Using data and evidence to pinpoint significant problems during a charter school renewal site visit has led to a long and productive relationship between SchoolWorks and the National Heritage Academies.
As it built out its network of charter schools, NHA reached out to SchoolWorks to provide quality reviews and develop an aggregated report identifying trends across campuses. “We’d see the direct impact of our work from both a policy and procedure point of view,” Wibel says.
Then, as NHA began looking at revamping curriculum, creating a data warehouse, and implementing formative assessments, the relationship shifted, with SchoolWorks emerging as a critical, independent third-party voice as the CMO began the challenging work of systems change.
“They began to craft the way forward with SchoolWorks as a thought partner,” Wibel says.
Working with NHA leadership, Wibel helped benchmark and develop a list of procedures for opening and operating new schools, as well as protocols for site reviews and trend reports. “As they were continuing to grow, we provided a needed reflection of the operations they were putting into place,” Wibel says. “But like any good consulting firm, what we tried to do at the same time was build their internal capacity so they could be self-sustaining with the work.”
Along with professional development and principal institutes, a key to developing that capacity was the development of what Wibel calls “simple rules”—a series of protocols that allowed NHA officials to examine teaching and learning, finance, and other internal procedures and provide feedback to each school’s leader, as well as track trends across the entire organization.
With more than 75 schools in nine states—at least 35 of which were opened since SchoolWorks began collaborating with the CMO, NHA now has one of the most sophisticated data systems in K-8 education, a robust assessment system, and a comprehensive curriculum aligned with formative assessments.
Although NHA now enjoys greater internal capacity, it continues to partner with SchoolWorks. “While they are now able to sustain their efforts moving forward, they continue to reach out to us for discrete third-party services,” Wibel says. “Our ability to match deliverables to their needs has demonstrated our flexibility and desire to maintain the ongoing strategic partnership.”