Today we released our 5th annual report on NACSA’s authorizer survey results: The State of Charter School Authorizing 2012. Its release each year leads me to reflect on how the authorizing sector is changing, how much it has improved and what challenges still lie ahead.
Certain findings deserve particular attention:
- More of the nation’s authorizers are implementing NACSA’s “essential practices” for authorizing. This is a great sign of a maturing sector.
- Among authorizer types, newly-established Independent Chartering Boards (ICBs)—a small but growing group—are most likely to have essential practices in place. This finding reinforces our desire to have more states establish ICBs.
- Small authorizers with portfolios of fewer than 10 schools have the least desirable practices across the board. This is not a new finding and doesn’t change year-to-year. With growth comes the infrastructure to do the work.
- The charter school closure rate in renewal, after two years of decline, increased from 6.2 percent in 2010–11 to 12.9 percent in 2011–12. Yet as authorizers close failing schools, they must work to replace those schools with many more excellent schools. Two-thirds of large authorizers have policies in place to promote replication while still too few (23%) of small authorizers are engaged in this practice.
These are crucial data points. We know charter schools provide outstanding educational options to tens of thousands of children. We launched our One Million Lives campaign to give one million more children the chance to attend great schools.
This data suggests a positive trend, but we have a long way to go. We hope our report provides some insight into what we are doing well and what we could do better. We welcome your contributions to this effort. We hope the information compiled in this report is one resource to guide us all on this path.