Performance Contracting: Lessons from Chartering

States facing particular challenges—English language, foreign language, STEM, special education—may find it advantageous to create statewide relationships with solution providers.   A recommended partner/vendor list is a simple solution.
Where special terms, conditions, or pricing strategies would be beneficial, the state could use a performance contracting approach.  Like a PPO in health care, a PTO, Preferred Teacher Organization, could provide instruction on a contract basis across a state. A bunch of STEM teachers could develop a valuable high school blended offering.
A language acquisition service provider could contract for statewide services that combined computer base instruction, virtual tutoring, and social networking (i.e., interacting with native speakers).  RosettaStone looks like a pretty good alternative to traditional foreign language courses with lots of flexibility in deployment.  A statewide contract could be a big cost savings with improved choices and outcomes.
Similar performance contracting strategies could be used to retain business management organizations, transportation providers, food service vendors, and facilities maintenance vendors.
Negotiated statewide performance contracts would give schools cost effective options.  The approach could benefit small and rural schools, small charter networks, and urban schools trapped in dysfunctional districts.
NACSA has helped hundreds of authorizers get smart about chartering.  States should use that capacity and strategy to improve service delivery where gaps exist.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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