NACSA Calls on Nation’s Charter School Authorizers to Act Now to Maintain Accountability

In a statement released today, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) cautioned that while the upcoming shift to Common Core standards provides a long-term opportunity to improve the nation’s schools, it also creates a short-term risk to school accountability. “The transition from old standards to new, along with a transition to new tests, will create a de facto moratorium on school accountability unless officials act now to manage the transition,” stated Greg Richmond, NACSA’s president and CEO.

“The potetial lapse in accountability is of particular concern in the charter school sector, where school accountability for results is central to the charter philosophy,” Richmond added. “We are concerned that charter school accountability may disappear for several years as new standards and new tests are implemented. Most Common Core supporters have said they oppose a moratorium on school accountability. But the fact is that it will happen unless officials act immediately to put systems in place to manage the transition.”

The first milestone is coming up rapidly, as the vast majority of states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are planning to implement the new assessments after piloting them in the spring of 2014. In the spring of 2015, and in some states sooner, charter schools and authorizers will begin receiving test results from Common Core-aligned assessments. In less than 24 months, the first charter school renewal process will take place using the new assessment results. This first renewal deadline will affect hundreds of charter schools across the country.

By that time, all charter school authorizers should have robust systems in place that look at multiple measures of school performance, not just Common Core assessment results. It is urgent that authorizers begin working with their schools now to develop and test those systems.

Along with today’s statement came the release of new resources from NACSA on the Common Core, designed to assist those who oversee charter schools to remain focused on accountability as states adopt the new standards. The latest in its Common Core Series, Staying the Course: Maintaining Strong Accountability in the Transi7on to the Common Core, is a 12-page guide outlining strategies for authorizers to report, evaluate and act on charter school performance results throughout the transition period. It offers a visual Timetable and reference tool to help authorizers plan and evaluate their readiness for the new standards and assessments.

The strategies for maintaining strong accountability during this time period are covered in this publication, including methods for evaluating school and student performance, performance frameworks, simulations and roll-out considerations. The visual timetable is a two-year plan of specific actions to be taken between the winter of 2014 and the winter of 2016 to ensure a smooth transition to the Common Core. The reference tool includes a map of Next Generation Assessments by state.

In conjunction with the release of these materials, NACSA will host a webinar, Staying the Course: Maintaining Strong Accountability in the Transition to the Common Core, on Thursday, January 16 from 2-3 p.m. ET. Authorizers from across the country will gather virtually for an interactive discussion on how they and their states are preparing for the rollout of the new standards and assessments, with a special focus on strategies for maintaining strong accountability during the transition.

Through its One Million Lives initiative, NACSA is working with authorizers and public officials across the nation to provide better schools to one million children. To help authorizers proactively navigate the challenges presented by the new assessments and implementation of the CCSS, in 2013 NACSA initiated its Staying the Course Series, including Authorizers and the Common Core and Upholding Autonomy and Enabling School Success During Common Core Implementation.

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