The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is working to double the number of students in great public charter schools by advancing policies and practices that promote quality, autonomy, and choice. As an independent voice for quality charter school authorizing, NACSA uses data and evidence to encourage smart charter school growth. NACSA works with authorizers and partners to create the gold standard for authorizing and build authorizers’ capacity to make informed decisions. NACSA also provides research and information that help policymakers and advocates move past the rhetoric to make evidence-based policy decisions. More at www.qualitycharters.org.
NACSA works to increase and improve quality educational opportunities for children by strengthening charter school authorizing.
What are authorizers?
Authorizers are the roughly 1,000 legal entities in 44 states that decide who can start a new charter school, set expectations and oversee school performance, and decide which schools should continue to serve students or not.
Over 90 percent of authorizers across the country are school districts, but depending on state law, authorizers can also include state education agencies, independent boards, universities, mayors and municipalities, and non-profit organizations.
Why do authorizers matter?
Quality authorizing is essential for charter schools to play a vital role in providing better public schools for children. Authorizers ensure schools have the freedom to adapt and meet the needs of their students, while ensuring each school meets performance expectations, treats all students fairly, and spends public tax dollars appropriately.
We believe authorizers are ultimately responsible for the overall performance of their portfolios of schools. By deciding which proposals are good enough to be approved and which schools are good enough to stay open, authorizers have tremendous powers that determine the overall quality of charter schools in every city and state.
NACSA’s areas of expertise
- Best practices in charter school oversight (academic, financial, operational)
- State charter school policies
- Federal charter policy (Charter Schools Program, ESSA)
- Data on authorizers across the country (closure rates, application rates)
- Insights on current issues in the charter sector
Director, Media Relations
- “If California wants better compliance from charter schools, it must fix its oversight system,” Los Angeles Times
- “Authorizing Matters,” Education Next
- “Charter schools need oversight, accountability” The Spokesman-Review
- “Trump’s choice for education secretary sparks debate,” Philadelphia Inquirer
- “Online Charters Cause Rift Among Supporters of School Choice,” Education Week
- “Nation’s test and improve model is working,” Washington Post
- “The complicated history of America’s first ‘union-backed’ charter school authorizer,” Minn Post
President and CEO
National Association of Charter School AuthorizersFull bio
Vice President of Research and EvaluationFull bio
Nelson Smith is Senior Advisor to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. He served as the first President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.Full bio