2019 NACSA Leadership Conference, Sessions

Sessions & Schedule

2019 NACSA Leadership Conference
St. Louis | October 21-24

Our conference is for authorizers, by authorizers. This year’s schedule will feature presentations from your peers who responded to our Call for Proposals, exploring top authorizing and national issues in a variety of new session formats.

Schedule Overview


Tuesday, October 22nd

Someone to Watch Over Me: Lessons Learned in High-Stakes Authorizer Evaluations

Speakers: David Hartman, Managing Director of Accountability and Authorizer Supports, SchoolWorks; Elisa Westapher, Senior Director of Strategic Initatives, NACSA; Jennifer Schorr, Associate Director- Education Division, Buckeye Community Hope Foundation

Description: Some states wrestling with charter school accountability have moved their focus to authorizers and begun to hold them accountable to standards of quality. What states have such policies and which states may be next? How do these authorizer evaluations impact the charter school community at large? This session explores the policy landscape and lessons-learned from high-stakes evaluations in Ohio, Minnesota, and other states. Presenters will provide a history of these evaluations, reflect on emerging trends in findings, and discuss the effects these evaluations have had on authorizing and charter ecosystems.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Measuring the Model: Authentic Ways to Measure School Success

Speakers: K.C. Holder, Director, Northern Michigan University Charter Schools Office; Erin Kupferburg, Senior Manager, Financial and Academic Quality, DC Public Charter School Board; Ryan Marks, Director of Evaluation and Assessment, Colorado Charter School Institute

Charter school leaders and governing boards can articulate how they are meeting their mission but often struggle to quantify their impact. Panelists representing three different authorizer types will engage the audience by facilitating a discussion on novel ways to measure and communicate school outcomes. The session will focus on how to translate anecdotal stories articulated by charter school leaders into appropriate and rigorous measures that can be evaluated by authorizers and school communities. This session will explore several case studies and will engage participants to share their experiences and explore how they can go beyond traditional accountability measures and develop new ways to demonstrate success.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Diversity and Cultural Affirmation Charter Schools: Different Paths to the Same Goal

Speakers: Lauren Bryant, Director of the National Charter Collaborative; Sonia C. Park, Executive Director of the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition; Steven Zimmerman, Director of the Coalition of Public Independent Charter Schools

Description: One of the core tenets of charter schools is that they are created to provide quality school choices for families. What can this choice look like? Independent culturally affirming charters tend to be community-based in neighborhoods that are concentrated along lines of race/income and have a student body that is more homogeneous. There is also an increasing number of charters that are "diverse-by-design." These schools serve more racially/economically diverse populations and seek to be an integrated school community. Hear a thoughtful discussion from organizations that support both approaches, why these models are important, and why the emphasis is on AND rather than OR within the context of school choice.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Authorizing within Higher Education Institutions: Furthering Our Work to Improve Educational Outcomes

Speakers: Dr. Victoria Hughes, Director, Office of Charter Schools, University of Central Missouri; Shanika Harris, MBA, Assistant Director of Charter School Operations, University of Missouri- Columbia; Molly McGraw Healy, Director of Charter School Authorizing, University of St. Thomas Alyson Murphy, JD, Director of Governance and Compliance, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office

Description: Higher Education Institution (HEI) authorizers represent a small, but important, group of authorizers within the broader charter school movement. With 45 HEI authorizers around the nation, we are uniquely positioned not only to provide oversight of our charters, but to also work with our respective universities and colleges to collaborate and open doors to new ways to improve educational outcomes. Join us to hear updates on HEI authorizers across the country, talk about our successes and struggles, and to participate in small and large group discussions on how our work supports higher ed’s promise of equity and access for students, the “why” behind what we do, and much more!

Format: Panel (75 min)

Making the Success of Highest-Needs Students Visible


Bryan Hassel, Moderator, Co-President, Public Impact; Vanessa Threatte, Executive Deputy Director for Best Practices and Partnerships, SUNY Charter Schools Institute; Chad Soleo, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Green Dot Public Schools National; Mary Bradley, Chief Operating Officer, National Charter School Institute;Greg Lippman, Chief Executive Officer, ACE Charter Schools; Sean McLaughlin, VP of Products and Services, Education Analytics

Description: Participants will learn about recently completed research on 1.8 million California students that examines school success in improving the mathematics and ELA growth of highest-needs students, engage a panel of authorizers and operators on the implications for measuring the impact of their schools with similar students, and provide feedback on prototypes of data displays that educators could use to understand school-level student needs and success.

Format: Panel (75 min)

The Essential Role of Board-CMO Relationships in Effective School Governance

Speakers: Moderator: Juliet Squire, Partner, Bellwether Education Partners; Bob Bellafiore, Founder/President, Stanhope Partners; Board Member at Troy Prep; Naomi DeVeaux, Vice President for Authorizing and Accountability, National Charter Schools; Institute Cheye Calvo, Chief Growth and Community Engagement Officer, Rocketship Public Schools

Description: The relationships between charter boards and charter management organizations (CMOs) are important mechanisms for charter quality and school accountability. But boards, CMOs, and authorizers have different incentives and interests in the nature of these relationships. CMOs may want boards that provide local credibility and insight, but otherwise give the management organization a wide berth. Board members may want to ensure that the CMO school model is adapted to meet the unique needs of their community. And authorizers want to make sure the relationship is clearly defined and conducive to effective governance and school performance. This panel will be a facilitated conversation among individuals who occupy different roles but have a shared interest and commitment to ensuring their schools provide students with a high-quality option.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Mission-Specific Goals: Powerful Tools for Schools and Authorizers

Speakers: Lyria Boast, Consulting Manager and Vice President, Data Analytics, at Public Impact; Paula Kitzke, Director of School Quality and Accountability at the Washington State Charter School Commission; Daniel Nyachuba, Evaluation Analyst at the Washington State Charter School Commission

Description: How do authorizers evaluate school quality beyond the results of state assessments, especially for schools with innovative missions or at-risk student populations? Mission-specific goals can address these challenges, but they can be tough to develop and time-consuming for both authorizers and schools. The Washington State Charter School Commission requires schools to submit academic and organizational mission-specific goals each year. The Commission staff will share the process they have developed to support schools through the submission of goals and the tools developed to evaluate mission-specific goals. Attendees will participate in a group exercise reviewing and evaluating sample goals and will leave with tools and materials to use in their work.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

From Compliance to Accountability: Operating from a Space of Collaboration, Not as “I Gotcha!”

Speakers: Dr. Kelli Peterson, Chief Portfolio Innovation and Accountability Officer, NOLA Public Schools; Danalyn Hypolite, Director of Accountability, NOLA Public Schools; Gayla Robbins-Mair, Director of Accountability, NOLA Public Schools; Toni Pickett, Director of Accountability, NOLA Public Schools

Description: Tired of feeling like “the compliance police?" Do you want to build better working relationships with the schools that you must hold accountable? Join the country’s first all-charter school district (NOLA Public Schools) as we share how we build relationships and increase accountability: by threading authentic consistency and transparency throughout our communications, on-site support activities, and one-page resources; by developing tools for monitoring financial and special education compliance, as well as high school credit accumulation; and by implementing transparent systems and processes for issuing non-compliance notices, fielding parent and community concerns and monitoring components of our charter school accountability framework.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

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

Speakers: Tom McMillen, Community Superintendent-Charter Schools, Jefferson County School District; Colorado Janet Dinnen, Chief of Staff, Colorado Charter School Institute, Colorado; Corey Loomis, Charter Schools Director, Riverside County Office of Education, California

Description: Too many new charter schools struggle to meet enrollment targets. Low enrollment and a lack of evidence of committed parents are regular reasons authorizers deny charter applications, approved schools cannot open, or schools struggle after opening with fewer students than anticipated. Increasingly, charter applicants believe they have enough students when they really don’t. This leads authorizers to deny future applicants with weak evidence or to grant “conditional approvals” requiring applicants to meet milestones before opening. Authorizers applying these new tools generate push-back and appeals. This workshop will share 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.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

Navigating the Innovative School Models that Bring the Choice to School Choice

Speakers: Lifei Huang, Independent Researcher, University of Massachusetts - Boston; Jamison White, Manager of Data and Research, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Description: Considering authorizing a different school model? This hands-on workshop will provide participants a chance to dive into the data and understand the myriad of models in the charter space. We highlight innovative school foci that reimagine education, examine growth trends, and foster a conversation around articulating and promoting educational models in a way that provides parents with choices, while also maintaining high standards and transparency. Participants will learn the defining characteristics of models and how to identify them. We explore academic performance, what to expect, and what red flags to look for. We will examine the strengths and weaknesses of various foci in terms of staffing, funding, and messaging. Lastly, we will discuss ways in which schools might provide alternative means of success and what that might look like.

Workshop (90 min)

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

Speakers: José J. Cole-Gutiérrez, Director, Charter Schools Division, Los Angeles Unified School District; Jenna Hodgens, General Director, Charter Schools, Hillsborough County Public Schools; Alex Medler, State Director, Colorado Association of Charter School Authorizers; Amelia Meunier, Charter Liaison, Special Populations, Adams 12 Five Star Schools; Clare Vickland, Director of Student Services, Colorado Charter School Institute

Description: This workshop will present strategies to improve access, services, and outcomes for students with disabilities and English learners in charter schools. Participants will learn about efforts in three states to identify high-leverage strategies for action by both authorizers and schools. Learn about these efforts and discuss how to adopt similar strategies for local use. The session will present common barriers that can prevent charters from serving all students; describe strategies developed by state authorizing associations in California, Colorado, and Florida; and brainstorm ways that authorizers in other settings can adapt these strategies for local use. Strategies address application reviews, contracting, shared services, monitoring and oversight, and renewal. Topics include admissions, serving students with more severe needs, and providing a full continuum of services.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

Navigating Hurdles During Scale: A Panel Discussion

Speakers: Andee Hendee, Director, Charter School Growth Fund; Madeline Hannigan, Director, Charter School Growth Fund; Marcus Robinson, Executive in Residence, The Opportunity Trust; Kimberly Neal, Founder, BELIEVE: Circle City High School; Christie Huck, CEO, City Garden Montessori

Description: What obstacles do leaders face when they are looking to scale high quality charters? How do harbor masters, funders, and authorizers better support high quality charters to serve more students? Come join a facilitated panel with school leaders, the Opportunity Trust, and national and local funders.

Creating More Supernovas

Speakers: Earl Martin Phalen, Founder & CEO, Phalen Leadership Academies

Description: The lightbulb moment of opening scholars' minds is less like seeing a lightbulb and more like encountering a comet-- a supernova, even. Earl Martin Phalen is Founder and CEO of the groundbreaking school turnaround non-profit, Phalen Leadership Academies. He shares a story of his adoption, his time at Yale and Harvard Universities, and how he went from a foster child without a home to an advocate and reformer for over 10,000 scholars nationwide. In this chat, Earl describes the light you see when you are able to draw out a child’s potential. It hits like a supernova and becomes the north star for schools across the country.

Format: Pecha Kucha (30min, 4:15 - 4:45)

The Standardized Testing Effect on the Charter Application Process

Speakers: Dr. Kelli Peterson, Chief Portfolio Innovation and Accountability Officer, NOLA Public Schools

Description: Whether an experienced or new authorizer, we must review, revise, and recreate our charter application process with a different lens - an equity lens. Similar to standardized testing that suggests cultural bias in the wording and content of questions, the charter application process can, if not designed with an equitable focus, lead to the unfortunate denial of minority applicants, and those with a lack of relevant resources. The recommendation of a denial is often based upon an “opportunity gap.” This session will provide authorizers with three components to consider adding within their charter application process that can assist in removing the inequities of the outcomes; a) pre-application preparation, b) relevant evaluator training and c) community voice.

Format: Insight Talk (30min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Local Roots Take the Lead: Lessons from Rural Charter Schools

Speakers: Kelly Robson, Associate Partner, Bellwether Education Partners; Juliet Squire, Partner, Bellwether Education Partners

Description: There are 809 rural charter schools nationwide, serving approximately 256,000 K-12 students. Though that’s just a fraction of all charter schools and students nationwide, these schools often have needs and constraints that differ significantly from their urban counterparts. Substantial growth in the rural charter schools sector over the last decade suggests authorizers are increasingly likely to encounter rural charter schools in their states. 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?

Format: Panel (75 min)

Failing Schools or Failing Metrics? A Debate on Virtual Charter School Policy and Accountability

Speakers: Rob Kremer, Director of Government Affairs; Pearson Robert Pondiscio, Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute: Karega Rausch, VP Research and Evaluation, NACSA

Description: Virtual charter schools serve less than half of 1% of the K-12 students in the U.S. but they receive a disproportionate level of media and policymaker attention. Research has concluded that virtual schools are woeful academic underperformers, and the sector has suffered from repeated instances of multi-million dollar scandals. Authorizers in several states have moved to close virtual schools, and policymakers struggle with adapting brick and mortar regulatory policies to a virtual school environment. In this wide ranging debate between two veterans of charter school policy and politics, no facet of these often controversial schools will be off limits. Bring your perspectives on the following: Is there a legitimate role for full time online schooling? Is the research accurate? What does experience show are the best policies for funding, accountability, student engagement and governance? How should the for-profit management companies be overseen?

Format: Panel (75 min)

Walking Around the Table: Being on the Other Side of Authorizing

Speakers: Susie Miller Carello, Executive Director, SUNY Charter Schools Institute; Laurie Hazeley, Senior Director of the Charter Authorizing & Accountability Team, NYC Dept of Education; Sonia C. Park, Executive Director, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition

Description: Who’s on your authorizing team? For many authorizers, key individuals on your team will have policy, compliance, curriculum, and finance backgrounds. But how many have worked directly in a charter school? Balancing out what a charter must do with what it could and should do can be challenging, especially when you're prioritizing work with a limited staff. Having a practical eye could mean deliberately recruiting staff who’ve been on the other side of the table - your former authorizees. What are the lessons learned when they review new applications, visit existing schools, and contemplate school closures? Hear a thoughtful discussion from current and former authorizers about how their school-based perspective helped them as authorizers.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 3:30 - 4:00)

Building Internal Consensus When Chartering

Speakers: Katherine Dammann, Senior Manager, DC Public Charter School Board; Naomi DeVeaux, Vice President of Accountability and Authorizing, National Charter Schools Institute

Description: Deciding which schools to approve can be among the most difficult decisions we make as authorizers. We carefully craft a rubric, build a review team, and make thoughtful, informed recommendations about whether to approve or deny an applicant. In Washington, DC, an important part of our internal decision-making process is called "defense day." Defense day is a consensus building, day-long exercise where staff debate whether to approve or deny each charter application under review. Staff across all levels of the organization are invited to participate, so long as they are familiar with the application evaluation rubric. Defense day is facilitated with the intention of all voices being heard and valued. Defense day is a complex, challenging, and ultimately rewarding activity that improves our charter application review process.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 3:30 - 4:00)

Financial Tools for Charter School Oversight and Analysis

Speakers: Joanna Laghetto, Finance and Data Coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; James DiMaio, Data and Finance Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Description: Though financial autonomy is a tenet of charter school law, in Massachusetts, this autonomy comes with increased accountability to ensure sound, lawful, and transparent spending of the public dollars meant to educate students. By law, all schools are required to submit an independent financial audit as well as a Charter School End of the Year Financial Report (CSEOYFR). The audits and CSEOYFRs are used to populate several important and useful tools including a Charter School Financial Dashboard that provides an easy-to-understand visual snapshot of a school's financial health using standard financial indicators. We'll introduce RADAR (Resource Allocation and District Action Reports) - a tool that allows charter schools to review their spending in all areas and compare their resource use to other charters and districts.

Format: Tool Demo (30 min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Capacity Interviews and Bias: Do You Know What You're Looking for?

Speakers: William Haft, Tandem Learning Partners

Description: NACSA has labeled the interview an "essential practice" for quality authorizing. In this session -- inspired by learnings from the field of behavioral economics -- participants will learn strategies to reduce bias and conduct more effective interviews, particularly with respect to evaluating school leader capacity. We look for past experience on the premise that past performance can anchor expectations for the future, but we rarely talk about what it is that "makes a school leader successful." When we don't talk about it explicitly, we default to implicit assumptions and, perhaps, biases.

Format: Pecha Kucha (30 min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Non-Academic Accountability: Moving Beyond a Checklist

Speakers: Willow Harrington, Vice President, School Performance, Development & Support California Charter Schools Association

Description: In a time of greater accountability and increased requirements for charters, authorizers default to boilerplate language and checklists to determine operational and governance health. The California Charter Schools Association is piloting a different type of accountability process that is principled and peer-driven. Come learn about the flexible frameworks and processes and be part of a conversation about the inherent need, challenges, and benefits of working together to hold charters accountable to high standards in fiscal, operations, governance practices in absence of clearly defined law.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Regulating Freedom: The Authorizers Paradox

Speakers: Susie Miller Carello, Executive Director, Charter Schools Institute - State University of New York; Jim Goenner, President & CEO, National Charter Schools Institute

Description: Freedom. Innovation. Autonomy. Oversight. Accountability. Results. These are key words in the charter lexicon. For authorizers, they represent a balancing act. On the one hand, authorizers are encouraged to charter more schools and challenge the givens. On the other hand, they are pressured to hold schools more accountable, ensure greater transparency, and close schools that don’t measure up. Come hear from two seasoned veterans as they share their wisdom and lessons learned navigating this paradox. They will share their experiences, along with strategies and tactics for successfully balancing these competing and conflicting messages.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Lightening the Load: Leveraging Epicenter to End the Paper Chase

Speakers: Jim Goenner, President & CEO, National Charter Schools Institute; Robert Kimball, Associate Vice President for Charter Schools, Grand Valley State University; Alyson Murphy, Director of Governance and Compliance, Grand Valley State University; Wendy Miller, Director of School Support, Grand Valley State University

Description: The regulatory and reporting burden on authorizers, boards, and schools continues to grow. Regrettably, the volume of paperwork, documentation, and requirements expected today often feel overwhelming and counterproductive. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Come learn how authorizers across the country are harnessing the power of Epicenter –a web-based system powered by the National Charter Schools Institute – to end the paper chase and strengthen accountability, while helping the schools they charter stay focused on the things that truly matter.

Format: Tool Demo (30 min, 3:30 - 4:00)

Developing a Diverse Pipeline of Talent

Speakers: Shenita Johnson, Executive Director, Illinois State Charter School Commission

Description: This Pecha Kucha will highlight the National Urban Fellows (NUF) and provide key insights on how charter authorizers can access leadership programs to develop a diverse, management- and senior-level pipeline of talent. NUF, which recently partnered with Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, inspires excellence and diversity in public service leadership for a changing America, promoting social justice and equity. Several NUF Alum, including presenter Shenita Johnson, are graduates of the program and are in leadership roles within the charter sector making significant contributions to the education reform movement.

Format: Pecha Kucha (30 min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Does a Rising Tide of Charters Lift All Boats?

Speakers: David Griffith, Senior Research Policy Associate, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Description: In this session, we'll present and discuss new research on the relationship between "charter market share" and the academic achievement of all students, including those in traditional public schools.

Insight Talk (30 min, 3:30 - 4:00)

Wednesday, October 23rd

School Turnaround for Low Performing Charter Schools: Options and Considerations

Speakers: John Carwell, Education Associate, Charter School Office, Delaware Department of Education; Robin Chait, Senior Policy Advisor, WestEd; Aimee Evan, School Improvement Specialist, WestEd; Rebecca Feiden, Executive Director, Nevada State Public Charter School Authority; Dr. Gerard Kettenbach, Director, University of Missouri--Columbia Charter Schools Office

Description: Many charter schools provide high-quality options and innovations to students, but there are also many charter schools that are failing to fulfill this mission. What options are available to authorizers to address these low-performing charter schools? This panel discussion will explore the idea of authorizers supporting school turnaround for low-performing charter schools. Panelists will share and discuss a new policy brief developed by WestEd and will explore questions such as the following: What are the benefits/consequences of a turnaround option versus closure? How can an authorizer decide whether a school is a candidate for turnaround? What is the role of the authorizer in the turnaround process?

Format: Panel (75 min)

It's Not Over at Non-Renewal: Supporting the Best Outcome for Students

Speakers: Peng Chao, Executive Director-Charter Schools Office, School District of Philadelphia; Kelli Peterson, Chief Portfolio Innovation and Accountability Officer, NOLA Public Schools; Lauren Iannuccilli, Independent Consultant

Description: In Philadelphia and New Orleans, authorizers have committed to holding schools accountable for performance standards and have made a number of tough, but necessary, non-renewal and revocation recommendations in recent years. The objective of this session is to share reflections on lessons learned and will focus on four areas: (1) keeping a steadfast focus on students, (2) when and why to consider alternatives to complete closure, (3) having a proactive, multi-faceted strategy for engaging families, and (4) continuously planning how to expand quality options. Specific examples of what has worked and not worked will be infused into the discussion.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Bringing In the Best Education Options

Speakers: Elissa Klein, Chief of Staff, ReGeneration Schools; Deborah Howard, Vice President of Programs and Impact, Accelerate Great Schools; Miles Caunin, Controller, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation; Madeline Hannigan, Investment Director, Charter School Growth Fund; John P. Scott, Vice President of Partner Advancement, Accelerate Great Schools; Theda Sampson, Director of Applications and Contracts, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

Description: This session explores how a local organization and a successful charter school group worked together to bring excellent options to another city and state. Having great community partnerships and local support organizations are critical to getting a school up and running, but there are many obstacles before reaching the start-up phase. Finding the right partners committed to seeking options that make the most impact on students is a growing need. Successful schools interested in looking at other communities and states often don't have the regional expertise or capacity to do it on their own. The support needed to recruit and bring the best educational options includes have access to financial resources, facilities, community services and knowledge of state and local requirements.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Turning High-Potential Into High-Performing

Speakers: Jack Elsey, Executive Director, Detroit Children's Fund; Erica Robertson, Deputy Director, Detroit Children's Fund; Mark Mayberry, Principal, Hope Academy; Kara Dunn, Coach, SchoolWorks; Daniel Young, Grades 3-5 Principal, Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences; Ryan Schetelick, Coach, School Empowerment Network

Description: In February 2019, Detroit Children’s Fund launched a bold, comprehensive school improvement effort called the School Collaboration Collective (SC2). Through a rigorous selection process that evaluated schools for mindsets, desire for improvement, and evidence of emerging excellence, four Detroit charter schools were chosen for an up-to 5 year commitment of support. The goal: to help these schools become among the best in Detroit and in the state. In this session, you’ll hear from leaders and coaches who are 8 months into this journey and gain early insights as they work toward progress.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Community-Driven School Change: Creating Pathways for Communities to Lead the Work of School Improvement

Speakers: Dan Cooley & Katie Barrett Kramer, The School Leadership Project; Tierney Carroll, Regional Turnaround Strategy Group; Antonio Cardona, Pillsbury United Communities, Office of Public Charter Schools; Larry McKenzie, Pillsbury United Communities, Office of Public Charter Schools

Description: This session will explore the emerging and promising practice of community-driven school change and the ways these practices are taking root across the country. Twin Cities-based authorizer Pillsbury United Communities, in collaboration with The School Leadership Project, will explore the implications of the ideas and practices of community-driven school change in their portfolio and strategic framework. Leaders from the Regional Turnaround Strategy Group will explore the kinds of community supports necessary to support a regional community-driven school change strategy. This panel seeks to inspire and equip authorizers, advocates, and regional leaders seeking transformational school change to pursue processes that center the perspectives of the people directly affected by those changes.

Format: Panel (75 min)

School Turnaround in a Complex Environment - A New York Case Study

Speakers: David M. Frank, New York State Education Department; Laurie Hazeley, New York City Department of Education; Susie Miller Carello, State University of New York Charter Schools Institute; Jim Ford, Ford Research and Solutions; William Haft, Tandem Learning Partners (Moderator)

Description: Under certain circumstances, turnaround may be the better option for students. However, this pathway is fraught with challenges, roadblocks, and a body of research that demonstrates mixed outcomes for turnaround models at best. This panel will discuss when turnaround is a viable option, what conditions are needed to maximize successful outcomes, opportunities for the authorizer to take proactive steps prior to the school’s renewal, and lessons learned from complex operating environments. Attendees will leave this session having a roadmap to identify when and where turnaround work should be contemplated, the ability to think through the best course of action when considering turnaround, common mistakes to avoid, and political considerations to navigate.

Community Conversations about Authorizing

NACSA is here to listen and learn from you. Join us for a facilitated and interactive discussion on critical topics in the authorizing profession. More details to come!

Shaping the Charter Narrative: An Authorizer’s Story

Speakers: Janet Dinnen, Chief of Staff, Colorado Charter School Institute; Terry Croy Lewis, Executive Director, Colorado Charter School Institute

Description: In a context where the public has access to clear, consistent, and sometimes compelling reasons to be wary of charter schools, what role can authorizers play in shaping the narrative in a way that is authentic to their experiences and the charter sector? In this session, CSI will share the process it has used to identify and collect the main themes and stories of its establishment as well as the ways in which CSI will further these themes in its communications and outreach. Attendees will leave with an understanding of strategies for reframing the charter narrative and will have the opportunity to brainstorm their own messages and how to weave them in their internal and external communications.

Workshop (90 min)

Join the A-GAME: Alternative Charter School Oversight

Speakers: Naomi DeVeaux, A-GAME Co-Director, National Charter Schools Institute; Jody L. Ernst, Ph.D., A-GAME Co-Director, Momentum Strategy & Research; Jenna Hodgens, Director of Charter Schools, Hillsborough County Public Schools; Vanessa Threatte, Executive Deputy Director for Best Practices and Partnerships, SUNY; Jennifer Schorr, Associate Director- Education Division, Buckeye Community Hope Foundation

Description: The project team leading the federally-funded Advancing Great Authorizing and Modeling Excellence (“A-GAME”) project and members of their National Authorizer Leadership Team will take the audience through an interactive workshop exploring this and other questions critical to the authorizing of alternative charter schools. Participants will receive a first look at A-GAME’s initial framework and will enhance this work by bringing their own stories, challenges, and solutions to the table. Using real data and case studies, participants will explore how to deal with automatic-closure policies for alternative schools, how to create goals and choose assessments, and how to make a tough decision about school quality when lines are blurred.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

Assessing Applicant Capacity Through Use of a Performance Task

Speakers: Joshua Halsey, Executive Director, Washington State Charter School Commission; Krystal Starwich, Director of New School Applications, Washington Charter School Commission

Description: Would you like another way to assess school leadership capacity? Do you wish you could see how an applicant team responds, in real-time, when faced with a real-world challenge? Performance tasks are another method authorizers can use to assess a school team’s capacity. When structured well, the inclusion of a performance task can provide evaluators with valuable insight into the capacity and dynamics of an applicant team, particularly when faced with a challenge. Come to this workshop to hear why the Washington State Charter School Commission continues to incorporate performance tasks as part of its evaluation process. The presenters will guide participants through the performance task process from creation to assessment. Participants will leave having drafted their own performance task for use in a future application cycle.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

Embedding Equity and Racial Equity into a Performance Framework

Speakers: Alison Bagg, Director, Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE); Esther Jeong, Accountability and Dissemination Specialist, Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, MA DESE

Description: Massachusetts authorizing staff will present about their process of evaluating, revising, and using a performance framework that embeds an equity and racial equity lens. They will share their rationale for the work, process for development, engagement with stakeholders, and use of the revised performance framework for charter school reviews. After a discussion, session participants will engage in their own action planning.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

Texas’ System of Great Schools: Supporting Districts to Expand High-Quality Best Fit Options

Speakers: Chris DeWitt, Manager of District Supports, Texas Education Agency; Marian Schutte, Director of System Support and Innovation, Texas Education Agency; Elise Kail, Chief Innovation Officer, Midland ISD

Description: In 2017, the Texas Education Agency launched the System of Great Schools (SGS) Network to support school districts across Texas in exploring and pursuing system-wide reform. This discussion will focus on the System of Great Schools supports and lessons learned over 2+ years of implementation. This work is supported at the state level through a network of technical assistance providers who work directly with district leaders as well as several funding opportunities, including Texas Partnerships. Texas Partnerships offer two new benefits: 1) approved partnerships may receive additional state funding for the partnership school, and 2) schools identified as Improvement Required (IR) under the state’s accountability system are eligible to receive a two-year exemption from specific accountability interventions.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Authorizing Charter Turnaround: Framework for Charter School Improvement

Speakers: Aimee Evan, School Improvement Specialist; Robin Chait, Senior Policy Advisor Steve Canavero, Senior Advisor; Carlas McCauley, Director of WestEd's federally-funded Center on School Turnaround

Description: Considering options other than closure for charter schools performing below expectations has implications for charter authorizers. Minimally, authorizers should have working knowledge of what makes a successful school turnaround to create fair and transparent processes to guide judicious decisions. The federally supported Center on School Turnaround at WestEd documented what research and practice indicate to lead to rapid school improvement, resulting in the Four Domains for School Improvement, now used by more than 20 states to guide their systems of support to low performing schools. Authorizers will have an opportunity to examine and discuss approaches to school turnaround in the charter context using the Four Domains framework, now adapted for the charter context, as a guide; discuss the delicate balance of autonomy and accountability and the implications for offering the opportunity for turnaround in their context.

Format: Workshop (90 min)

What Does Good Look Like? Crafting and Critiquing a Strong Special Education Program

Speakers: Paul O'Neill, Co-founder & Senior Fellow, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools; Lauren Morando Rhim, Executive Director & Co-founder, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools; Megan Ohlssen, Managing Director of Programs, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools

Description: In this workshop session led by the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, participants will draw on NACSA’s Special Education Toolkit to piece together the components of a strong plan for serving students with disabilities, including service delivery, budgeting, staffing, student discipline, and more. They will work in teams to sketch out a proposal that will then be presented in the second part of the session to a panel of authorizers. The authorizers will critique a proposal, calling out promising and problematic elements. This exercise will enable participants to gain an understanding of what a strong special education program consists of.

Format: Workshop (90 min, 1:30 - 3:00)

Partnering for Performance: Advancing Access and Equity

Speakers: Clare Vickland, Director of Student Services, Colorado Charter School Institute; Aislinn Walsh, Performance and Accountability Analyst, Colorado Charter School Institute

Description: This session will highlight a partnership approach to improving access and equity in charter schools. Authorizers will learn 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. Learn how to leverage data, relationships, and supports to drive change.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 3:30 - 4:00)

Clarity is Key: Strengthening Authorizer/School Relationships through Performance Frameworks

Speakers: Roger Kligerman, Director of Quality & Accountability, The School District of Philadelphia; Stephanie Waller, Project Manager, The School District of Philadelphia

Description: In this session, participants will learn about the School District of Philadelphia’s process to creating and codifying a single evaluation framework. Grounded in statute, this framework informs all aspects of the CSO’s authorizing work. We will dive deep into how its development has significantly improved both school compliance in critical areas (such as enrollment, special education, discipline) and the CSO's relationship with schools. Come ready to discuss the standards you currently use to hold schools accountable, reflect on current engagement approaches with schools around accountability, and workshop any areas of misalignment.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 3:30 - 4:00)

Expanding Quality Schools through Smart Scaling and Rigorous Replication

Speakers: Maureen Foley, Director for New Charters, SUNY Charter Schools Institute; Keegan Prue, Director of Leadership Team Operations, SUNY Charter Schools Institute; Kerri Martin Rizzolo, Senior Analyst, SUNY Charter Schools Institute

Description: In this session, we will share best practices to help authorizers ensure that schools have the capacity to open additional charters while maintaining academic, fiscal, and operational excellence. We will compare the different challenges of “first time replicators” versus “establishing a small network” (growth from roughly 2-4 charters) versus “large-scale replication” (growth with 5 or more existing charters), and will drill down to clarify how the questions and analysis that we conduct as authorizers must change based on different growth points. Participants will walk away with an understanding of common challenges operators face, and an arsenal of application review and interview strategies to determine whether the proposed replicator is truly ready to grow.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Closures & Turnovers:
Tips to Tackling Tough Transitions

Speakers: Maria C. Montoya, Grand Valley State Charter School Office; Amy Van Atten-Densmore, Central Michigan University

Description: This interactive session asks all authorizers to think through their toughest school closures and/or transitions, and consider FIVE new ways to tackle such transitions next time around. From using data to win your battles with boards to making allies with your worst enemies, two of Michigan’s most experienced closure experts offer their first-hand experience and advice on how to help your team (big or small) tackle the toughest transitions.

Format: Panel (75 min)

How Are Authorizers Being Held Accountable?

Speakers: Kathryn Mullen Upton, Vice President for Sponsorship and Dayton Initiatives, The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation; Robbyn Wahby, Executive Director, Missouri Charter Public School Commission; Erin Anderson, Director of Charter School Authorizing, Audubon Center of the North Woods

Description: This session examines authorizer evaluation systems in Ohio, Missouri, and Minnesota. We'll discuss the pros and cons of each approach, challenges and successes of implementation, and the impact on authorizers and schools.

Format: Panel (75 min)

The Importance of Student-Teacher Race "Matches" and Teacher Diversity in Charter Schools

Speakers: Seth Gershenson, Associate Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University; Ricardo T. Franklin Sr., Founding Principal of Citizens Leadership Academy East Middle School (Cleveland, OH)

Description: This session will discuss the benefits of having same-race teachers, strategies for diversifying the workforce, and ways to amplify opportunities for students to be exposed to same-race role models. We’ll explore the findings from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s recent report, Student-Teacher Race Match in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, where author Seth Gershenson compares racial student-teacher matches in charter and traditional public schools. Principal Ricardo Franklin, Sr., of Citizens Leadership Academy East Middle School in Cleveland, Ohio, will reflect on what the findings mean for the charter sector, addressing the importance of teacher diversity and recruiting teachers of color, which is one of his particular passions and strengths.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Ensuring Fiscal Stability of Multistate Charter CMOs

Speakers: Barb Acenowr, SUNY Charter Schools Institute; Connor LeClair, SUNY Charter Schools Institute; Jim Ford, Education Consultant, Sally Bachofer, Education Consultant

Description: In this session, we will share best practices to help authorizers maintain a monitoring pulse on CMOs with presence in multiple states. We will discuss the mechanisms in place to forecast stability and provide suggestions on additional oversight levers that can be added to authorizers’ tool box as well as enhancements to management agreements to ensure transparency around CMO growth and sustainability. Participants will walk away with an understanding of common challenges encountered by growth of multistate CMOs as well as oversight tools that authorizers and the education corporation that is under contract with a growing multi-state CMO can use.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 3:30 - 4:00)

The Secret of Success Academy’s Success

Speakers: Robert Pondiscio, Senior Fellow and Vice President for External Affairs, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Description: In this session, Thomas B. Fordham Institute senior fellow, teacher, and author Robert Pondiscio will share lessons gleaned from his latest book, "How the Other Half Learns," which explores the astonishing results and unorthodox methods of Success Academy, the network of controversial charter schools in New York City founded by Eva Moskowitz. Robert persuaded Moskowitz to let him spend a year making unmonitored observations at Success, embedded in a Success elementary school in the same South Bronx neighborhood where he spent several years as a public school 5th grade teacher. The result is a clear and candid glimpse inside America’s most controversial charter school network.

Format: Panel (75 min)

Can't Keep My Eyes Off of You: Focusing on Good Governance for Quality Schools

Speakers:Debbie Lister, Chief Transformation Officer, Education Board Partners; Haley Wing-Suttle; Academic Performance Analyst, Office of Education Innovation-Indianapolis Mayor's Office

Description:Ultimately, boards control the most important elements of excellent schools; yet, how many authorizers are focusing on this key piece of ensuring quality schools? The Office of Education Innovation at the Mayor's Office in Indianapolis (OEI) is currently doing this. The OEI team recently partnered with Charter Board Partners to revise their performance framework in order to better understand the strength and effectiveness of the governing boards of Mayor-Sponsored Charter schools. The framework revisions looks beyond compliance and goes deep into board composition and competencies as well as the board's oversight role in academic achievement, financial stability, and operations. Additionally, to ensure boards execute their role well, OEI provides boards with tools, templates, and best practices rooted in research to guide their work.

Format: Insight Talk (30 min, 4:15 - 4:45)

Thursday, October 24th

Redefining the Definition of Leadership

Speakers: Lisa Diaz, Co-Founder, Insignia Partners

Description: Leadership – it seems like such a simple word, one you learned in grade school, something you probably thought you knew all about. But now that you’re a leader, do you ever struggle to know what it truly means? Do you easily bring people along-side you, excited to do the work? Do you wake up every day believing the work you are doing is changing the lives of kids? Maybe you feel like you are nailing all of this, maybe you aren’t. Either way, this session will dive deep into the world of visionary leadership. You’ll walk away with practical tools and strategies to refine, or even possibly redefine, your definition of leadership.

Format: Workshop (2.5 hrs)

Leading and Managing with Resiliency

Speakers: Dr. Darlene Chambers, SR VP for Programs and Services, National Charter Schools Institute; Dr. Corey Loomis, Charter School Director, Riverside County Office of Education

Description: Do you find the work of authorizing to be smooth sailing where everything goes your way and the stress is minimal? We didn't think so. Being effective in your role over the long haul and avoiding burnout requires a tremendous amount of resiliency. Join us for this highly interactive workshop in which you will develop your personal vision for resilience, acquire tools and strategies for strengthening your resilience, and create a realistic plan of action for realizing your vision.

Format: Workshop (2.5 hrs)