Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence Summary of Review



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III. School Setting



School Setting
Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence (MLK) opened in 2006 and is currently in its tenth year of operation. The school received its charter in 2005 and opened its first location in rented church space at 649 State Street, Springfield. The school moved to its new location at 285 Dorset Street in 2010 and has operated there for six years. When the school first opened, it served students in kindergarten through grade 2. Grade 3 was added in 2007, grade 4 in 2008, and grade 5 in 2009.
Since the school opened, several amendments to the school’s charter have been approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) regarding both the school’s schedule and educational philosophy. In 2009 the school was granted a temporary increase for two years in enrollment from 360 to 380, and the maximum authorized enrollment was reduced back to 360 in 2012. The school has been persistently overenrolled during this charter term, even during the temporary enrollment increase, more than the number allowed by its charter.
In January 2011 the BESE granted the school a probationary renewal with three conditions related to program delivery and academic performance. In January 2013, the BESE determined that MLK had “sufficiently met conditions related to academic growth, establishing a fully documented curriculum, and evaluating and staffing its leadership structure to remove MLK from probation.” The BESE imposed further academic conditions to demonstrate significant and sustained academic improvement by December of 2014.
In January 2015, the BESE placed the school on probation again following a continued decline in student achievement and set three conditions of probation related to academic improvement and sustainability.
While the executive director has remained the same since the school’s founding, instructional leadership has been inconsistent during the first and current charter terms. During this current charter term the school has employed three different individuals as the principal. Please see Key Indicator: School Leadership for more details. The school hired a new principal who began work in June 2015.

IV. Areas of Accountability

A. Faithfulness to Charter





Criterion 1: Mission and Key Design Elements

The school is faithful to its mission, implements the key design elements outlined in its charter, and substantially meets its accountability plan goals.

(Please refer to Appendix A for the school’s accountability plan.)

Finding: Over the course of the charter term, stakeholders at the school have shared a common and consistent understanding of the school’s mission. The school has not yet realized its mission to prepare students for academic success, but has implemented other aspects of its mission.
The three aspects of the MLK mission include: preparing students for academic success, developing engaged citizens, and achieving the ideal of a beloved community. In Year 6, stakeholders reported a commitment to improving academic performance and character development. In Year 10, stakeholders reported that the mission included academic excellence, developing engaged citizens, and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideal of the beloved community. The school has developed its implementation of these areas as it worked to address its probationary status and conditions this charter term. In addition, the school has implemented several key design elements related to the mission. These include: an extended learning day, community service, and character development. These key design elements will be discussed under the relevant areas of the mission below.
Academic Excellence

The school has made many changes in curriculum, programming, and instructional leadership to address low student achievement this charter term and to address the conditions placed on the charter this charter term. In 2013, the school contracted with a consultant to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of its school’s English Language Art’s (ELA) program. The school also developed an action plan to improve its performance in ELA. More detail about the changes to the program as a result of this evaluation and plan will be provided in Key Indicators Curriculum, Instruction and School Leadership below. Despite these efforts, the school remains in Level 3 in 2015. Please see Criterion 5: Student Performance for more information in this area. However, in Year 10, the renewal inspection team noted that this summer and fall the school has made more significant changes to the academic program under the leadership of a new principal.


The school has also implemented an extended school day as one of its key design elements over the course of the charter term. Currently, the school operates daily from 8:15am to 4:00pm except for Tuesdays when students are dismissed at 2:00pm for staff professional development. Finally, the school has developed a partnership with Uncommon Schools this charter term and has been paired with Troy Preparatory Charter School (Troy Prep) in New York as a partner school for support.
Engaged Citizenship

During the renewal inspection, stakeholders reported that each teacher prepares one community service project each year in order to foster engaged citizenship. Examples include beautification projects, writing letters to soldiers in Korea, and collecting food for a food pantry. The school also provides students with opportunities for in school community service such as preparing for school assemblies and delivering school supplies to classrooms. The school has measures related to this area of the mission in its accountability plan.


Beloved Community

The school has several systems in place to support the ideal of the beloved community. Visitors in Year 10 found that the MLK values are posted throughout the school: respect, cooperation, responsibility, learning, social justice, service, perseverance, honesty and beloved community. The school’s character education program has changed over the course of the charter term. In Year 6, visitors found that the school had partially implemented the character development program and had not yet instituted regular activities for the program. Currently, the character development program includes monthly grade level community meetings led by the principal and student services staff to learn how to live and work according to the MLK values. Different values are highlighted each month. The school provides readings focused on the monthly values in the school library.


Since 2010, the school’s approach to discipline has emphasized clear expectations and incentives to meet those expectations and is known as the MLK Way. As part of its partnership with Troy Prep, in 2014, the school added to the MLK way by implementing the MLK “100% Vision” based on Troy Prep’s “100% Vision” which outlines precise expectations for student behavior in a variety of contexts. The school has a “role model” program in place where students are recognized as role models based on their adherence to the MLK Way. Staff and parents in Years 6 and 10 stated that the school community is meeting this aspect of its mission.
Finding: MLK met a majority of the measures in its accountability plan.

MLK’s approved accountability plan includes 8 objectives and 14 related measures. MLK met 12 out of 14 measures. The two measures that were not met are related to academic achievement data. Please see Appendix A for full details.




Rating: Partially Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)

  • 2012-15 Annual Reports






Criterion 2: Access and Equity

The school ensures program access and equity for all students eligible to attend the school.

(Please refer to Appendix B for demographic and attrition data.)



Finding: The school made progress in recruiting and retaining a comparable student population to the sending district in two subgroups and has a low attrition rate for all students and high needs students.
Enrollment of English Language Learners (ELLs) saw improvement between 2011 and 2014, but then dipped in 2015. Enrollment of ELLs is currently below comparison schools. Enrollment of low income/economically disadvantaged students has been above the comparison index this charter term. Enrollment of students with disabilities has increased this charter term and is above comparison schools. Attrition for all students, including the high needs subgroup, is below comparison schools. The school has received Department approval for their recruitment and retention plan for the current school year.


Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • ESE Charter Analysis Review Tool (CHART)

  • 2012-15 Annual Reports and Recruitment and Retention Plans



Criterion 3: Compliance

The school compiles a record of compliance with the terms of its charter and applicable state and federal laws and regulations.


Finding: The school is out of compliance with state and federal regulations regarding teacher licensure.
Per state regulations (603 CMR 1.06(4)), all teachers beyond their first year of employment must have taken and passed the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL). As of the renewal inspection, seven teachers beyond their first year of employment have not passed the required MTELs. One of the school’s two ESL teachers was not appropriately licensed until Year 10 of this charter term.
Finding: The school is in compliance with program requirements as measured by the Coordinated Program Review (CPR).
The school last received a CPR visit from the Program Quality Assurance division of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in April 2014. MLK completed all elements of an approved Corrective Action Plan (CAP). The most recent progress report submission was submitted in April and September of 2015. The school’s next scheduled CPR activity will be the mid-cycle CPR in 2016-17.
Finding: The school has been overenrolled this charter term.
MLK has been consistently overenrolled this charter term which is more than what is allowed by the school’s charter. The charter’s maximum enrollment is 360 students. The school has enrolled the following numbers of students each year.


Year

Enrollment number

2011-12

388*

2012-13

369

2013-14

373

2014-15

367

2015-16

366

* In 2009 the school was granted a temporary increase in enrollment for two years from 360 to 380, and the maximum authorized enrollment was reduced back to 360 in 2012.




Rating: Partially Meets

Sources:

  • 2014-15 MLK Teacher Roster

  • 2013-14 CPR

  • Year 9 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 8 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)







Criterion 4: Dissemination

The school provides innovative models for replication and best practices to other public schools in the district where the charter school is located.

Finding: The school has engaged in limited dissemination activities this charter term.
This charter term, the school has engaged in limited dissemination activities due to its probationary status and conditions. The school has partnered with Mt. Holyoke College to develop the Philosophy for Children program. The college has published books using MLK as a case study. This program has been widely shared and was featured in a documentary. The executive director visited Springfield’s Indian Orchard Elementary to discuss this program. In addition, the executive director met with the school leaders of two new charter schools in Springfield to discuss the administration of a new charter school. The school has hosted visits from other schools regarding school culture, including a principal from Oakland, CA.
The school has been a leader in organizing a regional Pioneer Valley parent advisory special education council with five other schools. The first meeting was held at MLK and the second is also scheduled at the school. As part of this group, the school has shared best practices in involving special education parents at the school.


Rating: Partially Meets

Sources:

  • Interview with executive director (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • 2012-15 Annual Reports



B. Academic Program





Criterion 5: Student Performance

The school consistently meets state student performance standards for academic growth, proficiency, and college and career readiness.

(Please refer to Appendix C for academic data.)



Over the charter term, MLK’s MCAS scores have not consistently met state student performance standards for academic growth and proficiency.
Since 2012, MLK has been in Level 3. In 2012, MLK was in the 12th percentile, in 2013 the 11th percentile, and in 2014 the 9th percentile. In 2015, MLK remains in Level 3 in the 16th percentile relative to other schools statewide. In 2015, the school has a cumulative PPI of 77 for all students and 76 for the high needs subgroup (both meeting gap narrowing targets). In 2015, MLK improved below its gap narrowing targets for ELA and mathematics, but was above its gap narrowing targets for science.
The school’s CPI for 2015 was 66.7 in ELA, 73.9 in mathematics, and 77.5 in science and technology/engineering. In 2015, 33 percent of MLK students scored in the Proficient and Advanced categories on the ELA assessment, below the state average of 63 percent. In mathematics, 49 percent scored Proficient and Advanced, below the state average of 63 percent. In science and technology/engineering, 46 percent scored Proficient and Advanced, below the state average of 53 percent. The school’s SGP for 2015 was 49.5 in ELA (on target growth) and 64.0 in mathematics (above target growth).. Please refer to Appendix C for detailed student academic performance data.


Rating: Falls Far Below

Sources:

  • ESE Website

  • 2012-15 Annual Reports




Student Growth Percentile







2012

2013

2014

2015

ELA SGP

All

50.5

42

35.5

49.5

High needs

50.5

42

36

41

Math SGP

All

73

59

44

64

High needs

74

55.5

44.5

66


ELA CPI

this graph depicts the historical ela cpi versus gap narrowing targets. ela cpi 2008 78.8 2009 71.1 2010 72.6 2011 67.2 2012 66.2 2013 63.5 2014 60.2 2015 66.7 ela gap narrowing targets 2012 69.9 2013 72.7 2014 75.4 2015 78.1 2016 80.9 2017 83.6
Mathematics CPI

this graph depicts the historical mathematics cpi versus gap narrowing targets. mathematics cpi 2008 51.9 2009 59.8 2010 54.3 2011 62.9 2012 68.7 2013 72.0 2014 68.7 2015 73.9 mathematics gap narrowing targets 2012 66.0 2013 69.1 2014 72.2 2015 75.3 2016 78.4 2017 81.5

Science CPI

this graph depicts the historical science cpi versus gap narrowing targets. science cpi 2010 60.8 2011 59.0 2012 58.5 2013 73.8 2014 71.0 2015 77.5 science gap narrowing targets 2012 62.4 2013 65.8 2014 69.3 2015 72.7 2016 76.1 2017 79.5



Criterion 6: Program Delivery

The school delivers an academic program that provides improved academic outcomes and educational success for all students.

Key Indicator: Curriculum

Finding: The school has made substantial changes to its curriculum this charter term. In Year 10, the school has curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the ANet assessment program. The school has instituted an ongoing system for the review and revision of the curriculum based on data.
Visitors to MLK have documented a number of curricular shifts over the course of the charter term. Following the school’s renewal in 2011, the school was required to provide evidence of a fully documented curriculum aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks (MCF). In Year 6, visitors found that MLK created overarching curriculum maps for all of the core academic programs that were aligned to the CCSS and MCF. Teachers used these curriculum maps to create unit plans from a common template. At the time of the visit in April of Year 6, the school was still in the process of developing unit plans. Teachers were also expected to develop daily lesson plans, however the lesson plan formats varied from teacher to teacher.
In Year 8, in an effort to better vertically align its curriculum and to meet the conditions placed on the school in 2013, MLK contracted a consultant to review the school’s ELA curriculum and developed an action plan. As a result, MLK purchased the Journeys reading curriculum from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt which was aligned to the CCSS. The school also purchased Math Expressions by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt which was aligned to the CCSS. The school had begun to require teachers to use a common lesson plan template. The new purchased curriculum, as implemented, was not aligned to the ANet assessment system nor was it well implemented in classrooms.
In Year 9, visitors found that the school was using Journeys and Math Expressions as resources, but had changed the sequencing to better align to the ANet assessments, called the schedule of assessed standards (SAS). The SAS became the operating scope and sequence for grades 2-5. Teachers had also been required to develop more rigorous ELA lessons based on Journeys. The school continued to work to better align the curriculum through new processes but inconsistencies remained. Year 9 site visitors found that lesson plans did not consistently reflect an implementation of CCSS standards or rigor.
During the renewal inspection in Year 10, visitors found that the school had made substantial changes to the ELA and mathematics curricula based on work with external consultants. Visitors found that the curriculum was aligned to the CCSS and MCF, vertically and horizontally aligned, and aligned to the school’s ANet assessment program. The current curriculum consists of a scope and sequence for every grade level, the CCSS and MCF standards, big ideas, essential questions, texts and tasks. The documented curriculum also supported opportunities for all students including diverse learners to access skills and concepts and addressed interventions, required pre-skills, information targeted for special education and ELL students, language objectives and tiered vocabulary.
The school has appointed two staff members responsible for curriculum development, monitoring, and coaching in ELA and mathematics: a literacy coordinator and a director of math curriculum/instructional coach. The school also employs an outside consultant to review the ELA curriculum units to ensure alignment and rigor. The ELA curriculum is a blend of several programs including the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop, the Read Aloud curriculum, Engage NY units, and Journeys as supplemental materials, among other things. The mathematics curriculum was developed based on Pearson’s enVisionMath 2.0. The team found that lesson plans were consistent, rigorous, detailed and aligned to standards.
The school has also instituted an ongoing process for review and revision of the curriculum. Teachers review the curriculum with the literacy coordinator or a coach and the director of math curriculum at weekly grade level meetings and in weekly after school professional development sessions using data from MCAS, ANet, unit tests, and other assessments. Each grade level continues to have a content area lesson planner who works further with the literacy coach and director of math curriculum to refine and modify the curriculum. Additional review and revision takes place mid-year and at the end of the year.
Visitors in Year 10 observed faithful implementation of the curriculum in classrooms. The principal monitors the curriculum during classroom observations using a tracker that is linked to the curriculum standards.



Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 9 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 8 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)




Key Indicator: Instruction

Finding: Over the charter term, the school has refined its instructional practices and increased the expectations of students. Visitors in Year 10 found that school stakeholders shared a common understanding of high-quality instruction.
The school has worked to codify and enhance its instructional practices this charter term. In Year 6, visitors saw partial implementation of the school’s described model. Visitors also noted that a range of effective instruction was observed.
In Year 8, visitors found that stakeholders shared a basic understanding of the school’s instructional practices, but found that the implementation of these practices was only somewhat aligned to the described model and not always well implemented. In Year 9, stakeholders reported that the school had developed a document called the Instructor’s Manual that provided teachers with guidance on instructional delivery. While the majority of administrators and teachers shared an understanding of instructional practices, the observed practices were not consistently implemented or effective.
In Year 10, the renewal inspection team found that all teachers shared a common understanding of high quality instructional practices based on the Instructor’s Manual. These practices included posted objectives, the use of Teach Like a Champion strategies, a gradual release model, the use of higher-order thinking questions, guided reading, and a focus on procedural fluency in mathematics classes, many of which had been included in the school’s common practices throughout the charter term. The team observed instruction aligned to this description in the majority of observations. In particular, the team noted that teachers at every grade using higher-order thinking questions and strategies, although these varied with respect to the levels of complexity and teacher skill.
Finding: Student engagement and classroom environments have varied throughout the charter term as the school has made changes to the MLK Way and incorporated the MLK “100% Vision”.
In Year 6, visitors found that the school had consistently implemented the newly instituted MLK Way and classroom environments were supportive of student learning. In addition, a majority of classrooms elicited consistently high levels of student engagement. In Year 8, visitors observed that classroom environments were inconsistent in terms of student engagement and maximized learning time. Visitors also noted that checks for understanding were limited. In Year 9, the school had incorporated the newly created the “100% Vision” into the MLK Way as described in Criterion 1: Mission and Key Design Elements. Visitors again observed inconsistencies in terms of classroom environments and a range of student engagement. In Year 10, visitors found that the classroom climates were characterized by respectful relationships, behaviors, tones, and discourse. Teachers all expected students to follow the “MLK 100% Vision” of the MLK Way. Instruction fostered student engagement in two thirds of classrooms.



Rating: Partially Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 9 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 8 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)




Key Indicator: Assessment and Program Evaluation

Finding: The school’s use of data has become more robust this charter term. In Year 10, the school administers a balanced system of formative and benchmark assessments. The school has developed a formalized data review process and put resources in place to support the use of data this charter term.
The school has developed its system of assessment this charter term. Throughout the charter term, the school has maintained its partnership with ANet and administered the ANet assessments in ELA and mathematics. As noted above in Key Indicator: Curriculum, in Year 8 the school’s curriculum did not align to the ANet assessment system, making it difficult to effectively monitor the academic program. These assessments were realigned in Years 9 and 10. The school has also administered the Fountas and Pinnell assessments throughout the charter term. In Years 8, 9 and 10, visitors found that the school was also administering unit assessments based on the curriculum from year to year.
The school has used data to re-teach standards and support individual students throughout the charter term. Visitors in Years 8, 9 and 10 reported that they follow the ANet data cycle to identify standards where students had fallen short and form a plan to reteach. Data processes became more formalized in Year 9 after the school worked with consultants to assess their program, and hired a curriculum and instruction coordinator in part to work with student data. The cycle is a five-step collaborative cycle of inquiry that teachers use during grade-level and content area meetings. The cycle includes the following steps: plan from standards; teach, assess; analyze data and student work; adapt teaching and reassess; reflect and begin the cycle again. Teachers also review data during professional development. The school now employs an academic data specialist focused on the school’s data system.
Data analysis has led to changes this charter term, including changes to the curriculum, changes in staffing, the recent change to an inclusion model, and changes to the behavioral system.



Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 9 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 8 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)




Key Indicator: Supports for Diverse Learners

Finding: The school has made changes to its systems, structures and resources to support diverse learners, including special education and ELL students, this charter term.
In Year 10, visitors found that the school has a process in place to identify and support struggling students and ELLs. The school uses a child study team (CST) and the Response to Intervention (RTI) model to identify students who may be in need of services. The school also uses the home language survey to identify students in need of ELL services, and then uses the WIDA Model as needed.
The school has increased its supports and resources to students over the course of the charter term. In Years 8 and 9, visitors observed some supports to meet the academic needs for all students in general education classrooms, but they were not consistently of high quality with lower quality pull-out instruction observed in Year 9. Visitors in Year 10 found that the school has for the most part moved away from pullouts, particularly in ELA. In Year 10, visitors observed differentiated activities, materials, or strategies to support all learners in the majority of classrooms. For example, visitors saw multiple adults in classrooms, leveled reading books, small group work, preferential seating, graphic organizers, manipulatives and the use of breaks.
The school has increased staffing to support diverse learners, particularly for ELL students. There are currently two ESL instructors for grades K-5, and 24 classroom teachers or coaches are SEI-endorsed. The school has also had an ESL curriculum since Year 8. The school has a school adjustment counselor, a speech and language therapist, and a school psychologist. The school works with a local organizations to provide students with counseling, occupational, and physical therapy services. The school employs three literacy specialists for grades K-5, two literacy coaches, and a writing coach.
The school has developed a tiered intervention system this charter term. In Year 9, visitors noted that the structures and systems for interventions for struggling students were in development and not fully understood by all stakeholders. In Year 10, the renewal inspection team found that the school had interventions in place based on the RTI model that were largely classroom based set by grade level teams. Additional interventions include tutoring and intervention blocks. In addition, the school implements a substantially separate pullout program that began in 2014-15, the Incremental Success Program where students who struggle with behaviors that prevent them from participating fully in the regular classroom are served.



Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 9 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 8 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)






Criterion 7: Culture and Family Engagement

The school supports students’ social and emotional health in a safe and respectful learning environment that engages families.

Key Indicator: Social, Emotional and Health Needs

Finding: MLK has a safe school environment and supports the social, emotional, and health needs of its students.
In years 6 and 10, visitors found that MLK has a safe school environment that is supportive of students. As noted in Criterion 1: Mission and Key Design Elements, staff and parents have reported that the school community is meeting this beloved community aspect of its mission. The school’s beloved community and MLK Way are discussed in detail in Criterion 1: Mission and Key Design Elements.
Visitors in Year 10 found that the new principal had instituted a number of changes to improve school culture, including morning greetings, a change in hallway and cafeteria behavior requirements, and dismissal procedures.
In addition to the support staff described in Key Indicator: Supports for Diverse Learners, the school has a dean of students, a classroom management coach, a social worker intern, a student support partner, a mentor for students, and a school nurse who are all members of the student support team. The student support team meets weekly.



Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)




Key Indicator: Family Engagement

Finding: The school has developed strong working relationships with families and guardians and provides regular communication to them. MLK parents and guardians have expressed satisfaction with the school over the course of the charter term.
Parents and guardians throughout the charter term have expressed satisfaction with the school. In Year 10, parents told visitors that the school had communicated with them about the school’s probationary status and the need to improve student learning and performance on the MCAS tests. Parents told the team that school leaders and teachers were accessible to them by telephone, text, or in-person meetings and that they received report cards three times a year. The school also has a monthly newsletter. Some parents reported receiving more frequent communication.
The school holds several evening events for parents, including ELA and mathematics curriculum nights. Some teachers told the renewal inspection team that they had conducted home visits. Parents said that the school provided staff who could translate for them and translated materials for them. As noted in Criterion 4: Dissemination, the school has established a regional special education parent council that had already met once at the time of the renewal inspection site visit. The school also has a parent survey which reflects that in 2015, more than 90 percent of parents were satisfied with the school.

Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)





C. Organizational Viability





Criterion 8: Capacity

The school sustains a well-functioning organizational structure and creates a professional working climate for all staff

Key Indicator: School Leadership

Finding: The school has lacked consistent instructional leadership this charter term. In its tenth year, the renewal inspection team found that the new principal has implemented clear structures, roles, and communication.
The current leadership team includes the executive director, the principal, an academic data specialist, the literacy coordinator, the instructional coach and director of math curriculum, dean of students, director of student services and special education coordinator, a contracted special education administrator, an ELL coordinator, and several other support roles.
In 2011, the school was renewed with probation. One of the probationary conditions was for the school to evaluate its leadership structure, develop an organizational chart with accompanying job descriptions, and create a plan to fully staff the administrative structure. The school met this condition according to the Year 6 Site Visit Report. The school hired a new principal in June of 2011 to act as the instructional leader. The principal subsequently departed the school in June of 2014 after three years. At that time, the executive director became the acting principal and worked with consultants until a new principal was hired in December of 2014. The second principal of the charter term departed in June of 2015 due to personal issues, at which point the third and current principal of the charter term was hired. The school has also reconfigured other leadership roles, including the director of student services position and the director of curriculum and instruction which subsequently moved into the academic data specialist position. The team has also increased its instructional coach positions.
In Year 10, the renewal inspection team found that the new principal has created effective structures, clear roles for leaders, and well-understood systems for communications while maintaining a commitment to the school’s existing mission, goals, and academic and behavioral systems.


Rating: Partially Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 9 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)

Key Indicator: Professional Climate

Finding: MLK has structures in place for regular teacher collaboration. The school has increased professional development offerings and evaluates its educators.
Teachers have regular structures in place for collaboration. As reported in Year 10, teachers meet weekly in grade-level meetings to develop lesson plans, analyze data and prepare differentiated and reteaching activities, and to develop action plans for individual students. Special education and ELL staff, and other support staff participate in these meetings. The school also has regular content area meetings.
The renewal inspection team found that in Year 10, the new principal has taken steps to increase professional development offerings. The school offers two weeks of professional development in the summer and weekly opportunities throughout the school year. Morning meetings also include professional development components. The coaches meet with teachers in grade-level and professional development meetings to help them interpret data, and to train them in instructional and behavioral strategies. The school has also used a number of consultants to provide professional development. Professional development topics have included ANet analysis, Teach Like a Champion strategies, the use of data, and behavioral expectations.

As noted in Key Indicator: Capacity above, the school has experienced shifts in its instructional leadership. The school uses the Department’s Model Educator Evaluation Framework for teacher evaluation. In Year 10, the new principal has prioritized observation, and has conducted 10-15 per week this school year. She uses an observation tracker to track the student learning and professional practice goals for each teacher to use in their evaluations.




Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 9 Targeted Site Visit Report (2014)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)




Criterion 9: Governance

Members of the board of trustees act as public agents authorized by the state and provide competent and appropriate governance to ensure the success and sustainability of the school.

Finding: The board of MLK has developed its oversight of the school this charter term, particularly in the area of academic achievement.
The board currently consists of 14 members. The board committees include: executive, governance, finance, human resources, strategic goal-setting, communication and academic excellence. In Year 6, visitors found that board minutes did not reflect the use of the committees. The use of the committee structure in Year 10 was found to be more robust by the visiting team; the academic committee met seven times in 2014 and eleven times in 2015 providing reports to the board that included academic data analysis. Meeting reports were provided for most other committees as well; however, minutes were not included from the governance and executive committees. The board also provides financial oversight of the school and routinely reviews the budgets and audits, a capital plan, employee compensation and professional development consultants.
The board has engaged in planning to improve in response to the probationary conditions on the school. The board developed a 2013-16 strategic plan that includes objectives to attain Level 1 status, support positive character development, and recruit an exceptional and diverse instructional staff. In 2014, the board developed an action plan to address the conditions and increase its review of academic data.
The board evaluates the executive director and conducts an annual board self-evaluation. The board has recruited new members based on needs identified through the self-evaluation.



Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • Renewal Inspection Report (2015)

  • Renewal Application (2015)

  • Year 6 Site Visit Report (2012)




Criterion 10: Finance

The school maintains a sound and stable financial condition and operates in a financially sound and publicly accountable manner.

(Please refer to Appendix D for a financial data.)



Finding: MLK operates in a financially sound and publicly accountable manner. The school has maintained a sound and stable financial condition over the charter term.
MLK has had unqualified audits and no findings for all years of the current charter term. The large majority of the indicators on the financial dashboard are low-risk. The board provides appropriate fiscal oversight of the school. The school is leasing its facility from the Foundation created to support the school. Per the probationary conditions on the school, MLK established an escrow account to pay for any potential expenses related to closing, should that occur.


Rating: Meets

Sources:

  • ESE Financial Dashboard

  • 2012-15 Audits and End of Year Reports



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