As the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) sought to refine its approach to new charter school reviews, SchoolWorks provided both expertise and seasoned experts to support the state agency through all stages of the authorization process.
In Louisiana, which has seen significant charter school growth throughout the state in the years since Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) serves both as a primary authorizer and the arbiter of appeals from other authorizers. Officials with the LDE, on behalf of the state board, sought to update its review of charter applications to better consider the needs faced by students in different parts of Louisiana, says Dave Hartman, SchoolWorks senior project manager.
“The state has complex regional and social differences, and these brought out different conversations,” says Hartman, calling the state’s “nuanced approach to need” a critical factor in refining its authorization process.
Applying its expertise in developing charter authorization and renewal processes elsewhere to Louisiana’s unique needs, SchoolWorks worked with LDE to refine its rubric and criteria for charter school applications, as well as develop criteria and conduct due diligence reviews of applicant backgrounds and experience. SchoolWorks now supports LDE’s evaluation process, from the initial application review through revisions, capacity interviews, and final recommendations to the Department.
“We’ve worked hard to help them achieve their goal to put the highest quality schools in place,” Hartman says.
Over the last two years, SchoolWorks has helped BESE review more than 60 charter school applications, as well as consider an additional dozen applications through the separate appeals process.
“Through our work together, SchoolWorks developed a truly nuanced understanding of the needs of Louisiana’s students,” says Lauren Perry, executive director of portfolio for LDE. “We appreciate the company’s work as a thought partner, its high standards of quality, as well as the high levels of evidence and detail in its recommendations to the Department.”