One of the many challenging and rewarding aspects of our role as a statewide authorizer is statute’s charge for CSI to be a model authorizer.
We have sought to fulfill this role as model authorizer through our continuous commitment to high-quality authorizing. We are transparent about our processes, consistent about expectations for schools, and committed to evidence-based decision-making.
We also regularly take a pulse on how we are doing. Through departmental and organizational-wide feedback and reflections as well as school and partner feedback, we are consistently evaluating our performance and considering how we can continuously improve. Based on the 2020 School Leader Survey:
- 100% of CSI schools agreed that CSI is a high-quality authorizer.
- Over 97% of CSI schools agreed that CSI uses performance data to make decisions about their school.
- Direct quote from survey: “We went through the renewal process this past year and CSI’s process and guidance were very clear. We knew what we needed to do. Timelines were also very clear. CSI staff was encouraging yet firm.”
Another way we have worked to fulfill this role as a model authorizer is through our partnership authorization initiative. CSI’s Partnership Authorization initiative seeks to partner with districts to improve student outcomes through quality authorizing and is an important aspect of our work.
Collaboration with School Districts and Authorizers
CSI welcomes collaboration with its district authorizer peers and has provided direct support to 9+ Colorado school district authorizers and counting not to mention several authorizers from around the country.
CSI offers services in areas including authorizer development, charter development & renewal, performance management, and complete authorization.
Collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education
Sometimes this work is direct support to authorizers on specific tasks. Other times, it is providing resources and guidance on authorizing functions.
This year, as part of the dissemination activities included in the Federal Charter Schools Program Grant that Colorado Department of Education Schools of Choice (SOC) Unit received in 2018, CSI and SOC are working in conjunction to offer a series of case studies, webinars, and coaching opportunities specifically focused on supporting authorizers.
Ryan Marks, CSI Director of Evaluation & Assessment, worked on three case studies in collaboration with CDE:
A comprehensive annual reporting process is critical to protect charter school autonomy, student rights, and the public interest, and ensures that schools are held to high standards. A quality authorizer designs and implements an annual report to support effective oversight, communication with charter schools, and public accountability and transparency.
A quality authorizer designs and implements a transparent and rigorous process that uses comprehensive academic, financial, and operational performance data to make merit-based renewal decisions.
Accountability during COVID
Authorizers must balance the dual priorities of ensuring schools are meeting the needs of students and accommodating the unique challenges schools face in the current moment. This requires authorizers to work with schools on four key strategies: build capacity, understand the changes, identify the impact, and communicate with stakeholders.
CSI has also been collaborating with CDE on an Equal Access Webinar Series. This series highlights equitable practices for multilingual and multicultural learners in order to equip authorizers and charter school leaders with the support needed to ensure that charter schools are open to all students and there are no barriers to access for diverse students in school policies or programs.
Multiple CSI staff members have been involved with this work: School Improvement & Equity Specialist Justo Yanez, Assessment and Improvement Planning Specialist Jessica Welch, Legal and Policy Associate Stephanie Aragon, and Assessment and Program Evaluation Specialist Greg Nusz. Read more about the Equal Access Webinar series here.
We are excited to see how our work and partnerships continue to evolve to support high-quality authorizing within our organization and with our fellow authorizers throughout the state and nation.