Case Study: Technical Assistance for Authorizers

North Chicago District 187 is home to eight public schools and serves nearly 4,000 students in North Chicago, IL. As a district authorizer, the Superintendent of D187 oversees the district’s two charter schools – Learn 6 Charter School (K-8) located at the Great Lakes Naval Station and Learn 10 Charter School (K-6) located within the district proper. With critical charter school renewals facing the district in 2021, D187 reached out to SchoolWorks in late 2018 for consultative support in the development of district-specific authorizing tools and resources to inform high-quality decision-making processes.

The Challenge
  • Develop a framework, criteria, and tools to guide D187 authorizing practices.
  • Fully align all resulting resources with the Illinois State Board of Education Principles and Standards for Authorizing Charter Schools and state/local law.

SchoolWorks Approach

SchoolWorks assigned a dedicated Project Team specializing in technical assistance for charter school authorizers to manage this scope of work. In accordance with the District’s input and needs, the Project Team prioritized workflows within three key areas:

  1. Establish a comprehensive renewal process.
  2. Define a performance framework for charter schools.
  3. Codify oversight processes.

To develop customized tools and resources within each key area, the SchoolWorks Project Team utilized the following cyclical process:

  1. Review state standards and laws.
  2. Collect Information from D187 stakeholders through structured in-person working sessions.
  3. Draft materials and deliverables, reflective of the collected input, state/local context, and authorizing best practices.
  4. Refine and finalize working documents via virtual feedback sessions.
The Results

In collaboration with D187 stakeholders, the SchoolWorks Project Team developed and codified a complete suite of policies and tools to support the district’s authorizing processes including:

  • Renewal: Renewal criteria, a renewal decision policy and rubric, a renewal application template, a renewal site visit protocol and report template, and revocation criteria
  • Performance Framework: Performance expectations and charter contract terms
  • Oversight Handbook: An oversight policy, site visit protocol, intervention process, and annual report template

Following this engagement, the stakeholders of North Chicago District 187 reached out to SchoolWorks to facilitate a renewal site visit virtually in the Fall of 2020 (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The qualitative data and tools created for the renewal site visit process helped inform renewal decision-making in the absence of state testing data.

"The Schoolworks team guided the district’s team through a step by step development process that not only yielded high quality reliable tools to use, but also greater alignment and understanding of the district’s approach to charter school authorization for our team. The conversations that SchoolWorks facilitated with our team helped us to deepen our understanding and improve our practices related to authorization."
- John Price, Superintendent, North Chicago District 187
    Dates: 2018-present

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