future students’ progress and achievement which for adult schools are attendance and retention. DC PCSB sets targets for student progress performance and schools’ data are audited and scored. Just this year, DC PCSB implemented a tiering system for adult education charter schools.

Being held accountable for all of these indicators means we must allocate the appropriate resources not only to ensure student progress but also to track it. Each quarter, for example, we must conduct extensive follow ups with students who have exited our programs during a given time period. This tracks student progress beyond the classroom. Did they retain or obtain a job since exiting? Did they enter college?  Coordinating these follow ups considering the size of our organization (2,000 students) requires significant time and resources.

Evaluating our School as a Whole

We use a variety of strategies to continuously evaluate our school including performance data, inputs, and stakeholder feedback throughout the school year.   Everyone – teachers, counselors, administrators, assessment, accountability staff, registration staff -  is involved in monitoring how we are doing, and asking the question, “What can we do to better to serve our students?”

Thanks to Patricio Sanchez, our Accountability Director, below is an overview of our formal evaluation and internal processes:

Charter schools, like other schools rely on evaluations to provide critical information to internal and external stakeholders, school leaders and personnel as to the effectiveness of instruction, administration and overall operations.  It is important to recognize that charter schools exist within multiple larger educational systems each with varying degrees of oversight authority over them.  This dynamic results in having multiple formal evaluation frameworks and processes in place that guide and drive the schools' evaluation.  

Below are examples of external evaluation frameworks, evaluation tools, or evaluation processes that inform and help guide, in part, the School's evaluation processes:

PCSB: Charter contract agreement, charter contract goals’, Adult PMF, Quality Site Review, Annual Report, Equity Report, Financial Audits, FAR (a report on fiscal performance), and others.

Middle States Association: Accreditation application, mid-point report, Peer Review Site Visit, Excellence by Design Framework with goals.

Office of the State Superintendent for Education:  A myriad of data reports due to OSSE that provide data on many student data points ranging from immunization status, validating residency status, auditing attendance patterns, fulfillment of services for special education and limited English proficiency (LEP).

Our school also has an internal evaluation framework. Our Accountability Department provides timely data to the school leadership to help guide discussions and decisions as to the effectiveness of various programs and their components.  As such, program designs and implementation are assessed, validated and, as needed, course corrections are made to achieve the desired program quality and effectiveness.  Again, this is an internally driven process that we strongly believe is integral to our success. Any aspect of the School's instructional or operational program that is not evaluated in one or more of the aforementioned frameworks is evaluated by the CEO and Chief Academic Officer (CAO) in a comprehensive performance report.  This report measures outcomes and outputs for all academic programs and services and contains data on student goals.  Other internal evaluation tools, reports or events of note are: School Impact Report, student satisfaction survey, staff satisfaction survey, teacher satisfaction survey and a mid-year report.

Future assessment and evaluation goals

In alignment with the PMF we track specific short-term and mid-term, direct outcomes in our individual students’ progress, we are now eager to shift our energies towards measuring longer term impacts not only at the individual level but at the community and economic level. This would include attempting to answer questions such as: how do our adult education programs and supportive services help increase housing stability, increase in income, affect the performance of our students’ children, etc. We also have plans for conducting more trend analyses to inform enhancements to our school model.

Policy Recommendations

In touching on policy recommendations, at the federal level we recommend considering modification to the US Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) to allow for the creation of new high-quality public charter schools that allow for students age 21 and over to enroll through the replication of the DC School Reform Act (1996), which includes adult education schools.  

At the local level some of our recommendations include:

  • The local discussion exploring charter enrollment requirements consider geographic boundaries keeping in mind the unique missions and program offerings of the adult education charter schools, resulting in drawing applicants from across the District of Columbia.  
  • Supporting adult learners with transportation and child care.
  • Approving a statewide diploma for the GED.
  • A push to make more immigrant parents aware of the school choice they have for their children in the District of Columbia as ELL children are under-represented in charter schools in the District.
  • ESL Level 6 measure EFL gain target be adjusted by the local PCSB to be realistic.  As it is currently written this measure expects as much as a 14 point gain in one semester.
  • The application process to become an adult charter school is demanding. Effective CBOs encountering barriers to applying and receiving charter status need support. We suggest exploring a start-up fund for high-performing CBOs to access technical assistance so they may be better equipped to become a charter school.
  • Some CBO’s which may not elect to convert to a full school appear not to be appropriately resourced to meet the standards they are required to meet.  We suggest considering an adequacy study for adult education CBO’s, not unlike the one conducted in the District for traditional and chartered public schools.

Recommendations for Those Considering becoming an Adult Charter School

 As has been mentioned previously, to set up a school successfully, system alignment takes a tremendous commitment of time and effort to set up well (information system aligned with your accountability measures, human resources management systems, talent recruitment to identify the best and highly qualified instructional and operational personnel, etc.).   Here are some recommendations to consider while applying for charter status:

  • Seek resources to support your application and subsequent transition to charter school status. Consider approaching local foundation community and local and state elected officials with your case for the support necessary to apply and fully ramp up.
  • Though a school’s leadership may have a wonderful model that meets urgent community needs, unless the financial house is kept in very good order and the school is able to deliver on its intended outcomes, the school may not make it. 

Once chartered, it is important to note that the rigorous demands on charter schools will require you to perform well from the start. In DC, one third of charter schools have been closed since the inception of charter schools in 1996. Below are some suggestions to help ensure your school succeeds:

  • Carefully select and groom your team to ensure that you have strong expertise in the crucial areas of instructional leadership, curriculum design, operations including budgeting, contracting and procurement, establishing strong risk management and controls, talent recruitment, student services, etc.    Invest in your team so that they grow and develop as your organization grows and evolves.
  • Consider board members with a variety of expertise (legal, education, finance) and that are very clear on your mission and the accountability you are beholden to.   Train board members on the applicable requirements (performance, operational, and others).
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement and celebration of success within your school.    As I walk through our two school campuses, I see a personal commitment to excellence from the teaching and learning going on in the classroom; to keeping the hallways, classrooms, whiteboards spotless; to our retention specialists going all out in assisting our students; to actively creating a culture of inclusion and mutual respect in a highly diverse school community; to the conversations going on in teacher cohorts around supporting our learners as they hone critical thinking skills;  to constant monitoring of our outcomes at all levels – student, class, level, school wide, and while in school as well as following up after exit – to inform continuous improvements.    This culture is not there by accident.   We actively seek to recruit and retain staff who thrive in this climate and are personally committed to the mission of equipping our students with the skills necessary not only to survive but to thrive in the District of Columbia and in this country.  We celebrate successes along the way: our students in our ABE program gaining their elementary certificate; students who despite working multiple jobs and raising a family manage to achieve perfect attendance; when a student is recognized as employee of the year; when we gained accreditation; and so on.

We encourage other adult education leaders and communities to explore structuring as a charter school and welcome this dialogue.   Innovative, adequate, and effective investments in our nation’s adult learners are crucial.  I have no doubt that how effectively we as a nation support our adult learners to gain functional literacy, enter into career pathways, actively engage in and nurture their children’s education, gain housing stability, actively participate in our democracy and in the leadership of community development around them, will determine the trajectory of our country’s future. It has been a pleasure to participate in this conversation. Thank you again, David, for inviting me to take part. I look forward to continuing the conversation here and offline. 

David J. Rosen's picture
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Colleagues,

I want to thank our terrific adult charter school experts: Scott Emerick, Lecester Johnson, Allison Kokkoros, Phil Matero, and Simran Sidhu. This was one of the most thorough, inspiring, and informed discussions we have had on LINCS, and I personally appreciate the extraordinary efforts each panelist made to give us incisive and extensive answers to our questions. Over the next week or so I will be pulling together a summary of the discussion that I will share here and that I am told will also be shared with officials at the U.S Department of Education. In the summary I will, of course, include explicit and possibly implicit adult public charter schools policy recommendations made by our guests. The summary will reference particular posts so, it may be useful for those who did not have a chance to read the entire discussion, but who do want to read some posts of interest in depth.

Thanks to my colleague, Mike Cruse, the Career Pathways CoP Moderator, for helping to develop the questions for the Career Pathways topic on Thursday, and special thanks to the members of the Program Management CoP who posted their questions.

David J. Rosen

Moderator, program Management CoP

djrosen123@gmail.com

 

 

David J. Rosen's picture
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Adult Public Charter Schools Discussion Summary

Compiled by David J. Rosen, Moderator,

LINCS Program Management Community of Practice

November 27, 2015

A discussion on Adult Public Charter Schools in the U.S. was held from November 2 – 10, 2015, in the Literacy Information and Communications System (LINCS) Program Management Community of Practice The discussion had over 1,250 views from adult education practitioners and researchers from across the U.S.

Program Management CoP Moderator, David J. Rosen began by noting that adult public charter schools in the U.S. have been slowly expanding. He wrote, “There are now adult public charter schools planned or operating in at least the District of Columbia, Arizona, Arkansas (planned for 2016), California, Colorado, Indiana, New Hampshire (planned for 2015 as a New Hampshire and national online option for adults, but with a fee required), New Mexico, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas. Most are in California and D.C., but there is some expansion in other states, as well.” He also wrote that one purpose of the discussion was to look at the opportunities and challenges for adult education program managers, teachers and others who may be considering applying to become charter schools. He said he hoped that it would also be useful to look at broader implications of public adult charter schools for public education, including public adult basic skills education.

Expert Panelists’ Biographies

The short biographies below include links to the panelist’s introductions of themselves.

Scott Emerick is the Senior Vice President for Education, Career, and Service Pathways at YouthBuild USA. In this role he oversees a portfolio of education program initiatives related to improving postsecondary access and success; implementing quality secondary school programming at community based organizations, charter schools, and alternative high schools; increasing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teaching and career development capacity; and translating lessons learned from funded education initiatives into a broader network of rural, tribal, urban, and Department of Labor-funded YouthBuild programs across the country. Toward this end, he is directing technical assistance, training, funding, and support for YouthBuild programs to strengthen postsecondary partnerships, improve academic offerings, and deepen graduate support services.  Scott has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Lecester Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School, an adult education provider in Washington, DC.  Founded in 1985, Academy of Hope’s (AoH PCS) mission is to provide high quality adult basic education in a manner that changes lives and improves community. Lecester joined Academy of Hope in 2006.  Under her leadership, the organization has grown to two locations and transitioned to an adult public charter school serving over 500 learners and with revenue over $4.5 million. She is known for her innovation and visionary leadership. Lecester holds a Masters and Education Specialist degree in Transition Special Education from The George Washington University.  She is also a Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE). She has received numerous awards and honors, including The Dick Omang Best Practices Award in Vocational Evaluation, Georgetown University’s John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award, the 2011 Meyer Exponent Award and most recently the 2015 Amtrak Pioneer Award. 

Allison R. KokkorosExecutive Director & CEO, Carlos Rosario International Public Adult Charter School, Washington, D.C., has worked and volunteered in nonprofit organizations for the past 20 years and has a passion for education and immigrant integration.  Allison has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Management from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree in English with Education Certification from Eastern Mennonite University. She has been honored with awards for her leadership including receiving the DC STARS Tribute Most Outstanding Adult Principal award in 2011 and the DC Learns Mike Fox Literacy Leader award in 2005.   She participates actively in the community and is currently serving on the DC Adult Career Pathways Taskforce, the NCLR Workforce Development Advisory Council, and the board of the DC Association of Public Chartered Schools. 

Phil Matero, Founder and CEO, YouthBuild Charter School of California, has opened two charter schools designed for adult learners who were not well-served by the traditional school system.  In each case, the school was linked to a comprehensive youth development model.  The first one was connected to the Los Angels Conservation Corps, a national leader in youth development programs focused on environmental justice and engagement.  The second is YouthBuild Charter School of California, where Phil has served as Founder and Executive Director since 2008.  Phil has found success in designing schools where young adults are respected as intelligent, capable, and thoughtful leaders in their communities.  Through project-based learning focused on social justice and community transformation, YouthBuild students play meaningful roles in creating positive social change and actively participate in working towards justice, equality and opportunities for all.

Simran Sidhu, Executive Director, YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, and

President of the YouthBuild USA Affiliated Network.  Simran serves on the Professional Advisory Committee, the Speakers Bureau, and the Campaign Cabinet for United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.  She also serves on the Board of The Reinvestment Fund; the Selection Advisory Board of the Green Light Fund; and the Steering Committee for Project U- Turn, a citywide campaign focused on Philadelphia’s dropout crisis.  She is a member of the Forum of Executive Women.  Simran is a 2009 graduate of LEADERSHIP Philadelphia, and was named to the 40 Under 40 award by the Philadelphia Business Journal also in 2009.  She was a speaker at TEDx Philadelphia 2014.

Questions and Answers

Applying to become an adult public charter school

Q. David J. Rosen asked:

“1.     Please describe when and why you and/or your colleagues decided to apply to have an adult charter school.”

“2.     As you considered applying, did you have any concerns or reservations?”

“3.     What were the opportunities you anticipated?”

“4.     Can you tell us what the process of applying was like? (What kinds of things were required? How long did it take to prepare the application? Who was involved in the process of putting the application together?  What were the challenges, if any, in having your application approved?)”

A. Lecester Johnson replied:

“Academy of Hope (AoH) first applied for a charter in 2008.   We were not awarded a charter on our first attempt.  With a much stronger program plan and additional experience in workforce development, we re-applied in 2013 and were granted a charter to open in fall 2014.  There were a confluence of events that helped Academy of Hope to move to becoming an adult charter school, but the primary reason was an economic one.  As a school, we wanted to enhance the services we offered to our learners.  Those services included adding workforce training and strengthening our college transition program.  We also desperately needed critical support services (case management, career/college navigators, special education, and job placement) to better assist our learners during their time with us.” 

“In addition to our desire to enhance services for learners, the local push for more integrated services (adult education and workforce development), and the pending changes to the GED (alignment with common core) came with a hefty price tag.  To achieve the level of instructional quality, workforce training and support services we needed to be effective, AoH would have to double its revenue within a three year period. Our fundraising efforts at the time were not enough to get us there in a timely manner.  The stability of the uniform per pupil rate, along with our strength in fundraising and a 15 year charter were very appealing for improved services and long-term sustainability.”

Reservations about Applying

“In considering charter status, we had quite a few reservations.  The first major concern was that we were entering a system that did not fully understand the nature of adult education.  Some of the earlier adult charters in DC shared with us a few of the challenges they were having with the local chartering authority. Essentially, adult charters were operating in a system that was overwhelming focused on children and youth.  Many of the compliance requirements and accountability measures simply did not fit adults.  Additionally, there would be a significant increase in compliance and reporting requirements. Would we have enough resources to staff a compliance and accountability team to the level needed to stay on top of all of additional reporting and compliance?  Finally, as a private, nonprofit, we maintained independence and flexibility in deciding who we could best serve.  As a public charter school DC, you must participate in the local lottery and you must be able to meet the needs of all learners who apply.”

Anticipated Opportunities

“With the additional resources as a charter, Academy of Hope was able to hire professional teachers, and completely revise its curriculum and teacher training to meet the new demands of the GED.  Our curriculum is now inquiry based and project focused, and we are aligned with the common core, and the college and career readiness standards. The charter resources enabled us to hire trainers and support for curriculum development.”

“We were also able to add an entire student support team and a three person accountability and data unit.  This has greatly enhanced our ability to meet students’ needs and better track their progress. We use our fund raised dollars to support workforce programs, and to try new approaches to instruction.  Additionally, our staff and teachers are able to access significantly more professional development resources offered to LEAs throughout the city. Because of enhance quality of services we are seeing much stronger outcomes than prior to our transition to charter.”

“Applying for a charter was an extremely time consuming process for Academy of Hope (AoH).  During the application process, we continued to operate our year round school. It was a very difficult time for the organization, and applying for a charter put a huge strain on the existing staff.  While the burden of writing the application primarily fell on me, program staff and some board also contributed a lot.  From planning to being approved, it took us nearly one year. The actual writing of the application took us four and a half months.  Critical components of the application in DC were

  • Clearly articulated educational philosophy/qualifications of staff & board
  • Educational outcomes
  • Strong business plan  
  • Five year enrollment and budget projections”

“In addition to writing and submitting the application, there were numerous site visits by the chartering authority, a hearing and a final vote by the charter school board.  One of the challenges in having the application approved was helping the local chartering authority to understand the high cost for supportive services.  Most K-12 schools have higher costs for the instructional team.   As an adult charter, we were also not eligible to receive start-up funds during our planning year (year of planning before opening).  K-12 schools are eligible Walton Foundation start-up funds and state and federal start-up dollars.  In addition to our regular operating funds, I had to raise an additional $500,000 to support start-up cost (instructional lead, curriculum developer, data and accountability).”

Opportunities and Challenges

“The greatest opportunity in operating a charter for AoH, at this time, is having the resources to operate a school the way it should be operated.  For the first time in my almost 10 years at Academy of Hope, we can buy classroom materials, hire teachers and provide the wrap around services that our learners need. Prior to the transition to charter, we were operating on less than $2000 per student, and we were very dependent upon volunteers to staff our classes.  With the transition to charter, we are now over $11,000 per student, if you include the facilities allowance.  While this is great, we are still only getting 80% of the K-12 per pupil allowance.  Additionally, 30% of our learners disclose that they have a disability, however, we are not able to access IDEA funds for individuals over 21, but we are required to meet the needs of all learners regardless of ability. We have continued to fund raise, to help bridge any gaps in funding.”

“In DC, charters also have first priority for any of the vacant schools and there are a number of programs to assist with the cost of facilities. The business model of the charter, in many ways, makes it much easier to focus on the real mission of providing adults with the best quality education and workforce training available.  While the accountability for performance is very demanding and sometimes not the best fit for adult learners (in seat attendance measures, for example), we are grateful for the intense focus on student learning.  We are early in the process, and I am sure some of the other panelists can share more about their challenges as mature adult charters.  For community based organizations who are considering the transition, I think it is well worth a second look.”  

A. Allison Kokkoros replied:

“We had been operating as part of the DC School system, then because of the financial crisis in the mid-1990's in Washington, DC, adult ed DCPS schools were eliminated from the school system budget.  Sonia Gutierrez, our school Principal at the time and today board member and President Emeritus, reestablished the school with broad support from the local philanthropic community.  There was a tremendous demand for education for immigrants, and the foundation funding was limited.  When we saw that DC was passing legislation for charter schools and that they had specifically including a provision for adult education, it was a blessing, an opportunity to get adequate funding to run a holistic adult education program.  The first chartering authority in DC was the Board of Education. Sonia applied to the Board of Education for charter status, but at that time for purely political reasons they refused to open an adult ed charter school.  Then the DC Public Charter School Board was formed as a second (and now the only) charter authority in DC. Sonia was reluctant to apply again.  One of the concerns was that there was a very strong anti-immigrant sentiment in the country at that time.  She asked for me to write an application for the Public Charter School Board and gave me the application to the Board of Ed to draw from, but we were not able to use it as the guidelines and requirements of the Public Charter School Board were completely different.  We received technical assistance from NCLR, a national advocacy organization for the Latino community based in Washington, DC, specifically with crafting the budget and adapting our CBC curriculum to the Performance Based Standards that were required.   We were in the first batch of applicants for the Public Charter School Board and the only applicant seeking to be an adult education charter school. The fact that we were an existing school, compared to some other applicants that were seeking to start a school from scratch, was an advantage.  We already had a strong and proven curriculum, a demonstrated demand with a long waiting list, a deep experience in running a school and honing our model.”  

“Regarding concerns or reservations, we had none whatsoever.  Sonia had reviewed the legislation and saw that it provided the freedom to do what we needed to do to run a school in a way that works.  It was our only possibility to have adequate funding with all the components needed including intensive classes, student services, job placement. “   

“Regarding challenges when starting up: The Charter School Board unconditionally granted a charter contract to our school in 1998, but we quickly learned that there was no money to operate.  There was no mechanism for receiving funding. Per pupil funding formulas had been established for elementary, middle, and secondary schools only.  Sonia advocated with the chair of the education committee of the DC City Council who had created a task force to work on revising the per pupil funding for K-12 schools.   The Chair of the education committee assigned this group to also create a formula for adult ed now that there was an adult ed charter school. The task force created a formula which was a fraction of the K-12 formulas, considering that per DC Code full-time for adult learners is 12 hours of instruction per week.   With Sonia's advocacy, the formula was approved in the DC City Council.”  

“Now that the charter movement has matured, K-12 charter schools in the District have access to start up funds, and as my colleague Lecester from Academy of Hope mentioned, adult ed charter schools do not.   When we applied seventeen years back, the movement was so new that there were no established start-up funds for charter schools.  Fortunately we had the curriculum and model already developed, and were operating as a nonprofit.  In addition to a small (I believe $25K) grant from NCLR, we were able to reprogram some of our unrestricted funds to support the transition to charter school operations.”  

“Another challenge that we have faced and continue to face is that many of our immigrant students had very limited formal education in their home countries.   Many grew up in rural communities, were needed to support their families and left school before completing elementary school.   Some grew up in countries torn deeply by civil war and there was no school operating in their towns.   So though our students are highly motivated, and have a tremendous work ethic, they are many, many years "behind grade level", lack literacy in their native language, and have never had schooling in the United States until they came to our school.  What helps is their eagerness and incredible desire to study, learn English, find their way in this country.  They will and do achieve their goals but over a longer time frame, which affects for example the rate of progress for those seeking to pass the new GED.   We see our students' goals evolve from the initial goals related to survival, getting food on the table for their family members, to beginning to have bigger dreams like gaining a high school diploma, exploring entering into a career.”   

 

“I am inspired every day by our adult learners and their efforts and commitment to learn in the midst of navigating in a country that is new, amidst a language that is foreign, and while working multiple jobs.  Operating as a charter school is truly a blessing which has enabled us at the Carlos Rosario School to best support our amazing adult learners to achieve their potential.” 

Student Retention

Q. Susan Jones asked: “…how much student turnover do you have -- how long do students stick around?   Does the charter school structure lend itself to students making more long-term goals (because of those accountability factors -- they'll actually *have* more than 'just knowing more' at the end) and stick around? 

A. Allison Kokoros replied that “how long students stick around is based on their goals and individual life circumstances….students persist because, as they put it, the school is a "community" and is like "a home" for them.   They are within an environment where they are respected, where they are supported, where they build connections with fellow community members, where they gain and practice leadership skills, all while they are gaining the skills necessary to achieve their dreams.  Our students see that they are making measurable gains that they can apply directly at work and in navigating this country's school, health, and transport systems.  Our goals setting practice and tracking is a positive factor, as are our attendance incentives for perfect attendance. ”  See Allison’s full response here for detail and examples.

Measuring Student Outcomes and School Accountability

Q. Ayana Porter asked: “How are student outcomes measured?” and “Which placement test are utilized for students?”

A. Phil Matero pointed out that the way district schools determine adequate progress for students in a four-year cohort model does not work for adult students in a public charter school. He mentioned that a group of state and local education representatives, researchers, policy-makers, and alternative schools operators have been gathering annually for five years to discuss this topic, compare notes, and share ideas. The question they are trying to answer is: “Is there a way to define success in alternative education programs?”  See Phil’s full response here.

A. Scott Emerick replied that: “a central part of our conversation is balancing accountability with districts, public and private funders, and partners; while also allowing for enough flexibility for the myriad of ways that young people can demonstrate real and authentic learning beyond standardized tests.” 

“For the vast majority of YouthBuild programs funded by the US Department of Labor, we commit to some core metrics re: grade level increases (looking for 2 years of growth in reading & math in a program year - roughly 10 months for most YB programs), the completion of either a HS diploma, GED, HiSET, or TASC (depending on state/local context), placement in postsecondary and/or career at the conclusion of programming, and retention of placement for 12 months.”

“In terms of placement tests, most YB programs are still using TABE or CASAS at entry to the YB program and at exit, most are focused on Compass or Accuplacer with community college and technical college partners. We are working on expanding the universe of assessment and placement tests used across the YB movement. And this requires ongoing conversations with our funding partners and our postsecondary partners across the country.”

“Some of the most powerful demonstrations of learning from YouthBuild students consistently come from portfolio demonstrations, community based projects, and opportunities for learners to show their competency in a real world setting. Programs like YouthBuild Charter School of California and YB Philly have been great partners in helping make the case for the value and legitimacy of comprehensive approaches for students to demonstrate learning.”

“There is a complex art and science of balancing formative and summative assessments; balancing the wide range of ways to demonstrate learning/competence; responding to the needs of donors/districts; and ensuring that students don't enter programs and schools feeling like they are facing a constant and overwhelming testing schedule that might have been part of the reason they left 1st chance comprehensive HS in the first place.”See Scott’s full response here.

High School Equivalency, Specifically the GED® Exam

Q. Ayana Porter asked about the GED® exam: “how long does it take your students to prepare for the GED® exam?”  “How long does it generally take [ESL students] to prepare for the GED® exam?” and “How has the new GED® exam affected the pass rate for the GED®?”

A.  Lecester Johnson replied:

" Prior to the GED 2014, it took our learners 18-24 months of part-time study to pass the GED exam. Learners who were at the secondary level, took a little over 100 hours of instruction to pass the exam.  With our first cohort of GED 2014 passers, we are seeing much higher hours of instruction (300 -400) needed to pass even at the secondary level.  Our 2014 passers are also much younger. The oldest is in her late 20s.  We, like so many other providers saw a huge drop in the number of individuals ready to take the 2014 exam.  It is just taking longer to prepare learners.  Those who have passed are much better prepared for college and are going directly into credit bearing classes. They are breezing through the Accuplacer and other entry exams at the community college level.” 

“Interestingly, our interim measures (Grade level and Educational Functioning Levels) are seeing huge increases.  Because of our curriculum changes, these numbers are much higher than previous years. We still don't know how long our ABE learners will take to pass the new exam. They are making steady gains in our classes.  The first cohort of GED passers all entered with secondary and high secondary academic skills.”

“Because we are also receiving WIA title II funding, we are currently required to use the CASAS exam in DC.  There is a huge misalignment of the CASAS with what is required on the new GED.  Unfortunately, we must use CASAS to measure grade level and EFL changes.  This is unfortunate because we now run CASAS preparation and tutoring outside of our primary instructional program.”  

“We recognize learner throughout the semester for every 25 hours of instruction. We also do end of term celebrations recognizing, achievements and attendance.  Learners can win gift cards in increments of $25 -$50 dollars.  Our goal is to encourage learners to persist to 100 hour or more.  We know that with 100 hours or more, learners will start to see grade level gains, and they are more likely to persist to achieving their high school credential (GED or Diploma through the National External Diploma Program).”

Competency-based Curriculum

Q. David J. Rosen asked: “Can you tell us more about your competency-based curriculum. Why did you choose that model? What do you see as advantages and challenges of using a competency-based model?”

A. Simran Sidhu replied: “Our evolution to embrace a competency based curriculum really came from our desire to see students succeed after graduation. We spent a lot of time talking with our post secondary education and employment partners and tried to distill down to what they were repeatedly saying they would like to see graduates be able to do. We also realized that a traditional academic approach did not fully leverage and complement our hands-on training program component.”

“We require our students to demonstrate mastery of the transferrable academic competencies they need to be successful in postsecondary settings.  Our model of assessment includes regular formative assessment and demonstrations-- summative assessments that ask students to show they can apply their mastery of the competencies to authentic, complex tasks that prioritize critical and creative thinking. We use this competency-based approach for three reasons: 

  1. in our condensed time-frame it allows for laser focus on the skills students can apply in diverse settings beyond YBPhilly;
  2. it allows us to individualize education and gives us the flexibility to meet students where they are in their development;
  3. it allows us to empower students to take charge of their learning and have a central voice in their education and career journey.”

“Collaborative strategies are practiced across the school and allow for student learning to be highly engaging, challenging and exciting.  Teachers hone differentiated strategies to support students with a diverse set of strengths and needs. “

See Simran’s full response here.

Inspiration

Q. David J. Rosen asked: “I am very interested to hear more about how YouthBuild Charter School of California was inspired by John Dewey and Paolo Freire. Is it unusual in California to have charter schools inspired by them?”

A. Phil Matero replied:

“David asked me about Dewey and Freire as figures who inspire our work.  Dewey and Freire are certainly two of the education theorists who inspire us, but I could go back as far as Aristotle and find a lineage of educators and education theorists who view education much in the same way as we do here at YouthBuild Charter School of California.  We are educators who believe that there must be a purpose to what we teach.  We don’t just teach things because the state tells us our graduates need to have a specific set of information in their brains—a set of information that they could pull up on their smart phones, by the way.  We see our job more as helping our students develop their ability to grow as intellectuals and leaders. Dewey would say that students must interact with their environment and experience things in order to really learn, and that is certainly foundational to social justice educators and project-based instruction.  Creative educators have always made connections to the world outside the classroom, and that’s great.  But what do you connect with?  What real world experiences do you choose to connect your students to as an educator?   What we love about Freire is that he took the experience of education and found a way to address injustices and inform action that will create a more just society.  Instead of just being connected to experience, Freire connected education to culturally responsive experiences.”

“Projects at our project-based school are opportunities for our students to protest against sheriff brutality in the county jails, raise awareness about ever-increasing homelessness, and work for food justice issues in our local neighborhoods.  Our students are on the streets, at City Hall, holding town hall meetings, and bringing testimony at the County Board.  They prepare for these actions in the classroom by researching their communities and learning the history, science, math and language skills they will need to be effective in their advocacy and in their actions.  They take up their rightful roles as intellectuals and leaders because they experts in the subject of their communities and they care deeply about the issues that affect them.  They care about economic, environmental and social justice, and the projects our students do to earn credits allow them to take the lead in addressing them.” 

“Our school’s commitment to social justice education is what makes our school such a good fit for YouthBuild programs.  We work alongside 19 YouthBuild programs that follow the model that Scott Emerick described in his introduction where there is a comprehensive mix of leadership development, academic learning, vocational/career training, community service, and counseling, with the secret sauce being caring relationships with the participants. Our school operates as a part of this mix.  Our particular role in the mix is to provide the young adults in the program with a public school education so they can earn an accredited high school diploma, but our passion is to join with YouthBuild programs and support our young leaders to create a more just society.  For school folks like us, it’s a rare and wonderful opportunity to be so connected to a social justice, community-based organization like YouthBuild.” 

“I can’t help but mention a new book that we are reading here by Dr. Antonia Darder, called Freire and Education.  Dr. Darder spoke at our professional development this summer and we were so taken with what she said that we are all reading her book.  It’s a very personal reflection about how Paolo Freire’s work has inspired her.  It’s definitely worth the read.” 

Teacher Compensation and Professional Development

Q. David J. Rosen asked:

“Teacher and administrator professional development, in public k-12 education, has recently been discovered by some as the most important ingredient to education program success. It is, but unfortunately it rarely is given the resources or attention needed to make a significant difference. In a new model such as adult charter schools, it may be even more important. Compensation (salaries, benefits, paid professional development time) is also very important in attracting well-qualified teachers. Let’s see what our experts think about compensation and professional development.  Here are my questions for today:

1.     What experience, skills and qualities do you look for in teachers you hire? Are these teaching positions full-time or part-time?

2.     Are you able to provide benefits to teachers?

3.     Are salaries comparable to those of teachers in public schools in your area? To other adult basic education programs?

4.     What professional development do you think teachers in adult charter schools need?

5.     If you are able to provide teacher professional development, what do you provide, and how?”

 A. Phil Matero replied:

“I couldn’t agree more with the idea that getting the right teachers and paying and training them well is a key to success in operating a school program that is effective for our students.  We need the best teachers we can get for this work because it more challenging than a traditional school teaching assignment.   At YouthBuild Charter School of California, we only hire teachers who are credentialed to teach at the high school level.  So, at a minimum, they have a single subject credential and a Bachelor’s Degree.  We like to hire teachers with a Master’s Degree in Education, along with their Bachelor’s in their subject area, and 70% of our teachers have those qualifications.  We employ about 100 teachers and they are all full time. Our starting salaries are higher than district schools, and we also provide a generous benefits package, which includes medical, dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance, and we pay into the State Teachers Retirement Systems so that our teachers will retire with a pension.   We definitely compensate at a rate that is higher than average for teachers, and we dedicate a lot of our time and budget to professional development.”

“The compensation package is part of what allows us to attract highly qualified teachers, but of course, people sign on to work here because they believe in the mission, want to make an impact on the lives of their students and the community, and want to develop their professional skills as a teacher.  So we are very careful in the interview process to be sure that we hire folks who are committed to social justice education and are ready for the challenges associated with our work environment.  Most of our teachers come from progressive teacher education programs, have been trained in project-based learning, and are familiar with social justice education concepts, but their university training does not fully prepare them for this work. Putting their skills into practice at our school requires a good bit of training, planning and preparation time.  So in order to make sure that our teachers are ready and able to teach in a YouthBuild program, we spend two weeks in the summer prior to the start of the school year in professional development, and then we have two break periods during the school year when we have a week of staff development and planning time.  The professional development is designed by teachers to develop their skills as they see fit and includes a lot of sharing of resources and best practices from across our 19 campuses.”

“In addition to the professional development that we provide at our all staff PDs, we provide a professional development budget of $500--$1,000 for every employee so they can select a professional development experience (conference, class, workshop, etc.) that meets their personal professional development goals.”

A. Scott Emerick replied:

“agree with Phil on the many factors that influence educators' decision to come to and remain at a school, and also agree strongly with his take on the priority of making sure that core commitments of educators align very closely with the core mission of the school.”

“three years ago, a group of really talented YB educators (Teacher Fellows), including a few teachers from YB charter schools, and one educator from one of Phil's schools, wrote an excellent paper on the conditions that matter most for attracting and keeping talented educators at YB schools. These leading educators named 1) Time, 2) Professionalism, 3) Physical Learning Environment, 4) Program Culture and 5) Professional Development.as the conditions that mattered most. They addressed salary and compensation within the paper as well, but it did not top their list of factors.” 

“The entire piece is framed in a very constructive way for how program directors/principals/school leadership can work with educators to create conditions that attract and keep talent:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bt3e0hiq3zl4sui/TeacherFellows_ConceptPaperFINAL.pdf?dl=0 

A. Allison Kokkoros replied:

Qualifications, Full-Time and Part-Time

“In hiring teachers at Carlos Rosario School, we look for educators who are committed to working with diverse immigrant adults and have a proven record that demonstrates an ability to teach their content. Teachers need to be committed to the mission of the school. A Master’s degree is preferred. We currently have 28 part time teachers and 43 full time teachers. Full time positions are nearly always filled from our pool of part time teachers.”

“Teachers do not have to be certified when they start, but are expected to begin our credentialing process once they become full time. We have requirements that are similar to other public schools and the requirements differ depending on whether the teacher is in GED, ESL or Career Training. All are expected to complete coursework in Adult Education. Once certified, teachers have to maintain their certification by taking classes, writing articles, presenting at conferences, etc. A credentialing specialist works with faculty to achieve and maintain their Carlos Rosario certification.”

“We also have a team of paraeducators and tutors who have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree when hired.  They are bilingual in English and another language that is commonly spoken at the school, usually Spanish and/or Amharic. We encourage and support paraeducators and tutors to become teachers and so our faculty includes teachers who are members of the communities that we serve.”

Benefits and Salaries

“We provide benefits to teachers. Full and part time teachers receive paid sick/personal leave, paid holidays and professional development. Full time teachers receive health insurance, 401k with employer match, long and short term disability, reimbursement for coursework, and opportunities to attend local and national conferences.”

“Salaries at Carlos Rosario are comparable to other public schools in the region. We have done salary studies to ensure that salaries are competitive. Salaries are based on college degree and years of experience in the field.”

Professional Development

“Teachers at adult charter school mainly need the same professional development as other teachers of adult learners. However, it is critical for teachers in adult charters to stay focused on the accountability that is so crucial to a charter school’s survival. Charter schools are highly accountable and can be closed if performance targets are not met. In Washington, D.C. we are accountable through the Adult Education Performance Management Framework (PMF). Success on the PMF means reaching targets related to student gains in Educational Functioning Levels, GED pass rate, job gains and retention, persistence, attendance, and mission specific measures.”

“Teachers at Carlos Rosario receive information on the PMF targets and teacher cohorts analyze student performance data to make instructional decisions to ensure our students have the supports necessary to reach expected targets. PMF performance is published for each charter school in D.C. including the adult charters. This year we will join the K-12 charters and will be tiered for the first time. Tier 1 schools are high performing and Tier 3 schools are subject to closure.”

“The PMF is a rough way to evaluate whether we are achieving the mission of the school and although the PMF informs our professional development, it is our school’s mission along with input from teachers that determines our PD program. We have professional development specialists at the school who plan and coordinate sessions and provide individual coaching to teachers. In addition, experienced teachers act as cohort leads and serve as mentors to new teachers. We determine a PD theme that is revisited throughout the school year and individual teachers also develop their own PD plan to fulfill their own professional goals. This year’s PD theme is Soft Skills and Workforce Development. Within cohorts, teachers determine ways to implement the year’s theme and participate in peer observations, lesson studies and action research.  In the past we have looked at contextualized instruction, literacy instruction for low level readers and other topics requested by teachers through surveys. We include PD on other topics as well. Throughout the school year we have teacher-led lunchtime sessions that focus on improving the use of technology in the classroom. Additionally, there is always interest in learning more about our student’s countries of origin, for example. As a result, we have hosted guest speakers from the community to discuss a range of cultural topics and we have ongoing training on diversity and inclusion as well.”

“(Special thanks to Dr. Ryan Monroe, Chief Academic Officer, for the response to these questions.)”

A. Lecester Johnson replied:

“Thanks for your questions on teacher qualifications and benefits.  I feel in general that adult educator are wholly underpaid for the work that they are asked to do.”

Teacher Qualifications

“Beyond the obvious skills in instructional pedagogy, our teachers must be skillful with dealing with the emotional baggage that our learners bring into the classroom. With some content knowledge and foundational skills in instructional practices, we believe we can teach teachers to teach.   More than anything, Academy of Hope is looking for the right fit for our organizational culture.”

“That culture at Academy of Hope (AoH) is one of community, deep caring, complete respect and non judgment of the adults we serve.  Every person in the AoH community (students, teachers, staff, volunteer, etc.) is valued and adds value to our school.  We meet our learners where they are, and we are working to create an environment of compassionate accountability.  As many of us who have worked in adult education for many years know, learners accessing adult education services have often experienced multiple traumas and have had very negative experiences with school.  Any teacher or staff we hire must have a deep appreciation for what our learners have experienced and must have the ability to work with our learners without judgment or blame.”

“So often you will hear someone say,  "The student just isn't motivated".  We find that beneath the apparent lack of motivation, learners are experiencing an overall sense of being completely overwhelmed by the road ahead and deep fear.   Many are  fearful of repeated failure and being judged as incapable. Our teachers must be able to see beyond the fear and be prepared to help adults realize their inherent qualities as a learner.  Empathy, compassion and the ability to meet students where they are critical skills for us.”

Salary & Benefits

“The transition to charter has enabled us to bring our salaries closer to the salaries of professional educators in the region.  While we cannot yet completely match the salaries in DC Public Schools (they got a huge bump in their pay scale a few years back), we are in line with salaries for k-12 charters in the area.  Like the local school districts, we do have pay differentials for additional education. For example, we pay about $3500 over the base salary for a Masters.  Lead teachers are also paid more.”

“We are beyond competitive when compared to our colleagues in community based organizations. We were also able to enhance our benefits package.  In addition to the standard health, we are now doing a match for retirement and provide long and short-term disability benefits.  We were not able to do this prior to transition to charter.”

Professional Development

“Regarding professional development, we have done a lot of training around critical thinking, cross curricular integration, and writing and reading across the curriculum.  These were all critical trainings needed to prepare learners for the new GED.  We also worked closely with Steve Hinds, University of Chicago and now Active Learning in Adult Numeracy (alanproject.org).  He worked with our paid and volunteer instructors to revamp our approach to math instruction.”

“We are also slowly transitioning to a mindful school.  We hired a breath coach in 2014-2015 to work with staff on cultivating mindfulness in their everyday work.  It is now a staff led initiative.  We have begun to slowly introduce mindfulness to our learners. Because we ask so much of our teachers and staff beyond instruction, I wanted to ensure that they had the skills to self manage and deal with the high pressure situations with some of our learners.  We are starting to see some small changes in the overall atmosphere of the school and the stress levels of our staff. We have a long way to go, but I am encouraged by simple changes in the way that we speak about the issues of our learners and the way staff are starting to diffuse conflict.”

“Upon transition to charter, we added individual training accounts for continuing education for each staff person.  Currently, the account is about $750 per person and it can used for anything related to their current position including conferences or college courses.  We are really proud of this commitment and hope to grow our investment in staff and teachers.  Finally, as a charter, we can now access a number of the free trainings offered through our state education office. This has been extremely helpful and cost effective for us.”

Career Pathways

Q. With help from Career Pathways CoP moderator, Michael Cruse, David J. Rosen asked, regarding engaging employer partners:

“1. If you have employer partners, in what ways are you engaging them to review and proactively contribute to your work with your students?”

“2. What specific strategies have worked to improve the meaningfulness and usefulness of these partnerships for employers, your charter school and for students?”

“3. What unique opportunities do you think adult charter schools can provide for engaging employer partners?”

A. Scott Emerick replied:

“YouthBuild believes this is really important and promising work, but it also entails lots of challenges. It's relatively easy for an employer to express dismay over the readiness levels of workers/young people coming into their sector or company. And relatively common for employers to express rhetorical interest in being part of the solution. But usually proves really difficult to meaningfully engage employer partners over the long term in ways that are really helpful for both sides of the partnership - the school and the employer/company.”

“Some YouthBuild programs have found success in starting the partnership at a lower bar of engagement and extending the continuum of engagement over time. A simple, low-risk, low-time, and limited resource ask that evolves over time to include more engagement with more partners from the company has proven effective. This evolution might include an invitation for a site visit to get to know the school, students and staff; an invitation to attend and celebrate graduation; an invitation to view a student portfolio demonstration; an invitation to participate in a community service event; an invitation to serve on a workforce advisory board; an invitation to serve as a mentor for a student; an invitation to serve on the Board; an invitation for engagement in contributing to curriculum / training review & development; and a full-fledged internship-hiring relationship.”

“Employer partners are often excited by the hands-on nature of our career development approach and inherently understand the value of on-the-job learning. We often ask partners to describe or share (when allowable) the training approaches they use with entry level works. And we offer the opportunity to co-construct curriculum-training models that combine the technical expertise they bring to the partnership with the youth development expertise that YouthBuild represents. The employer partner understands the specific skill requirements for their career pathways better than we do. And we understand how to support, empower, counsel, and develop young leaders that have experienced severe trauma. Employers are increasingly recognizing that the Opportunity Youth we enroll in our schools represents an increasingly large share of their customer base and potentially their employee base. So understanding the supports and engagement strategies we use in our schools benefits their corporate bottom line.”

“This work has proven particularly effective in our partnership with Starbucks that Simran mentioned in one of her posts earlier this week. Starbucks has provided us with access to world-class customer service training they use with their partners (employees) around the globe. And YouthBuild has been able to infuse our leadership development approach, community service model, and student support/engagement strategies throughout the curriculum. More details on this partnership and the Customer Service Excellence Training approach are described in a recent blog post I did on CTE pathways:
https://www.noodle.com/articles/what-to-look-for-in-career-and-technical-education-programs

“Lastly, a big part of this work is how we recognize and celebrate the contributions of employer and community partners for their work. In additional to the ways that local programs and staff/students appreciate individual corporate volunteers and partners, it is also useful to connect employer partners to a broader collective movement of their peers. Two of the more effective national movements engaging and recognizing corporate partners for their support of Opportunity Youth are Grads of Life: http://gradsoflife.org/ and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative: http://www.100kopportunities.org/

Michael Cruse replied to Scott Emerick:

“Thanks for sharing your experience with establishing employer/community partnerships.  The idea of "starting the partnership at a lower bar of engagement and extending the continuum of engagement over time" is one that I think many programs may benefit from exploring.  Also, thanks for sharing The Grads of Life and 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, as resources for recognizing and celebrating these partnerships.  Each one has good, general information about mission on their website.”  

Q. Michael Cruse asked several questions:

 “I'm wondering if you can tell us what you see as the difference between the two organizations?”  

“Does YB work with both, or is there a preference for each site to choose only one to work with for their programs?”

“I'm also interested in what other local and regional resources you see as good opportunities for recognizing these partnerships?:  

“Does YB work with local Workforce Investment Boards, or Chambers of Commerce, to recognize partners?  If so, what has worked to engage these organizations in supporting these efforts?”

A. Scott Emerick replied to Mike Cruse:

 “I encourage folks to check out both Grads of Life and the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. The Grads of Life effort has a few more regional employers and small-medium sized business partners. Most of the 100K Initiative partners are large national corporate partners. Both efforts are focusing on Opportunity Youth who enroll in schools like those participating in this discussion. The 100K Opportunities Initiative is also more employer focused, with a few emerging launch events in cities of interest where schools and programs can participate in job fairs. The Grads of Life effort actually allows schools / CBO's to sign up for their partner directory: http://gradsoflife.org/get-involved/partner-application/

“From here, schools and CBO's can be linked with employer partners in their community who are participating in the campaign.”

“The question about working with local workforce development boards, or chambers of commerce to recognize employer partners is also a good one, but I would hesitate to make many generalizations about those relationships from the national perspective. Each of those engagement strategies is so driven by local context and relationships that it looks fairly different in each of the 260 US communities where we operate.”

“This also relates to one of David's initial questions re: access to WIOA dollars through relationships with Workforce Investment Boards (WIB's). In some instances, we have YouthBuild programs with amazing working relationships with their WIB's. And when WIOA was passed, the increased focus on Opportunity Youth was a great way to deepen the partnership and extend funding for YouthBuild career development efforts. So you have some YB programs receiving WIOA funds from WIB's to cover costs (stipends) for the time YB students spend on job sites. In other communities, WIB's have longstanding relationships with a range of agencies and breaking into a funding relationship with a WIB to access WIOA funds is proving difficult, even with the increased focus on Opportunity Youth. At end end of a conversation re: WIOA with YB directors last week, we came to the conclusion that if you understood the relationship between a WIB and a YB program in 1 community, that you really only understand and know 1 relationship, because the work is so inherently relational and different from community to community.”

“I imagine that others in the discussion forum have great insights re: their local strategies for and successes/challenges working with their local WIB's?”

Q.  Mike asked Scott:

“I'm wondering if you can tell us how you, or YB, define 'contextualized learning'?  I'm interested in your thoughts to question #9: What advantages, if any, do you think adult charter schools may have in developing work-contextualized learning opportunities?  You may have seen the U.S. Department of Labor's announcement yesterday proposing a rule to help employers, sponsors grow, diversify their apprenticeship programs. “ 

The proposed rule would update existing Equal Employment Opportunity regulations for Registered Apprenticeship programs. It would serve to ensure equal opportunity for Americans to take part in apprenticeship programs regardless of their race, sex, color, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, or sexual orientation.”

“According to the DOL announcement, the proposed rule would improve on existing regulations by:

  • Extending protections against discrimination to include a broader swath of America's workforce, including protections based on disability, age (40 or older), sexual orientation, and genetic information
  • Simplifying and clarifying the affirmative steps employers and sponsors must take to ensure equal opportunity in apprenticeship
  • Providing new apprenticeship programs with more time to develop initial affirmative action programs, as well as providing all apprenticeship programs that meet their responsibilities under the rule with additional flexibility in how often they must update their plans
  • Simplifying and clearly defining the process for analyzing the talent available in the labor market to establish clear and achievable goals for diversity in apprenticeship
  • Clarifying the outreach, recruitment, and retention activities expected of employers by specifying four specific and common-sense required activities, such as advertising openings and partnering with educational institutions to recruit diverse talent
  • Creating a more flexible framework for the Office of Apprenticeship and States to provide technical assistance and work with apprenticeship programs that are not meeting their affirmative action responsibilities to bring them back into compliance”

“The public will have until Jan. 5, 2016, to provide comments on the proposed rule. Comments can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. Additional information about the proposed rule is available at www.doleta.gov/oa/eeo. “

Question: How do you anticipate YB, and other educational institutions, may benefit from this potential rule, if it becomes a compliance requirement?”

Assessment and Evaluation

Q. David J. Rosen asked:

“1.     What are the ways that your public adult charter school is accountable to what was proposed in your charter?”

“2.     How do you assess adult learners’ progress?”

“3.     How often, and how, do you evaluate your services, and your charter school as a whole?”

“4.     Are there ways of assessing and evaluating learning progress, curriculum and services that you would like to be able to do, or are planning? If so, please describe them.”

“5.     Some adult public charter schools may have a continuous improvement model. If yours does, can you please describe it and tell us if and how it has been effective for improving what your school does?”

“6.     What state (and in some large states, regional) or federal policies do you think are needed for adult public charter schools?”

“7.     What recommendations do you have for others who are interested in having their programs or adult schools become public adult charter schools?”

A. Simran Sidhu replied:

“YBPhilly’s charter at founding had very little by way of academic accountability embedded in it. At every renewal since then (we are currently in the middle of our fourth renewal) we have tried slightly different accountability models that included measuring academic gains and work certifications. We continue to be an outlier among charters both in terms of who we serve and what students do when they are with us and so have always needed. Most alternate education programs in Philadelphia work as contractors with the district. This means that we bear a fairly heavy burden each cycle trying to give context for our outcomes—which don’t look like anybody else’s but which are in fact quite good for what we do. In some ways we do well when they have well thought out accountability in the renewal process. In our last renewal cycle the district used an independent review team from School Works who sent three former superintendents to the school as part of a two-day review. At the end they said we were among the top 5% of schools they had reviewed and commended us for our innovation, individualization and strong climate and culture.”

“Like many other Youthbuilds and as Scott mentioned in an earlier thread-we use the TABE to measure individual student progress (largely because we are required to),have students test to achieve industry-credentials in each training track and use a lot of locally designed assessments. The truth is that none of these felt full satisfactory, or like they fit well so we are always in pursuit of the perfect test--that will give us a great diagnostic, show evidence of gains and be meaningful to students' lives in some way. Instead we have different things to do each of these. So it feels sometimes like we spread ourselves trying to focus on real learning, while also preparing students to do tests that matter to our existence (TABE for funders) and their advancement (Accuplacer, Compass).”

“The thing is that because at our core the vision is to substantially change the trajectory of our students’ lives and put them on the path to long-term success, we felt a better measure of our program and its rigor would be post program placement and retention. This focus to have long-term impact on our students’ lives is quite layered and complex--but has been included in our past and current strategic plans, and we have incrementally developed the capacity to measure toward this goal. First we developed the capacity to rigorously measure and report on post program placement (with evidence of this placement for each graduate) and are currently working on the capacity to report just as rigorously on retention in placement. This currenlty puts us a little ahead of what most schools report on in their outcome measures at their renewal cycles (but is more routine in the world of workforce development).”

“In three weeks representatives from our Charter office will come out to ensure that we are meeting our mission. There are pages of interview questions, observations and documented outcomes that they will be looking for. Of course we also submit a ton of evidence of good governance practices as well as financial oversight.”

“In addition to submitting lots and lots of information at charter renewal points we also submit a ton of this information annually for review and go through State Department of Education audits, particularly for special education."

"We certainly like to think we follow a continuous improvement model at YBPhilly in that program refinement and improvement is constant and is driven by two important factors (1) the specific strengths, deficits and challenges of a new student body enrolled each year and (2) long term goals which require us to backward map our entire design from where we want graduates to be a year after graduation. To this end we are intentionally responsive to employers, postsecondary partners and industry trends and have adapted many aspects of our program including graduation requirements (piloting and expanding high demand industry tracks, including rigorous certifications and bridge experiences) the school calendar (going year-round instead of Sept-June, matching college calendars to maximize dual enrollment opportunities) and learning content (including practice and evaluation of professional skills valued by post-secondary institutions and employers) to meet those needs.” 

“In general I would say that our staff and leadership embrace change, growth and learning and we have established a culture where staff and leadership at all levels are in the habit of examining both short terms indicator data (collected through daily attendance, formative assessments etc.), as well as longer term data (graduation, placement) regularly with a view to improve and innovate. We raise lots of additional funding to allow us to pilot innovative programs and keep up with best practices. Approximately 60% of our total funding is non-charter and leveraged from other public (workforce investment, housing, national service) and private (United Way, Foundations, Individuals) sources.”

“We have also been very diligent with Strategic Planning and following up on those plans. We are in the first year of our current three-year plan and the whole organization knows it and works on various aspects of it. Our Board is very highly engaged with overseeing it and with learning as we progress. We have also put in place very intentional mechanisms and time to reflect on the program and solicit feedback from students, graduates and staff on how we are doing and what needs to be changed. Lots of on-going feedback moments and staff retreat times are essential to this process.”

“In terms of advice for other adult programs interested in becoming Charters, I would say work as hard as possible to get the most flexibility you can at the State level and only apply if your State’s authorizer understands the value of having a portfolio of adult ed schools or is willing to participate in an out-of-the-box pilot. Otherwise the formality of the k-12 world combined with having to run innovative programs becomes very difficult to manage. However, if you have some flexibility to be really adult-learner oriented the funding stability and curricular freedom that being a Charter provide are invaluable anchors for programs like ours.”

 “I think collectively we need to push definitions of what accountability should look like for adult learners specifically—with much more focus on how well adult learners are prepared to transition to next steps rather than on years of missed content. I think there is so much to learn from this space that we should be allowed to be hotbeds of innovation and then pass what we have learned from individualizing and contextualizing education to high schools and even middles schools.”

“In the next five year charter term we will continue to strive for improvement in all areas of our program including:

  • Attendance and retention (Despite the significant personal challenges our students face, we would like to see attendance and retention increase as these have impact each outcome measure and long term success).
  • Academic skill building and instructional practice (How do we best focus on competencies while also addressing content gaps? Which strategies are most engaging for students who have been out of the classroom for years? How do we incorporate technology into instruction in the most meaningful way who have been away from the classroom for many years)
  • Certifications (which will be most meaningful to students in ever-evolving workplaces and industries, which are stackable and/or earn college credits);
  • Post-Secondary Education and Career retention (How best to practice and learn all of the transferrable skills needed for success in employment and/or postsecondary education settings circumstances? What are the supports that are most meaningful for students and graduates? How best to have students assess for career and post-secondary fit? How best to work with Employers and Post-Secondary partners to provide supports for graduates in these highly contextualized settings?) “

David J. Rosen replied:

“Thanks Simran, for your very thorough response to these questions.”

“You wrote: ‘...because at our core the vision is to substantially change the trajectory of our students’ lives and put them on the path to long-term success, we felt a better measure of our program and its rigor would be post program placement and retention. This focus to have long-term impact on our students’ lives is quite layered and complex--but has been included in our past and current strategic plans, and we have incrementally developed the capacity to measure toward this goal.’ "

“I have recently learned from a U.S. Department of Education-commissioned research brief by my colleague, Stephen Reder, based on his ten-year longitudinal study of nearly 1000 randomly chosen school dropouts in Portland Oregon, that for students who have participated in adult education programs for 100 hours or more, on average their annual earnings increase is close to $10,000; however, that this impact doesn't show up until at least the fifth or sixth year after participation. (Reder, S. (2014).  The Impact of ABS Program Participation on Long-Term Economic Outcomes. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education.)”

“This Research Brief makes me wonder if there is a way for your public adult charter school, and for those in other states, to link students' outcomes (completion, certification(s), entry into post-secondary education or occupational training to (already-collected) state employment earnings data, usually tracked annually by employee social security number. If so, it might be possible to capture significant earnings impact data for students that might demonstrate the effectiveness of your school's long-term success goals for them. Reder found that for some program participants, for example, their earnings increased so significantly they were able to lift their families out of poverty.”

“I would love to hear your thoughts -- and the thoughts of others here -- about ideas for measuring long-term impact, including changes in earnings and wealth accumulation, especially for students from the lowest or low-income families.”

A. Allison Kokkoros replied:

Accountability

“As I’d mentioned earlier, for our past 17 years as a charter school, we have received much greater oversight and monitoring than we previously received as a DC Public School or as a nonprofit receiving federal grants.   The DC School Reform Act which governs DC’s charter schools imposes many requirements on charter schools including obtaining accreditation, conducting a lottery when there are more applicants than slots available, specifying the constitution of the school’s board of trustees, requiring submission of board minutes quarterly, and requirements for our contracting and procurement practices.  The requirements of the School Reform Act and the additional monitoring requirements of the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB) result in nearly daily accountability activities including: a detailed annual residency audit; over 100 submissions to the PCSB’s online monitoring system with evidence of performance in financial, governance, emergency preparedness, staff qualifications, and other compliance areas; a detailed data audit of the source documents backing up our performance data for our charter contract goals and Performance Management Framework; a Qualitative Site Review involving random classroom observations evaluating the quality of instruction; and ensuring all adult learners under the age of 26 obtain immunizations in spite of the fact that there are scant resources or support for them to accomplish this; and this is just naming a few.” 

“According to Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), the DC PCSB is a nationally renowned model of school accountability. It monitors every public charter school to guarantee its academic achievement, managerial competence and financial health and conducts a high stakes review every five years. Data around these measures is readily available to the general public on the DC PCSB website.”

“Another requirement of being a charter school is ensuring that our instructional staff is highly qualified.   We have designed a rigorous credentialing process requiring 36 credits in adult education, teaching methodology for ELL’s, and specific courses related to teaching their content areas such as ESL, GED, or nursing.”

Assessment of Learner Progress

“We assess our adult learners’ progress in multiple ways.   Teachers utilize formal and informal formative assessments throughout the course of the semester to gauge learning and progress.  Informal formative assessments include: teachers checking for understanding during lesson plan delivery, review of portfolios documenting student progress at various stages of the semester (our instructional period) to monitor progress, in-class quizzes, take home exercises, etc.”

“Formal assessments that gauge student progress vary across each of our core programs, ESL, GED in English, GED in Spanish, and career training. A pre-test is given at the beginning of the semester to establish a student’s starting point. A post-test is then given at the end of the semester and is cross-referenced with the pre-test.  Our comprehensive testing process includes: assuring complete test security from the dissemination of tests to the collection and inventory of tests; proper proctoring of the assessments; proper scoring, recording and reporting of test results. Teachers then analyze test outcomes and conduct individual student conferences to discuss learning goals and progress.”

“Student progress is reported to DC PCSB through the Adult Education Performance Management Framework (PMF).  Two years ago the DC PCSB rolled out the adult education PMF designed to rate adult charters in such a way that they can be compared. We have spent the past two years aligning our systems which entailed substantial adjustments in our student information system, data collection systems, and staffing plan.   We have done about 80% of the work to align to this new performance framework.”   

“The PMF measures each charter school on key indicators: student progress (test score improvement over time), student achievement (meeting or exceeding standards), College and Career Readiness (employment and post-secondary outcomes), and the leading indicators or predictors of future students’ progress and achievement which for adult schools are attendance and retention. DC PCSB sets targets for student progress performance and schools’ data are audited and scored. Just this year, DC PCSB implemented a tiering system for adult education charter schools.”

“Being held accountable for all of these indicators means we must allocate the appropriate resources not only to ensure student progress but also to track it. Each quarter, for example, we must conduct extensive follow ups with students who have exited our programs during a given time period. This tracks student progress beyond the classroom. Did they retain or obtain a job since exiting? Did they enter college?  Coordinating these follow ups considering the size of our organization (2,000 students) requires significant time and resources.”

Evaluating our School as a Whole

“We use a variety of strategies to continuously evaluate our school including performance data, inputs, and stakeholder feedback throughout the school year.   Everyone – teachers, counselors, administrators, assessment, accountability staff, registration staff - is involved in monitoring how we are doing, and asking the question, ‘What can we do to better to serve our students?’ ”

“Thanks to Patricio Sanchez, our Accountability Director, below is an overview of our formal evaluation and internal processes:

Charter schools, like other schools rely on evaluations to provide critical information to internal and external stakeholders, school leaders and personnel as to the effectiveness of instruction, administration and overall operations.  It is important to recognize that charter schools exist within multiple larger educational systems each with varying degrees of oversight authority over them.  This dynamic results in having multiple formal evaluation frameworks and processes in place that guide and drive the schools' evaluation.”  

“Below are examples of external evaluation frameworks, evaluation tools, or evaluation processes that inform and help guide, in part, the School's evaluation processes:

PCSB: Charter contract agreement, charter contract goals’, Adult PMF, Quality Site Review, Annual Report, Equity Report, Financial Audits, FAR (a report on fiscal performance), and others.

Middle States Association: Accreditation application, mid-point report, Peer Review Site Visit, Excellence by Design Framework with goals.

Office of the State Superintendent for Education:  A myriad of data reports due to OSSE that provide data on many student data points ranging from immunization status, validating residency status, auditing attendance patterns, fulfillment of services for special education and limited English proficiency (LEP).”

“Our school also has an internal evaluation framework. Our Accountability Department provides timely data to the school leadership to help guide discussions and decisions as to the effectiveness of various programs and their components.  As such, program designs and implementation are assessed, validated and, as needed, course corrections are made to achieve the desired program quality and effectiveness.  Again, this is an internally driven process that we strongly believe is integral to our success. Any aspect of the School's instructional or operational program that is not evaluated in one or more of the aforementioned frameworks is evaluated by the CEO and Chief Academic Officer (CAO) in a comprehensive performance report.  This report measures outcomes and outputs for all academic programs and services and contains data on student goals.  Other internal evaluation tools, reports or events of note are: School Impact Report, student satisfaction survey, staff satisfaction survey, teacher satisfaction survey and a mid-year report.”

Future assessment and evaluation goals

“In alignment with the PMF we track specific short-term and mid-term, direct outcomes in our individual students’ progress, we are now eager to shift our energies towards measuring longer term impacts not only at the individual level but at the community and economic level. This would include attempting to answer questions such as: how do our adult education programs and supportive services help increase housing stability, increase in income, affect the performance of our students’ children, etc. We also have plans for conducting more trend analyses to inform enhancements to our school model.”

Policy Recommendations

“In touching on policy recommendations, at the federal level we recommend considering modification to the US Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) to allow for the creation of new high-quality public charter schools that allow for students age 21 and over to enroll through the replication of the DC School Reform Act (1996), which includes adult education schools. “ 

“At the local level some of our recommendations include:

  • The local discussion exploring charter enrollment requirements consider geographic boundaries keeping in mind the unique missions and program offerings of the adult education charter schools, resulting in drawing applicants from across the District of Columbia.  
  • Supporting adult learners with transportation and child care.
  • Approving a statewide diploma for the GED.
  • A push to make more immigrant parents aware of the school choice they have for their children in the District of Columbia as ELL children are under-represented in charter schools in the District.
  • ESL Level 6 measure EFL gain target be adjusted by the local PCSB to be realistic.  As it is currently written this measure expects as much as a 14 point gain in one semester.
  • The application process to become an adult charter school is demanding. Effective CBOs encountering barriers to applying and receiving charter status need support. We suggest exploring a start-up fund for high-performing CBOs to access technical assistance so they may be better equipped to become a charter school.
  • Some CBO’s which may not elect to convert to a full school appear not to be appropriately resourced to meet the standards they are required to meet.  We suggest considering an adequacy study for adult education CBO’s, not unlike the one conducted in the District for traditional and chartered public schools.”

Recommendations for Those Considering becoming an Adult Charter School

 “As has been mentioned previously, to set up a school successfully, system alignment takes a tremendous commitment of time and effort to set up well (information system aligned with your accountability measures, human resources management systems, talent recruitment to identify the best and highly qualified instructional and operational personnel, etc.).   Here are some recommendations to consider while applying for charter status:

  • Seek resources to support your application and subsequent transition to charter school status. Consider approaching local foundation community and local and state elected officials with your case for the support necessary to apply and fully ramp up.
  • Though a school’s leadership may have a wonderful model that meets urgent community needs, unless the financial house is kept in very good order and the school is able to deliver on its intended outcomes, the school may not make it. “

“Once chartered, it is important to note that the rigorous demands on charter schools will require you to perform well from the start. In DC, one third of charter schools have been closed since the inception of charter schools in 1996. Below are some suggestions to help ensure your school succeeds:

  • Carefully select and groom your team to ensure that you have strong expertise in the crucial areas of instructional leadership, curriculum design, operations including budgeting, contracting and procurement, establishing strong risk management and controls, talent recruitment, student services, etc.    Invest in your team so that they grow and develop as your organization grows and evolves.
  • Consider board members with a variety of expertise (legal, education, finance) and that are very clear on your mission and the accountability you are beholden to.   Train board members on the applicable requirements (performance, operational, and others).
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement and celebration of success within your school.    As I walk through our two school campuses, I see a personal commitment to excellence from the teaching and learning going on in the classroom; to keeping the hallways, classrooms, whiteboards spotless; to our retention specialists going all out in assisting our students; to actively creating a culture of inclusion and mutual respect in a highly diverse school community; to the conversations going on in teacher cohorts around supporting our learners as they hone critical thinking skills;  to constant monitoring of our outcomes at all levels – student, class, level, school wide, and while in school as well as following up after exit – to inform continuous improvements.    This culture is not there by accident.   We actively seek to recruit and retain staff who thrive in this climate and are personally committed to the mission of equipping our students with the skills necessary not only to survive but to thrive in the District of Columbia and in this country.  We celebrate successes along the way: our students in our ABE program gaining their elementary certificate; students who despite working multiple jobs and raising a family manage to achieve perfect attendance; when a student is recognized as employee of the year; when we gained accreditation; and so on.”

“We encourage other adult education leaders and communities to explore structuring as a charter school and welcome this dialogue.   Innovative, adequate, and effective investments in our nation’s adult learners are crucial.  I have no doubt that how effectively we as a nation support our adult learners to gain functional literacy, enter into career pathways, actively engage in and nurture their children’s education, gain housing stability, actively participate in our democracy and in the leadership of community development around them, will determine the trajectory of our country’s future. It has been a pleasure to participate in this conversation. Thank you again, David, for inviting me to take part. I look forward to continuing the conversation here and offline.” 

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David J. Rosen

Moderator, Program Management Community of Practice

djrosen123@gmail.com

David J. Rosen's picture
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Colleagues,

In 2015 we had a discussion in the LINCS Community's Program Management group about Adult Public Charter Schools. It's time for some updates.

The first area in the U.S. to have an adult public charter school was Washington, D.C. the Carlos Rosario International Adult Public Charter School. I believe there are now ten adult Public Charter Schools in D.C., one of the highest concentrations in the country.  How are they doing?

The K-12, alternative, and adult public charter schools in the District of Columbia are authorized and held accountable by the DC Public Charter School Board. In addition to authorizing it may also revoke charters; it evaluates the schools and has performance tiers. "The Adult Education School Quality Report measures program effectiveness by tracking student progress, student achievement, progress on mission-specific measures, and indicators such as attendance and student retention. These eight adult public charter schools received a Tier One or Tier Two standing

Adult Education Schools By Tier
School Name Tier Framework
Academy of Hope PCS 1 Adult
Briya PCS 1 Adult
Carlos Rosario International PCS 1 Adult
The Next Step/El Proximo Paso PCS 1 Adult
YouthBuild DC PCS 1 Adult
Community College Preparatory Academy PCS 2 Adult
LAYC Career Academy PCS 2 Adult
Maya Angelou PCS - Young Adult Learning 2 Adult

                Below is the  October 31, 2018 School Quality Report Highlights for Adult Schools

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The Adult Education School Quality Report measures program effectiveness by tracking student progress, student achievement, progress on mission-specific measures, and environmental indicators such as attendance and retention. The Report show a school's results, including the school's rating in one of three tiers, with Tier 1 being the best. In school year 2018 - 19, there are nine adult education public charter schools.

(Note: The Family Place PCS is currently in its first year of operation and does not receive a tier, nor is it included in the highlights below.)

Overview

  • Five of the eight adult education schools are rated Tier 1 this year.

Student Progress

  • Seven schools earned more than 65% of total points in Student Progress, while five schools improved. Student Progress measures the rate at which students progress through academic levels, whether ABE assessment or English as a Second Language (ESL).
  • Academy of Hope Adult PCS earned a Tier rating for the first time, an achievement driven by improving their Student Progress score by nearly 20%.
  • LAYC Career Academy PCS had the most significant improvement by nearly 15 points.

Student Achievement

  • All seven adult education schools with a secondary credential program earned at least 65% of points in the Student Achievement category this year.
  • The Next Step PCS had 79.7% of 59 students trying to achieve their GED earn the credential.

College and Career Ready

  • Carlos Rosario International PCS and YouthBuild PCS each earned all the possible points in this category. All Adult Education schools gained more than 65% of points in the Career and College Readiness category this year.
  • LAYC Career Academy PCS saw the greatest improvement in this category, rising from 81.1% of points in 2016-17 to 91.9% of points this year.

School Environment

  • Six adult schools increased in their retention rate, a measure that captures the rate at which students persist in their programs, as demonstrated through either completion of ABE and ESL testing programs, workforce certifications, secondary credentials, or attendance hours.
  • Academy of Hope Adult PCS led the sector in growth in retention, improving its retention rate by 10.8 percentage points, contributing to the school’s first Tier 1 rating. For more information about the ratings click here and school highlights click here for PK-12 schools and here for alternative schools.

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It looks to me like outstanding performance and progress. What do you think? Are there adult public charter schools in your state? If so, how are they doing?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Program Management group