SPACE Decision Letter

SPACE Decision Letter 2014 06 013
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    3333 14 th  Street NW Suite 210 Washington, DC 20010 t 202 328-2660 f 202 328-2661  June 13, 2014 Ms. Rhoi Wangila 5421 5th Street, NW Washington, DC 20011 Dear Ms. Wangila, Thank you for submitting an application to establish a public charter school in the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (“PCSB”) has completed the 2014 Application Review process. I regret to inform you that at its public meeting held on May 19, 2014, PCSB did not approve your application to establish Student Parent Achievement Center of Excellency (SPACE) as a  public charter school in the District of Columbia. The Board’s decision was based on a thorough evaluation of the written application and information gathered from the capacity interview and the public hearing. The following findings were the basis for denial: 1.   Some deficiencies cited in the 2012 application remained in the 2014 application and continue to cause concerns including: a.   The founding group’s resumes did not reveal experience and expertise in language immersion at the elementary level.  b.   The application did not include a detailed plan for identifying and providing English language services to students who are neither fluent in English nor Arabic, including English Language Learners. c.   The application did not include a robust plan for identifying and providing services to students with disabilities (“SWD”). Also, the applicant did not  provided a detailed description of how the school would serve SWD. This omission showed that the founding group lack an understanding of the legal requirements for educating this population, which could make it liable under state and federal laws. 2.   The application lacked sufficient details about the school’s goals. The applicant group stated that the school will adopt the Early Childhood and Elementary School Performance Management Frameworks (PMFs) as its goals and student academic achievement expectations; however, the some necessary components of the Early Childhood PMF were missing from the application. 3.   The applicant did not respond to all questions in the application guidelines. For example, the applicant did not answer the question pertaining to further recruitment of board of trustees and not all of the Planning Process section was complete. 4.   The applicant provided a general overview of its program that did not include the necessary steps to enable it to meet all of its learning objectives. For example, the  Letter to Ms. Wangila June 13, 2014 Page 2 applicant stated that 50% of instruction for students in kindergarten through grade five would be taught in Arabic. English language arts, social studies, physical education and the arts would be taught in English, and math and science taught in Arabic with English translations. With this model, a detailed description of the instructional methods and strategies to enable students to acquire fluency in Arabic should have been, but was not, in the application. Additionally, the applicant group indicated that additional subjects would be offered in both Arabic and English as the program adds grades, but did not explain how and it was unclear how students who struggled in one language or the other would be given the necessary content support to master the grade-level standards. 5.   The language immersion and school growth plans are not coordinated. The school proposes to open immediately with student enrolled in prekindergarten-3 through grade 5 with full-day Arabic immersion in the early grades and dual-language immersion in the upper grades and core content taught in either English or Arabic. However, the applicant did not describe the instructional methods the school would employ for students with little or no Arabic language entering in the upper grades to access core content – math and science – which are to be taught in Arabic. Further, the founding group provided inconsistent information about Arabic readiness: the application calls for 4th and 5th graders to take math and science in 100% Arabic classroom but in the capacity interview, the group said the 4th and 5th grade students would start in English and progress to Arabic. 6.   The application did not include a comprehensive and meaningful proposed curriculum. Its curriculum sample did not seem connected to any of the textbooks or programs that had been listed earlier in the application’s Educational Plan. In the capacity interview, the applicant group referred to other textbooks that were already being translated into Arabic but could not  provide the names of these materials. During the public hearing, they said that translation of the textbooks they referred to in the application is unnecessary because there are “already  books on the market that have already been translated into Arabic.” They also mentioned using DCPS’s curriculum but produced no evidence that they have established a partnership with DCPS. 7.   The application did not sufficiently describe a plan for recruiting staff qualified to teach in  both Arabic and a content area. 8.   The application questions listed under Maintenance and Reporting of Academic and Non-Academic data section were not fully addressed. There was no developed plan to capture, analyze, and report critical academic and non-academic data to PCSB and other agencies. In the capacity interview, the founding group mentioned a data person who is not listed in the staffing plan or the budget. 9.   Research was not cited properly throughout the document and the application contained many grammatical and formatting errors. Should you choose to file a petition again, that petition must meet the requirements of the School Reform Act. See D.C. Code § 38-1802.02. Specifically, it should appropriately resolve the  Letter to Ms. Wangila June 13, 2014 Page 3 deficiencies cited above and demonstrate: (a) that the applicant has fully answered each and every question and element in the application guidelines; (b) that the applicant understands the legal requirement for identifying, asse3ssing, and serving SWD and has developed appropriate plans based on these requirements; (c) that the applicant is prepared to serve all students who enroll regardless of their English fluency, i.e., English language learners, or academic abilities; and (c) that the proposed language immersion program is sound and reflects practices supported by relevant research. Should you want to appeal the denial of your application, you may seek judicial review in an appropriate court of the District of Columbia or review by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, pursuant to the procedures found in Chapter 5-A54 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations. We recognize the hard work and effort that went into the development of your application and there were many positive parts of the application that are not mentioned in this letter. Thank you for your interest in public charter schools and your commitment to improving public education in Washington, DC. Sincerely,  Naomi Rubin DeVeaux Deputy Director DC Public Charter School Board
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