From helping refine the RFP for charter schools to facilitating the renewal decision-making process, SchoolWorks has worked with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as it evolves its systems for evaluating charter school applications and renewals. “It’s been a comprehensive approach,” says Project Manager Dave Hartman, who has led SchoolWorks’ efforts in Chicago.
As a charter authorizer’s portfolio of schools matures, its accountability practices must adapt. SchoolWorks has provided CPS “consistent support to refine its charter accountability systems and increase its ability to ensure a strong portfolio of schools,” says Hartman.
“People were expressing the need to learn on the job,” he says. “We met the client where they were and started with their immediate needs.”
Working collaboratively with district leadership, SchoolWorks reviewed and provided feedback on the RFP process that helped eliminate duplicative and extraneous information that didn’t inform decision-making. “It was a matter of focusing the application, particularly around the academic component,” says Hartman.
SchoolWorks also supported updates to the renewal recommendation process and tools to help guide the process for charter renewals, once again focusing decisions on academic issues. In his three years of supporting CPS, Hartman has facilitated renewal discussions, supported CPS charter office’s leaders, and conducted renewal site visits for CPS. Reports authored by SchoolWorks have impacted decisions critical to the district’s success.
Through its work with CPS, SchoolWorks has emphasized creating sustainable workflows that improve the quality of oversight. “That’s where we offer great value,” Hartman says. “We can support the institutional processes prioritized by CPS.”
By applying reflection and continuous improvement principles to its charter application and renewal processes, CPS has built capacity around the review process and helped ensure it is focused on academic, financial, and operational outcomes. “In the end, we’re much more confident in our recommendations, ensuring that we’re focusing on the most important issues and able to decipher whether a school is performing well and warranting renewal,” says Doresah A. Ford-Bey of CPS.