This guest blog post was written by Ryan Marks, CSI Director of Evaluation and Assessment.
Ryan has been with CSI since 2014, working in various roles. He currently oversees all state assessments, student performance analysis, and academic evaluation. Prior to working at CSI, Ryan was a middle school teacher in Thailand and Colorado. He received a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a M.A. in Research Methods and Statistics from the University of Denver. He holds his professional teaching license with endorsements in secondary science education, gifted and talented education, special education, and linguistically diverse education.
Across the United States, authorizers are approving a wide variety of school models and beginning to see an increase in the number of non-traditional schools models approved. A recent review of school models found that there was nearly an even split between traditional and non-traditional charter schools. While this is an inherently subjective classification, nearly 75% of CSI schools – which include fifteen unique educational models – are classified as non-traditional and this greatly exceeds the national average as well as the average for Denver Public Schools (which was included in the study). In order to sustain the diversity of the existing portfolio and encourage new and innovative charter school models, CSI has undertaken a long-term project to broaden our definition of quality by examining student performance within school models. While we believe that we have a strong and comprehensive accountability system at CSI, we want to continue to innovate and make sure that we have consistent and meaningful accountability for all schools as they implement their educational models.
We introduced this work through another guest blog post last February and since then we have continued to move this work forward in numerous ways:
- In addition to building out the body of evidence for our work with Montessori schools, we have begun to develop our model-specific analysis with our dual-language schools and our Waldorf school. We are grateful to the school leaders who have collaborated with us on this work and have shared their valuable insights, time, and local interim assessment data.
- We have partnered with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) on a multi-year action research project to develop stronger authorizing practices for nontraditional charter schools.
- We have joined the Advancing Great Authorizing and Modeling Excellence (A-GAME) network and will participate in the national conversations around accountability for alternative charter schools (which is a continuation of our ongoing work around alternative accountability since we convened our AEC Task Force in 2017).
- We will support the Colorado Department of Education and engage as a model authorizer and partner as they implement the Local Accountability System Grant which was a result of legislation passed in 2019.
As a charter school authorizer committed to the creation and success of high-quality charter public school options that best meet the needs of their students, we are excited that the work we began in 2017 continues to challenge us to become a better authorizer and move us closer to realizing our vision to be recognized as the nation’s most effective charter school authorizer by building a portfolio of high-performing charter public schools that serve all students and utilize innovative educational designs.