Renewal Site Visit Overview
The Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office (GVSU CSO) Renewal Site Visit (RSV) is an opportunity that the GVSU CSO can use to better understand and explain how well schools are working to educate students. The RSV places a small team of experienced educators within the school to collect and analyze data about school performance.
The RSV is based on a transparent, research-based set of standards - the GVSU CSO Renewal Benchmarks - that serve as the framework to understand the effectiveness of school practices. The RSV is used to promote understanding and dialogue between the school and the GVSU CSO.
Both the school and the RSV team have clear roles and responsibilities that are designed to promote good rapport and clear communication. All team members are governed by the GVSU CSO's Core Values.
Honesty, integrity, and objectivity, and a focus on the best interests of students and staff are essential to the success and positive impact of the RSV process.
Why does the GVSU CSO conduct renewal site visits?
As a charter public school authorizer, the GVSU's CSO's is tasked with conducting comprehensive oversight for each of the academies the university charters, and reporting that progress to the GVSU Board of Trustees. The primary legal and contractual obligation in this oversight process is to examine the academic growth across all subgroups of students, which is measured, in part, by the Educational Goals in the charter contract (Schedule 7-1).
The academic outcomes that a school is creating for students is the leading factor in any charter contract renewal recommendation that the GVSU CSO makes to the GVSU Board of Trustees. Renewal Site Visits give the GVSU CSO additional depth and evidence toward school operations and academic development.
What are the GVSU CSO Renewal Benchmarks?
The GVSU CSO Renewal Benchmarks include a set of standards used to assess critical aspects of a school's operation. Renewal Benchmarks are based on research of the best educational practices and seek to address the following four Renewal Questions:
To best analyze if a school is meeting these benchmarks, the GVSU CSO uses multiple sources of evidence to understand how well a school is performing. Evidence collection extends beyond standardized measures of student achievement and can include anything in relation to the renewal protocol's key questions and indicators.
Evidence collection begins with the review of the key documents submitted through EdLusion that describe the school and its students. The documents are reviewed by the GVSU CSO prior to the team conducting its renewal site visit. This provides the RSV team with initial information about the school’s programs and the students it serves.
During the RSV, members of the CSO continue to gather information related to the Renewal Benchmarks and to look for evidence that supports the content provided in the document submission phase. Given the breadth and depth of the Renewal Benchmarks, the RSV focuses specifically on five of the Benchmarks in particular:
- Is high quality instruction evident throughout the school? (Benchmark 1D: Pedagogy)
- Does the school promote cultural sensitivity and responsiveness to the school population? (Benchmark 4B: Culture and Climate)
- Does the school have strong instructional leadership (Benchmark 1E: Instructional Leadership)
- Has the school been faithful to its mission and has it implemented the key design elements included in its charter? (Benchmark 2A: Mission & Key Design Elements)
- Does the school organization effectively support the delivery of the educational program (Benchmark 2C: Organizational Effectiveness
How does the RSV Process Work?
The RSV utilizes multiple sources of evidence to understand how well a school is working. It extends beyond standardized measures of student achievement to collect evidence in relation to the protocol's key questions and indicators. There are four general steps in the RSV process:
Pre-visit Planning and Analysis
The GVSU CSO works with the school to organize the schedule for the RSV. Prior to the visit, RSV team member review documents that the school submitted as evidence that it is meeting the Renewal Benchmarks. RSV members record their initial assessments about the school's performance according to protocol indicators.
On-Site Evidence Gathering
The RSV team spends a day at the school to collect additional evidence through classroom visits and interviews with key school stakeholders.
Development of Findings
The RSV team's primary objective is to develop findings in relation to the key questions. To come to consensus on a set of findings, the team works together to collate and discuss available evidence collected throughout the RSV process.
Feedback to the School
While on site, the RSV team leader communicates with school leadership to keep the school informed of the team's progress and to seek the school's input on that progress.
How Should a School Prepare for Charter Contract Renewal?
In this brief four-part video series, GVSU's Don Cooper offers some background on GVSU and its work as a charter school authorizer. He also provides a brief overview of the charter renewal process, highlights some of the key components of the renewal process, and outlines how school boards and leaders can begin to appropriately prepare for their site visit. School board and leaders are encouraged to review these videos prior to planning their renewal site visit.
Total video run time is approximately 21 minutes.