Georgia 2016 State Policy Detail
POISED TO LEAD IN ACCOUNTABILITY IN CHARTER LAW
Georgia has strengthened its charter policies in recent years and is pursuing additional positive changes. This includes recommendations from the Governor’s 2015 Education Reform Commission that, if adopted, would make Georgia’s authorizing law one of the strongest in the country. These improvements should be taken up in earnest in the next legislative session.
- Implement the authorizer evaluation and rating system to encourage authorizer improvement and provide support to improve the quality of all authorizers in the state. As this process moves forward, the people and groups shaping the new evaluation system should consider what consequences, if any, will be attached to each rating, particularly the lowest authorizer rating category of “needs improvement.”
- Require all authorizers to follow best practices in charter authorizing in accordance with national professional standards. This policy is one of the Education Reform Commission’s final recommendations. In practice, the Georgia State Charter Schools Commission (SCSC) employs many best practices in charter school authorizing, such as having a mission statement and strong criteria to evaluate new applications and issuing annual reports on school performance. Codifying this expectation for all authorizers and incorporating it into the authorizer evaluation system under development will ensure consistent high quality across the authorizing sector.
- Require all authorizers to use performance frameworks. The SCSC officially approved performance frameworks in September 2015 that it now incorporates in all of its new and renewal charter contracts. Codifying this expectation for all authorizers will promote greater transparency and school quality.
- Institute a default closure mechanism to make closure the presumptive expectation for failing charter schools, barring extenuating circumstances. This policy is one of the Education Reform Commission’s final recommendations.