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 performance measures that authorizers can use to oversee and evaluate schools that predominantly serve alternative student populations. 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 assembled 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 herein as alternative education campuses or AECs) as appropriate for 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 a lot of variability. For the purposes of the A-GAME project, we capitalize on that research and utilize the common elements of the state definitions of alternative schools to describe the schools that are the primary focus of this grant effort, cited below:
“A charter school with a stated mission to serve High-Risk Youth and, as a result, serves a disproportionately high percentage of High-Risk Youth.”
High-risk youth are students that have dropped out of school or are those that are at the highest risk of doing so; including (but not limited to) pregnant or parenting teens, adjudicated youth, homeless youth or students in the foster care system, students that overage and under credit and those that have been expelled or are truant.
Unfortunately, due to wide variation in how schools that specialize in serving predominantly special education students are categorized and resulting small numbers (for research purposes) the A-GAME project will not focus on these schools through project efforts.
According to the Momentum database (Alternative School, Performance, and Policy Database), there were 684 alternative charter schools across the country in 2017-2018. The blue and grey map below summarizes how these AEC charters are distributed across the US.
The 684 charter AECs are authorized by 225 different authorizers, the distribution of which is shown in the red and orange 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.”