Utah 2016 State Policy Detail
TOP NEED: CHARTER TERM LENGTHS
Utah needs defined charter school term lengths to have meaningful accountability and ensure quality in its charter sector.
- Establish a renewal statute with a strong renewal standard. Utah is the only state in the country that still has “evergreen” charter contracts that do not expire unless they are revoked. This makes it very difficult to enforce accountability and close a charter school under almost any circumstance. A renewal statute with a strong renewal standard will give the State Charter School Board, and all other authorizers, the statutory authority to conduct regular high-stakes reviews and enforce charter school accountability. This is especially important given Utah’s history of low-performing charter schools. Term lengths have been considered and proposed intermittently over the years, most recently by the State Board of Education’s Advisory Committee Review Task Force in the December 2015 document Options for Charter School Statutory Changes.
- Institute a default closure mechanism to make closure the expected outcome for failing charter schools.
- Endorse professional standards for charter school authorizing. Authorizer standards provide clear guidance and support for current authorizers to implement strong practices, while encouraging consistent quality in the authorizing sector if additional Higher Education Institutions or LEA authorizers become active.
- Establish authorizer evaluations based on the performance of their portfolios of schools and their adherence to best practices in charter school authorizing. This is especially important given the large number of potential authorizers allowed by Utah statute. It will ensure consistent, high-quality authorizing if additional authorizers become active.
- Codify the expectation that all authorizers will report annually on the academic performance of their schools.