Advancing great authorizing
The “A-GAME” (Advancing Great Authorizing & Modeling Excellence) project received a three-year U.S. Department of Education dissemination grant to strengthen authorizing, encourage innovation, and promote rigorous and personalized performance measures. The project focuses on developing holistic measures that authorizers can use to oversee and evaluate schools that predominantly serve High Risk Youth. These students include former dropouts, truants, pregnant and parenting teens, and others with one or more risk factors that threaten their chances of succeeding in traditional high schools. This grant will have national significance because of its groundbreaking work on mission-related performance measures and its focus on helping authorizers become performance-based agents of change and catalysts for excellence.
The A-GAME project is led by the National Charter Schools Institute, Momentum Strategy & Research, a National Authorizer Leadership Team composed of experienced charter school authorizers, along with advisors and project evaluators carefully chosen to maximize project objectives.
Willing to challenge the givens, these experienced authorizers compose the grant’s National Authorizer Leadership Team:
The heart behind it
“Our public schools serve students with a diverse range of needs and yet many authorizers are using a one-size-fits-all approach to accountability. This grant will allow us to leverage the experience and expertise that exists throughout the country to develop and disseminate prototypes for how to better measure and evaluate the performance of mission-driven schools. This work will help students and families make more informed choices and provide taxpayers with the assurance that these schools are delivering results.”
Dr. James Goenner | President and CEO | National Charter Schools Institute
The “A-Game” project will convene a National Authorizer Leadership Team, which includes 11 experienced and well-respected authorizers, to capture and share best practices for evaluating alternative schools. Among other activities, this group will work with a National Advisory Committee of industry leaders to identify new ideas that authorizers can use to transform their oversight beyond compliance checklists to a more rigorous and personalized approach that focuses on outcomes for students.
The final year of the grant will be focused on creating a resource library and disseminating strategies and practices that support the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools, improve the performance measures found in charter contracts and share models of excellence, particularly for new and small authorizers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many states have defined specific schools (referred to here as alternative education campuses or AECs) that qualify for some form of alternative accountability. A-GAME partner Momentum Strategy & Research (Momentum), has conducted extensive data collection and analysis into how AECs are defined across the country. While there are some commonalities across these definitions, there is also considerable variability. A-GAME capitalizes on that research by identifying common elements of state definitions to describe the schools that are the focus of this work:
“Charter schools that both have a mission to focus on and serve a high proportion of high-risk youth.”
High-risk youth are students who have dropped out of school or are at the highest risk of doing so. High-risk youth include, but are not limited to, pregnant or parenting teens; adjudicated youth; youth experiencing housing instability, including homelessness; those in the foster care system; students who are overage and under-credit; and those who have been expelled or are chronically absent.
High-risk youth are not to be confused with “at-risk” students as defined in federal Title 1 policies (i.e., low income students, English language learners, or special education students). While there is considerable overlap in the two populations (High-Risk Youth and at-risk students), at-risk factors alone do not qualify students as High-Risk Youth. Thus, for this project charter schools serving high percentages of low income, special education, or English language learners that do not also serve high percentages of High-Risk Youth are not considered AECs.
According to the Momentum database (Alternative School, Performance, and Policy Database), there were 614 alternative charter schools across the country in 2018-2019. The blue and grey map below summarizes how these AEC charters are distributed across the US.
The 614 charter AECs are authorized by 196 different authorizers, the distribution of which is shown in the tan and red map below.
“This grant will help all charter public schools and their authorizers build smart and strong practices for children. The resources will impact our abilities to serve hundreds of thousands of students through robust and authentic sharing of what successful charter teachers and students are achieving every day.”