Learning from Charter School Management Organizations: Strategies for Student Behavior and Teacher Coaching

In November, we learned from the National Study of CMO Effectiveness (a joint initiative by Mathematica and the Center on Reinventing Public Education) that the quality of charter-management organizations varies dramatically. (These findings were confirmed in second report released by the pair in January.) This latest from Mathematica and CRPE probes some of the common practices of high-quality CMOs. Based on data from the middle schools of twenty-two CMOs, we now learn that consistently applied school-wide behavior programs (which outline clear rewards and demerits for specific actions, hold “zero tolerance” for violence, and promote a strong culture of learning) and regular teacher coaching are the strategies most strongly linked to higher student achievement. Interestingly, other popular (and reformy) approaches didn’t correlate with better performance, including boosting instructional time, adopting performance-based teacher evaluation and compensation schemes, and using formative-assessment data frequently. To illustrate further how the two successful strategies work on the ground, the report then profiles five CMOs that utilize them—Aspire Public Schools, Inner City Education Foundation, KIPP DC, Uncommon Schools, and Yes Prep Public Schools. Uncommon Schools, for example, pushes a school culture based on its MAPP (Mindful, Achieving, Professional, and Prepared) and SLANT (Sit up straight, Listen, Ask and answer questions, Nod for understand, and Track the speaker) tenets. (Pioneered by KIPP’s founders, KIPP DC also uses the SLANT technique.) On the teacher-coaching front, Aspire, Yes Prep, and KIPP DC observe their teachers weekly—Uncommon Schools observes teachers more frequently than that. Novice teachers receive intense classroom-management training while experienced teachers’ coaching is more instructional “fine tuning.” Both types of teachers see quick feedback from observations. While these are correlated and not causal trends, the showcasing of what works for high-quality CMOs should be welcome insight to all school leaders.

Lake, Robin, Melissa Bowen, Allison Demeritt, Moira McCullough, Joshua Haimson, and Brian Gill, Learning from Charter School Management Organizations: Strategies for Student Behavior and Teacher Coaching (Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research; Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing Public Education, 2012).

More By Author

Related Articles