What We Do
NACSA works with authorizers through grantmaking (Fund for Authorizing Excellence), member services, the annual Leadership Conference, and direct services. Direct services are provided by NACSA's Authorizer Development team. Their engagement with authorizers can range from advisory to comprehensive management. Highlights of NACSA's direct services opportunities are below.
Strategic Planning & Board Development
Every organization should have a compelling vision, clearly defined goals, and a sound plan for how to achieve those goals. NACSA works with authorizers to develop and implement each of those pieces.
Content knowledge is not essential to strategic planning, but it is sometimes indispensable. A significant part of our planning work involves orienting boards (the decision-makers) and staff to their roles and responsibilities as authorizers. Whether a newly established, single-purpose authorizer or a longstanding school district that has embraced chartering as a means to improve public education options within the system, we understand how to help define ambitious goals and how to make those goals attainable.
- Denver Public Schools
- New Mexico Department of Public Instruction
- Georgia Schools of Excellence Commission
There are two critical decisions that an authorizer must make in the life of every charter school. The first is whether to approve the application for a charter. The second is whether to renew the charter at the end of its term. These decisions are challenging both substantively and politically. On the substance, the decisions require expertise around educational program and performance, financial management, and organizational capacity. Merit-based decision making depends on independent judgment as well as expertise. It is for those reasons that the Louisiana Department of Education has relied on NACSA to manage the evaluation process for every post-Katrina charter application cycle. In a politically charged environment that had helped precipitate a crisis in public education, NACSA has helped establish an objective, merit-based process for approving new schools that recognizes the needs of communities without bowing to local politics.
- Louisiana Department of Education (Recovery School District) (every post-Katrina charter application cycle)
- Florida Schools of Excellence Commission
- Minneapolis Public Schools
Contracts, Policies and Protocols
Quality authorizing begins with a clear definition of authorizer expectations. NACSA works with authorizers to develop policies and protocols that define how the authorizer will carry out key responsibilities for application decisionmaking, contracting, oversight and renewal decision-making.
- NACSA has developed statewide model contracts for California, Missouri, and Florida. The Colorado Charter Schools Institute relied on NACSA to develop its charter contract template.
Templates and Model Resources
No one should reinvent the wheel. At NACSA we help authorizers develop effective models and templates that adapt best practices around the country to the particular needs and circumstances of the state and local jurisdiction. Those resources range from application and renewal procedures to performance contracts.
- In both Florida and Missouri, we worked with the state department of education to develop a set of state-specific chartering resources that were adopted as statewide models by their respective state boards of education.
- Denver Public Schools
Recognition that authorizing is a crucial piece of the charter sector has generated increasing attention on and demand for information about the quality of authorizing practices. Funders want to know whether authorizers are fostering a sound chartering for environments that they are considering funding. School developers want to know that there will be transparent and consistent expectations for autonomy and accountability. And authorizers, themselves, want to know what they are doing well and how they can improve.
Perhaps most significantly, there are a growing number of places where policymakers are requiring state education agencies and boards of education to make high stakes judgments about how well authorizers are carrying out their responsibilities. NACSA is the only organization in the country that has developed and piloted a comprehensive framework for evaluating charter school authorizer practices. In alignment with NACSA’s Principles & Standards for Quality Authorizing, our evaluations deliver focused assessments and clear, actionable guidance.
Contact our team:
Vice President for Authorizer Development