Public Comments and Responses

on Proposed Contract Renewal Criteria, Guidance and Application

Public comments, questions, and suggestions on the proposed charter contract renewal criteria are summarized here, along with responses from Commission staff. This list will continue to be expanded and updated.

 

PERFORMANCE CRITERIA

PERFORMANCE DATA

METHODOLOGY FOR DETERMINING TERM OF NEW CONTRACT

PROBATION

NON-RENEWAL

OTHER

 

 

 

PERFORMANCE CRITERIA

 

Comment:      

Is there a way to add more weight to growth in the Commission’s Academic Performance Framework (APF)?

Response:        

There is an important balance to be struck between student achievement and student growth, to ensure both that a school is evaluated based on the progress it makes with its students from their starting point but also based on getting all students to reach proficiency. Some schools may wish that the Strive HI Performance System emphasized growth relatively more than it does. But other schools may not. When the Commission initially adopted the APF, it was the sense of many charter schools that the APF should more strongly emphasize their results for high-needs students (students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and those eligible for free and reduced lunch), in recognition of their service to such students. In the end, in response to a request from the schools, the Commission removed this additional emphasis on high-needs student results because it was felt they counted too heavily and caused too much volatility from year to year.  With that issue, and with this issue of student growth, it is important to remember that a charter school can propose one or more School-Specific Measures (SSM) that focus on the school’s mission or vision and that, cumulatively, can count for up to 25% of the school’s academic result. For example, a school that emphasizes the progress it makes with students who are academically behind could propose the use of the NWEA Measures of Academic Assessment (MAP) as an additional measure of growth.

 

In addition, the proposed Additional Indicators allow a school to compare its performance to that of other schools serving similar populations, to earn points for closing the achievement gap faster than the statewide average, and to address this topic by describing concrete actions it has taken in its Renewal Narrative. Also, in response to school feedback, an Additional Indicator was added providing bonus points for schools where a majority of students come to the school in major entry grades at least two years below grade level, as well as for schools where at least 30% students attend the school for less than the full school year. This last bonus point option is provided even though Strive HI already excludes the results of students who did not attend the school from October 15 until the end of the school year.

 

Comment: 

Can WASC Accreditation be factored into the renewal criteria?

Response: 

Accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is not an outcome or a measure, but rather a continual process of institutional self-reflection and self-improvement intended to result in the positive outcomes and measures that, in turn, are the focus of charter school authorizing and contract renewal. As such, treating a school’s accreditation status as an outcome in and of itself would not be appropriate and, indeed, would exacerbate the risk that a school will fixate more on its accreditation status than on the process. This same question arose during the development of the State’s Strive HI Performance System, and the response of the Department of Education (DOE) was the same.

 

That said, the proposed contract renewal criteria and application do provide an opportunity for a charter school to highlight the findings in its accreditation report from WASC. One of the Additional Indicators a school can submit is its Renewal Narrative, where the school can identify concrete actions it has undertaken for school improvement. Schools applying for a new contract will be specifically invited to include within this narrative relevant findings of its accreditation report, if applicable.

 

 

PERFORMANCE DATA

 

Comment: 

What was the reason for separating schools by grade division (elementary, middle, and high) for comparison purposes?

Response:     

This allows for a closer and more accurate comparison of school performance and also is a more valuable comparison for parents and the public. For this limited purpose a multi-division school (K-12, K-8, 6-12, etc.) will be grouped by the highest grade division served. Generally this will work very much to the charter school’s advantage, as public elementary schools in Hawaii tend to perform relatively more strongly than secondary schools. In addition, in ranking the multi-division charter schools the Commission will employ its weighted Academic Performance Index (API), which looks at results for all three grade divisions, not just the highest grade division served. This, too, provides a more accurate picture and generally will be to the charter school’s advantage.

 

Comment:  

Percentiles cannot be averaged, so how will the Commission calculate the schools’ three-year average percentile ranks?

Response:     

Since percentile ranks are derived from a normal distribution (bell curve), they are not on an equal interval scale and are not suitable for averaging.  A normal curve equivalent (NCE), on the other hand, is on an equal interval scale and is suitable for statistical calculations.  In order to determine the three-year average percentile rank for each charter school, the percentile ranks for each relevant year (school years 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016) will be converted to NCEs, averaged, and then converted back to percentiles.

 

Comment:

Why is charter school academic performance data from 2013-14 being factored in to renewal decisions? It was my understanding that results from 2013-14 would not result in non-renewal.

Response:     

Under the one-year Contract 1.0, no existing charter schools were required to undergo a renewal performance review, and potentially face non-renewal, in order to receive Contract 2.0. But including this year of academic data will provide in a clearer picture of the school’s performance over time and result in more informed decisions.
 

Comment:   

What is the statistical relevance of the change from the HSA to the SBAC student assessments?  How can we consider together the academic performance of schools from years in which the assessments were different?

Response: 

Although the two assessments are different, both the Strive HI Performance System and the Commission’s draft contract renewal criteria account for this by focusing on the school’s performance relative to other public schools. Because all public schools necessarily are evaluated using the same assessments (although charter schools also are allowed to propose School-Specific Measures), there is no relative advantage or disadvantage to one school. In general, school accountability systems are not static. It is in the interest of schools that they be refined, and this need not require continually starting everything over.
 

Comment:

With such heavy emphasis on the Academic Performance Index (API) ranking, we are perpetuating a heavy reliance on standardized test scores, especially since School-Specific Measures (SSMs) are so hard to get approved by the Commission.

Response:   

Charter schools are free to teach their students in the variety of ways that they have articulated in their charter contracts. However, as public schools, they are appropriately accountable for student outcomes as measured under Hawaii’s accountability system.

 

A charter school also is able to develop and propose one or more additional School-Specific Measures (SSM), which can cumulatively count up to 25%. This is a very heavy weighting of factors other than state measures compared to what is accepted in other jurisdictions. It is certainly not the case that an SSM needs to be years in development, nor is it the case that every SSM much be of the school’s own devising. Ideally the Commission would like to see every charter school evaluated in part using an SSM. On the other hand, the measure must be sufficiently validated to warrant counting so heavily in a school’s results. Not only does this protect children, but no school should risk having its performance results depend so heavily on a measure without the benefit of validation and calibration using baseline data. The Commission has removed the deadline to submit School-Specific Measures each year so that they now can be considered on an ongoing basis and schools can approach the Commission at the early stages of an idea for a SSM.

 

Comment: 

How do Strive HI classifications factor into the proposed renewal criteria?

Response: 

The classification a school receives under the Strive HI Performance System (Recognition, Continuous Improvement, Focus, or Priority) is not considered under the proposed renewal criteria. For that matter, the classification is not considered by the Commission under the Commission’s Academic Performance Framework, but is included in the Commission’s Annual Report for informational purposes only.

 

Comment: 

The Academic Trend indicators rubric in the appendix of the draft application for schools falling in Bracket 2 are mathematically unachievable for schools already in the higher end of the bracket, so the rubric needs to be adjusted to allow those schools to be able to earn the maximum points under that additional indicator category.

Response: 

This was a good point, and the draft application has been revised to correct the error.

 

 

METHODOLOGY FOR DETERMINING TERM OF NEW CONTRACT

 

Comment:

Section 1.1 of the current Contract 2.0 provides that, “if the School demonstrates exemplary performance, as determined by the Commission, on the Performance Frameworks under Section 4.1, it shall be granted a two-year extension through June 30, 2019.” But the Commission’s proposal and the Guiding Principles it has established for the renewal criteria instead now say that top-performing schools will be eligible for a new five-year contract. Why is this allowed?

Response: 

Under the proposal, schools would still be eligible under Contract 2.0 to receive the two-year contract extension if they really prefer this. However, based on feedback from schools, the Commission’s assumption is that any school that is eligible under the renewal criteria at the end of this contract term for a full, five-year contract would prefer that to only a two-year extension. This would ensure that the highest-performing schools have the longest contract terms. 

 

Comment:    

A school that falls into Bracket 3 would be eligible only for a one-year contract if it fails to meet standard under the Organizational or Financial Performance Frameworks and/or fails to earn enough points for Additional Indicators. This would feel similar to the last-chance extra probationary year, even though this school is not in the bottom tier of schools.

Response: 

In addition to the concern expressed in this comment, the Bracket 3 school also would have to begin a contract renewal process early in the very next year after having gone through the process to earn the one-year contract. In order to avoid these issues and allow a below-average but not bottom-tier school more time, the proposal has been revised so that Bracket 3 schools are eligible for either a two- or a three-year contract, instead of either a one- or a two-year contract.


Comment: 

If one of the Commission’s Guiding Principles for the final contract renewal criteria is that all three Performance Frameworks in the Charter Contract (academic, financial, and organizational) matter, shouldn’t the renewal of a school falls into Bracket 1 because of its high academic performance also factor in the school’s organizational and financial performance somehow, instead of automatically being for a five-year term?

Response: 

Yes. In response to this comment, the proposal has been revised so that a Bracket 1 school would be eligible for the full five-year contract term only if it met standard under the Organizational and Financial Frameworks. Otherwise it would only be eligible for a four-year contract.

 

The same principle also will apply to the six Hawaiian immersion charter schools and to Mālama Honua Public Charter School, which all will be granted a new contract to allow for more years of academic results to be gathered to inform renewal decisions. Each of these schools will be eligible for a three-year contract, unless it fails to meet standard under the Organizational and/or Financial Performance Framework. In that case it will be eligible for a two-year contract.
 

Comment:

Why are only schools that fall into Brackets 2 and 3 allowed to submit the Additional Indicators? Shouldn’t schools that fall into Bracket 4 and opt for a probationary year also have the opportunity to do so?

Response: 

The probationary terms that a school must fulfill in its probationary year in order to avoid closure will be informed by a thorough review of the school’s data, including but not limited to the information related to the Additional Indicators. However, in response to this comment the draft application has been revised so that a Bracket 4 school is specifically invited to submit the Additional Indicators, to help inform the process of setting probationary terms.

 

The application also has been revised to allow schools that fall into Bracket 1 to submit the Academic Indicators. For a charter school, the charter contract application can serve not only the purposes of contract renewal but also could be a valuable document to help the school tell its story to prospective funders and other stakeholders. Even if the Additional Indicators are not needed to determine the length of the new contract of a top-performing school, the information could be powerful for this other purpose.


Comment: 

In some charter schools, many students come to the school already years behind grade level. This should be considered in the renewal criteria.

Response: 

In response to this comment a fifth Additional Indicator has been added to the proposal for Underserved Students, whereby a school could earn bonus points if (1) a majority of its students who enroll during the schools major entry years (e.g., kindergarten and sixth grade) are at least two years behind grade level, and (2) the school can show through data that it is on track for preparing these children to reach grade level by the time they graduate. More bonus points could be earned where the percentage is higher. Because these are bonus points, this addition will impose no disadvantage on schools that are not in this situation.

 

Comment:

Some charter schools have an extraordinarily high rate of student mobility (transfers in and out of the school) during the school year.  This should be considered in the renewal criteria.

Response: 

In response to this comment, the new Additional Indicator described above for underserved students will include a provision whereby the school can earn bonus points if at least 30% of students enrolled at the school during the school year are enrolled there for less than the entire school year. Because these are bonus points, this addition will impose no disadvantage on schools that are not in this situation. Already under Strive HI, only "full school year" students' results are attributed to the school, meaning the student must be enrolled at the school on the August official enrollment count date, on the last Wednesday in January, and on May 1.

 

 

PROBATION

 

Comment:        

Does the Commission really want to close down the bottom one-fifth of Hawaii’s charter schools?

Response:   

This question reflects some misunderstanding of the Commission’s proposal. Under the proposal, if a charter school’s academic performance over a three-year period places it in the bottom 20th percentile of all public schools in its grade division (elementary, middle, or high), it could face non-renewal, but it will have the option instead of receiving a probationary year beyond the term of the current contract to show sufficient improvement to receive an additional contract and avoid closure.

 

This proposal compares the school’s performance to that of all public schools, DOE and charter, in the school’s grade division. It does not look the bottom 20% of charter schools. Since the proposal looks at all public schools in the percentile rankings, no charter school needs to be in the bottom 20th percentile of public schools.

 

Comment:

What kind of additional assistance will be made available to those schools whose academic performance falls into the fourth bracket (i.e., the bottom 20% of all public schools in its grade division)?

Response:      

The more difficult part of the answer is that, fundamentally, it was never a premise of charter schooling to begin with that if a charter school is performing poorly, the response of the education system should be to devote significant additional resources to that school.

 

That said, the Commission is starting academic monitoring of charter schools that currently are academically low-performing, rather than waiting for any school eventually to be grouped in Bracket 4 based on three years of academic performance. Under this process, the school will receive assistance in reviewing what its performance data reveal about its challenges and in self-identifying priorities and targets for its school improvement efforts. Resources may be available to the school under the Strive HI Performance System, under Title I, and from private funders that the school can approach about the urgency of the need and the credibility of its improvement plans.


Comment:      

Under this proposal, why won’t schools that fall in the bottom 20% have a right to appeal the non-renewal of their contracts?  Don’t they have a legal right to appeal?

Response:     

In keeping with basic premises of charter schooling, at the end of the current contract term bottom-performing schools would face non-renewal. However, it is the fervent hope of the Commission that every school will improve sufficiently over the coming years not to face non-renewal in the first place. In addition, under the Commission’s proposal these schools will have another option, and another chance, if they choose to accept it.

Every school in the bottom bracket over the three-year period would be allowed to apply for a probationary year instead of non-renewal. This would give the school an additional year beyond its current contract to reach probationary performance terms set in conjunction with the Commission, which will be an outgrowth of the academic monitoring in which the school and the Commission already will have been engaged. It also would allow a fourth year of academic performance data to be considered, which could cause the school to be removed from probation. If the school’s governing board did choose to accept the offer for an extra year, it would accept the probationary year that would require the school to (1) achieve its probationary terms, (2) exit probation automatically because of its 2016-17 academic performance, or (3) close. Whether the probationary terms were met or the 2016-17 results lifted the school above the 20th percentile over four years would be a relatively straightforward data calculation that would not necessitate months of proceedings.

As a practical matter, if the school’s governing board did accept the offer of the additional year, the school would want as much time as possible during that probationary year to meet its probationary terms. While this initially did not appear possible using the current model of lengthy non-renewal proceedings, the proposal now affords a probationary school that fails to fulfill its probationary terms the option of these standard non-renewal proceedings. This can be accomplished at a cost of only month of time for the school to achieve its probationary terms and still will allow the proceedings to conclude before the end of the fiscal year, even if school chose to appeal the Commission’s non-renewal decision to the Board of Education.

 

Comment:

If a school is on probation, a fourth year’s academic results for the school will come in during the probationary year. Shouldn’t that be an important factor, and not just the school’s progress on its probationary terms, in whether the school emerges from probation and is granted a new contract or closes?

Response:   

It does make sense that a school’s full fourth year of academic performance data—if particularly high or low—should factor more heavily than the school’s attainment or non-attainment of probationary terms. Therefore the proposal is being revised so that if the fourth year academic performance, when averaged with the previous three years’ of results, causes the school to fall above the 20th percentile of all public schools in its grade division over the four-year period, then the school will promptly be removed from probationary status and granted a two- or three-year contract, regardless of its progress toward meeting its probationary terms. Conversely, if the fourth year academic performance, when averaged in with the previous three years’ of results, causes the school to fall in the 10th percentile or lower for all public schools in its grade division over the four-year period, then the school will be closed, regardless of it progress toward meeting its probationary terms.
 

 

NON-RENEWAL

 

Comment: 

Charter schools serve unique needs, and if they are closed, their students probably will drop out of school altogether.

Response:          

In the event that any charter school were to be closed, every effort would need to be made to ensure that its students, especially at-risk students, make successful academic transitions.


 

OTHER

 

Comment:     

Can a school’s academic performance data be reliable if students lost a month of school attendance due to natural disasters? Was any consideration given to the contract term due to these disasters?

Response:  

DOE schools that were impacted last year by natural disasters such as hurricanes or lava flow did not give up a month of instruction, and they were not granted waivers from state accountability measures.  To the extent that enrollment fluctuations due to a disaster are another concern, under Strive HI and the Academic Performance Framework (APF), only “full school year” students’ academic results are attributed to the school, meaning the student must be enrolled at the school on the August official enrollment count date, on the last Wednesday in January, and on May 1.

 

That said, every public school has opportunities to appeal its Strive HI data to the DOE, and every charter school has an opportunity to notify the Commission if it believes its APF data contain errors.  A school that experiences an emergency situation or other extenuating circumstances also could bring this to the DOE’s and/or the Commission’s attention and make the case that the emergency substantially and unavoidably interfered with the learning environment to an extent that warrants special consideration.

 

 

Comment: 

The Commission’s proposal does not address negotiations with governing boards in the process and timeline.

Response:     

The substantive provisions of Contract 3.0 are not before the Commission at this time, but only the contract renewal criteria, application, and process. The Commission has reached out to engage governing boards on this proposal and on other subjects. When the time comes to develop Contract 3.0, governing boards will have ample opportunity for discussion of its provisions as well.

 

Comment:       

The contract mandate for Commission staff to conduct inspections of student files and records may violate student privacy.

Response:        

Section 99.31 of the regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows the disclosure of personal identifiable information without the prior consent of parents and students to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. As the state authorizer of public charter schools, the Commission is statutorily mandated to monitor the performance and legal compliance of Hawaii’s public charter schools.

 

Comment: 

Hawaii’s charter school law says the Commission is supposed to issue “a charter school performance report and charter contract renewal application guidance” to schools. But the Commission’s proposal makes no reference to this.

Response:

In fact, under the Commission’s proposal, in July of 2016 the Commission will issue each school a preliminary renewal performance report, based on performance data from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. In October of 2016 these report will be updates to include a third year of performance data from the 2015-16 school year. In addition, the Commission already has drafted and revised the charter contract renewal application and made it available for public comments, and the accompanying guidance will be added to that document.

 

Comment:

With potential changes to federal education law, including the possible reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the charter

 

ontract must be aligned so implementation can reflect new federal guidelines.

Response: 

The substantive provisions of the Charter Contract schools will receive for a term starting in school year 2017-18 are not the issue before the Commission now but, rather, the means by which a school’s performance under the performance frameworks will be factored into the determination of the length of the contract term for which the school will be eligible. Speculating about potential changes to federal and state education law and policy, which are dynamic, not static, should not delay the implementation of the fundamental features of a chartering system.

 

Comment:         

Were other states’ criteria or national criteria considered in the creation of these proposed renewal criteria?

Response:        

Resources and examples consulted during the development of the proposal included the following:

 

  • National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Core Charter School Renewal Application Guidance;

  • U.S. Department of Education Notice Inviting Applications for the 2015 Charter School Programs Grants for State Educational Agencies, Notice of Final Priorities and related materials, available here;

  • Baltimore City Public School Charter School Renewal webpage;

  • Los Angeles Unified School District Independent Charter Renewal application page;

  • Delaware Department of Education Charter School renewal webpage;

  • District of Columbia Public Charter School Board renewal applications;

  • Florida – School District of Lee County renewal applications;

  • Massachusetts Charter Schools renewal application;

  • Michigan - The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools reauthorization page;

  • Nevada State Public Charter School Authority renewal page;

  • New Hampshire Department of Education Charter School renewal application;

  • New Jersey State Department of Education Charter School renewal application;

  • Philadelphia – School District of Philadelphia Charter School renewal application; and

  • Texas Educational Agency Applications and Renewal Applications renewal page.

 
 
 
 
 
 

​State Public Charter School Commission

 

1164 Bishop Street, Suite 1100

Honolulu, HI 96813
info@spcsc.hawaii.gov

Tel: 808-586-3775

Fax: 808-586-3776

  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon

 

* The Commission gratefully acknowledges  former Commissioner, Dr. Peter Hanohano, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for the translation of the Commission’s name.

© 2013 by SPCSC. All rights reserved.