Tennessee 2016 State Policy Detail
MORE AUTHORIZERS AT WORK HIGHLIGHTS NEEDS
The Tennessee State Board of Education has approved its first charter schools. Strong performance management policies will help ensure consistency across this expanded authorizer landscape—an effort that will be aided by the expansion of authorizer operational funding to all authorizers.
- Require all authorizers to use nationally recognized professional standards for charter school authorizing. Tennessee law requires the State Board of Education to follow nationally recognized best practices in charter school authorizing and recommends that other authorizers in the state do so as well. Metro Nashville Public Schools adopted a set of authorizing policies in 2015 that are contrary to nationally recognized best practices. Given this, NACSA recommends that Tennessee law be further strengthened to require all authorizers to follow nationally recognized best practices in charter school authorizing as promulgated by the State Board.
- Extend State Board of Education appellate authorizing jurisdiction to the entire state. Provide all charter school applicants with the right to be authorized by the State Board upon appeal, regardless of their jurisdiction.
- Require all authorizers to use performance contracts, performance frameworks, and policies that encourage the replication of high-quality charter schools. These practices are currently being used by several authorizers in the state and should be codified as requirements for all authorizers. Tennessee is one of only six states that do not require a charter contract that is distinct from the charter application.
- Create mechanisms for the oversight of authorizers, including authorizer evaluations. Historically, the quality of Tennessee authorizers has been mixed. In the last two years, several initiatives have been passed to improve authorizer quality and enhance charter school accountability, but concerns about inconsistent authorizer quality remain. Basic authorizer transparency mechanisms, such as disclosure of various charter school oversight expenses and allowing for as-needed evaluations of authorizers, would encourage quality authorizing and help foster public trust of the authorizing community. This would also help needed campaigns for authorizer operational funding, which the state currently lacks.