Louisiana 2016 State Policy Detail
TIME TO PROTECT AUTHORIZER QUALITY AS SECTOR SHIFTS
In 2016, charter school supporters defeated legislation that would have severely limited charter school access. However, successful legislation taking smart steps to control the number of authorizers also removed key levers of authorizer quality and accountability. The state should restore these levers immediately for remaining authorizers.
NOTEWORTHY IN 2016
SCORE DECREASE: -8
- Who Authorizes (-2). The state no longer permits Higher Education Institutions, Not-For-Profits, or Non-Educational Government entities to apply to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to become an officially designated “Local Charter Authorizer” (LCA). LCAs were the only authorizers empowered under Louisiana law to directly authorize charter schools statewide.
- Authorizer Evaluations (-3). The law no longer allows LCAs; LEAs and the SEA are not subject to evaluations.
- Authorizer Sanctions (-3). The law no longer allows LCAs; LEAs and the SEA are not subject to sanctions.
- Consider empowering BESE, which employs strong authorizing practices, to directly authorize charter schools in all districts. BESE currently can directly authorize in the lowest-performing school districts but only on appeal in other districts. Giving BESE this authority can help provide uniform high standards for authorizing across the state.
- Make LEAs and the SEA subject to authorizer evaluations and sanctions. Although a multi-authorizer marketplace can threaten charter sector quality, the section of Louisiana’s law permitting LCAs contained some key accountability provisions for them, such as authorizer evaluations and sanctions. The bill that eliminated LCAs also removed these smart policies.
- Require all authorizers to include school performance information in their annual reports. Louisiana statute already requires all authorizers to submit an annual report to the State Board of Education on their portfolio of charter schools, but this report does not include school performance information.
- Extend the default closure policy used by BESE to all authorizers and all charter schools. State policy currently requires the non-renewal of failing charters authorized by BESE but not of failing charters under other authorizers.
- Continue creating and implementing policies to address the unique challenges of New Orleans’s nearly all-charter district. Policies already developed for transportation, enrollment procedures, charter school restarts, and student discipline serve as important models for the rest of the country. As the proportion of charter schools increases in other locales, policymakers are increasingly turning to New Orleans for data on the effect of system-wide policy initiatives.