Best practices for monitoring enrollment and retention data

Spring Data Focus:
Enrollment and Retention
All school leaders and board members should know the answers to these questions:
Not only is this information vital for designing an effective program, Education Law §2851(4)(e) also requires that schools report on their efforts toward meeting or exceeding the enrollment and retention (E&R) targets set by the Regents and SUNY. Renewal term lengths can be impacted if E&R for one or more subgroups is significantly below the target.
Below are five activities for boards and school leaders to support E&R review throughout the school year:
➡️ Know your stats
School leaders should know how their current enrollment and retention rates compare to prior years and to the current year’s preliminary district data.
➡️ Identify where to focus
Determine where the enrollment of subgroups does not meet the district. Some schools may need to analyze several districts if they do not have a majority feeder district.
➡️ Take action
There may still be time to adjust or increase recruitment strategies before the application deadline. Retention strategies can be approached throughout the year. A school could also start revising their lottery policy to add a weight for a particular group, which would impact next year’s lottery.
➡️ Discuss
If it is not already included, add a spot for enrollment and retention rates to the board’s dashboard and cover it at a spring board meeting.
 ➡️ Reassess
Revisit E&R data and efforts during the annual reporting process this summer.
For our partner schools, we provide enrollment snapshots and analysis based on data from level 2 in SIRS and the state’s preliminary district data. We recommend checking SIRS to ensure that you can find and resolve any errors before the state makes your information public .


Join us as we hear from schools recently renewed for a full five-year term. We’re hosting an evening event at Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School on January 29. Join us for dinner with a panel discussion between the leaders of Bronx Academy of Promise Charter School, Northside Charter High School, and Beginning with Children Charter School II.

2018: Year in Review

Click here to read our 2018 Year in Review newsletter.

New Year, Better Board

Click here to read our January 2018 newsletter.

2017: Year in Review

Click here to read our December 2017 newsletter.

Winter 2017 Charter School Renewal Decisions: Recap

Renewal decision trends from January through March from all New York State charter school authorizers have been similar. Schools that come close to matching the three subgroup populations of the local district, and have higher achievement outcomes, are typically awarded the longest renewal terms. Although it is important to consider other factors such as organizational and financial viability, little we have seen so far in 2017 stacks up to those aforementioned areas.

With another group of recommendations expected in April 2017, we expect that these will mirror the trend set so far. The table below reflects all of the 26 renewal decisions to date, with four 2-year terms, five three-year terms, 17 5-year terms, and one non-renewal.


Three Questions Every Charter School Board Member Should Know How to Answer

These are the three most basic questions that all charter school board members should be able to answer:
  1. Who do you serve?
  2. Where do you stand?
  3. What are you working on?
Here are examples of how a well-informed board member might answer those three questions.

Question: Who do you serve?

Sample Answer: For fifteen years since our inception, our school has served a student population that is 75% African-American and the balance Hispanic.  This composition reflects the neighborhoods we typically draw from.  Our enrollment has a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than our local district, but we lag slightly behind in students with disabilities and substantially behind the district in English language learners.

Question: Where do you stand?

Sample Answer: Our performance on state exams has historically been higher than our local district but we are still a long way from the state average.  We feel our leadership is quite strong but we suffer from one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the sector. This is largely due to limits in compensation packages caused mainly by our private facility costs.

Question: What are you working on?

Sample Answer: Our Board acknowledges that restructuring our upcoming facility lease renewal will allow for badly needed funds to support stronger compensation packages.  We are unsustainable without it.  Per our teacher survey, competitive pay is our faculty’s number one reason for seeking positions in other schools.  Once we do this, our principal should see a return on our investment, and she will not have to keep starting over every year with mainly first-year teachers.

Training for Charter School Board Members

Announcing Academic Oversight for Charter School Boards, a free workshop for charter school board members on March 8, in New York City

Update: the workshop has reached capacity and the RSVP list is now closed. If you would like to receive updates about future workshops, please sign up for our monthly email updates.

We organized this workshop to address a common challenge many charter school boards face today: proper oversight of a school’s academic program. Board members without an academic background consider this task to be daunting, especially in an environment with continuously changing assessments and moving targets. Our March workshop will help board members sharpen their oversight skills to…
  • Provide detailed academic analysis during authorizer renewal visit interviews
  • Engage in meaningful discussion about academics with a school’s leadership team
  • Improve renewal candidacy through oversight of academic programming


Charter Schools Renewal Webinar

As charter school consultants, we have worked on over 50 renewal applications. We receive many requests for a simple yet effective plan to prepare charter schools for renewal. In response, we have put together this 3 minute webinar to assist in today’s renewal environment.  Over time, we have developed a five step method that is structured to help schools improve their candidacy for renewal. This webinar will help charter school boards and leadership teams in the planning and execution of a high quality renewal application.

New York State Education Department Board of Regents: Spring 2015 Summary of 28 Renewal Actions

Spring 2015 brought another batch of schools up for renewal before the New York State Education Department Board of Regents. Between February and June 2015, 28 schools were renewed. Within this group, 14 received short-term renewals and 14 received full-term renewals. Check the NYSED summary of Regents Action Taken for the full breakdown of these decisions.