CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION Hartford TO

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V.A.CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATIONHartfordTO BE PROPOSED:February 1, 2017RESOLVED, That the State Board of Education, pursuant to subsection (g) of Section 10-66bbof the Connecticut General Statutes, renews the charter of Booker T. Washington Academy fromJuly 1, 2017, through June 30, 2020, subject to the conditions noted in the Commissioner’sFebruary 1, 2017, memorandum to the State Board of Education, and directs the Commissionerto take the necessary action.Approved by a vote of , this first day of February, Two Thousand Seventeen.Signed:Dianna R. Wentzell, SecretaryState Board of Education

CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATIONHartfordTO:State Board of EducationFROM:Dr. Dianna R. Wentzell, Commissioner of EducationDATE:February 1, 2017SUBJECT: Renewal of State Charter – Booker T. Washington Academy, New HavenIntroductionIn accordance with subsection (g) of Section 10-66bb of the Connecticut General Statutes(C.G.S.), charters may be renewed, upon application, in accordance with the provisions for thegranting of new charters. The State Board of Education (SBE) may renew a charter for a periodof up to five years. The SBE makes renewal decisions based on evidence of the followingperformance standards:1. School Performance: Is the school a successful model resulting in strong studentoutcomes and a positive school climate?2. Stewardship, Governance and Management: Is the school financially and organizationallyhealthy and viable?3. Student Population: Is the school promoting equity by effectively attracting, enrolling andretaining students, particularly among targeted populations?4. Legal Compliance: Is the school acting in compliance with applicable laws andregulations?The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and the SBE carefully evaluatequalitative and quantitative evidence, and longitudinal data aligned to the four performancestandards outlined above when making charter renewal decisions. The charter performanceframework drives the CSDE’s charter school accountability systems and processes, includinginitial approval decisions, annual monitoring and renewal determinations. From inception torenewal, charter schools must abide by the CSDE’s charter school accountability procedures andperformance framework. Charter monitoring takes place through annual reporting, meetings,and correspondence and site visits, as appropriate. In accordance with C.G.S. § 10-66bb(g), acharter may be renewed, upon application, if the charter school has demonstrated satisfactoryperformance relative to the four performance standards.1

History/BackgroundOn August 4, 2014, the State Board of Education approved the Commissioner’s recommendationto grant the Booker T. Washington Academy (BTWA) charter for the period July 1, 2014,through June 30, 2017, subject to the conditions specified in a resolution approved by the Board(see Attachment A). Also, as conditioned by the approved charter is a report of BTWA’s firstyear academic, financial, and operational systems and performance (also Attachment A).In 2014-15, BTWA began its first year of operation. That year, the school served 91 students inGrades K-1. Of those students, 89 percent resided in the host district of New Haven and theremaining 11 percent resided in Hamden and West Haven. In 2015-16, BTWA added Grade 2,increasing the total to 180 students. Currently BTWA serves 241 students in Grades K-3 with 88percent residing in New Haven and the remaining 12 percent residing in five surrounding districts,East Haven, Hamden, Middletown, North Haven and West Haven. Please refer to Table 1 (page11) of the attached Charter Renewal Report which provides the 2015-16 student enrollment anddemographic data.Charter Renewal ProcessApplication for Renewal of Charter: The CSDE accepted an application for the renewal ofBTWA’s charter on September 2, 2016. The application detailed the charter school’s progress,operations, and achievement in relation to the CSDE’s charter school performance standards: (a)school performance; (b) stewardship, governance and management; (c) student population; and(d) legal compliance. BTWA submitted data and evidence to substantiate the charter school’swritten responses.A renewal team comprised of CSDE staff with expertise in curriculum, assessments, specialeducation, English learners, school management, finance, and school governance reviewed therenewal application and requested clarification and additional information, where necessary.Overall, the team determined that the application responded effectively to the areas required andprovided sufficient supporting evidence.Renewal Site Visit: On November 2, 2016, the CSDE renewal team conducted an on-site visit atBTWA. The purpose of the renewal on-site visit was to observe BTWA’s programs, policies,practices, and procedures to assess their efficacy and fidelity to the school’s charter and alignedoperating systems. Evidence was collected through on-site visit observations, document reviews,interviews and focus groups. The team spoke with board members, administrators, staff, parentsand community members. The team used this process to ensure that the school is functioning incompliance with the law and the school’s mission. The team verified the responses detailed inthe renewal application regarding compliance with the law and the CSDE’s performanceframework and accountability plan.Invitation for Written Comment: The CSDE solicited written comments on the renewal ofBTWA from the Superintendent of New Haven and from contiguous school districts: EastHaven, Hamden, North Haven, Orange, West Haven and Woodbridge. The CSDE received aletter from Jody Ian Goeler, Superintendent, Hamden Public School (see Attachment B) which issupportive of BTWA’s charter renewal.2

The CSDE received a letter from Mr. Robert F. Gilbert, Superintendent, Woodbridge SchoolDistrict (see Attachment C) which is neutral to BTWA’s charter renewal.Public Hearing: Erik M. Clemons, member of the SBE, and CSDE staff held a public hearing onDecember 13, 2016, in New Haven, and heard from 18 individuals on the potential charterrenewal of BTWA and the impact it is having on the community. Public hearing participantsincluded members of the BTWA community, including family members, students, school staffand community members. Over 76 people attended the public hearing. The responses generatedduring the public hearing were overwhelmingly positive, both in terms of the impact the charterschool has had on the community and support for BTWA in the context of school choice. Noone spoke out against the renewal of the school’s charter.Academic AchievementAccountability Index score data for BTWA is not available for charting student achievement atthe school because BTWA has not yet served grades that have participated in the SmarterBalanced Assessment (SBAC). Therefore, benchmark data based on the Northwest EvaluationAssociation (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is used as a standardized measureof student progress.As detailed in Tables 4 and 5, student growth in reading and math based on NWEA MAP,showed mixed results between Fall and Spring 2015-16.Positive Academic Achievement Indicators: The Grade 2 math increase ( 23 ppts.) from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016 representssubstantial scaled score growth that exceeded 1.25 years of NWEA annual growth, in linewith that needed for low-performing students to meet achievement targets that will closethe grade level proficiency gap by the end of Grade 3. An improvement in the percentage of students that met the NWEA proficiencybenchmarks in Reading (Kindergarten: 5 ppts.) and Math (Grade 1: 5 ppts. Grade 2: 23 ppts.) between Fall and Spring of 2015-16.Academic Achievement Areas of Concern: The percentage of students that met NWEA proficiency benchmarks declined in Reading(Grade 1: -1%, Grade 2: -4%) and Math (Kindergarten: -3%) between Fall and Spring of2015-16. Scaled score growth in Reading and Math, with the exception of Math for Grade 2, is noton pace to meet NWEA growth targets needed to close grade level proficiency gaps bythe end of Grade 3.Other IndicatorsThe most recent available data and information contained in the Charter Renewal Report andNext Generation Accountability Report 2014-15 (see below) also evaluate BTWA’s performance3

and success in other standards including Stewardship, Governance & Management; StudentPopulation, and Legal Compliance.Positive Other Indicators: No significant findings, conditions or internal weaknesses were uncovered in BTWA’smost recently conducted (2015) certified financial audit. Certified audits and annual budgets were completed and submitted on time. BTWA’s accounting policies and procedures manual contain the standard sections ofsuch manual. BTWA meets or exceeds the ranges recommended by the National Association of CharterSchool Authorizers, signifying overall financial health.Other Indicators: BTWA bylaws require amendments to comply with new CSDE administrative oversightguidelines for anti-nepotism and conflict of interest. To better reflect the demographics of the surrounding community, the school must reachout to and enroll more Hispanic students and students who are English learners. BTWA must reduce the high rate of student chronic absenteeism. BTWA must reduce the number of student in-school suspensions.Charter Renewal RecommendationBTWA is a charter school with limited evidence to demonstrate it has developed a successfulmodel resulting in strong student outcomes and a positive school climate. The alternativestandardized assessment NWEA MAP has been administered between the Fall and Spring 201516 and Fall 2016 to students. A review of student growth on the NWEA MAP in reading andmath were mixed and student rates of proficiency growth were not consistently strong across thegrades and content areas. Also, NWEA MAP scaled score growth in reading and math, with theexception of Grade 2 math, show students are not on pace to meet NWEA MAP growth targetsby the end of Grade 3. Growth during these years is imperative. Without remediation, studentsmay likely struggle with reading throughout their school years.The school culture and climate data (Table 2) show BTWA had a chronic absenteeism rate of20.2 percent in 2015-16, which was over two times the state average of 9.6 percent. BTWA’s inschool suspension rate has remained consistently high with 48 in-school suspensions reported in2014-15 and 50 in 2015-16. In 2015-16, the overall student suspension rate of 12.9 percent washigh, exceeding state average of 6.9 percent. A high rate of suspension considering the agegroup raises serious concerns about school climate, direct instruction, expected school behaviorsand a lack of age-appropriate amends or restitution.Based on the BTWA’s performance indicators, together with the CSDE’s evaluation of thecharter, the CSDE recommends that the SBE renew the school’s charter for a period of threeyears, with the knowledge that pursuant to subsection (h) of Sec.10-66bb(h), of the C.G.S., theCommissioner will place BTWA on probation and require the charter school to file a correctiveaction plan within the statutorily-prescribed timelines.4

While the Commissioner recommends the renewal of BTWA from July 1, 2017, through June30, 2020, the Commissioner’s letter of probation, separate from this action, will include thefollowing provisions:1. By February 6, 2017, as required by C.G.S. § 10-66bb(h), the Commissioner shallprovide written notice to BTWA of the length of and reasons for probation.2. By February 6, 2017, as required by C.G.S. § 10-66bb(h), the Commissioner shall notifyparents and guardians of students attending the school of the probationary status and thereasons for such status.3. By March 1, 2017, 2016, BTWA shall submit a corrective action plan acceptable to theCommissioner. The corrective action plan must include measures to minimize behavioralincidents resulting in suspensions and expulsions by: (a) isolating the root causes ofbehavioral issues; (b) identifying interventions to target root causes; (c) strengtheningschool behavioral instruction and support policies as well as discipline policies andprocedures; and (d) monitoring interventions and applying midcourse corrections, asnecessary. The plan shall be developed in consultation with CSDE’s Turnaround Office.BTWA shall implement the corrective actions within thirty days following theCommissioner’s acceptance of the plan.4. By March 1, 2017, BTWA shall submit a corrective action plan acceptable to theCommissioner. The corrective action plan must target and address chronic absenteeismby: (a) isolating the root causes of chronic absenteeism; (b) identifying interventions totarget root causes; and (c) monitoring interventions and applying midcourse corrections,as necessary. The plan shall be developed in consultation with CSDE’s TurnaroundOffice. BTWA shall implement the corrective actions within thirty days following theCommissioner’s acceptance of the plan.5. By March 1, 2017, BTWA shall submit a corrective action plan acceptable to theCommissioner. The corrective action plan must include measures to improve studentacademic achievement. The plan shall be developed in consultation with CSDE’sTurnaround Office. BTWA shall implement the corrective actions within thirty daysfollowing the Commissioner’s acceptance of the plan.6. CSDE will, on a bi-monthly basis, review and monitor BTWA’s year-to-date number ofsuspensions and expulsions and chronic absenteeism.7. CSDE will conduct an interim site visit in August 2017 and March 2018, to review andmonitor year-to-date number of suspensions and expulsions and chronic absenteeism.8. BTWA must participate in relevant technical assistance organized by the CSDE.9. In May 2018, pending State Board of Education notification, the Commissioner willevaluate BTWA’s satisfaction of the foregoing issues and determine the status ofBTWA’s probation.5

The CSDE will notify