The Christie administration has quietly revised its protocol for renewing existing charter schools, easing back on the review of some schools while tightening the criteria it uses to evaluate all of the schools.
The administration announced the changes to the “performance standards” at the start of the academic year. They include a new three-tier rating system, rather than the sorting schools into two groups according to whether or not they meet the standards.
The new tier is for those that “partially meet” the performance standards, an additional kind of probationary status.
Further, the administration narrowed the criteria for evaluating schools, from seven areas to five: education program and capacity; school culture and climate; board governance; access and equity; and compliance.
“The Office of Charter Schools is always looking to improve its authorizing practices and provide better oversight,” said Michael Yaple, the state department’s communications director, in explaining the changes.
“The original Framework was released in 2012, and it was time for an update,” Yaple said in an email. “The updated Organizational Performance Framework helps to clarify and prioritize all aspects of a school’s organizational performance, and it helps to reduce redundancy.”
Still, there are sure to be discussion about the new procedures in a state where charter schools have been a source of debate for their very existence.
One notable change: The new protocol calls for a different level of review for the different tiers of schools, with the top-tier schools seeing a single, two- to three-hour visit by a small team of staff from the state every five years. All other schools will see a full-day review by four to eight reviewers.