Have you checked out the TCSA Events Calendar lately?  We are continually adding training content that is focused on helping our member schools stay up-to-date on best practices in the myriad of areas that impact the operation of a successful charter school.  Here’s some of the upcoming opportunities that are offered to you free as a TCSA member:

April 5th - 4:00 p.m. - Diving Into Your Needs Assessment.  Conducting a comprehensive needs assessment is a vital task for school leaders as you use all relevant data to assess strengths and weaknesses and develop a campus improvement plan (CIP) to address identified needs.  This webinar will discuss what data needs to be considered, best practices to analyze your data, and how to use your analyzed data to prepare your CIP as well as your ESSA application for federal funds.

April 19th – 4:00 p.m. – Energy Saving 101 – How to Find Savings In Your School Facility. This webinar will present a step by step overview on how to reduce energy costs in your school building(s).  Energy reduction best practices will be shared that can be implemented at no cost or with minimal to substantial investment.  Energy experts from TCSA Solution Provider Jengo Consulting will share personal stories of how they saved one Texas school district $4 million and other real life examples of energy saving successes at charter schools and traditional ISD campuses.

May 1st – 4:00 p.m. - Employee Situations Regarding Alleged Harassment, Retaliation and Discrimination.  Texas charter school expert and attorney Joe Hoffer will offer authoritative advice and guidance in this one-hour webinar on dealing with employee situations regarding alleged harassment, retaliation and discrimination.  In the webinar Mr. Hoffer will precisely describe what harassment, retaliation, and discrimination may look like in a workplace environment, legal steps that must be followed if an employee alleges that any of these behaviors have taken place, and how to create a healthy workplace environment to mitigate the likelihood of these types of behaviors.

April 26th – 9:00 a.m. - Be sure to register to attend our next TCSA Member Council Meeting on Thursday, April 26th in Austin.  At this meeting we will continue our focus on charter advocacy and what TCSA is doing as an organization, including the addition of our 501c4 Charter Schools Now under the TCSA umbrella, along with the latest information on our CEO search, the most recent news from the charter sector and TEA, and an instructional and quality service update.  This is also a great opportunity to network with other charter leaders!

Coming in June – We are tentatively scheduling a charter school law conference and CEO summit for Tuesday, June 26th in Austin.  We will e-blast an official invite to member schools as soon as details are finalized.

Don’t forget that TCSA is your one-source solution for governance and administrator training.  We offer on-site and on-demand training opportunities that are deeply discounted for member schools.  Please contact me to learn about how TCSA can meet your training needs!

Last week, the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) held its quarterly Member Council Meeting (MCM) with about 40 participants representing member charter schools from across the Lone Star State.

TCSA’s Executive Director David Dunn opened the meeting with brief remarks and was followed by MCM Chair, Kathleen Zimmermann, who welcomed members to Austin.  Dunn shared some great news for the charter section with the release of the newest CREDO study, Charter School Performance in Texas, which found that student at charters are outperforming their peers at school districts. Most notably, students are gaining an additional 17 days of learning in reading and have closed the gap in math.  Additionally, Hispanic student in poverty at charters are also faring better in both reading and math as compared to their school district counterparts. TCSA issued a press release featuring these findings, which has resulted in news stories by the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, El Paso Inc., and ED Week.

Following Dunn’s welcome remarks, TCSA Board Member Lori Fey addressed members and provided an update on the Executive Director Search. Fey is the Chair of the Search Committee and is working with Bellwether Education Partners to identify TCSA’s next leader. Fey is committed to a transparent process and has been meeting with various stakeholders within the charter school sector and education community gathering information. She welcomes input on this search and looks forward to finding the right person to represent students from all public charter schools across the state!

TCSA’s Veronica Garcia, Martha Fernandez, and Christine Nishimura gave an overview to members on the 85th Legislative Session and a federal update. This presentation featured TCSA’s grassroots efforts, legislative wins, and the bills impacting charter schools.

Next on the meeting agenda was Jo Ann Simmons of UT Tyler Innovation Academy who gave a presentation focused on academic rigor. Simmons candidly revealed her experience on what works to improve student outcomes and led a meaningful discussion among members about best practices. We hope this conversation continues, allowing for charter leaders to share information to strengthen student achievement at every campus!

Last, but not least was Michele Stahl of the Texas Education Agency.  Stahl provided information on the new A-F Accountability standards. We appreciate Stahl and others at TEA for continuously working with public charter schools, ensuring that these campuses have information to effectively meet state requirements.

TCSA thanks all the member schools who attended both in-person and online and we look forward to our next meeting at the Texas Charter Schools Conference in Grapevine. 

The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) was pleased to host 35 charter systems at the most recent Member Council Meeting on April 27, following the successful Texas Public Charter School Rally at the state capitol the day before. Additionally, some member schools participated in the meeting virtually.

Dr. Penny Schwinn, the Deputy Commissioner of Academics at the Texas Education Agency (TEA), kicked off the meeting with a presentation and shared the latest information about upcoming changes in the assessment and accountability divisions at TEA. Most importantly, there are several bills filed within the legislature to modify the domains used to calculate the A-F Accountability Rating, set to launch in the summer of 2018. It is probable that we will see the five domains reduced to only three domains for inclusion in the accountability system. The legislature will also determine if the implementation of the A-F Accountability System will occur as planned in the summer of 2018 or be delayed for another year, potentially providing districts with preliminary reports with unofficial grades. To follow changes occurring with the new accountability system, follow the progress of HB 22 and SB 2051.   

Dr. Schwinn also shared information about a new Confidential Student Report (CSR), which will be available for the EOCs on June 13th and June 30th for grades 3-8. The revised reports will be family friendly and report on student progress, focus on growth and improvement, and academic proficiency. TEA will also include resources in the report to improve student performance in reading and mathematics. We encourage you to visit TEA’s website for more information.

The new CSR features:
• Growth and progress information
• A summer reading list
• Lexile levels and trend data
• New performance level descriptors
• Resources and suggestions for parents to use at home
• Suggested questions for parents to ask teachers and counselors

Dr. Schwinn also shared changes to federal accountability related to the reporting of special education students, especially when significant disproportionality occurs from one year to the next. The 10 PBMAS indicators related to placement, discipline, and representation will be replaced by 98 indicators with these proposed federal changes. A financial penalty will be assessed when a threshold is missed; charters will also be asked to review and revise policies, procedures and practice and make any associated changes publicly available. While PBMAS previously offered a range of performance levels, the new regulations will include pass/fail thresholds. We encourage charter leaders to follow the progress of these new regulations by following information posted on TEA’s website.

TCSA included a best practice session from a charter leader during the member council meeting. The April meeting included a presentation by Latisha Andrews, superintendent of Beta Academy, sharing five tips to sharing academic data with your board. She encouraged charter leaders to avoid using acronyms and educational jargon board members might not understand when sharing academic information and results. The use of clear data can produce a clear vision for the goals that need to be established to ensure all students within your system are growing academically. She also encouraged charter leaders to have a clear vision for student progress through the use of tangible, measurable goals set by the charter board of directors.

Here are the five tips Mrs. Andrews shared with leaders:
• Be Transparent
• Make Data Meaningful
• Set Goals
• Have Clarity
• Share the Floor

Please send requests for best practice sessions to include at the next Member Council Meeting on August 3rd at TCEA in Austin to my attention at pmoeller@txcharterschools.org.

Register here to attend the next meeting in-person. 

Register here to attend the next meeting virtually.