What is the Texas District Charter Alliance (DCA)?
The District Charter Alliance advocates for adequate and equitable funding for all public schools and supports transformative policies that allow for partnerships and collaboration between districts, charters and nonprofits and provide schools with opportunities for greater innovation and student achievement. The District Charter Alliance works to help districts and charters invest strategically and prioritize best practices by adopting what works in similar schools elsewhere in the state. These methods allow for districts and charters to innovate and implement strategies that advance student achievement and support educators. The Texas DCA encourages more school districts and charter schools to come together and share what works in order to put students’ interests before all else.
What is Senate Bill 1882?
The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1882 with broad support, and it became effective immediately in June 2017. According to the Texas Education Agency, SB 1882 “incentivizes districts to work collaboratively with new and existing partners to promote innovation and dramatically improve student outcomes. These Texas Partnerships offer districts the opportunity to expand the diversity of school options, bring in targeted expertise for innovation and turnaround support, and empower school leaders and partners with greater autonomy. Most importantly, effective partnerships give more students access to great schools.”
The partnerships, which grant additional funding to school districts that agree to work collaboratively with nonprofit partners, are focused on continuing collaboration, enhanced educational opportunities and ensuring schools provide the best programs for the children served.
SB 1882 partnerships offer districts the opportunity to bring in targeted expertise for innovation and turnaround support.
What are the benefits of SB 1882 partnerships?
- The ability to provide true collaboration and support across leadership teams
To share best practices between schools and districts and charters
To help build a district responsive to the needs of the community
To create new models and add choices and options for parents and families in the district to provide greater academic successes and gains for students
Must a school be an in-district charter school in order to be eligible for a Senate Bill 1882 partnership?
Yes. In order to be eligible for this type of partnership, the school must be an in-district charter school (Sub-chapter C), which is a district school that is authorized by the school board with enhanced autonomy in exchange for increased accountability.
What are the components of an SB 1882 agreement?
Must be Subchapter C charters
Are operated/run by a nonprofit organization, university, or other governmental entity
Have a contract executed between this entity and a school board
Have autonomies/accountability that TEA requires districts to provide in order to receive
financial and/or accountability supports
Majority of partner board is independent of district
Operator has initial, final, and sole authority over: Talent, Time, Budget, Academic program and performance contract includes clear accountability standards & consequences
TEA approves the 1882 supports and benefits, not the existence of the partnership (or the budget/grant funds).
District seeks and evaluates partners and the school board approves the partnership. Charters can communicate interest in regional education support or specific turnaround program expertise.
How does the school district hold the nonprofit partner and the school accountable?
The school board of the district maintains responsibility for the schools even under the partnership. The students in each school are district students.
The district can end the partnership or revoke the in-district charter at any time if any of the following occurs:
the schools fail to meet their 3 or 5-year performance metrics;
the school or partner violates applicable state or federal law;
the schools fail to meet generally accepted accounting standards;
If after two years, the schools are rated as “Improvement Required” or are in the bottom 5% in comparison to all district campuses based on academic performance
Any other standard declared in the contract between the district and the partnership entity.
Who can attend the in-district charter (partnership) schools?
Schools that currently have attendance zones will maintain those attendance zones and students living in the attendance zone will be guaranteed admission.
The partnership campus may also open up seats to students in the district that are outside of the attendance zone if permitted in the contract between the district and the partner.
Why should school district and charter school leaders choose to create partnerships?
District-charter partnerships are locally designed solutions that are good for Texas students, families, educators and communities and support collaboration and cooperation over competition. Partnerships help to share solutions to turn around schools and swap innovative ideas and best practices between districts and charter schools across Texas. As districts continue to build a system of schools that is responsive to community needs, partnerships are a key part of the planning and implementation.
Why are partnerships helpful to turn around struggling schools?
Turn around for schools is not achieved with one simple fix. It consists of many approaches and tactics and changing mindsets does not happen overnight. Partnerships allow districts to bring in proven partners to collaborate in education and in how these system changes help to enhance educational opportunities and provide the best programs for students.
Why are partnerships helpful in creating innovation in schools?
Parents and families want a variety of options when it comes to schools that work best for their children. Districts provide multiple options including comprehensive, magnet, online and now, partnerships with Universities, colleges, charter schools and other nonprofits. Students have diverse needs and various interests, and this is where schools can specialize and customize their offerings. The public schools in a city or region should be able to work together, design additional excellent schools according to local needs and desires and offer options.
How do school districts choose proven partners?
Everything about an SB 1882 partnership or other partnership undertaken by an elected school board of a district is public. From the time partnerships are considered and discussed by the school board until the vote to accept a contract, there is transparency with the school board in public meetings. Partnerships allow schools to find expertise and create solutions to help students and turnaround a school’s performance quickly. Partnerships also allow districts to introduce innovation into their system of schools. School boards enter into an agreement / partnership and maintain accountability and also can dissolve a partnership that is not working for their students. In partnerships, school boards work in conjunction with their superintendents, school leaders and turnaround organizations and charter leaders to create a path to success in schools and for students.
In Texas Partnerships, there is a willingness for the superintendent to engage in problem solving for what has not worked in the past, a board that seeks solutions, ongoing communication with teachers and staff as they engage in the next steps to help students and outreach to a community where the partnership may be new and different from what they have had access to before.
How do partnerships work?
The school district (through the elected school board) authorizes the partner to operate an in-district charter school. Through the 2-3 year contracts, the partner manages the district school and is responsible for outcomes. Depending on the contract terms, the partner will have management and autonomy over personnel, curriculum, calendar, and assessments. Many of the partnerships include individualized teacher training and professional development. The district school board and staff hold partners accountable through the performance contract as well as through financial and academic accountability in the district.
Why is community engagement important?
The community, parents, teachers, and business leaders need to know about the partnership – the why, how and goals for success. It is important to raise awareness about the need for and goals of each partnership. Informing the community, sharing facts and telling the partnership story allows for greater understanding within the needs for turn-around and the needs for greater innovation.
Are there partnerships in urban, suburban and rural school districts?
Yes. There are partnerships operating between Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan University Leadership Academy Network, and San Antonio ISD and Democracy Prep, a charter school from outside of Texas. There are also partnerships in Beaumont ISD with Responsive Education Solutions, a charter school network based in Texas and Phalen Leadership Academy, a charter school from outside of Texas. Spring Branch ISD has a partnership with two charter schools, KIPP Texas and YES Prep Public Schools. Grand Prairie ISD has a partnership that has expanded and changed with Uplift Education, a DFW-based charter school. Longview ISD has a partnership with the East Texas Advanced Academies nonprofit. And in South Texas there is the Rural Schools Innovation Zone (RSIZ). In RSIZ, students have the opportunity to choose from various postsecondary pathways. Brooks County, Freer, and Premont independent school districts are collaborating to share resources and ideas, build stronger talent pipelines and staff development programs, and differentiate programming so that every student, no matter their home district, has access to every pathway program offered in the Zone.
Subchapter C: District authorization with ISDs as authorizers and since 2017:
What are the types of partners and what is considered a charter school, non-profit and University partner?
The first type of partner recognized by TEA is an existing Texas partner. This includes state-authorized (Subchapter D) Texas charter operators, as well as district-authorized (Subchapter C) charter operators in good standing. To meet the state’s definition for “good standing,” the partner must have at least three years of experience operating a Texas charter school and received acceptable academic and financial accountability ratings for the three preceding school years. In addition, the partner may not be associated with a charter that has been revoked.
- Charter schools were created in the Texas Education Code by the state of Texas in 1995, to provide flexibility and encourage innovation in education.
- Charter schools are community schools with a geographic boundary similar to a district but may encompass larger areas.
- Charter schools are granted a “charter” to operate from the state of Texas after a careful vetting of the academic program and financial plan, a review by the Texas Education Agency and external reviewers, by the Commissioner of Education and by the elected State Board of Education.
- The second partner type recognized by TEA is considered a new Texas partner. This includes all other eligible entities, such as existing state- or district-authorized charter operators with less than three years of experience operating a charter school in Texas, non-profits, institutes of higher education, governmental entities, and out-of-state school operators.
To explain more about the first partner type, who operates charter schools?
A charter operator is the group of people who have been awarded a contract (their organization is called the charter holder) with the state to organize and run a charter. Legally, this charter functions very much like a school district.
A charter operator is either a non-profit corporation, a higher education institution or a governmental entity.
Charter schools are under the same Texas academic and financial accountability system as traditional school districts and must follow state and federal education law.
The Texas Education Agency classifies charter schools into several types. What are the types of charter schools?
Subchapter D Charters
- authorized by the state (State Board of Education and the Texas Commissioner of Education).
- Subchapter C Charters
- known as in-district charters and authorized by the school district. All SB 1882 partnerships are considered Subchapter C Charters.
- Subchapter E Charters
- known as University charter schools, the charter is granted to the University and the charter school must be run by a University.
What are the state-funded support(s) for partnerships?
All SB 1882 partnerships are eligible to potentially receive additional state funding.
- Typically applicable to large and/or urban districts (~$1,000/student)
- For Turn Around only: Turnaround partnerships are eligible for a two-year accountability pause. The two-year pause exempts the campus from preparing a turnaround plan, campus closure, or board of managers. The exemption does NOT “start-over” accountability.
- Only current F campuses are eligible; does NOT apply to innovation or new school partnerships.
- Under the Texas academic and financial accountability system, ratings for the Partnership school are earned and remain within the ISD. State funding flows to the district for the Partnership school and students remain ISD students.