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Changes in supports and performance framework on the way for charter schools

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 8:17 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Changes are on the way for Mississippi charter schools from the accountability model to supports offered for those looking to start up a new school.

Charter schools get public education dollars. So, accountability has always been a big question mark especially for critics.

But it’s something even advocates say is an important part of the sector.

“The Performance Framework is the piece where kids and families can look at it and say whether or not the schools that they’re going to are really achieving the outcomes that they set out to achieve when the family moved the child into that school,” described Mississippi First Executive Director Rachel Canter. “And they’re important pieces of the puzzle for schools as well to know are we achieving the goals.”

They still take state tests and get an A-F grades from the state like traditional public schools. But there’s another accountability piece, measuring everything from academic to financial and organizational aspects.

It’s also what the part that’s used to help the board determine whether to renew the charters after the five years period. And Rachel Canter says they’re worried about the “trial run” of the newly adopted performance framework.

“It remains to be seen what the impact will be. We’re concerned that it could incentivize the charter schools to be focused on the wrong things, or to potentially be unfairly judged by metrics that don’t really make sense for them,” added Canter.

According to Dr. Lisa Karmacharya, Executive Director, of the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board, “Charter authorizers must have full confidence in their performance framework to ensure only those schools demonstrating the capacity to deliver high quality education to children while protecting the public’s interest are allowed to continue operating.

“By working alongside school leaders throughout the trial run to ensure the framework measures outcomes appropriately, the MCSAB will be positioned to implement a fair and transparent performance framework.”

Meanwhile, no new charter schools were approved this year. So, the private sector is stepping in to fill a support gap.

Empower Mississippi, that’s long advocated for school choice, is launching Embark that’s designed to help guide potential charter schools through the application process.

“We want to come alongside school founders who want to start new charter or private school options,” said Embark Director Elyse Marcellino. “Absolutely, it was born, at least in part, out of the fact that the charter sector has not grown like we would like to see it grow. We want to be able to fill a void that we believe is there at least in part with there not being enough robust support for applicants. "

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