DESE issues report on Charter School program review
A report recently issued by the Massachusetts Department of Secondary Education (DESE) tasks the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) with changes in its special education (SPED) and English Learner Education (ELE) program areas, mostly related to record-keeping.
Each school district and charter school in Massachusetts is scheduled to receive a Coordinated Program Review every six years and a mid-cycle special education follow-up visit three years after the program review. The purpose of the review is to determine whether a school has met certain federal and state requirements in specific program areas.
DESE education onsite team members Joan Brinckerhoff and Lynn Summerill visited the Charter School on December 14-18, 2009. The DESE report is the result of their review of the Charter School's SPED, ELE and civil rights program areas.
The Charter School must now propose corrective action for any criteria found "partially implemented" or "not implemented," and bring those areas into compliance with relevant statutes and regulations within one year from the date the final report was issued.
"This report has given us some wonderful direction for upgrades to make in our systems, and we have already made those changes or come up with a timeline to make those changes," MVPCS director Bob Moore said in a recent phone call with The Times.
Of 18 ELE criteria, the Charter School has implemented 9. Among eight criteria rated "partially implemented," the report noted that student records and staff interviews indicated the school does not have a staff member qualified to identify limited English-proficient students and to assess their level of proficiency. Mr. Moore said the charter school does have a staff member who is the ELE coordinator.
The report also said the Charter School gave no indication of how many hours of English language instruction students receive. In addition, the school did not furnish evidence of having a formalized English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum or a licensed ESL staff member as required.
Out of 59 SPED criteria, the Charter School received a commendable rating for the use of paraprofessionals in its SPED program. The school received a "partially implemented" rating for 15 criteria, most of which concern recordkeeping.
The Charter School has implemented 24 of 25 criteria for civil rights, according to the report. The school's rating of "partial compliance" in one criterion requires only the addition of a reference to a specific law in the student handbook and amendment to the disciplinary policy to address procedures for students with disabilities.
"A lot of the write-ups from this report had to do with record-keeping, not about the work we do," Mr. Moore said. "They had some nice things to say about the overall work we do, but the record-keeping is important, particularly if you're a Federal or state agency looking at data, and you want to see that data in a particular format."
A copy of the DESE report is available in the front office of the Charter School on State Road in West Tisbury and online at www.doe.mass.edu.