One of the most important ways that the ICSB gathers performance information about the schools it authorizes is through site visits. Site visits allow the authorizer to observe the school firsthand, interact with key stakeholders, and corroborate school-reported information. Pre-Opening site visits are conducted at least once prior to the start of the school's first year. Once a school has opened its doors and is serving students, the ICSB regularly conducts Formal, Monitoring and End-of-Term site visits.
Pre-Opening Site Visit: A charter school's ability to successfully fulfill the terms of its charter agreement depends a great deal upon what happens before the doors of the school ever open. Some of the most complicated tasks and critical timelines occur during a charter school's pre-operational year(s).
Guided by a detailed Prior Action Checklist, ICSB staff members work with each new school to ensure that it is ready to start its first school school year in full compliance with education, financial, health, legal, safety and other requirements. Progress toward completion of Prior Action Checklist items will be regularly assessed by ICSB staff. In addition, the school should anticipate a minimum of one Pre-Opening site visit. For additional guidance, please refer to the Prior Action Checklist attached to the charter agreement and posted on the ICSB website and the Pre-Opening Site Visit Guidance.
Formal Site Visit: Formal site visits are conducted in the Fall or Winter of each year to gauge the school's progress toward meeting academic success, financial health, and organizational compliance goals. Formal site visits are conducted by ICSB staff members and/or their authorized designees, who interview key stakeholders, conduct classroom observations, review documentation, and attend a Board meeting. Written feedback is provided to the Board of Directors and school leadership. For additional information, please refer to the Formal Site Visit Guidance.
Monitoring Site Visit: In addition to Formal site visits, ICSB staff members conduct informal Monitoring site visits for follow-up oversight, special events, and general check-ins. One Monitoring site visit is held each year and consists of a meeting with the school's leadership and staff. In addition, the ICSB may conduct Monitoring site visits at other times throughout the year to fulfill its authorizer duties. Reasons for additional monitoring visits may include, but are not limited to: follow-up on implementation of improvement plans, documentation of best practices, or investigation of a complaint. Such visits may be impromptu or without notice. At its discretion, ICSB staff may opt not to conduct Monitoring visits for schools that are performing well across all Accountability Plan dimensions.
End-of-Term Site Visit: The End-of-Term site visit is conducted by ICSB staff and expert external evaluators in the Fall of Year 5. This site visit is conducted after a school has submitted a Charter Renewal Application and provides a summative evaluation of the school's performance over the entire term of the charter. Written feedback is provided to the Board of Directors and school leadership and is used to determine charter renewal recommendations. External evaluator fees are paid by the ICSB.