The D.C. charter school movement is leading the nation in transparency and accountability regarding our alternative schools. The DC Public Charter School Board’s Performance Management Framework has been recognized as a best practice regarding data around academics. Equity Reports provide almost any piece of demographic information about a school that the public would want to know. Finally, the Financial Audit Review includes metrics on the health of schools regarding its use of money. But after 20 years of public school reform there is still one important piece missing.
When the PMF was first envisioned it was being designed to provide a grade on governance. Of course, how a school is governed by its board of directors is crucial. The failure of individual charter schools has been directly linked to how that school is governed.
The subject never made it into the PMF but that doesn’t mean that metrics on quantitative measures in this area are unavailable. Both the PCSB and Charter Board Partners have tons of knowledge about how our 62 Local Education Agency non-profit boards are operating. They receive feedback on membership, turnover, self-evaluations, and whether they have in place the documents and procedures necessary to perform at a high level. All of these factors could be assembled into some type of report card that could be made available to anyone seeking this kind of understanding.
The nation’s capital has led this country in the area of school choice. It has been estimated that only 25 percent of our children attend our neighborhood schools. Our charters now educate 44 percent of public school students with an enrollment of almost 39,000 pupils. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year are spent on this sector. A natural question with this much invested is why can’t we at this point evaluate each school’s board of directors?