North Carolina 2016 State Policy Detail
AUTHORIZER NEEDS TOOLS TO DO AUTHORIZING RIGHT
The Office of Charter Schools of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has worked to implement practices largely consistent with nationally recognized best practices in authorizing. Unfortunately, harmful legislation passed in 2015 and 2016 removed key levers of enforceable accountability, making it harder for the sole authorizer to successfully carry out its work.
NOTEWORTHY IN 2016
SCORE DECREASE: -6
- Renewal Standard (-6). In 2015, the Legislature amended North Carolina’s charter law to make renewal the default renewal outcome and to make “substantial progress” sufficient for charter renewal. The State Board of Education later defined “substantial progress” without reference to meeting academic performance expectations in a charter contract.
- Institute a strong renewal standard. Current North Carolina law sets a very low bar for renewal, granting schools a 10-year renewal unless they demonstrate a substantial, egregious failing. Renewal should be earned by demonstrated success, not granted by default. NACSA supports policy that empowers authorizers to close schools that fail to achieve the performance goals set out in their charter contract.
- Establish a default closure provision that makes closure the expected outcome for persistently failing charter schools. North Carolina should reverse recently enacted laws that weakened its closure rules by preventing the authorizer from closing persistently failing schools in most circumstances. The state now identifies “continually low-performing charter schools” pursuant to its state accountability criteria. Revocation should be reinstated as the expected accountability consequence for charter schools with this classification.
- Endorse professional standards for charter school authorizing.
- Codify the expectation that the authorizer will use performance frameworks. The Department does this in practice; however, nothing in state policy ensures the Department will continue to do so in perpetuity.