Alma Families invited to participate in DESE Focus Group in March

Click here for the Spanish translation of this letter.

Massachusetts Department of

Elementary and Secondary Education

75 Pleasant Street, Malden, Massachusetts 02148-4906       Telephone: (781) 338-3000                                                                                                                 TTY: N.E.T. Relay 1-800-439-2370

Jeffrey C. Riley


February 16, 2024

Dear Alma del Mar Community,   

On March 21, a team from the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) will visit Alma del Mar.

The visit is guided by the Site Visit Protocol, which is informed by the Charter School Performance Criteria (Criteria). The Criteria clarify the three areas of charter school accountability: faithfulness to charter, academic performance, and organizational viability. During the site visit, the team may look at all or a subset of the Criteria. The scope of this visit will include: 

  • Criterion 1: Mission and Key Design Elements 
  • Criterion 2: Access and Equity 
  • Criterion 3: Compliance (if applicable) 
  • Criterion 5: Student Performance 
  • Key Indicator 6.1: Curriculum 
  • Key Indicator 6.2 Instruction 
  • Key Indicator 6.3: Assessment and Program Evaluation 
  • Key Indicator 6.4: Supports for All Learners 
  • Key Indicator 7.1 Safe and Supportive Environment 
  • Key Indicator 7.2 Family Engagement 
  • Key Indicator 8.1 School Systems and Leadership 
  • Key Indicator 8.2 Professional Climate and Standards for Performance 
  • Key Indicator 8.3: Contractual Relationships (if applicable)  
  • Criterion 9: Governance   
  • Criterion 10: Finance 

Prior to the visit, the Department will review documents and the school’s enrollment, academic performance, and financial data. 

During the visit, the Department will conduct focus groups with various stakeholder groups and observe instruction. As noted on page 6 of the Site Visit Protocol, it is the school’s responsibility to share an open invitation to community members who may want to join a focus group, and to inform each participant of the time and place of the meeting. The Department expects that each participant has complete freedom to speak regarding their knowledge of and experience at the school, with no limits or repercussions imposed. The following focus groups will be conducted during the visit: 

For classroom observations, teachers should be aware that the team is not evaluating individual teachers but looking for trends in instruction across the school. We ask that teachers avoid giving lengthy quizzes or exams on the day of the visit. 

After the visit, the Department will produce a report that becomes part of the school’s file. Like other reports produced by the Department, the site visit report is a public document, and any member of the school community may request a copy from the school or from the Department. Please note that site visit reports generally take approximately two months to complete following the visit. 

At the end of the five-year charter term, the commissioner and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) will review the site visit report evidence along with other evidence gathered during the charter term to make a decision about whether to renew the school’s charter.

We look forward to meeting you soon. 


Esther Jeong

Coordinator of Accountability Monitoring,

Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign