Since 2011 select charter school operators have been key partners in the turnaround of the Lawrence Public Schools, the only school district in Massachusetts operating under a state receiver. To date two Commonwealth charter school operators have fully taken over two district schools in Lawrence, MA: Community Day Charter School and Phoenix Charter Academy. Other charter schools, like MATCH and Up Academy, are providing services as part of the Lawrence turnaround work. Operating schools as district schools, charter operators are attempting to replicate much of their charter practices in a non-charter context where they have less than the full range of autonomies that they have in the context of a Commonwealth Charter School. In January of 2014 Lawrence school leaders signed the Lawrence Compact Partnership creating a formal agreement between traditional public schools and charter operators to work together to raise student achievement across the city.
Scope of Work
MCPSA seeks a consultant to research and develop a case study on charter school involvement in the Lawrence turnaround that responds to the following questions:
- What autonomies do charter school leaders currently have in the context of the district schools they operate in Lawrence, MA? How does this differ from other turnaround schools in Lawrence? What autonomies do charter operators not currently have in Lawrence but would prefer to have and why?
- What practices, strategies, structures or terms have proven effective in governing the relationships between charter-operated schools and the receiver/district leadership?
- What have been the challenges to implementation of a charter-like school in a district context? What have been the opportunities? What data exists to support these findings?
- What are the outcomes of the charter led district schools in Lawrence and how do these compare with the outcomes of the Commonwealth Charters operated by the same leaders? What connection, if any, exists between autonomies and outcomes?
The case, and other national benchmark information about charter school involvement in turnaround efforts, will be used to develop recommendations governing charter operator involvement in district turnaround or state receivership situations in Massachusetts.
The consultant will pursue this case by interviewing members of the district, the charter operated schools, and other stakeholders; observing relevant meetings as permitted; reviewing MOUs, data and other artifacts; and conducting focus groups as appropriate. This work will include interaction with leaders of charter schools, Lawrence Public Schools and other operators or partners in the Lawrence turnaround efforts. The final product will be a case overview of charter operator involvement in the Lawrence turnaround that highlights best practices; the connection between outcomes and autonomies; areas for future collaboration between district-charters in turnaround context, and a set of recommendations for future involvement of Commonwealth Charters in district turnaround efforts. This is a one-year project to be completed during the 2014-15 school year.
To apply please send a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org with Lawrence Schools Turnaround Case Study in the subject line.