Providing resources and trainings for applicants and operators is a key authorizer responsibility. By offering guidance and direction to existing and future schools, authorizers can articulate expectations, anticipate and answer questions, assist the creation of EL programs and staffing models, and establish evaluation criteria.
Denver Public Schools
Denver Public Schools (DPS), for example, offers a thorough, thoughtful “English Language Acquisition Guidebook for Charter Schools” that walks readers through the applicable legal requirements, the role of the district, federal, and state funding streams, teacher certification requirements, English language development requirements, assessments for EL students, parent engagement strategies, translation/interpretation service requirements, and service provider recommendations. This guidebook is written exclusively for charter schools; it serves as a comprehensive resource for applicants, existing schools, students, and families, and it clearly explains what is expected of schools as they develop English language programs for their students.
Los Angeles Unified School District
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) also offers a very rich, comprehensive resource for designing and delivering an EL program, though it is not written exclusively for charter schools. Rather, LAUSD has created an “English Learner Master Plan” for its traditional district schools; this Master Plan includes a section on charter schools which explains that charter schools may adopt LAUSD’s Master Plan or must provide LAUSD, as the authorizer, an alternative, proposed, EL services program that effectively meets the language needs of EL students. The LAUSD Master Plan sets forth the requirements a charter school’s EL program must satisfy–both during the application phase and annually thereafter. Notably, even though the LAUSD Master Plan expressly exempts from its requirements charter schools that seek to develop independent EL programs, the detail and rigor of the Master Plan may serve as a tool and idea hub for charter applicants and operators as they design and implement their own EL programs.
Massachusetts Department of Education
The Massachusetts Department of Education (MDE) takes a different and equally effective approach in supporting its charter schools. Instead of publishing a comprehensive guidebook, the MDE assembles and updates a webpage with EL resources; this compendium of material includes self-evaluation templates as well as information on legal requirements, assessments, funding, and curriculum models. These resources provide practical guidance to charter applicants and operators, outlining broad strokes of what is expected and allowing operators to design their own EL programs adhering to the broad parameters set up by the MDE.
District of Columbia Public Charter School Board
The District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) has provided regular trainings for schools as part of its efforts to ensure that charter schools in the District of Columbia are effectively serving EL students. DCPCSB has also offered “office hours” during which schools can consult with the general counsel and other knowledgeable staff about EL program requirements. While the general counsel/staff do not provide legal advice, they are able to point schools in the right direction or give them guidance on where they may need to do more work.