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February 20 2013

February 20 2013

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Published by NC Policy Watch

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Published by: NC Policy Watch on May 01, 2013
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Charter School PERFORMANCE and COMPLIANCE Visit ReportSchool:
Quality Education Academy
 
Date of Visit:
 
2-20-13
Grades Served:
 K-12
 
ADM:
406 (1
 st 
month)
Current Enrollment: Withdrawal Rate:
 
22%
 
Consultant:
Cande Honeycutt 
 
Administrator
:
Simon Johnson
 
Time In:
915am
Time Out:
Purpose of Visit
This visit was my (Joel E. Medley) first to the charter school in some time. I was interested in seeing their high school and learning more about the Business and Entrepreneurship aspect mentioned on their website. I also needed to discuss the status of a public records request from a reporter to QEA and  see if the school would answer questions related to a recent article about them.
The school’s historical with
drawal rate (at least the last two ye
ars) has been above 20%. The school’s
 first month ADM was 406, grew to 429 in the second month, and dipped again to 406 for the third month. This pattern seems to fit the historical trend for student withdrawal. In lo
oking at the school’s
academic scores and that they have never had a lottery, this rate is somewhat curious.
 
 After a discussion of the Office of Charter Schools (OCS) mission and core values, we discussed howthere are similarities between our two organizational goals. The QEA website mentions that the Fighting Pharaoh involves integrity. I shared with Mr. Johnson the protocol for site visits and manyof the things that are formally discussed during our time in school. Since a consultant has not been tothe school in quite some time, this will be a more formal site visit as evidenced by the collection of information below.
Legal COMPLIANCE
Items collected or currently on file to complete this report:
Daily Schedule with teaching assignments School Calendar Student/Parent Handbook Grievance PolicyEmployee Handbook Board Minutes since last visitCopy of lottery application Up to date Insurance binder Criminal Background checks
The Student/Parent and Employee handbooks are found on the school’s website. The grievance policy is
described in each of the handbooks. The school calendar and enrollment application is also online.
School Tour:
On the way to the school, I heard on the radio about a student collapsing at their basketball game thenight before. Apparently, he played for the other team and collapsed during a time-out and,unfortunately, was never able to be revived. The charter school has reached out to that other school,the parents, and was preparing counselors for their own team.When I arrived, the students were finalizing their assembly that occurs every Wednesday. This is also the
“dress for success” day at the charter 
 school 
 – 
boys are in coats and ties while the ladies are indresses. The assembly focused on many parts of African-American History Month and were all  presented by students to the students. The elementary has a separate time (8 to 830) while the middleand high school convenes at 9am.
 
Charter School PERFORMANCE and COMPLIANCE Visit Report
 I was able to see their high school building which is laid out in a similar fashion to the elementary and middle. There are no offices in the high school building because an older home that sits on the property houses those administrative offices. Behind the high school building is the new addition
 – 
  gym, black box theater, board room, and classrooms. The plan is that this facility will be completed in May or June
 – 
ready for the next academic year.
 Facility:
Valid certificate of occupancy
 
Fire drills and regular fire department inspections
 Licensure Information:
Meets general statute requirement for teacher certification Current BTSPIf applicable, uses online teacher evaluation system Current licensure renewal planImplements a teacher evaluation system
 Based upon the February report that is in the OCS, the school does comply with the requirement for elementary licensure (92%). The middle and high school, however, barely meets the statutory minimum(58%). They were cautioned to watch this figure closely to avoid any noncompliance issues in the future. Based upon information provided to OCS in October 2012, QEA does not have an approved licensurerenewal plan (expired 2010) or beginning teacher support plan. Mr. Johnson believed they had one of each approved, so I told him to double-check. He can also contact their OCS consultant to receive thenecessary information to create one. Without either plan, the school cannot initial renewal of a teaching license or convert a SP1 (initial) license to SP2 (continuing) status. If they do have such approved plans,they need to communicate this with licensure
 – 
 
again, the school’s consultant can assist them.
Additional  follow-up by the assigned consultant is probably needed here.
Staffing:
School has individual who monitors compliance for:
 
Testing Exceptional Children Department
504’s
Student information and accountability data
Board PERFORMANCE
Achievement:
Board
is aware of the school’s
academic performance on state assessments. If so, how?
They have historical information comparing the charter against the district on the school’s website.
 If the public has this information, it is safe to assume that the board does as well. Unfortunately, theboard only meets quarterly; so the depth of understanding is questionable. I did not ask to see board minutes, so I cannot gauge their understanding of the
 school’s academics at this time.
Consultants should follow up in the next several months.
 School uses formative assessments to drive academics by sharing with all staff members and their  board of directors. If yes, what does the data show, and how is the school addressing thesedeficiencies?
Enrollment:
School has a clear lottery and enrollment processSchool has evident communication system with parentsSchool collects data on reasons for student withdraws
The school does have a lottery process listed on its website; however, it is dated for 2012. The front pageindicates that they are now accepting enrollment, but the link does not carry you to any specific form. A recent newspaper article said that the school has never needed to hold a lottery. I found this to be
 
Charter School PERFORMANCE and COMPLIANCE Visit Report
curious considering that the school’s marketing references that they are a “factory of excellence.”
inquired further about that statement because I could not find wait list numbers in the OCS files.The school has never had a lottery but does have a plan in place. Mr. Johnson said that they do lose students throughout the year (mainly going into second semester) for two primary reasons: (1) oftenthe students come with behavioral issues that are corrected at QEA so the parents remove them to goback to their previous school or (2) the behavioral and dress standards of the school are not liked by students so parents allow the students to leave. In other words, parents view the charter school as a short-term fix rather than a long-term destination for their students. With that amount of turnover,they have not needed to hold a lottery. I understand this turnover but also suggested the school look at ways to ensure those students stay
because it would benefit the school’s overall culture and carry their academics even further.
 
Education Plan:
School demonstrates alignment with
school’s mission
in regards to:
 
Education Plan (curriculum) Process for identifying EC studentsProfessional Development Plan Academic Accountability PlanClass size (Student to teacher ratio) Student conduct and disciplineDifferentiation for Special Populations
The class sizes are curious. In looking at the ADM numbers and cross-referencing with the teaching roster on the website, the elementary ratios are as follows: kindergarten is 1:22, first grade is 1:18, second grade is 1:17, third grade is 1:34, and fifth grade is 1:26. I failed to ask this question of Mr. Johnson but this is something that a consultant could inquire about in the future. With the various ratios,is there a set number per class that would then drive the need for a lottery? Additional follow up isneeded to gain a better understanding.
Governance:
School demonstrates alignment with school
’s mission
in regards to:
 
Organization structure Board has an orientation plan for new membersBy laws School has a grievance policyBoard meeting schedule Open Meeting LawsConflict of Interest/Nepotism policies Board minutes online or readily availableBoard meeting notification posted
 I shared with Mr. Johnson something that I noticed on the school’s website – 
they do not have a board calendar online. The Open Meetings Law, which charter schools must follow, says: if a public bodyhas a website, then
 public meetings must be posted on the website prior to the “scheduled time of themeeting.” It would be in the best interest of the school and transparenc
 y to do likewise in getting thisinformation to the public. While at the school, they were able to show me where those meeting dateswere housed on the website. I had simply missed them.The board meetings occur quarterly. I suggested that Mr. Johnson go back to the board and request meeting no less than every other month. With the allegations out there against the school, a regular meeting board will showcase they are invested and overseeing the operations of the school. It would also expedite the process for any grievances that may be filed.
Academic EXCELLENCE
How is the school innovative when compared to the surrounding LEAs?
The charter school has a Business and Entrepreneurship model at the high school. Mr. Johnson said thehigh school moved this direction due to the changes in Winston-Salem. Mainstays, such as RJR and  Hanes, are gone; and those types of jobs that paid well are too. He wanted to make sure that when students left the charter school that they could make a living for themselves or their family. Their 

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