The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is an independent voice for effective charter school policy and thoughtful charter authorizing practices that lead to more great public schools. Our research, policy, and consultation work advances excellence and accountability in the charter school sector. With authorizers and other partners, we have built the gold standard for charter school authorizing. Through smart charter school growth, authorizers will give hundreds of thousands of children an opportunity for a better education each year.
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 Authorizer Development
William is a pragmatic change agent. He founded NACSA’s Authorizer Development division to advance charter school quality one authorizer at a time. Under William’s leadership NACSA has: managed the evaluation of hundreds of charter school applications; developed charter school contracts and performance standards with numerous authorizers; and supported the startup and transformation of authorizers across the country.
- Authorizer Startup, Planning and Development
- Application Decision Management
John Hedstrom, JD
Vice President, Policy & Advocacy
John Hedstrom leads the organization’s advocacy efforts at the federal and state level to enact policies benefitting charter school authorizers, the charter school system and its students.Full 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