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Charters & Choice

WestEd works nationwide to improve educational quality and access for all students in traditional schools, public charter schools, and schools of choice. Our work in school improvement, special education, instructional transformation, school culture, and talent management allows us to serve our partners with a holistic approach to improving quality for all students.

Overview

State education agencies, local education agencies, authorizers, charter school governing boards, and schools play critical roles in providing every student with a high-quality, equitable education. WestEd partners with these organizations to enhance their capacity to develop and implement policies, systems, and strategies that improve school quality and provide greater access to school choice options that serve all students.

Our work focuses on developing collaborative solutions related to three primary areas:

  • Supporting all learners in charter schools. WestEd engages partners in developing products and tools that support charter schools in effectively serving all students.
  • Systemic improvement of the charter sector. We actively support stakeholders across the charter ecosystem who work hand-in-hand to support equitable access to high-quality options for all students.
  • High-quality authorizing. WestEd works with charter authorizers, state departments of education, and charter support organizations to strengthen systems for authorizing, monitoring, and renewing high-quality charter schools.

Research, Evaluation, and Policy

WestEd provides services pertaining to charter schools and school choice for a variety of federal, state, and local organizations. These services include rigorous evaluations, policy analyses, best practices research, and formative evaluations that inform program impacts and improvements.

WestEd also conducts mixed method, impact and implementation evaluations for various school choice grants, including Breakthrough Schools, Perry Street Preparatory Public Charter School, and magnet programs in Baltimore County and Clark County.


WestEd is home to the monitoring services for the U.S. Department of Education for the Charter Schools Program (CSP) grants.

Technical Assistance

WestEd also enhances the capacity of our partners to create high-quality systems of school choice that provide equitable access for all students. We work directly with charter networks and individual schools to provide academic and leadership supports. We have worked with Honors Academy of Literature and Delta Academy in Nevada and Skyline Education in Arizona on instructional and leadership coaching, curriculum alignment, and assessment review.


National Charter School Resource Center

WestEd is currently a partner on the National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC). The NCSRC provides technical assistance and resources to Charter School Program grantees and develops resources, such as case studies, webinars, and toolkits for charter sector stakeholders.

Charters & Choice Services

WestEd provides evidence-based support designed to help all our clients meet the needs of the communities they serve.

State education agencies rely on us to assess school choice policies and implement changes that improve high-quality school options. We facilitate district-charter collaboration, support state education agencies in reviewing their school choice policies and practices, and provide policy-relevant recommendations.

Charter authorizers work with us to strengthen systems for authorizing, monitoring, and renewing high quality charter schools. They also seek our support in ensuring that charter schools enroll and serve all students effectively, including students with disabilities and English Learners.

Charter networks throughout the country work with us to evaluate their programming and support school improvement efforts, provide academic and leadership support, instructional and leadership coaching, and curriculum and assessment review.

Leadership teams throughout traditional and charter schools work with us to build capacity, ensure fiscal and programmatic accountability, and support continuous improvement for our partners.

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Supporting All Learners in Charter Schools

As the charter sector evolves, authorizers, state departments of education, school districts and others are putting greater emphasis on ensuring that charter schools meet the needs of all learners. WestEd engages partners in developing products and tools that support charter schools in effectively serving students with disabilities, English Learners, and students from historically underserved communities.

Systemic Improvement of the Charter Sector

As the charter sector continues to evolve, actively preventing and addressing underperforming charter schools is imperative to ensuring continuous improvement. WestEd actively supports stakeholders across the charter ecosystem who work hand-in-hand to support equitable access to high-quality options for all students.

Our products, tools, and capacity-building experiences include support for:

  • Addressing school improvement needs
  • Identifying schools prior to failure
  • Strategic planning and system redesign
  • Evaluations and program reviews
  • On-Demand learning opportunities
  • Improvement planning, implementation and accountability support

Support for High-Quality Authorizing

WestEd works with charter authorizers, state departments of education, and charter support organizations to strengthen systems for authorizing, monitoring, and renewing high-quality charter schools. WestEd expertise also helps charter schools enroll and serve all students effectively, including students with disabilities and English Learners.

WestEd’s Four Domains Guides Systemic Improvement Actions

The Four Domains for Significant and Sustainable Charter School Improvement was developed and designed by WestEd to help educators and policymakers in the charter school system organize and guide both policy and action for rapid school improvement. We draw on key elements of the research-based framework to sustain continuous improvement for charter schools, while also facilitating enhanced collaboration between traditional districts and schools of choice to promote better outcomes.

Expertise

WestEd brings research-informed expertise to help build capacity, ensure fiscal and programmatic accountability, and support continuous improvement for our partners. Our work in school improvement, special education, instructional transformation, school culture, and talent management allows us to serve our partners with a holistic approach to improving quality and access for all students.

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Meet Our Experts

  • Sara AllenderSara AllenderSara Allender is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd who leads monitoring and evaluation projects that provide stakeholders and policymakers with key program implementation information. She directed WestEd’s Voluntary Public School Choice (VPSC) and Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) monitoring projects and currently leads the Charter School Program (CSP) monitoring project, each for the U.S Department of Education.View Full Bio
  • Steve CanaveroSteve CanaveroSteve Canavero, Ph.D., is a Senior Advisor at WestEd. Most recently, he served as the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Nevada where he led the state’s education system serving nearly 450,000 students. Steve previously was appointed to serve as the first director of Nevada’s newly created State Public Charter School Authority. His work there resulted in Nevada’s charter school policy becoming one of the highest rated in the nation.View Full Bio
  • Robin ChaitRobin ChaitRobin Chait brings more than 15 years of experience to her role at WestEd. Previously, she led policy, communications, and fundraising for Center City Public Charter Schools in Washington D.C. She also led teacher and leader effectiveness initiatives within the Race to the Top grant at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and developed state and federal policy recommendations at the Center for American Progress. She also served as a third grade teacher.View Full Bio
  • Aimee EvanAimee EvanAimee Evan provides integrated solutions for WestEd partners and has led numerous research, evaluation, technical assistance, and professional learning projects and written on topics of school improvement, systems design, and college and career readiness. She is currently leading the systemic improvement strategy of charter schools, which includes frameworks and capacity building to prevent and address charter school improvement needs. View Full Bio
  • John FlahertyJohn FlahertyJohn Flaherty, Jr., directs evaluation projects that ultimately provide policymakers and practitioners with the information they need to improve education services. Mr. Flaherty’s work ranges from large-scale national policy and program evaluations to local community-based projects, encompassing a variety of evaluation designs as well as content areas.View Full Bio
  • Lauren OutlawLauren OutlawLauren Outlaw is a Senior Policy Specialist for WestEd. She currently analyzes program, federal, and state compliance requirements to develop policies and protocols to support system productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency. Throughout her work, Ms. Outlaw interprets and applies various state education code statutes to understand the implications for policy and practice at local levels. She also supports the effective implementation of the Charter Schools Program grant monitoring project.