NACSA is an independent voice for effective charter school policy and thoughtful charter authorizing practices that lead to more great public schools.

Beyond the Fringe: Charter Authorizing as Enrollment Grows

Charter schools began on the fringe of the public school landscape. As enrollment grows and charters serve more and more students in many cities, the ways students and families navigate all public schools is also changing. This requires new thinking by education stakeholders.

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Authorizer Voices: How to Protect Both Access and School Autonomy

The sixth video short in NACSA’s Authorizer Voices series shares how authorizers protect both access to charter schools and school autonomy, with a look at Washington, D.C.’s Public Charter School Board and discipline. Charter schools determine their own discipline policies. Authorizers can open a dialogue about those policies, share data on the consequences of those policies, and then, let schools decide what to do.


Inside Charter School Growth: A Look at Openings, Closings, and Why Authorizers Matter

Given authorizers’ important role in approving new schools and closing failing ones, it’s critical to explore how authorizers are impacting charter school growth and enrollment as a whole.

By taking an inside look at the numbers, our latest analysis seeks to do just that. Is the slowdown on charter school growth related to a lower approval rate for charter applications?  Do states that add more authorizers see more growth?

Read our key findings→

About Authorizers and Authorizing


NACSA’s One Million Lives campaign is dedicated to providing one million more children the chance to attend a great school that will prepare them for success throughout their lives.

We recently asked leaders in authorizing to tell us why they do this important work.

What spoke to me was that these were the public’s schools, not just public schools, and that communities had a right to determine what was going on in those buildings, based on their wants and needs. The one-size-fits-all didn’t work. It didn’t work for me; it certainly wasn’t going to work in the future, because the world is so different.”

Robbyn Wahby, Founding Executive Director, Missouri Charter Public School Commission

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Since the start of the charter movement, authorizing practices have evolved. We know what practices are critical to fostering high-performing charter schools. We recognize our duties to ensure the autonomy of the schools we oversee, to protect the rights of students and the public, and to close schools that are not living up to our expectations.

Authorizers play a vital role within the charter school community. By implementing these 12 Essential Practices, they help pave the way for every charter to be a great educational option for children.

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The Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, first established in 2004, reflect the lessons learned by experienced authorizers. This foundational resource for NACSA has been used to guide authorizing practices across the country and is referenced in state statutes. It focuses on the ends that authorizers should aim to attain in creating and upholding high expectations for the schools they charter while recognizing there are many means of getting there.

The Principles articulate a set of beliefs about quality charter school authorizing. The Standards identify core authorizer responsibilities and describe how the principles are upheld within each responsibility. Consult this resource often as a guide to understanding and fulfilling the critical responsibilities of charter school authorizers.

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