Advancing Great Authorizing
For charter school authorizers, alternative education campuses (or AECs) can be a challenge. Standard measures such as academic proficiency rates and graduation rates may not say much about AECs actual quality or effectiveness. Students tend to be highly mobile, far below grade level in reading and math, and difficult to measure as comparative data is scarce or non-existent. Students also tend to have multiple high-risk factors, such as being chronically absent, in the juvenile justice system, pregnant or parenting, and experiencing or having experienced trauma.
The National Charter School Institute and Momentum Strategy & Research have joined forces to create the “A-GAME”: Advancing Great Authorizing & Modeling Excellence to support charter school authorizers measure the quality and effectiveness of alternative education campuses.
Supported by a U.S. Department of Education
dissemination grant, the A-GAME is improving charter authorizing for AECs has four areas of focus:
- Develop and disseminate impactful resources
- Build a comprehensive dataset of AEC performance,
- Provide interactive data visualizations of publicly available data, and
- Facilitate Regional Networks for Charter School Authorizers
By sharing best-practices, research, outcome-based targets, and promoting out-side-the-box thinking, the A-GAME is changing the way charter school authorizers evaluate AEC quality and effectiveness.
This U.S. Department of Education: Summary of Meeting Grant Objectives grant submission illustrates the progress the A-GAME has made towards meeting its objectives, set forth when we began on this journey. The document provides descriptions of the thought behind the deliverables and the plans around broad dissemination.
Year 1 (2018-2019)
Develop resources based on currently available data, policies, practices, and thinking about ways to measure alternative education campus outcomes in ways that are relevant to the schools and effective at measuring quality. A growing set of resources and data tools are available to all interested authorizers and school leaders.
Year 2 (2019-2020)
Bring together and facilitate Regional Capacity Building Networks comprised of innovative authorizers interested in joining the discussion and improving authorizer practices.
Year 3 (2020-2021)
Widespread dissemination of all resources through activities such as regional meetings, conference presentations, webinars, and newsletters.
The Heart Behind It
"The A-GAME is another demonstration of charters leading the way. Leveraging the experience and expertise of our nation’s leading authorizers, we are showing how to move beyond one-size-fits-all accountability systems and to the future of personalized authorizing.”
Dr. James Goenner | President and CEO | National Charter Schools Institute
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.