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CONNECT [winter 2016 edition]

The Road To Achievement INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Drive Mid-Year Assessment Data pg. 9

Quality: Your Definition pg. 16

Enrollment & Parent Choices pg. 26




SETTING the STANDARD Serving 62 schools and more than 30,000 students throughout Michigan.




(989) 774-2100 |

Letter From the President

Define Yourself:

IT’S TIME TO TELL YOUR STORY In anything you do in life, it’s dangerous to let somebody else define you. That’s certainly the case if you’re a charter school in Michigan. Sadly, there are too many people and groups out there determined to drag charter schools down without knowing the facts. In order to protect their own selfish interests, they feel it’s necessary to paint an unfairly negative portrait of what we’re doing; ignoring the success you are having with students. And if we let them define us, this is what the headlines will say: “Charter school achievement is lacking.” “Charter school teachers are substandard.” “Charter schools aren’t accountable.” “Charter schools don’t care.” No more. It’s time to stop letting our opponents define us. It’s time for us to define ourselves. We need to seize the narrative away from them, and start telling the stories that people need to hear. It’s time for us to write our own headlines. We know what our opponents are saying isn’t true. We know innovation and accountability are leading to great things in terms of student achievement. We know we have great teachers. We know our schools care. We know we have data and evidence. We know the success stories are out there. Now it’s time for us to tell them. We’ve made that commitment at MAPSA, and we’re working hard every day to help get those stories out. And today, I’m asking you to make a pledge that you’re going to do your part, too. I’m asking you to start defining yourself. How? Here are three things you can do right now. 1. Identify your success stories. Be specific about it. It’s not enough to say, “We have a great school.” You need to define WHY you’re a great school. Are you seeing great growth in third-grade reading? Did one of your students just earn a full-ride academic scholarship? Is your robotics team rocking it out?

Sit down with your staff and list five great individual stories that define your school. List five great headlines you’d like to see in your local paper tomorrow. Such as, “100 percent of students at local charter school accepted to college.” Or, “Summer literacy program has reading scores on the rise.” You can’t tell great stories until you identify them. 2. Put those stories out on social media. Sure, you’ll want to get these stories out to the newspaper and TV stations, but don’t wait for that to happen. Start telling them yourself, and start by doing it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Take a picture of that graduating senior who just earned a full ride to Michigan State. Put that picture on your social media sites, tell the story, and encourage everyone to share it far and wide and share them with us. 3. Send the story to your local reporter. Find out who covers the education beat for your local paper (it’s actually pretty easy) and invite them out to your school. It’s a lot easier to push your good-news stories if you have a relationship with the local media, so start developing that relationship by inviting them out. “I saw all the great stories you’ve been doing in the paper, and I’d just like you to stop by and visit our school.” Once you have that relationship, start pitching your stories. Tell them about the kid who just earned a full ride to Michigan State. And if they don’t bite on that story, keep feeding them more stories until they do bite. REMEMBER: IF WE DON’T DEFINE OURSELVES, SOMEBODY ELSE WILL. It’s time to write our own headlines. Thanks for all you do, and keep fighting for kids! Sincerely,

Daniel Quisenberry MAPSA



CONNECT brought to you by MAPSA

meet the team vp of operations and strategy accounting coordinator graphic design specialist director of marketing and program design director of research and grants membership coordinator office assistant vp of communications president director of membership services event specialist director of instructional systems design vp of government and legal affairs

angi beland angie boldrey keri brown becky carlton julie durham candace embry karen kundrat

ad index Center for Charter Schools CMU Grand Valley State University General Agency CMU Online Degrees Detroit Institute for Children Macro Connect AccessPoint

buddy moorehouse dan quisenberry heather risner susan stevens leah theriault alicia urbain

Flagstar Bank Marketplace Award Nominations Thrun Law Firm, P.C. Francis Young International CS Partners Saunders, Winter, McNeil, PLLC College Board Innovators In Education

YOUR POTENTIAL As authorizer of more than 60 charter schools across the state, the Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office not only provides high quality K-12 options for more than 32,000 students, but also offers Michigan teachers a wide variety of professional development opportunities. Choose from workshops emphasizing literacy instruction, data instruction, technology, classroom management, and other relevant topics to help you meet continuing education requirements and reach your full potential as a better teacher. • More than 40 different professional development topics • Workshops offered in Grand Rapids and Detroit • State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH) available at almost every workshop See the complete schedule and register at or call us at (616) 331-2240.

Inside Front Cover pg. 4 pg. 8 pg.11 pg. 11 pg. 15 pg. 21 pg. 21 pg. 21 pg. 23 pg. 23 pg. 23 pg. 28 pg. 28 Inside Back Cover Back Cover



Mid-Year Assessments Step-by-step help to make the data work for you By Ticheal Jones, Ed. D The TEAMS Community How a MAPSA-led grant brought 26 schools together By Angi Beland


14 Closing the Gap A breakdown of Michigan’s per-pupil spending Alicia Urbain

16 Cover Story: Defining Quality Your story is more than a top-to-bottom ranking Julie Durham

Get Your PR Up to Par Make sure parent research reveals what your program is truly about By Buddy Moorehouse

24 5


Dear Experts Improving third-grade reading skills


MAPSA Spotlight Bringing parents and legislators together


Say What!? What is the true definition of “Charter School�? Imagine If... Parents had more control over student spending Connection Corner Fully utilitizing communities for school growth


Enrollment & Parent Choices Informing and empowering parents to make the right choice By Angi Beland

Member Recognition Sending a huge thank you to our focus group participants

11 22 25


29 Enrollment Lotteries Help aid student and parent retention By Buddy Moorehouse




Feedback in Action Helping build your brand as a Michigan charter school


DEAR EXPERTS Ever wonder what the secret sauce is in high-performing schools? Here you can submit a question, or answer, to your peers to help everyone achieve success!

Q A WINNER! Congrats to expertJ anell e Ma gyar for winning the drawing for providing an answer to last issue’s question!

Reading is such an important indicator to early-learning success, however, our school has struggled with our students’ reading scores for the last three years. What can my school do to prepare our students to be great readers by third grade? “School stability, both students and teachers, allows us to build on a student’s learning from the previous year and teachers can collaborate vertically to ensure continuity of skill mastery. Through collaboration, intentional planning, and flexibility in instructional delivery, teachers are able to meet the diverse needs of their classroom and foster academic growth.” - Janelle Magyar, Canton Charter Academy “Our success is due to a strong commitment by teachers and a willingness to change. Teachers took the lead to do an in-depth analysis to identify areas of need and implemented an effective intervention strategy.” -Karen Anderson, North Star Academy “Our success is due to a continued focus on developing reading skills beginning at the pre-school level. The performance of students that attend our pre-school program is significantly greater than those who do not.” - Kathy Szachta, Mt. Clemens Montessori “Our reading success is attributed to the hard work of our teachers to continually monitor the progress and differentiate the learning needs of our reading students.” - Julie Kildee, Holly Academy

Submit your answers! Answers will be featured in the Summer issue.

Q: How can my school ensure that the academic programming and financial expenditures are driving the success of our mission? Email with your 100word answer to the above question for the chance to be featured in an upcoming edition and win a gift card!


MAPSA SPOTLIGHT Our strength in advocacy can only be attributed to the strength of our stories as a movement. It is a strength that comes from the real impact that charter schools are making in the lives of parents, students and the community each and every day. Unfortunately, in a world of political agendas and inside-the-box thinking, it is easy for the real impact to get smothered by skewed statistics that remove the reality from quality education. This year, a goal for MAPSA is to build our grassroots strength stronger than it’s ever been. We are seeking individuals with amazing stories that are willing to go the extra mile to share them. Whether responding to a MAPSA-created activation on a critical action, writing a letter to the editor, dropping in on local coffee hours or even visiting Lansing one day to have a conversation with a legislator, all stories matter! If you have a parent with an amazing story, please share with us at

The past few months, MAPSA has been working with schools to get leadership and parents to local coffee hours in target districts. Our job is to make this an easy, unintimidating process. We have already worked with several parents to tell their story. As we walk them through the process, it’s empowering to see a parent’s passion and excitement when they realize that they have a voice. We know that politicians find it easy to let statistics, true or not, guide their thinking. That is, until you have a human being in front of you telling you something that no fact or figure could ever show you. Thank you to those parents that have opened up the dialogue! We will be actively creating more opportunities to give charters a stronger voice.

Working for you. Working with you.



"We've worked with General Agency since our very first day as a school and have remained impressed by them! It feels like they are our teammates at every step of the way -- from when we bought our new school building to learning more about how to keep our premiums as low as possible! They inform us on best practices and are immediately responsive! We could not ask for anything more!" -Kyle Smitley, Detroit Achievement Academy



Utilizing MID-YEAR ASSESSMENTS for Continued Success Ticheal Jones, Ed.D District Executive Director American Montessori Academy

goals for their classroom, grade level and school. Intentional professional development during the on-boarding process and returning activities will help staff members understand the expectations and be equipped with the tools and skills to meet the established goals.

The school year is a third of the way complete, teachers are refreshed from the winter break, and students have taken their mid-year local assessments. Now what? This is pivotal time as you enter the home stretch of the school year. If, as leaders, we expect certain results, then we must predict, plan and prepare intentionally.

Over the years, several staff members have confessed they are not comfortable or proficient in data analysis or what they should do next with the information. If you want your school to be data-driven in decisionmaking and instructional strategies to more effectively measure and promote student learning, know that it will take time to develop a data progressive protocol. The protocol is a step-by-step process for how data is looked at within your building and district. Stakeholders will know what to expect and a prescriptive plan to obtain it. Here is snapshot example of a data progressive protocol I developed with one of my school teams.

PREPARATION AND PLANNING As an instructional leader, you know it is important to have a plan for how your school will analyze and utilize data prior to the school year beginning. A successful plan should include scheduled time on the calendar for on-going staff data digs, collegial conversations about what the data reveals and what the next action steps will be. Prior to the mid-year assessments, the goal is to have staff members embrace the achievement

1. Analyze and disaggregate the midyear assessment data. 2. Review the data with the school improvement team, data team, and all staff.

3. Develop action plans for each grade level. 4. Instructional leader meets individually with all grade-level teams to provide the expectations, developed plan, data, support and resources. 5. Data team collaborates with the curriculum team and gradelevel leaders to create quick assessments to measure the goals in the action plan. 6. All teachers meet with their students to share their own data. This includes showing them their successes and their goals for the spring session. Invite each student to be an active participant in the data sharing to reveal from their perspective where they need support. 7. Parents will be notified of their child’s goals at each parent-teacher conference. The parents will receive printed data parent reports and a plan along with resources for what they can do at home to help their child meet their goals. 8. School-wide incentives will be launched to motivate students and staff to reach the established achievement goals. 9. Continue cycle. > >


Step 1

Depending on the software you have access to, start with obtaining the mid-year assessment results broken down by school, grade level, teacher, subject, gender, economic status, and standards. As a leader, it’s important to take time to sit with the data and look for strengths, weaknesses, patterns and initial themes that emerge. This includes comparing the mid-year results to the fall assessment data to look for growth, standards mastered and standards not met. I believe this step to be integral, because it is important for the leader to know what the data reveals to effectively be able to facilitate the process with the staff.

PARTNERING WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS Teachers, parents and students must work in partnership to reach the school’s achievement goals. Students Having students take ownership of their data is an important step in that process. It should be expected that all staff meet individually with their students to discuss their data, progress, and goals and how they can obtain them. Principals and leaders may find value in data pep rallies, school-wide incentives, data walls throughout the building and positive messages during daily morning announcements to encourage motivation and ownership. Parents Parents need to be notified of their child’s assessment results and their goals for the spring at parent teacher conferences. Most assessment data software systems have the capability of providing a snapshot of their child’s assessment results in a user-friendly manner. The teacher can discuss strategies that will be employed at the school and classroom level and how they can help support that at home. To take it a step further, your school can host parent workshops designed to more specifically inform, educate and support parents in their role in the partnership.



Step 2

Share the data with the school improvement team, data team and all staff. There are a variety of ways to share the data with staff that will foster collaborative conversations. One example could be a round robin style, where staff members visit a table to give input and suggestions on the data presented. Another example would provide guiding questions for staff to answer as they dig into the data. Whatever activity is selected, the process of engaging staff in the data analysis process is key.

Step 3

Set aside time for teachers to prioritize their math and reading standards that their students struggled with on the mid-year assessment. Teachers should focus on their top two math and reading standards that their students struggled with for re-teaching purposes. Teacher teams can then discuss possible re-teaching lessons and consider the guiding question “how will I teach it differently?” The outcomes of those teacher team discussions and decisions should be reflected in their lesson plans to follow.

Analyzing and Disaggregating the Data

Board of Directors Finally, you may find it advantageous to inform the board of directors of your school’s assessment results, goals and action plan designed to reach the goals. The board will then have context and understanding as they consider budgetary items that may be necessary in the goal attainment. They may also be helpful in building relationships with community constituents that can be of support to the school’s goals. Continuous Cycle Once your team has moved through the data protocol for your mid-year assessment results, it is important to remember it is a continuous cycle. The instructional leader should continue to facilitate the data protocol every four weeks, regularly analyzing the results from the quick common assessments created. Teachers would then continue to move through their priority list of


standards not met. This progressive data protocol utilizes the same concept of the school improvement process to “Gather Data, Study, Plan and Do.” This ensures there is total alignment and the results can directly feed into school improvement goals. The journey to becoming a data-driven school is not realized with the quick fix of a Band-Aid. I believe in going slow first to go fast. Think about the process of planting a tree that grows and yields great results. The ground and soil was prepared, knowledge was gained on what the tree needed to grow and thrive versus a tree that is quickly planted with no planning and little effort and follow through. The likelihood of that tree’s survival would be questionable. This comprehensive approach to leading your team through the data analysis process can aid in your school reaching its goals.

{char·ter school} As a movement, we need to have a united voice, and that starts with a common language. How do you define these tricky questions or terms?


HOW SHOULD YOU DEFINE {CHARTER SCHOOL} TO THE PUBLIC? In the technical sense, a charter school is a publicly funded independent school established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority. A charter school, first and foremost, satisfies a need within the community. In the practical sense, a charter school is an innovation warehouse that succeeds by delivering education in a way that meets the unique needs of a specific niche of students. It’s an educational program that uses multiple sources of data to know each and every student in order to meet them where they are in the learning process. A charter school is a partnership of the most dedicated leaders, teachers and parents that have come together for kids because kids deserve the very best. A charter school is an opportunity and, often times, renewed hope for the students it serves.

CMU - Online Degrees



A COMMUNITY TOGETHER Angi Beland VP of Operations & Strategy MAPSA

In 2010, MAPSA and 26 charter school campuses began a journey. It was a journey that was made possible by a $25 million teacher incentive fund grant, but fueled by a desire to prove the value of collaboration. While a performance based incentive pay model was the focus for the US Department of Education, the motivation for MAPSA was never really about whether or not performance based pay would improve results. We already knew that those leading and teaching inside charter schools were driven intrinsically to do whatever it takes for student success. So, why did we take on leading this journey for the last five years? If it wasn’t about teacher incentive pay, what was it about? RELATIONSHIPS - PLAIN AND SIMPLE The vision for the Teacher Excellence and Academic Milestones for Students (TEAMS) grant was built upon the hope that creating a cohort of leaders, teachers and students all motivated by the same outcomes would result in higher student achievement. We often hear that being an educator in the charter movement can be a lonely job, kind of like living on your own island. TEAMS was about pulling several islands together to create a community. And, now, five years later, we think we were successful and want to share the most critical relationships we witnessed in the journey.

MAPSA As a membership organization with a significant focus on doing whatever it takes to empower our members to maintain autonomy, TEAMS gave us the opportunity to see the real struggles of our member schools. The original vision for how this grant would be managed is only a memory held as a lesson. It was a vision that lacked a true understanding of what supporting a school truly looks like. Not surprisingly, the final version of this grant had a significant focus on empowering our members, all 26 campuses, to maintain their uniqueness while still embracing common outcome goals. The lessons we learned along the way translated into lessons we could deliver to the legislature to defeat poor policy and promote good policy. The relationships we built based on mutual trust and respect allowed us to have honest conversations about the real state of education. TEAMS made us part of the team. It gave us the active ability to truly be a valuable team player. SCHOOL LEADERSHIP School leadership, we discovered, goes well beyond just the role of “school leader.” Leadership in charter schools is at all levels. Programs that supported school leaders, aspiring leaders, PLC leaders and even teacher mentors allowed the opportunity for individuals to forge relationships with others that share their same challenges and motivation. Collaboration among these groups was heightened as trust was built. Schools in the TEAMS cohort were all in competition for students, some nearly next door to one another. Yet, in this cohort they were just peers trying to make an impact on education. They were able to exchange vulnerabilities and successes in order to make one

another the best each could be. They were able to challenge one another to look beyond the surface and discover root cause influences. There have been friendships built that will last a lifetime. But, even better, a network of relationships has spread across Detroit in the last few years as aspiring leaders become school leaders and PLC leaders become aspiring leaders. The philosophy of collaboration has been carried into far more campuses than the 26 we started with. A community has been built. TEACHERS In an environment that keeps adding to the pressure of teaching, the TEAMS grant enabled teachers to build relationships of support. The learning opportunities in TEAMS were plentiful and honed in on teaching and learning concepts that built teacher skillsets. But more than that, the learning opportunities allowed teachers to not only see what was possible in serving a similar challenging demographic of students, but also to find mentoring opportunities to learn from one another. Through this journey, the professionalism and pride in teaching was restored to some that may have chosen another path. We witnessed teachers moving from somewhat effective teachers to highly effective teachers through hard work and connections. We saw teachers start to believe in themselves because their peers believed in them. THANK YOU Everything we do within our charter community must prioritize relationships. Without them, we are but a large cluster of islands.

$25M grant

26 campuses

5 years

A special thank you to the following schools that participated in the TEAMS grant. Thank you for your perseverance, patience and inspiration. And, most of all, thank you for your commitment to not just the students you serve, but ALL kids in Detroit! Bradford Academy, Bridge Academy, Conner Creek Academy, David Ellis Academy, David Ellis West, Detroit Community Schools, Dove Academy, Eaton Academy, George Crockett Academy, Hanley International Academy, Marvin Winans Academy of Performing Arts, Old Redford Academy, PACE Academy, Plymouth Educational Excellence, Timbuktu Academy, University Prep Science and Math, Universal Academy and Woodward Academy.


A Breakdown of Michigan’s School Funding Structure Alicia Urbain VP of Government & Legal Affairs MAPSA The state of Michigan spends roughly $14 billion in school aid funds on education each year. Roughly $1 billion of those funds follow students to charter schools in this state through the foundation allowance. The foundation allowance was established as part of Proposal A in 1994. As part of those reforms, the legislature is empowered to set the target for the foundation allowance, also referred to as the per-pupil funding level, for each student. The funding levels vary due to the funding level the school was receiving in funding when Proposal A passed. The state appropriates funds at different levels, usually referred to as the state Minimum, Basic and Maximum. In years past, charter schools have fallen in a range between the Minimum and Maximum funding amounts set specifically for charter schools. In Fiscal Year 2015, the state Minimum reached the charter school Maximum, meaning all charter schools are now at the state Minimum. The goal of Proposal A was to close the gap between all schools and fund students more equitably. In 1994, the equity gap (the gap between the state Minimum and the state Maximum) was $2,300. Today, the gap between the lowest funded and the highest (state) funded schools is $778, with $400 of the $1,500 gain coming in the last 4 years.

categorical appropriations, the offset that the state pays in liabilities for schools district in the Michigan School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) is currently about $1 billion. Funding for at-risk students is another large categorical at $390 million. Each categorical appropriation, sometimes based on cost rather than per-pupil, lowers the pool of funds that can be appropriated toward funding equity. MAPSA has traditionally taken a stance that 90% of the school aid funding going to schools that serve K-12 students, minus the federal grant funds, should go to the foundation allowance. Today that is currently just under 75%. MAPSA largely opposes new categorical funding, and continues to push the legislature to prioritize the foundation allowance. The MPSERS off-set is the biggest impediment to reaching the 90% benchmark goal. When the legislature increases the foundation allowance, it can do so however they see fit. However, historically a 2x (twice the amount)

The foundation allowance is 65% of the $14 billion budget. The remaining 35% of funding is spent in what is referred to as categorical appropriations. Categorical appropriations are special line items in the budget that generally fund specific programs. Of the largest




formula has been used for the lowest funded schools. Additionally, some legislatures have also appropriated an equity payment for the schools at the lowest funding levels. Looking at all schools in Michigan, 705 school districts are currently funded at the state minimum. We realize that in real dollars, the foundation allowance, which makes up the majority of charter school funding, has only increased minimally. In 2011, at what is always thought to be the height of the charter school foundation allowance it was $7,316. Today it is $7,391. The equity gap in the foundation allowance is narrowing and funding is rising again. And MAPSA continues to make eliminating that equity gap its top legislative priority because we know how important it is to you. We will need your support in engaging parents and teachers in your school in the coming months as the budget begins to roll out. Be on the lookout!


Back to the blended basics: Part i In this first installment of three on blended learning in Michigan, we share foundational questions administrators should consider when building (or tweaking) their blended learning programs. For the remaining articles, stay tuned to the company blog at and Twitter (@MacroConnectED).

Macro Connect

This past year the web has been chock full of comparisons between the 2015 depicted in the Back to the Future: Part II movie and the technology we use today. The summaries are mostly cynical: complaints around the absence of self-drying garments, hover boards, and flying cars. It’s a disappointment akin to many administrators’ feelings towards blended learning. School leaders expected certain returns, but have only felt the operational headaches. Many are frustrated with the unanticipated costs, some are concerned with the professional learning burden placed on teachers, others are upset with the amount of instructional time students lose managing new systems, and almost all are under pressure to prove that these investments pay off for their children. Growing pains are to be expected, but if all you are feeling is pain then this is the right time to take a step back and evaluate your program’s structure. As you might expect, it all starts with “Who”.

Who is leading the program? At the beginning and the end of the day, blended learning is all about people. Make sure the people who stand to benefit the most from the program are in a position to inform decision making – in most cases this means giving teachers the position of leadership. It minimizes the risk of choosing low-engagement, low-impact but cool-to-have tools because teachers are ultimately accountable for the student achievement results in their classrooms. Student achievement standards won’t adjust themselves to the technology that’s available, and this pressure creates in teachers an incentive to only spend time with programs that will produce results with their kids. In their minds, the only objective is student achievement. If you have blended learning objectives at all, they should be milestones that build towards achieving your broader student learning targets. Common “Who” Challenges - Devices gathering dust, student software licenses are never activated or rarely used, or you are nagged with a constant fear that the tech station is a daily Temple Run tournament.

What tools are you using? Once the right people are involved, you can determine what hardware and software they need to get the job done. Start with hardware. Before going on a spending spree, consider what devices you already have and how they are being used. You may not need to buy any new hardware at all, but if you do: avoid the mistake of buying hardware to meet the needs of your blended learning providers. Choose tech that is compatible or identical to the systems your IT department already manages.

It speeds up implementation across the board and puts your technicians in a better position to manage the rollout. Additionally, you want to be prepared to use a portfolio of online providers over time given the rate at which edtech companies are acquired, fizzle out, or change directions. Don’t lock into hardware that restricts your own flexibility to change directions. On the software side, make selections around your hardware, LMS, and SIS infrastructure. Consider whether the programs will integrate with any district-level strategic plans for school data, like data warehousing or single sign on. And please take advantage of pilots before sinking money into yearly subscriptions! Too many schools fall in love with demos and then are disappointed with the empty promises of day-to-day use. A red flag should go off if a provider is not willing to let you pilot their product given that it costs them next to nothing to activate licenses. Common “What” Challenges – You receive frequent disapproving glances from your IT people and teachers suffer from information overload.

How should it look? It should come as no surprise that teachers will need to be trained on how to use any new technology or system. However, what is frequently left out of these professional development sessions is training on training students. Before students ever power on a device, they should be practicing and mastering all of the proper procedures that happen before and after “tech time”. Take time early on to model the right way to transition between stations, hold mobile devices, notify a teacher of an issue, leave your workstation for the next student, etc. Common “How” Challenges – Instructional time is being lost during login transitions, device handling incidents, and you stress about tech being lost or stolen.

When is the right time for change? Give your students enough time to produce data that can be reasonably compared against a control group. Be prepared for growing pains… To be continued…... About the author: Miguel Davis is the Digital Learning Manager at Macro Connect, a technology consulting and professional development provider that specializes in IT, school data, and digital learning support for schools. Since 2006, Macro Connect has helped launch fifteen schools and served over one hundred clients across the country. To subscribe to future installments of this series or discuss your challenges in education technology, send Macro Connect a message through any of the channels below: (888) 578-7976

There is no

greater reward destination.

than when

your students reach their




The Road to Achievement:

DEFINING QUALITY Julie Durham Director of Research & Grants MAPSA

Vacation. It’s an experience you imagine, plan for and look forward to. You map out the drive and develop a fairly accurate idea about where you are going and how you are going to get there. You will have gas stops, food stops, bathroom stops and detours. Whether your camping gear is packed and you are ready to conquer the wilderness, or are headed to the airport off to a cozy hotel in a consistently warm climate with a poolside oasis and palm trees, the desired outcome is the same: relaxation, rejuvenation and enjoyment – despite any twists, turns or speed bumps along the way, your determination will get you there. Your path to quality is no different. You know the outcome. You’ve planned for making it there. You have pit stops along the way to fuel the process with data and to add to the support structures required to make it. It too is a long road. But you know that when the students you serve travel the road to proficiency and reach their destination, there is no greater reward. > >


Your school website has the “transparency mitten” and the Michigan Department of Education has the MiSchoolData website, plus, parents can access a number of websites to gather information about a school. How much of what you do on a day-to-day basis shines through rainbow-colored scorecards? How much of who you are as a quality school is reflected in this data? Imagine you are the school that has found yourself in the bottom 25th percentile on the Top-to-Bottom rankings with math proficiency rates that have been stagnant for the last few years. Be that as it may, yesterday your teachers had an all-day across curriculum planning session. This morning, your school guidance counselor connected a parent to much-needed social services. In the past year, you took incoming students who were two years behind in reading and brought them up to grade level proficiency rates. You have an after school program that focuses on literacy and provides parents with after-care services to support their needs. Your school was chosen as a pilot location for a new numeracy program and has had great success in implementing it. And, even more impressive is that your students score high on self-efficacy



and engagement surveys with student retention rates that are among the highest in the area. How do you describe quality in your school? Is it solely through test scores and GPA’s? Or does it extend out to attendance rates or behavioral referrals? While these factors are all important and are likely key outcomes to your mission, they don’t tell the whole story. Your story, your school’s quality, is nuanced, complicated and multi-faceted. The public sees you only through a small portal, through policy and media-colored glasses. But you, and the families you serve, are the best individuals to drive the discussion about quality at your school. You get to determine, should you decide, what people know and think about your school, what information they are armed with when they talk about your school to others, and whether they choose your school for their child. DEFINING QUALITY EVERY SCHOOL has aspects that can be described as high quality. It is the depth of quality and its pervasiveness across indicators that allows us to determine if a school could be defined as high quality, or if a school just does a few things right.


Quality isn’t just a state of being; it isn’t a feeling, or a pie in the sky aspiration. It is your expectations, your vision, a set of outcomes that impact your decisions on a daily basis. Quality is also a spectrum. Your school might fall on the positive end of the spectrum for attendance rates, but struggle with math proficiency. As you think about broadening the definition of quality for your school, ask yourself this question: What separates you from another school with similar academic achievement? How would you explain to the media or a parent the quality things that are going on at your school? And, more importantly, how much do you actually know about those indicators of quality that you share with others? Your ability to both impact and share the quality at your school hinges on defining what quality looks like at your school. Specifically, your quality indicators should be deliberate, measurable, impactful and trackable. It is for good reason that we say “what gets measured get managed.” For this reason, your quality measures should include things on the entire spectrum. It is also important to recognize that different audiences will demand different indicators of quality

when assessing your school. Other school leaders might have a different definition than parents do, who will certainly have a different definition than media outlets. Don’t let external demands overtly influence your focus.



isn’t just a state of being; it isn’t

a feeling


or a pie in the

sky aspiration.

Honey Creek Academy, located near Ann Arbor, MI, is surrounded by some of the highest achieving schools in the state. Near the University of Michigan, the area is home to a well-educated population and strong schools, both public and private. To stand out, the school has to do things differently. Judging by the 400-student waiting list the school boasts every year, they have been very successful at creating and sharing quality. In full disclosure, when thinking of a school to spotlight, Honey Creek came to mind because of its innovative classroom model. The school uses multi-age classrooms, and students are with the same teachers and classmates for at least two years. Schoolwide project-based learning is the norm, and teachers have ample time to plan across curriculum and grade level. To me, this seemed to be one of the main quality indicators that differentiate Honey Creek from other schools in the area. And, indeed, it is. However, when talking to the school

leader, he had a different indicator of quality in mind. “Relationships,” Al Waters immediately responded when asked what differentiates his school from others. “The relationships. We have extremely strong teacher, student and parent relationships. We encourage parents to be in the classroom and have 99% parent involvement.” Knowing the level of parent involvement and sharing it with parents is important for a couple of reasons. First, through parent surveys, the school established average parent participation rates (by hours) and are able to set goals for what they need. The school has been able to address issues by referring to the survey data and determining that they need to do a better job of getting commitments from parents earlier in the year. Additionally, by providing this data to parents of new students, they are making clear their expectations of quality when it comes to parent involvement. Honey Creek has no busing (which many schools would love to have) and doesn’t do car line drop-off either. Parents are expected to bring their child to the classroom every day. This further cements the expectation that parent involvement is a priority, and enhances the relationships that are the hallmark difference in quality between Honey Creek and other schools. > >


“The students that our school best serves are those that are

academically behind

at least two years. If our school was anywhere by the lowest quartile of the top-to-bottom list, we wouldn’t be serving our


STUDENT-LEVEL QUALITY The MEAP Assessment, and now the M-Step, provide schools, parents and policy makers with a snapshot of academic attainment at a school. As with all snapshots, it encompasses a single moment in time, cropped to tell a specific message with a specific goal, and for a specific purpose, and doesn’t show any information on what is going on around the student. Many charter schools have it in their mission to serve at-risk children. As such, that snapshot, which is based on proficiency, does nothing to reflect the quality that is happening in such a school. MAPSA recently wrapped up a federal teacher incentive fund grant working with 26 campuses in Detroit. As part of our performance-based model, we were able to look at individual student growth and proficiency to identify progress for students and teachers who might not have met the traditional “proficiency is quality” perspective. Many of the students in our grantee schools fell well below state proficiency levels. BUT, many of those same students exceeded their expected growth on standardized assessments. Quality, as identified by student growth, can be tricky. Is all growth indicative of quality? Surely a school can identify how many students met a growth target and give a clearer picture of growth and achievement. But a better (or additional) quality indicator might measure the amount of growth above expectations or the number of students moved up one or more deciles in their score. Perhaps you could measure the growth and proficiency of students who are absent less than 10 days a semester. This type of analysis is



Winter 2016


trickier than just looking at the number of students who met growth. However, you already have the data you need at your fingertips; you just need to adjust the lens through which you’re looking! MISSION-DRIVEN QUALITY In recent conversations around quality, it often seems as though the catalyst for the birth of the charter school concept is forgotten. The very idea that the education system was failing kids has now somehow become the headline for why charter schools are failing. How has it become that a commitment to serving those students that have been left behind is a mark of poor quality? We must change the frame of reference for what defines quality. Insight School of Michigan, an online school, is one of many examples of a school with a specific mission to focus on those students that have struggled academically. As principal Marcus Moore put it, “The students that our school best serves are those that are academically behind at least two years. If our school was anywhere but the lowest quartile of the top-to-bottom list, we wouldn’t be serving our mission.” The point which was made in this statement is that quality, from the vantage point of state accountability standards, has been defined for this school as proficiency. But, at the very core of this school’s mission is to help those that are not proficient at grade level and help them down the path to graduation. It’s about the creation of support structures that allow for more learning time. It’s about

-Marcus Moore, Principal

finding an individualized learning plan that provides extra supports in areas of struggle for each student. And, possibly, most importantly, it’s about giving students who would have been lost in the system a chance. The choice is not about a good education against a better education. It’s about an education at all which makes this a great educational option. So, in a situation in which proficiency isn’t a relevant measure, how does a mission-driven school focused on serving the underserved student track toward success? • Use benchmark testing at the beginning of the year to diagnose strengths and challenges. • Create a path to proficiency by using nationally normed growth targets and finding ways in which to exceed such targets to close gaps in proficiency. • Develop realistic learning objectives and a comprehensive, customized plan for each student to reach goals. • Administer ongoing testing, as needed, to ensure each child is making progress toward goals enabling teachers and parents to know how much progress a child is actually making. Quality comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Challenge your team to identify your destination and tell the story of your journey along the way to all you come in contact. Share your vision. Share your challenges and obstacles. But, most of all, share your success that continues to fuel your mission.

Do you have a great measure of quality for your school? Tell us! Email us at


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Parents controlled the funding of their children’s education

As you approach the doorway to your office building, you feel a slight buzz in your pocket. Your phone has a notification from your child’s MiLearning App. The Michigan Department of Education has approved the added funds (a mix of federal and state dollars) to support the change you requested to your child’s Individual Learning Profile (ILP). You accept the change in the app and direct the funds to Future’s Public School Academy where your child will receive instruction from an innovative new reading program after school. Earlier in the morning, you discussed other options with your child’s teacher at Open Elementary School after you noticed the ILP on the MiLearning App indicated long-term trouble with comprehension that hadn’t been solved by the school that was serving him so well in all other areas.

Sound impossible? What if focusing on time was in the past and the time for focusing on the individual was now? What if the needs of the individual student drove the types of programs, schools, and choices available? For the past decade, educational experts have been calling for a system of learning that revolves around one simple idea: a studentcentered approach. In fact, schools across the country have dipped their toes in this ideology by shedding traditional models and encouraging blended and project-based learning in classrooms. While these efforts have produced changes for some, most students still experience learning that is defined by their local school district. Opportunities are tied to the decisions of leaders in the building in which they happen to sit and the programs the school happens to offer. The power and the decisions remain with each institution which must serve the needs of all students. So why have attempts to change this approach failed on a larger scale? Perhaps, the answer rests with one of the key pillars that drives our system of public education - funding and the way in which it flows. In Michigan, we have a per-pupil funding system that allocates operational funds to schools based on enrollment. In addition, local school districts (not including charter schools) can raise capital funds through local property taxes. This leads to a system of inequities in which the funding available per student (both operational and capital) varies based on the school in which your child enrolls.

What if we flipped this model on its head? Instead of sending dollars to a school based on enrollment, we sent the dollars to an account for each student in the state enrolled in public education with an approved ILP. Furthermore, what if the base funding was equal for every student in the state and any supplemental funding (both federal and state) was allocated to a student’s account based on the needs identified in his or her ILP? The ultimate decisions on how that money was spent was left to the parent, student, and ILP. Using technology, those decision could be made instantaneously as needed. In this system, time (days and hours) would no longer be the basis for determining a “full-time student.” Policymakers would establish a mix of payment percentages for providers who would receive funds based on a student’s progress toward mastery of core standards with their ILP setting a unique road map. Ultimately, an institution could receive more or less than the current annual per-pupil funding for a student who was progressing rapidly or slowing down due to previous failures in the system. Policymakers also could include incentive payments for struggling students. Providers of learning could be one school providing everything or a mix of programs from different providers (charters, traditional districts, supplemental services, online schools, public colleges and universities, etc). These providers would be able to focus and specialize on specific needs. Accountability would be based on a provider’s ability to fulfill IEP demands. Collaboration between providers could be rewarded through innovation payments allocated in each student’s account. A parent would designate the stateapproved program or school as the “Home Base” entity that would receive funds to develop, track, and assess progress for the ILP. The state could set up a statewide capital infrastructure program by reimagining the current School Bond Loan Fund to allow public school providers, including charters, to draw down funds for technology, buildings, and infrastructure. The state could expand the account to include funds for social services currently funded in other areas of the state budget. The vision described here would create new incentives for new roles in the education system. Learning providers would have an incentive to move students along a path that makes sense for the individual student. Most importantly, the system would allow for more specialization and focus. Being all things to all learners is an impossible task. Innovation requires focus and focus requires the ability to have multiple entities specializing and collaborating together. This vision for change is not that far out of reach. Today, we have dipped our toes in the future through recent policies such as seat-time waivers and limited online courses. However, holistic reinvention requires dramatic changes in the base nature of a system. By simply piloting or slowly adapting, we have created more inefficiencies through the existence of two systems at once with only confusion and more rules to show for it. Perhaps, the true road to change is dramatic and starts first with how the money flows.

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What Do Search Engines Reveal About Your School? Make Sure They Tell the Right Story

Buddy Moorehouse VP of Communications MAPSA

here are the two essential ingredients: Figure out what your story is. Tell that story.

Do me a favor: Google your school. Pretend you’re a parent who just moved into your community and you’re looking for a school. So Google your school and see what comes up. That’s probably one of the first things a prospective parent would do, so put yourself in their shoes and Google your own school. What comes up? Your school’s website is probably near the top of the list. What else do you see? Is your Facebook page there? Do you see any news stories about your school? Any online reviews? Click on a few of the links and see what impression you get about your school. That’s what PR is. It’s the public’s impression of your school, and in large part, you’ll find out what that impression is when you Google yourself. Obviously, your school’s public image is hugely important to you. If it’s good, it can drive enrollment and help with everything from fundraising to teacher recruitment. If it’s bad – or absent – it will have the opposite effect. Good PR is essential to your success, and the great news is that you’re in control of much of it. You need to have a strong PR strategy for your school, and as you’re thinking about it,




Simple, right? Yet so many schools fail on one or both of those accounts. They haven’t figured out what makes them successful, or if they have, they haven’t taken the steps to get that story out. So start here: Figure out what your story is. What’s great about your school? Do you have some outstanding data? Do you have a summer reading program that’s working miracles? Are you seeing some incredible growth among your students? If you’re a great school, then you’ve got a great story. Sit down with your staff (and parents and students) and define exactly what it is. Then try this: Tell that story. Nobody is going to know about your summer reading program success unless you shout it from the mountaintops. And since we don’t have many mountaintops in Michigan, we have to use other means to get the story out. That means Facebook (your site should be robust!), stories in your local media and a school website that TRULY tells your school’s story. So, do this: Google your school today, and take a snapshot of the results. Then put an aggressive PR strategy in place and spend the year working the plan. Then Google your school a year from now and compare the results. You’ll be amazed at the results.

CONNECTION CORNER MAPSA offers opportunities for schools to connect and collaborate with peers to help you achieve your goals! Over the river (or straits) and through the woods‌literally! This past fall, our team was thrilled to travel across the state to reconnect with members on the very important topics of quality and branding. In all of our meetings, be it in Birch Run, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Grayling, Lansing or St. Ignace, there was one particular word that arose consistently. There was one word that every discussion came back around to. There was one word that could help us build the perfect world. COMMUNITY. In the perfect world, a charter school would be built around a community of students that have unique learning behaviors or interests. It would become deeply rooted in the local community as a contributor to the

prosperity of the community. Yet, in our travels, we found that the real world is quite different. Charter schools struggle with meeting enrollment goals, inadvertently taking you off your mission and diversifying your resources to meet the needs of an unrelated student population. We learned that the community for which you seek to be a part of, often views you as an outsider. We learned that the very essence of what it takes to be successful is one of the hardest challenges to overcome. In the perfect world, all students would be afforded the opportunity to attend a quality school. The real world shows us that not all schools are quality. While building a community within a school is important, giving all students a chance is even more important. We learned that in as much as it may require significantly more work, charter schools are more willing to adapt programming than to allow a student to fall back into a low-quality school. The real world shows us that individuals inside the

charter movement prioritize students. Hands down. No questions asked. In the perfect world, we would see community expanded beyond the walls of just one building. We would see a community of charter schools that work collaboratively to meet the unique needs of every student. We would see a community with diversified programs that offer intentionality in delivery and resource investment to meet mission outcomes. We would envision a real world in which enrollment stabilizes and families can be coached on best fit in the surrounding community. In the perfect world, we will see more honest engagement in upcoming Charter Connection meetings as we tackle hard-hitting branding challenges requiring us, as a movement, to look in the mirror and see our own reflection. How will we change our reflection to the communities we want to build in order to impact our priorities?

Sign up today for the next Charter Connection meeting in your 25 area at




Parents are faced with hundreds of decisions on a daily basis concerning their children. What’s for lunch? What are they going to wear today? Who is dropping off and picking up? What’s for dinner? These decisions can consume the minutes of a day, but few decisions have as much long-term impact as the decision about which school to send a child. A positive, supportive school environment can make all the difference in the world. School choice and charter school policy in Michigan have opened the door for parents and schools to ensure good fit. Both parties stand to benefit from a match well made. As a school leader you have an opportunity and responsibility with potential parents to ensure they are clear about your mission, expectations and opportunities. Your success as a school, which is intrinsically linked to the success of your students, is much more likely if there is a clear understanding and buy-in of your mission, vision, and teaching style. Whether schools are located where people are affluent or in poverty, whether the schools are perceived as high-performing or struggling, there is always a need for schools that are focused on fitting the unique needs of students. Academic success is only one part of the equation. Fit matters. For every story shared by parents like Ruth Nelson, from Brighton, MI, there are a hundred more just like it.


Ruth’s Story “April showers brought May pandemonium for my husband and me; our ambitious, creative son was stressed out, acting up, and nervous to finish another difficult year. Meanwhile, our well-adjusted, overly mature daughter was asking to change schools. At that time, I had no way of knowing we would have two kids in two different schools, in two different counties in Michigan all with a highly ranked public school right in our backyard. As the 2014-2015 school year came to an end, our 12-year-old daughter’s request was to leave her public school. Our son was struggling to finish 4th grade much like every other year. As parents we had two kids with very different requirements that were not being met. And so our journey began…. Our 11-year-old son struggled academically since kindergarten but loved his social circle. We worked with the school and had much support and great resources. However, we saw little

improvement with his grades or his desire to learn. His energy, imagination and problem-solving skills led him to many self-driven scientific and artist-driven projects at home. He was like two different kids: academically falling behind at school while he was impressing friends and neighbors with his inventions at home. As parents we needed to find balance for him. We could not ignore the dichotomy any longer. Our 12-year-old, strong-willed, highly driven dancer started by telling us she wanted to be home schooled. This is a girl who was socially well adjusted and successful academically almost by accident. Home schooling was not an option for my husband and me. We were puzzled as to why she wanted an alternative yet agreed to look into options as well. Thanks to my process-driven, systematic husband we researched our way through several charter, Montessori, and private religious options. The best decision for our family was to enroll our 7th grade daughter in a fee-free preparatory charter school that would push her to her highest potential,

As you get ready for your enrollment campaign for the 2016-17 school year, begin your strategies with the end in mind. And then stretch your end to go beyond count day on October 5, 2016 and to reach a student retention goal for the 2017-18 school year. And then stretch even further to reach your goal of having 80% of your 8th graders having been with your program for 3+ years.

the very core of your school’s vision. Choice exists because of the need to diversify the strategies for delivering education. Kids are different. So approaches to education must also be different. Embrace your unique identity and clearly define the type of learner your culture best fits.

An effective enrollment campaign must focus on long-term strategy while managing short-term setbacks as you achieve your goals. Here are some longterm strategy ideas:

As you meet with parents, be prepared to meet them at the lens they know and move them to the lens you want them to embrace. Should school uniforms be a make or break for enrollment? Only if a parent doesn’t fully understand the value of school uniforms. Is a year-round program good or bad? It depends on the individual. You have made intentional decisions along the way to make your school the best it can be. Share your journey with the families

Value Your Unique Identity. As you develop marketing materials and empower your team with the message to shout across the rooftops, be sure that your message incorporates

Own Your Story.

while sending our 5th grade son to a fee-based private Christian school that provides small class sizes and allows individual creativity through alternative learning styles. So far, so good. Within a couple weeks both kids seem very well-adjusted. Our daughter is excited about the opportunities she has in her new school and how it will fit into her dancing future. Our son gets up every day curious and unafraid of mistakes. He is eager to tackle the challenges his teachers put in front of him. He feels appreciated for his differences. They both feel they can accomplish anything, which is all we could hope to provide. We are extremely lucky to have so many quality options for education in Michigan. As parents, we were able to make a well-informed decision based on the wealth of information available. We are thrilled to provide individual options to each of our children and highly recommend investing the time to custom fit your child’s educational needs. Back to packing lunches and checking homework. Enjoy your own personal journey.”

you meet. Bring them along so that your story becomes their story. Empower Parent Advocacy. Choosing a school is one of the hardest and most impactful decisions a parent will make for their child. While enrollment is important, your first role as a true educator is empowering parents to be their child’s best advocate. Arm them with the questions they should be asking you and any other school they are looking to choose. Encourage them to express their concerns and to illustrate their worst fear. Be a listening ear for their needs first, then assess the fit for your program. Student retention and parent engagement begins with a relationship. A meaningful relationship begins with the student as the priority.


MEMBER RECOGNITION Focus Group Participants

The MAPSA Buddy is thrilled to have met so many new friends and to see the results of collaboration. As our charming friend decided where to visit last fall, he couldn’t help but to reach out to visit those that have given their time so generously to guide the important work the MAPSA team does to support our members. We couldn’t do the work we do without the support of participants that give their time to the various focus groups and work groups that we have put together. From guiding the program elements of the Fall and Spring Innovators conferences to providing insight on how to tackle the talent challenge to digging in deep to find advocacy strategies to strengthen our voice. We thank all of these individuals and are proud to have provided the winning gift card to Bob Wittman at Advanced Technology Academy for participation on the Spring Symposium and Detroit Policy workgroups! Want to be a part of a MAPSA work group? Contact us at and tell us what you are passionate about! Check out MAPSA’s Facebook page a to view more MAPSA Buddy pictures!

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A Kiss of Death or an Opportunity for Action?

Buddy Moorehouse VP of Communications MAPSA Isn’t it amazing how one word can evoke such extreme opposite emotions? In its context outside of education, a lottery ticket represents hope and opportunity. Everybody, at least once, has dreamt about the “what if” and imagined your numbers being called and how you might spend the windfall. How would life change? What opportunities would winning the lottery afford you? But what if the winnings aren’t money, but a great education for your child - a spot in a high-performing school? How would you feel if you lost that lottery? Is this fear paralyzing parents from engaging in choice? Or, is this a word that the great majority of parents don’t even know exists? As conversations continue around a common enrollment system in large cities, schools continue to struggle with filling seats. It can often feel like charter schools are criticized for the practice of a lottery, yet it seems the reality is that in only the most established schools is this really necessary. Perhaps as individual schools we should look at an enrollment lottery not as a deterrent but more like an opportunity that could change education? PROACTIVE CHOICE With enrollment windows stretching between February and March, a scenario in which we see a multitude of lottery selections taking place is a pure illustration that parents are engaged in choice. It will mean that parents are intentionally seeking out the best schools offering the best fit for their children. It will mean that schools will have stronger budgets that are built on true projections of enrollment. It will mean that educational choice is working.

STUDENT RETENTION If parents are engaged in choice and making decisions based on their perceived quality of a school and its approach to education, it stands to reason that retention rates will improve significantly. While we cannot remove the mobility that is a consequence of poverty, a more engaged community of students will begin to build a more engaged external community, perhaps lending greater resources to support the structures that need to be put in place to battle these obstacles. Be it transportation, before and after care programs, meals, etc. a community around whole child development will begin to build stronger solutions. IMPROVED STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT Research indicates that student achievement improves the longer they attend a specific school. Achievement gaps will be closed. Third-grade reading scores will soar. This will lead to higher proficiency rates generally, improved SAT scores and college or career success. You may be reading this thinking how outlandish these ideas seem, and true they may be a bit euphoric, the reality you cannot escape is that there are little pieces to all of these that are truthful if only lotteries were our real problem. So, how do we positively support or impact parent behaviors? What is the answer to enrollment in a flat or declining demographic market? Perhaps it’s just starting simple with a common enrollment period and some shared investment in marketing to drive the behavior we want to see? As you think about this question, I ask you to consider what your school is doing to support parents and impact behaviors. Are you giving parents the reasons they should care about enrollment in February or March? What’s in it

for the parents? You must make this conversation greater than a budgeting challenge. Do you have systems and protocols established that support a commitment date this early? Are you building relationships prior to re-enrollment? With average reenrollment rates around only 50% in some areas, there is a great deal of opportunity to capitalize on building meaningful relationships with families that have already made the choice. Are you implementing exit surveys? If so, what does it tell you and are you listening? As a school, you must be intentional about building strong relationships with your parents and students. Benjamin Franklin said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it.” Be sure your good deeds are far outnumbering the bad. Are you fulfilling your mission? It is easy to let enrollment numbers drive your decisions. Do you have protocols in place to ensure that your decisions are mission driven? Better yet, do you have protocols in place for fundraising, other community support efforts or non-essential program cuts should you not meet your enrollment? In a mission-driven school, built on a specific approach to learning, it is critical that you make good on your promise to your customers – the parents and students that have chosen your program. Compromising on the promise that each family signed up for not only impacts your retention, but it also impacts your results. Do you have ideas in how we as the charter community can change parent enrollment behavior? Send your ideas to


FEEDBACK IN ACTION Building the Charter Brand In our last member survey, we asked you “What is the definition of quality?” While so much of what we do is about creating legislative solutions, this focus was different. This focus had an outcome goal of getting to know what drives you as a team. We wanted to know the intangibles of quality that go beyond the test scores and beyond any quantifiable data. We were seeking your passion to align it with the things that ignite our passion.

in Education Conference, three diverse speakers addressed the necessity of thinking differently in order to improve education. Dr. Achil Petit from America’s Promise Academy in the Harlem Children’s Zone, commented on Geoffrey Canada’s philosophy of getting results. “If Plan A doesn’t work, you go to Plan B. If Plan B doesn’t work you go to Plan C. When do you stop? When you get the results you are seeking.”

What is our Plan A? Based on your feedback…

It Starts Inside the Movement In our survey, 20% of respondents reported not seeing value in having a cohesive charter brand. Another 27% were unsure. In response to what the sector branding should fall, survey respondents indicated as follows: “The charter sector brand should be about raising standards and providing the best educational opportunities for kids. It needs to be about not just being an option but being the BEST educational options! It needs to be about ingenuity and best practice. It needs to be about communication with parents and preparing students to be leaders.” “Parents and teachers working together to build a future for their students.” “It’s about serving all students, rigorous academics, strong character and ongoing reflection to quickly respond to student and community needs.” Do you agree? Are these the statements you want the community to feel and understand about your school? Up until now, the charter story has been largely defined by the status quo. A status quo that is fearful of how education might change and the work it might take to get the outcomes kids deserve. In the EdTalk series hosted at the Fall Innovators


These words and phrases were evident across the board in the responses we received. These words and phrases are the heart of the charter school movement.

We will continue to be an advocate for charter schools and to leverage the respect that has been earned on the legislative side for charter schools and your commitment to serving the needs of your students. We will continue to advocate against costly regulations that have no impact on teaching and learning. And we will continue to fight for funding equity as defined by our members.


To this end, at MAPSA, we will not stop until we get the results we are seeking. We will not stop until the charter brand is associated with innovation, opportunity and hope for the students you serve. We will start with a strong Plan A but be prepared for Plan B and beyond.

We use this passion to ignite our own pride in the charter brand and to drive a media campaign built around emotion. Over 50% of survey respondents indicated that the charter brand was at least somewhat weak. We start now in changing that. At MAPSA we have created a media strategy that focuses on proactive messaging that highlights the success of charter schools in all of the forms it comes in. We begin telling our story on our terms through the eyes of students and families that are impacted daily.


Prepares. Raises expectations. Mission focused. Global competitiveness. Whole child. Community. Best possible opportunity. Personalized education. Belief in students. Continuous growth. Student motivation. Challenges. Supports.

We will work toward ensuring that charter schools always have a seat at the table. And more than just a seat, we will have a voice. MAPSA’s reinvigorated grassroots campaign will both inform and impact policy decisions. We will work to give parents a voice as strong as leaders. We will continue to seek feedback and direction from our member workgroups and through surveying. We will rally the ideals of many into a powerful voice.


Have feedback on this plan? Email us at 30



A Partnership for Student Success The College Board is proud to partner with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to deliver the SAT®, as part of the Michigan Merit Examination (MME), to all 11th-grade students in spring 2016. The state will also offer the College Board’s PSAT™ 8/9 to 9th-grade students and PSAT™ 10 to 10th-grade students free of charge starting in spring 2016. The SAT, PSAT/NMSQT®, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9 make up the College Board’s SAT Suite of Assessments, a series of tests that showcase your students’ college and career readiness. To help students prepare, the College Board has collaborated with Khan Academy® to offer free, personalized online practice.

To learn more, contact ©2015 The College Board. PSAT/NMSQT is a registered trademark of the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Khan Academy is a registered trademark in the United States and other jurisdictions. 00157_015




Spring Symposium February 29, 2016

Lansing, MI Register today at

Charter Connect Winter 2016  
Charter Connect Winter 2016