The guide is organized around nine steps of a school restart process. In addition to the recommendations included in each of these process steps, the guide highlights macro-level guidance about the design and implementation of effective restart intervention process.
Alignment to Best Practices for Charter School Authorization
Many of the best practices associated with the authorization of new start charter schools are relevant for restart authorization. The National Association of Charter Schools Authorizers (NACSA) has published wide range of policy and practice guidelines for effective charter school authorization, Principles and Standards, as well as policy guidance on replicating high-performing charter schools and networks. This guide does not repeat the guidance offered by the Principles and Standards, but rather includes recommendations that are specific to authorizing a school as a restart. Click here to see a list of relevant NACSA publications that are highlighted in the Restart Authorization Resource database.
Designing the Process with Community Input
In addition to incorporating community involvement in the specific implementation steps of school restart, several cities have established a guiding coalition of community members that advises the school district and/or authorizer on setting up the restart authorization process itself. Community members and leaders help weigh the pros and cons of different timelines and process steps while sharing their perspectives about the needs of their neighborhoods and community. If done well this sort of community engagement can generate more support for the process in general as well as a greater sense of urgency across the city for dramatic intervention and change in schools. This approach to engaging community is described in greater detail in Process Guide Step 1: Envision.
Focus on Continuous Improvement
In the same way that schools are asked to constantly measure themselves against accountability metrics, authorizers, funders and support organizations should carefully evaluate the outcomes of their processes and establish a shared sense of accountability with their restart school operators. An authorizer has some responsibility if a school restart fails. All involved should look for opportunities to set measurable goals, evaluate progress, publicly report on outcomes, and in turn, improve processes when outcomes do not match expectations. This guide provides recommendations regarding data metrics that can measure progress and success at each restart school (see Step 7: Accountability). Authorizers are encouraged to supplement school level performance data with qualitative data from participants in the process.
Before You Start: Stakeholder & System Mapping
The guide recommends that authorizers create a “map” of all parties and structures that exist around public K-12 education before embarking on substantial restart work. This analysis can be prepared by an authorizer in collaboration with foundations, support organizations and community members. Creating this type of map in advance helps ensure thorough, specific communication efforts and inclusive change efforts.