Charter schools and districts in the Lone Star State have new incentive to build innovative partnerships in the wake of legislation passed last year, and a recent report showcases models already in place.
“The Promise of Partnerships,” created by the Texas Aspires Foundation, highlights examples of districts and charters working together, both in Texas and across the country. The report highlights two incentives passed by the Texas legislature last year that encourage collaboration.
- Students in partnership schools are funded at whichever per-pupil rate is higher (the charter school’s or the district’s).
- Turnaround schools receive a two-year pause in sanctions from the accountability system.
The report features two Texas partnerships: one between the San Antonio Independent School District and the John H. Woods Charter District to provide specialized education support to students with social and emotional disorders, and another instructional partnership with Grand Prairie Independent School District and Uplift Schools to expand course offerings. It also features partnerships in New Jersey, Denver, and Tennessee.
In a recent interview with the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), Molly Weiner, director of policy at the Texas Aspires Foundation, explains why the new incentives are a powerful opportunity for collaboration.
“The vast majority [of charter schools] are authorized by the Texas Education Agency and operate outside the bounds of local districts. While districts and charters technically could partner prior to this legislation, barriers around funding and accountability kept the sectors (for the most part) from pursuing opportunities.”
As Weiner explains, partnerships are particularly appealing for turnaround schools.
“School turnaround work is hard, and we know from research and evaluation work that the fruits of a turnaround effort can often take several years. This partnership incentive allows a district to keep a school operating with all the current students (the bill requires that any student in a turnaround partnership have the option to stay) and gives the charter school or nonprofit time to do the work required for successful school turnaround.”