Sharing Our Experiences and Expertise


The coming of October means that fall is fully upon us, football is back on TV, and the holidays are just around the corner. For us at CSI, it also means that we are closer to the annual National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) conference.

Each year, our Leadership Team attends this conference, and new staff that will work closely on authorizing activities attend the pre-conference Authorizer Boot Camp. We see this as one opportunity to not only to expand our knowledge and skills, but also to fulfill our role as a model authorizer, by sharing our knowledge and experiences with the greater authorizing community.

This year, the NACSA conference will be held in St. Louis, the theme is “Gateways to Impact,” and we have several staff that will be presenting at the conference. Previews below:


Measuring the Model: Authentic Ways to Measure School Success

Director of Evaluation & Assessment, Ryan Marks, will be on a panel discussing novel ways to measure and communicate school outcomes. Ryan and his team have done exceptional work in establishing and monitoring mission-specific measures for alternative accountability campuses (AECs), and more recently, Montessori charter schools within the CSI portfolio.


The Authorizers’ Role in Supporting Students with Disabilities and English Learners

Director of Student Services, Clare Vickland, will serve on a panel along with authorizers from around the nation to present strategies to improve access, services, and outcomes for students with disabilities and English learners in charter schools.


Understanding Enrollment Estimates and Charter Viability during Charter Reviews and Pre-opening

Chief of Staff, Janet Dinnen, will serve on a panel sharing concrete strategies from experienced practitioners from around the country and use scenarios to help authorizers explore these issues. Participants will practice applying strategies that will strengthen their confidence in assessing enrollment estimates and will prepare authorizers to better manage enrollment-related challenges.


Partnering for Performance: Advancing Access and Equity

Clare Vickland and Performance and Accountability Analyst, Aislinn Walsh, will share how to compile easily accessible data measures and use them to frame deeper conversations that support school improvement, with a focus on special population subgroups. This will pull from the Student Screener work that CSI has implemented with its schools over the last few years.  


Shaping the Charter Narrative: An Authorizer’s Story 

Janet Dinnen and I will host a workshop sharing the process we have used to prioritize communications within our organization as well as identify and share out consistent messages, allowing attendees the opportunity to brainstorm their own messages and how to weave them in their internal and external communications.  This session will build on the work CSI has done over the last three years to establish a more strategic communications plan to increase awareness for and understanding of CSI and CSI schools.


Local Roots Take the Lead: Lessons from Rural Charter Schools

I will also be part of a panel with Bellwether Education Partners discussing the unique needs and constraints of rural charter schools. The session will answer three key questions that will support authorizers in making high-quality authorizing decisions about charter schools in rural communities: (1) what is the landscape of rural charter schools? (2) How might common challenges (e.g., facilities, human capital) manifest differently for rural charter schools? and (3) when rural charter schools succeed, what conditions have enabled them to do so?


While the NACSA conference is a chance for CSI staff to share their expertise, it is also a wonderful opportunity for us to learn from other charter authorizers from around the country. Each year, we come back ready to share and implement new ideas within our organization. After the conference, I will provide an update with reflections on what we’ve learned. Stay tuned! 



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