Appendix B: CHART (Criterion 2: Access and Equity)
All data displayed in these graphs are derived from ESE District and School Profiles (http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/).
The longitudinal demographic comparison data presented in the graphs of student enrollment is intended to provide context for the charter school’s recruitment and retention efforts. The set of displayed comparison schools includes the charter school of interest, and all of the public schools in the charter school’s region that serve at least one grade level of students which overlaps with the grade levels served by the charter school.1 The graphs provide comparison enrollment percentages for four different subgroups of students: low income /economically disadvantaged*, students with disabilities, English language learners, and first language not English. Each line on the graph represents the percentage of total school enrollment for a given school or set of schools during the most recent five years. If available, data listed is displayed longitudinally across multiple years in line graph form, with:
a solid bold black line representing subgroup enrollment in the charter school of interest;
a solid green line for the statewide average;
a solid blue line for the comparison district average;
a dotted pink line for the Gap Narrowing Target (GNT)5; and
solid gray lines for enrollment percentage in each individual comparison school (darker gray for charter schools, and lighter gray for district schools).
Student attrition rates6 are provided for all students and for the high needs7 subgroup. Please note that district percentages are not included since attrition at the district-level cannot be reasonably compared to attrition at the school-level.
Note:New statutory provisions related to Criterion 2 were established in 2010, and as specified in regulation, charter schools were first required to implement recruitment and retention plans in 2011-2012. Charter schools are required to receive Department approval for a recruitment and retention plan to be reported on and updated annually. When deciding on charter renewal, the Commissioner and the Board must consider the extent to which the school has followed its recruitment and retention plan by using deliberate, specific strategies to recruit and retain students in targeted subgroups, whether the school has enhanced its plan as necessary, and the annual attrition of students.
Though comparisons of subgroup enrollment data in a charter school to that of other public schools in a geographic area as provided in Appendix B can provide some information regarding comparability of student populations, it is presented for reference only and primarily to determine trends within the charter school itself and to guide further inquiry. The subgroup composition of a charter school is not required to be a mirror image of the schools in its sending districts and region. The Department urges caution in drawing any conclusions regarding comparability of subgroup populations between schools and districts based on aggregate statistics alone. Enrollment of students in traditional public schools differs significantly from enrollment of students in charter schools. In particular, charter schools are required by law to use a lottery process when admitting students; traditional public schools must accept all students that live within the municipality or region that they serve. Specific caution should be used for special education enrollment data, as research by Dr. Thomas Hehir (Harvard Graduate School of Education) and Associates (Review of Special Education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: A Synthesis Report (August 2014) found that low-income students were identified as eligible for special education services at substantially higher rates than non-low-income students. Further, across districts with similar demographic characteristics, district behavior differed for special education identification, placement, and performance. Finally, it is important to note that student demographics for a charter school, particularly in the aggregate, will not immediately reflect recruitment and retention efforts; charter school must give preference in enrollment to siblings of currently attending students and are permitted to limit the grades in which students may enter the school.