The Renewal Process for Schools with Outside Operators
City Schools management of its school portfolio includes evaluating school performance across school types in a way that is consistent, predictable, transparent, fair, and rigorous. For schools that are run under contract or charter by outside operators, this evaluation process is called renewal. It occurs every three to five years, depending on each school’s contract or charter, as a routine part of the life of these schools.
For each school undergoing renewal, the New and Charter School Advisory Board reviews these materials in order to inform the renewal recommendation it makes to City Schools' CEO:
- Information provided by the school's operator in its application for renewal
- The renewal rubric and report
- Data prepared by City Schools
- School effectiveness reviews
These materials and the advisory board's recommendation are summarized in a renewal report for each school. After review by the CEO, renewal recommendations are presented to the Board of School Commissioners for further review. According to policy, the Board may then vote for full renewal (another five-year contract term), partial renewal (a three-year period) or not to renew the operator's contract or charter.
Criteria and measures
Maryland law and Board policy establish four fundamental criteria for renewal. Board policy states that through renewal, the school will be evaluated on multiple measures including, but not limited to,
- Student achievement — performance on state assessments, growth measures, unique indicators and fidelity to charter — accounting for at least 50 percent of the renewal score
- School climate — attendance, suspensions, enrollment, graduation and dropout rates, student choice data and school survey results
- Financial management and governance — annual audits, budget submission, grants management and board documentation
- Effective management — academic programming for special student populations and compliance with laws, rules, policies and regulations
Improving the process
The Renewal Stakeholders Working Group (comprising school operators from a range of school types, City Schools staff, staff from Supporting Public Schools of Choice and representatives of the Maryland Charter School Network) met regularly in 2011-12 to advise on development of a methodology for evaluating school performance. Together, City Schools, the Renewal Stakeholders Working Group and Supporting Public Schools of Choice then worked to develop a fair, transparent and rigorous evaluation process and rubric that would reflect the unique nature and contributions of schools with outside operators.
Following each renewal process, district staff confer with key stakeholders to identify areas in which the rubric or process could be strengthened. The goal of improving the process is balanced with a goal of maintaining a level of predictability for schools up for renewal in the following school year as well as consistency between various rounds of renewal.