With Federal Investments in School Choice on the Horizon, Report Urges States to Improve Charter Policies

An analysis released today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) calls for states to update charter policies to ensure that any increased spending on charter school expansion leads to better schools for more kids.

The report, On the Road to Great Charter Schools, analyzes current state charter school policies across the nation. Each state is scored against eight known best practices in state policy that ensure a consistent, high-performing charter sector. Indiana, Nevada, and Washington state have the strongest laws in the nation, each receiving a perfect score.

“Given the increase in federal spending in school choice that is likely over the next four years, now is the time for states to pass smart policies that will ensure this momentum leads to more good schools for children and a wise investment of taxpayer dollars,” said Greg Richmond, NACSA president and CEO.

“These are commonsense recommendations that every state should adopt to put needed safeguards in place while giving schools the autonomy they need to thrive.”

Since NACSA began the process of ranking state policies in 2012, more than half of the 44 states with charter schools have strengthened their laws by adopting one or more the report’s eight recommended policies. However, the need to focus on good policy as a vehicle to ensure more children can attend a great charter school remains critical: One out of every three charter schools across the country operates in states with weak charter laws.

The report’s key findings include the following:

  • Strong new laws in three states: Three states that did not have charter school laws in 2012—Alabama, Mississippi, and Washington—now do, and these laws are among the strongest in the country, setting up these developing charter sectors for success.
  • Progress has been made in big leaps: In five states with some of the weakest charter school policies in place in 2012 (Delaware, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee), reform coalitions have achieved significant improvements in charter laws, moving these states into the top tiers of states in NACSA’s ranking.
  • Not all recent changes have been positive: For the first time, two state scores decreased as a result of new legislation. North Carolina removed important safeguards from its law that enforced consequences for failing schools. In Louisiana, although there were some major legislative successes that protected school choice, one bill intended to control the number of authorizers also removed key authorizer quality provisions.

“We have made progress, but there is much to be done. By improving state policies, we can help create local conditions that set up our nation for growth of great charter schools for years to come,” Richmond concluded.

To read the executive summary or to read the full report, visit www.qualitycharters.org.

 

ABOUT NACSA

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, these authorizers will give hundreds of thousands of children an opportunity for a better education each year. More at www.qualitycharters.org.

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