Authorizing Matters in New Health of Charter Movement Report


Authorizing Matters in New Health of Charter Movement Report

Yesterday, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (the Alliance) released the second edition of its Health of the Charter Public School Movement report. The report contains a wealth of information about the charter sector in 18 states, including geographic distribution and percentage of students by race. The report is a great resource on charter school performance in these 18 states as well.

I was happy to see the report acknowledge that although state laws supportive of quality and growth are important, authorizing matters too. In some instances, states are able to overcome shortcomings in law through strong authorizing and conversely, some states with strong laws struggle with implementation. I could not agree more. Quality authorizing is crucial to a quality charter school sector.

NACSA’s recently-released Index of Essential Practices, which examines how well authorizers across the country are implementing the 12 foundational practices of authorizing, tells a similar story. Just look at the states that the Alliance ranks at the top of its list:

  • Single authorizer states—the District of Columbia and Massachusetts (ranked #1 and #4 by the Alliance) implement 11 and 12 of NACSA’s recommended Essential Practices, respectively. In D.C., students in charter schools are getting 72 additional days of learning in reading and 101 additional days in math. It’s also important to highlight that the number of charter schools in the bottom category of D.C.’s accountability system has decreased by a third, suggesting all charter schools are improving. In Massachusetts, charter school students are getting an additional 36 days of learning in reading and 65 days in math, and none of the charter schools perform in the bottom tiers of the state’s accountability system.
  • In the multi-authorizer states of Indiana and Louisiana (ranked #2 and #5 by the Alliance), much of the same is true. Indiana authorizers who responded to NACSA’s survey represent 95 percent of the charter schools in the state and all but one small authorizer implement eleven or more of NACSA’s Essential Practices. In Indiana, charter students are getting 36 more days of learning in readings and 14 more days in math. More impressively, Indiana has increased the number of charter school in the top tiers on their accountability system by almost 50 percent. Louisiana authorizers, overseeing 94 percent of schools in the state, reported that they are implementing all of NACSA’s Essential Practices. Students in Louisiana in charter schools are getting 50 more days of learning in reading and 65 more days in math.

This information matters. Charter school authorizing matters. I applaud the Alliance for their great work on this report and the authorizers in these states for working hard to give kids better options.