Charter Visits: 3 Lessons Learned

Over the past 15+ years, we’ve conducted hundreds of charter school evaluation and renewal visits in over 10 states. We’ve learned a lot through this work. These are just three of our lessons learned:

  1. Every school is different. Every school has its unique ecology that creates school-specific opportunities and weaknesses. Even schools in highly prescriptive networks run by a charter management organization vary in the quality of learning and teaching. In The Learning Collective’s work, we have to be ready and eager to learn the particularities of each school.
  2. Charter school boards are often focused on fiscal accountability and facilities needs. Many charter board members are not well aware of the details of the school’s educational program. Accordingly …
  3. Charter school board members do not universally hold the educational program and its leaders sufficiently accountable for academic excellence throughout the school year. Board members are usually familiar with the school’s annual state test performance. But with those results coming just once a year, and often not being well versed in a school’s curricula and pedagogical approach and implementation, board members often rely on school leaders’ self-reporting of academic progress throughout the school year. This leads to at the very least a significant lag in many boards’ understanding of academic areas in need of improvement – sometimes that lag is too great to overcome!