Idaho’s Communities of Excellence CSP Grant: Cohort 1 Baseline Evaluation

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Prepared by the Idaho Policy Institute

In 2018, a consortium of leaders in education (Idaho Public Charter School Commission, Idaho State Board of Education and three non-profits, Bluum, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and Building Hope) came together to apply for a competitive Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education (see Appendix A) to launch, replicate and expand charter schools across the state. As a result, Idaho’s Communities of Excellence (COE) consortium was awarded a $17.1 million CSP grant. This award was increased to $22.5 million in 2019. Over the grant’s five years, Idaho’s COE program will administer the majority of grant funding (90%) and technical assistance to 20 Idaho public charter schools.

Idaho’s COE program has three main objectives:

    1. Increase the number of quality charter school seats by 8,200 students, especially for Idaho’s most educationally disadvantaged and rural students, through charter school start up, replication and expansion (described in Appendix A).
    2. Support the Public Charter School Commission in expanding its quality authorizing efforts while disseminating and supporting best practices for other authorizers statewide.
    3. Evaluate and widely disseminate the successes and lessons of high-quality charter schools to impact the broader education system.

Idaho Policy Institute (IPI) serves as the independent third-party evaluator to support the program’s third objective. IPI is a non-partisan, interdisciplinary research unit in the School of Public Service at Boise State University. As evaluator, IPI analyzes the COE program design and effectiveness, use of funds and stakeholder perception for each of the CSP charter school subgrantees. Student achievement and growth data, stakeholder engagement data and subgrantee school budgets and expense reports were utilized for analysis. Three reporting periods for each cohort of subgrantees will provide baseline data for each school and cumulative results. IPI’s final report will provide an overall evaluation of Idaho’s COE program and help create an evidence-base of practices and innovations among Idaho’s charter schools.

This report serves as the baseline report for the first cohort of CSP subgrantees and uses data from the 2018/19 school year. The first cohort consists of five charter schools (see Table 1). One of the objectives of the COE project is to ensure educationally disadvantaged and rural students are represented in the subgrantee schools. Table 1 includes demographic data for subgrantee schools, all Idaho schools and all charter schools in Idaho to act as a baseline for measuring future progress toward this goal.

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