2018-2019 Sponsor Evaluation Process: Frequently Asked Questions

General Evaluation Questions

Quality Practices Component

Compliance Component


General Evaluation Questions

    1. When will the list of selected schools for the quality and compliance components for the 2018-2019 sponsor evaluation be available in Epicenter?
    The list of selected schools for the quality component of the 2018-2019 evaluation will be available on the Department’s website once the document submission window opens in Epicenter some time by Jan. 15, 2019. The list of selected schools for the compliance component of the 2018-2019 sponsor evaluation will be posted following the July 1, 2019, document submission deadline.

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    2. What happens if I upload documentation to Epicenter that contains personally identifiable information (PII)?
    When uploading documents to Epicenter for the sponsor evaluation review, sponsors should be mindful of any confidential or personally identifiable student information that may be contained in the documents. Sponsors should not submit documentation that contains students’ personally identifiable information. Personally identifiable information is not pertinent to the evaluation and consequently will result in the sponsor being placed on a corrective action plan if visible confidential information is discovered by the evaluators.

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    3. How does a school merger during the 2018-2019 school year impact the sponsor evaluation?

    Academic –  For a school that is merged out of existence, it will be treated as closed for the purposes of the academic component of the sponsor evaluation. For additional information on the calculation for the academic component, refer to the Technical Documentation for the 2018-2019 Community School Sponsor Evaluation

    Compliance – The Oversight of Schools worksheet must be submitted by each of the sponsors for the schools involved for the time during which that entity was the sponsor of the relevant school, and both schools will be included in the calculation for item S-615.

    Quality – If the school that is merged out of existence has been selected for documentation submission, the date of the merger will be taken into consideration during the review of standards that are date sensitive.

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    4. How does a school whose contract is assigned to another sponsor during the school year impact the sponsor evaluation?

    Academic – The school will appear in the portfolio of schools sponsored at any time during the 2018-2019 school year for both sponsors. The school will appear on the ending portfolio only for the sponsor that assumed the school’s contract. For additional information on the calculation for the academic component, refer to the Technical Documentation for the 2018-2019 Community School Sponsor Evaluation

    Compliance – The Oversight of Schools worksheet must be submitted by both sponsors for the school and will be included in the calculation for item S-615 for both sponsors.

    Quality – If the school has been selected for documentation submission for either sponsor, the date of the assignment will be taken into consideration during the review of standards that are date sensitive.

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Quality Practices Component

    1. Optional interviews: Will they be used in scoring?
    No, the interview will not affect or change the scores a sponsor receives for the standards of the quality rubric. The basis of the score for each standard is the documented evidence that the sponsor provides. While the scoring process does not use the sponsor interview, sponsors can use this opportunity to share processes or updates that documentation does not yet reflect. While interview comments do not affect scoring, they may be included in the quality report.

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    2. Will any schools that were selected as the subset of schools in prior years also be selected in 2018-2019? In other words, can a school reviewed during the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 evaluation be selected again for review during the 2018-2019 cycle?
    Yes, this could occur. Schools are randomly selected each evaluation cycle from the sponsor’s entire portfolio.

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    3. Explain the difference between the narrative option for standards on the quality rubric and the narrative field box in Epicenter. When should I use each and for what purposes?
    Sponsors opting to provide a narrative explanation for one or more of the standards included on the quality rubric must upload the narrative into Epicenter using the narrative template provided by the Department. For two of the standards, C.01 and C.02, because there are no required document uploads for these standards, sponsors opting to provide a narrative explanation must enter the narrative in the field provided on each of those standards in Epicenter.

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    4. A.04 (Conflicts of Interest) – I'm a CPA and a treasurer of both the sponsor and the school. State law allows a treasurer to work for both the sponsor and the school. Why is this an issue?
    While state law may permit a treasurer to work for a sponsor as well as for the sponsor's community school(s), it is not a quality practice. The sponsor's enrollment and financial oversight responsibilities require that the school's governing authority and the sponsor's governing board review the school's fiscal reports.

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    5. A.04 (Conflicts of Interest) – What happens if a sponsor’s submitted documentation indicates a conflict of interest?
    If a sponsor’s staff member indicates a conflict of interest, the reviewers will determine whether the sponsor follows its processes and procedures for dealing with conflicts of interest. Please note that having staff acknowledge a conflict of interest does not indicate the sponsor has dealt with the conflict of interest. If the sponsor’s submission indicates a potential conflict of interest, the Department will refer the situation to the Ohio Ethics Commission.

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    6. A.05 (Staff Expertise) – What constitutes an equivalent of a licensed school treasurer?
    School treasurer equivalents include CPAs, CFOs and comptrollers.

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    7. A.05 (Staff Expertise) – What information should be included on a sponsor’s organizational chart?
    In addition to serving as a visual depiction of how the sponsor’s organization is structured, the organizational chart should include the names of the offices, departments, sections or units that make up the sponsoring organization, as well as the specific names and positions of staff members with sponsoring responsibilities. In short, one should be able to look at the organizational chart and see which areas specifically deal with sponsoring and the staff members assigned to positions in those areas. Job descriptions of each sponsoring position also should be included.

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    8. A.07 (Allocation of Resources) – Our sponsoring organization has a service agreement with the school it sponsors. Is that okay?
    While ORC 3314.46 does allow for some sponsors to have separate service agreements with their sponsored schools, it is not a quality practice and could lead to potential conflicts of interest.

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    9. A.07 (Allocation of Resources) – What needs to be included in the budget narrative?
    A budget narrative provides context and explains the sources of revenue, expenditures and how they relate to the operation.

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    10. B.01 (Application Process, Timeline and Directions) – When does the planning period fall in the process? For example, does it occur prior to application, between application and approval or between approval and the first day of school?
    The planning period begins once the sponsor notifies the school of approval.

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    11. B.01 (Application Process, Timeline and Directions) – Which application for new community schools, replicators and schools seeking a change of sponsor should be submitted?
    Because the sponsor evaluation is for the 2018-2019 school year, sponsors should submit the application that was applicable during this period.

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    12. C.01 (Contract Performance Measures) – What is meant by “all applicable state report card measures”?
    For traditional community schools, all applicable state report card measures included in the six graded component areas of the traditional Ohio School Report Cards.For dropout prevention and recovery schools, this would be the measures included in the four rated components included on the dropout recovery report card. More information on the measures included on both the traditional state report card and the dropout recovery report card is available here.

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    13. C.01 (Contract Performance Measures) – What is the Gap Closing measure? How do I know what that data is?
    The Gap Closing measure shows how well schools are meeting performance expectations for all student subgroups in English language arts, math and graduation. It compares the academic performance of each subgroup against the expected performance goals for that subgroup to determine if there are gaps and whether improvement is happening. Click here to see the ten student subgroups. Sponsors that have schools with one or more of these student subgroups should have the Gap Closing measure included on the performance framework of the contract, as well as other measures beyond Gap Closing. The Gap Closing measure also shows how well schools are meeting the language proficiency expectations or improvement for English learners.

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    14. D.03 (On-Site Visits) – Are sponsors supposed to review the school’s compliance with all applicable laws, rules, contractual obligations and academic performance measures at every site visit?
    For the purposes of the 2018-2019 sponsor evaluation, sponsors must submit evidence of conducting at least two on-site reviews that are at least three months apart while school is in session for its selected schools. These two on-site reviews are not the monthly enrollment and financial reviews. Sponsors must show evidence that, over the course of the two site visits combined, they reviewed the selected schools’ compliance with all applicable laws and rules, all contractual obligations and all academic performance measures.

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    15. D.04 (Site Visit Reports) – As a sponsor, I have a checklist site visit instrument that I complete during my school visits. After the visit, I just give the school a copy of the completed checklist to serve as the site visit report. Is that okay?
    The 2018-2019 Quality Practices Rubric does not specify what type of document constitutes a site visit report. However, quality sponsoring practices indicate that a site visit report provides qualitative information and comments regarding what was seen during the site visit and what next steps, if any, are needed to improve or correct a deficiency or inadequacy seen during the site visit. The site visit report also should include any areas of strength seen at the school. While sponsors may use any site visit protocols or checklists as their reports, additional information may need to be added to adequately summarize the site visit and specify the site visit reviewer’s findings.

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    16. D.05 (Performance Monitoring) – What serves as evidence of collecting and analyzing data?
    Sponsors must provide documentation that demonstrates that data collection and analysis occurred.

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    17. D.06 (Intervention) – What evidence can sponsors provide to show that they communicate with their schools the conditions that may trigger intervention and corrective action?
    There are several examples of types of evidence that sponsors can provide to show they communicated with their schools the conditions that may trigger intervention, such as clearly detailed written communication, meeting notes, meeting agendas and newsletters. If sponsors require their schools to confirm or sign off that they received this information, then a copy of the sign-off sheet could suffice as well. Additionally, if applicable, the documentation should identify the condition(s) that triggered the intervention and the actions taken by the sponsor in accordance with established policy.

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    18. E.02 (Renewal and Non-Renewal Decisions) – How does the Department define fiscal and operational viability?
    For the purposes of the sponsor evaluation, a community school’s fiscal and operational viability is based on the following indicators:
    • School cannot be in 'unauditable' status;
    • School cannot be in probationary (for financial or operational reasons), suspended or closed status;
    • School cannot have any unresolved findings for recovery (as identified on annual fiscal audits); and
    • School must have received an 'unqualified' opinion on the school's most recent annual fiscal audit.

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    19. E.05 (Closure Process) – The rubric for this standard states “the sponsor submitted evidence of ensuring parents were notified of the school’s closure within two weeks?” Within two weeks of what?
    The sponsor needs to ensure parents were notified within two weeks of when the school’s governing authority acted to close the school. The sponsor would need to provide evidence the school notified parents within two weeks. If the sponsor suspends operation of the school or terminates the school’s contract, the sponsor would need to submit evidence the school (or the sponsor if the school’s leadership is no longer functional) notified parents within two weeks of its action.

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    20. F.01 (Ongoing Technical Assistance) – What is reactive technical assistance?
    Reactive technical assistance is the sponsor’s response to the identification or awareness of issues or situations it is made aware of from its schools, the Department or itself. It refers to how a sponsor reacts to a problem after it has already happened.

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Compliance Component

    1. Can the Department validate compliance items on the compliance worksheets?
    Beginning with the 2018-2019 sponsor evaluation review cycle, OAC 3301-102-08 permits the Department to validate sponsor compliance with all applicable laws and rules listed on the compliance worksheets.

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    2. Who needs to upload the “Compliance – Closed Schools Supplement” worksheet in Epicenter?
    Sponsors must upload the Compliance – Closed Schools Supplement worksheet for any sponsored school that closed prior to the 2018-2019 school year and for which completed Closing Assurances were submitted to the Department during the 2018-2019 school year or have not yet been submitted to the Department.

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    3. In a situation where the community school has included many of its governing authority-approved policies in a school handbook, what serves as sufficient evidence of this?
    The sponsor should provide evidence that the policy was a part of the handbook when the handbook was approved. This evidence may include either signed meeting minutes or certified resolutions.

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    4. Can sponsors use their compliance spreadsheets from previous years as a starting point for 2018-2019?
    No. The compliance worksheets are updated annually to reflect stakeholder feedback, provide clarification and to incorporate any legislative changes. Further, the logic formulas for the spreadsheets may change, meaning the document is not the same from year to year. For specific compliance changes from the 2017-2018 to the 2018-2019 sponsor evaluation, sponsors should view the change logs posted on the Department's website here. Sponsors can, however, view previously submitted compliance spreadsheets and supporting documentation in Epicenter.

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    5. Many of the policies are required by Ohio Revised Code. If the policy was submitted last year and has not changed, why does it need to be resubmitted?
    Policies should be reviewed and updated regularly to meet compliance requirements, as well as to reflect any changes in legislation. If you would like to “reuse” documentation that previously has been submitted against a new requirement, you must complete this task through Compliance Center ONLY. If you have additional questions on reusing documents, please contact the Epicenter Help Desk or your assigned consultant.

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    6. If a sponsor places a school on a corrective action plan (CAP) for non-compliance of an item listed on the compliance spreadsheets, what elements are required to be addressed in the CAP?
    The corrective action plan should outline the steps necessary and a course of action to bring the school to compliant status by the next sponsor evaluation review cycle. The corrective action plan MUST contain actionable steps, with specific dates and deadlines for completion, and should specifically address the compliance item for which the school was not compliant. Corrective action plan s submitted in previous evaluation cycles will be reviewed by the evaluators and included in the 2018-2019 sponsor evaluation review process for comparison purposes for applicable compliance items.

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    7. What if I was not-compliant for an item during a previous evaluation cycle, placed my school on a CAP for that item and this evaluation cycle they are not compliant for the same item?
    If a sponsor submits a corrective action plan for the same issue(s) for a school for 2018-2019 as it did for 2017-2018 for a specific compliance item or if an item is unresolved from the 2017-2018 evaluation, a sponsor may be determined to be not compliant for that specific compliance item.

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    8. S-601 – What if my schools do not get audited every year?
    The sponsor should provide a list of all schools in its sponsoring portfolio and all associated audit meetings (pre-audit, post-audit and/or any meetings audit issues are discussed). In addition, the sponsor also must provide documentation of the audit meetings the sponsor attended. In cases where the Auditor of State contracts with a third party to conduct audit meetings, the sponsor should attend. If a school is on a schedule where it is not audited every year, the sponsor should indicate this information within its submitted list as part of the required documentation for this compliance item. If the sponsor did not receive notice from the Auditor of State or if no meetings occurred, the sponsor should provide documentation to that fact. Refer to ORC 3314.019 for additional guidance on communication with the state auditor.

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    9. S-601 – What if I did not receive notice from the AOS of State or if no meetings occurred during the review cycle?
    If the sponsor did not receive notice from the Auditor of State or if no meetings occurred, the sponsor should provide documentation to that fact. Refer to ORC 3314.019 for additional guidance on communication with the state auditor.

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    10. #128 – What is considered evidence of required College Credit Plus pathways in school course offerings?
    The school should develop, in consultation with the partnering college, two model pathways for courses offered under the College Credit Plus program. The school should publish the pathways among the school’s official list of course offerings from which a student may select. ORC 3365.13 outlines the requirements for model pathways for courses offered under the College Credit Plus program.

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    11.#165 – What is considered “published information”? Is a link to the OhioMeansJobs website sufficient?
    No, ORC 3313.89 requires more than just a link to the OhioMeansJobs website. Under ORC, each public high school, no later than April 1 of each year, is to provide information regarding the online education and career planning tool developed under ORC 6301.15. The information shall be published or provided in the school’s newsletter, high school planning guide, regulation publication to parents and students, or in a prominent location on the school’s website.

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    12. #171, 172, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178 (Special Education) – Clarify what is needed for the applicable school policies for these special education compliance items to meet the documentation requirements.
    The school should provide evidence it has adopted written policies and procedures addressing the specific compliance item. The school can adopt the Ohio Model Special Education Policies and Procedures; however, they should include any supporting evidence of adoption/approval of the policy and/or procedures by the school’s board. This may include board meeting minutes and corresponding documents reviewed at meetings, but the minutes should specifically cite the policy being reviewed/approved.

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    13. #436 (Providing Report Card to Parent) – What documentation is needed for this compliance item?
    ORC 3313.6411 provides guidance on providing the report card to parents. For purposes of the sponsor evaluation, the school should provide a copy of its enrollment package OR the checklist of all items included in the school’s standard enrollment package. Submitted documentation should evidence that the most recent report card (at a minimum the first page of the report card) for the school was provided to parents during the admissions process. The enrollment package can be for the upcoming school year if it is the most recent documentation available at the time of the submission deadline for the sponsor evaluation since it is within the evaluation period.

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    14. #609 – Will this item be included as part of the compliance component review for 2018-2019?
    This item will be disregarded for the 2018-2019 sponsor evaluation cycle as Senate Bill 216 repealed the applicable statute for this item. Sponsors do not need to reply to this item on the Oversight of Schools worksheet.

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    15. #620 – What is “temporary variance” from the Ohio BWC?
    ORC Chapter 4167 outlines the issuance process for a temporary variance.

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    16. #662 – Is the charter agreement sufficient evidence for this item?
    ORC 3314.03(A) requires a contract and ORC 3314.03(B) requires a separate standalone comprehensive plan. If a comprehensive plan is included as a separate document that is included as an attachment or exhibit to the contract, it will be considered in the review process.

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    17. #667 – Who does the school have to ensure received training on public records and open meeting laws as well as provide documentation of the training for purposes of the sponsor evaluation?
    ORC 3314.037 specifies the persons to whom this item applies (i.e., governing authority members, designated fiscal officer, administrators, and supervisory staff). In addition to the proof of attendance, sponsors should provide a list that includes individuals’ names and titles so that the evaluators can cross-reference the documents and determine compliance.

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    18. #754 (Informational Programs Relative to Missing Children) – What are examples of program materials that are required for this item?
    The community school should develop its own informational programs for students, parents and community members relative to missing children issues and matters. The informational programs and program materials developed by the school can include resources available by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and/or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children but should not be exclusive or in lieu of the school’s developed informational programs or program materials. A missing children policy may be submitted for this item; however, the school should provide evidence of how the policy is being implemented (for example, flyers, annual report distribution, parental acknowledgment of receiving the policy and/or program materials or parent/teacher conference meetings). ORC 3313.96 provides additional guidance on informational programs relative to missing children.

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    19. What is a substantiated item?
    A substantiated item, as referenced on page 9 of the Technical Documentation for the 2018-2019 Community School Sponsor Evaluation, is a sponsor or oversight of school compliance item for which the final determination is something other than “Not Compliant.”
     

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    20. What is validation?
    Validation is the process the Department uses to confirm the sponsor’s certification of compliance items. In accordance with OAC 3301-102-08(E), compliance items are subject to validation and are selected randomly. Validation may occur in one of two ways. Some items will be validated through review during an on-site visit. Other compliance items will be validated using additional records supplied to the vendor by the Department. The Department-provided records could include documentation previously submitted to the Department, data submitted through EMIS or other methods, information regarding submission dates, and other similar materials available to the Department.

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Last Modified: 4/17/2019 2:17:28 PM