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Agendas/Minutes/Board Decisions
July 18, 2011
DC Public Charter School Board
Board Meeting Minutes

Board Members in attendance: 
Mr. Brian Jones (chair); Mr. John “Skip” McKoy; Ms. Emily Bloomfield; Mr. Don Soifer; Dr. Darren Woodruff; Ms. Sara Mead

Mr. Brian Jones called the public meeting to order at 7:01pm

Acknowledgement of Public Officials
No elected officials were present.

Approval of the Agenda
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the Board’s agenda for the evening.  Mr. Don Soifer moved the motion and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

Approval of the June Minutes
Mr. Brian Jones asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the June meeting.  Dr. Darren Woodruff moved the motion and Mr. Skip McKoy seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

Administrative Committee
The contracts for June 2011 for more than $25,000 were received by the PCSB and were read and accepted into the record.

Schools Oversight Committee- Proposed Changes to 2010-2011Performance Management Framework (PMF): Floors/Targets and Tier Cutoffs
Ms. Clara Hess from staff introduced the matter before the Board.  She said the floors proposed in the PMF are based on the lowest 10th percentile of charter school performance over the past three years where the most recent year would have a 50% weight, two years ago would have 30% weight and three years ago would have 20% weight.

Ms. Clara Hess added that most of the targets are set based on policy decisions but informed by data. When available, the 90th percentile, weighted over the past three years, was used to inform  
policy decisions. When three years of archival data were not available the targets were set based on one year of data or policy.

Ms. Clara Hess went on to say that floors and targets will be reassessed yearly based on the most recent year of data. Targets will not be reduced in the event the charter community scores decrease.
Ms. Clara Hess then asked if there were any questions.

Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if the numbers were arrived at by schools that were on the advisory committee.  Ms. Clara Hess said that they were and that they were posted on the wiki for additional input, and that is how they arrived at the proposal.

Dr. Darren Woodruff then asked if theoretically if the schools in the Board’s portfolio improved in their performance, would the floors and targets increase?  Ms. Clara Hess said yes, but she’s not planning on lowering the targets if schools decrease in performance.

Ms. Clara Hess went on to state that in regards to tier cutoffs, schools will be identified as Tier I (high-performers), Tier II (mid-performers), or Tier III (low-performers).  PCSB responses will be guided by these tier designations.

Ms. Clara Hess added that given that new measures were added to the PMF, new weights were assigned to the indicators, and new targets and floors were established, the cutoffs for the tiers also need to be realigned. Using one year of archival data the tier cutoffs were realigned to the original methodology and to maintain a fair distribution of schools across the three tiers.

The cutoff for being a high performer (Tier I) will be 65% of the total points earned across indicators over the total possible points. The cutoff for being a mid performer (Tier II) will 35% of the total points earned across indicators over the total possible points. Schools that earn less than 35% of the total possible point will be designated as Tier III.  The PCSB will reevaluate and adjust the tier cutoffs every few years based on an assessment of the overall performance of schools in PCSB’s portfolio.

Mr. Brian Jones asked if these were also considered by the Schools Advisory Committee.  Ms. Clara Hess responded yes.

Mr. Brian Jones asked if there were any other questions or comments.  

Mr. Skip McKoy moved to accept the proposed changes.  Ms. Sara Mead seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

Schools Oversight Committee- Request to Delay Opening- Maya Angelou Public Charter School
Ms. Charlotte Cureton from staff introduced the issue before the Board.  

Mr. Brian Jones asked for questions or comments.

Dr. Darren Woodruff asked if the students who would have been located at the proposed site will be accommodated someplace else.  Ms. Charlotte Cureton said, no, that the center will just not be opened to take new students.  

Mr. Don Soifer asked if this affects the other centers.  Ms. Charlotte Cureton said it does not.

Mr. Don Soifer moved to accept the delay in opening.  Dr. Darren Woodruff seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

School Oversight Committee- Request to Approve Accountability Plans
Mr. Brian Jones introduced the schools that had submitted accountability plans for approval.  Those schools were:

•Community Academy Public Charter School
•Excel Academy Public Charter School
•Hope Community Public Charter School
•Imagine Southeast Public Charter School
•KIPP DC Public Charter Scool
•Mary Mcleod Bethune Day Academy Public Charter School
•Meridian Public Charter School
•Potomac Lighthouse Public Charter School

Ms Monique Miller from staff introduced the matter before Board.

Mr. Brian Jones asked for questions or comments.  Hearing none he asked that the Board consider all of the schools, with the exception of Community Academy, as a bloc.

Dr. Darren moved to accept the accountability plans of the proposed bloc of schools.  Mr. Skip McKoy seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

Schools Oversight Committee- Request to Approve Accountability Plan- Community Academy Public Charter School
Representatives:  Fred Davy, Math Coach and Board Member; John Sloane, Head of School, Community Academy Online; Lynne Cowan, Board Member; Terry Bunton, Director of Assessment, Ms. Sadia White, Chief Academic Officer; Kent Amos, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Kent Amos began by saying that Community Academy has been educating children for about 15 years and that along the way the school has faced its share of challenges, but continues to strive to meet students’ needs in every possible way.  He added that the school is not shy about making changes to meet those needs.

Mr. Kent Amos went further and stated that Community Academy approached the accountability plans with vigor.  He stated that there were issues with the online program and that the school was on their way to fixing them.  He added that the main component that the school needed to improve was to bring in a new chief academic officer, curriculum director and assessment director.

Mr. Kent Amos added that Ms. Sadia White comes to Community Academy with a set of experiences that he believes will be helpful to the school.  He stated that Ms. Sadia White was with the school previously and that he was the reason that she left.  Mr. Kent Amos believes that Ms. Sadia White has come back wiser, stronger, and more prepared, and that she has brought a data driven approach to how to address their business.

Ms. Sadia White said that on behalf of the office of academic services at Community Academy, she would like to inform the Board on the use of data in academics.  She stated that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student growth and that decision making must be strategically driven based on student outcome data.

Ms. Sadia White went on to add that under her leadership, Community Academy will move to a data-driven and data-focused culture.

Ms Sadia White stated that she looks forward to the Board’s approval of Community Academy’s accountability plan.

Mr. Kent Amos added that Ms. Sadia White has been with the school since the 6th of June.

Mr. Brian Jones asked for any questions or comments.

Dr. Darren Woodruff said that one of the reasons why the Board wants to hear directly from representatives from Community Academy is that they are curious as to the school’s thought process for the targets that were set.  Other schools using the same assessment set their target at 60-80%, while some of Community Academy’s targets are as low as 26%.  He asked for an explanation from the school.

Ms. Sadia White said that they were under time constraints and made this plan under the due date that they had with the time available to them.  She added that based on their trend lines, they believe that their projections are very conservative, and that they did not want to project aggressively.  She added that the school is hoping that they will be surprised tremendously.

Dr. Darren Woodruff said that it is concerning to him of setting a target which appears on surface to be a low level and asked what are the underlying issues connected to that.

Ms. Sadia White said that Community Academy needs to shift the culture and paradigm and that they will be doing things differently moving forward.

Mr. Kent Amos said that Ms. Sadia White has mentioned several times a new culture at the organization.  He added that for most of the school’s existence in the early grades, they were heavily skewed towards socialization and not academic growth.  That focus has not led itself to academic achievement, but that has changed.

Dr. Darren Woodruff said that he is sympathetic to that and is happy to hear that changes are being made towards a greater academic focus, but that the targets for other schools using the same assessments are significantly higher.  He added that unless someone can convince him otherwise, he’s not sure that as a Board that they can approve such low targets.

Mr. Kent Amos asked how you set an appropriate goal that has some level of possibility when you have a shift in culture.  He added that when Community Academy started doing this very exercise, they discovered an absence of data at those levels in which to project against.  

Mr. Kent Amos stated that the school could arbitrarily pick a higher number, but it does no good to pick a number that is not attainable.  

Dr. Darren Woodruff reiterated that Community Academy is taking the proper steps, but that the Board can’t sign off on such a low target.

Mr. Skip McKoy wanted to echo Dr. Darren Woodruff that moving towards PMF that this signals to the rest of the community that such a low target is fine because the school is going through changes, which is not the message the Board wants to send.  

Mr. Don Soifer said that as he looks at the accountability plan he sees three different campuses with three different targets and asked if that is in fact correct?  Ms. Sadia White answered yes.  Mr. Don Soifer then went on to say that one charter school with multiple campuses having different targets on the same assessment concerns him.  

Ms. Sara Mead said that the Board is in a transition to the PMF and that means uniform measures for all of our students.  She added that the idea of letting an individual school use the same assessment but to have different metrics for their campuses goes against the Board’s broader efforts for their schools.

Ms. Emily Bloomfield said that we need to be mindful of what signal that we send.

Mr. Kent Amos said that to have this level of conversation at this point of time is troubling, but if the school needs to do something different, to please let him know and that if the accountability plan needs to be revisited, so be it.

Dr. Darren Woodruff said that he thinks that these targets should ideally be where we want our students to achieve.  He added that we may not very well be there yet, but this is what we aspire too.  It’s the difference between where they are now and where we want them to be.

Mr. Brian Jones said that he thinks the Board is all in agreement that the goals should be aspirational.  He added that the Board table the approval for the accountability plan until the Board’s next meeting.

Public Comment

Meeting adjourned at 7:58pm