National Association of Charter School Authorizers

An independent voice for effective charter school policy and thoughtful charter authorizing practices that lead to great public schools.

Our Vision

All children will have access to public schools that prepare them for success in life.

Our Mission

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers works to increase and improve quality educational opportunities for children by strengthening charter school authorizing.

Our Beliefs

Our nation needs to provide better schools to more children by:

  • Improving families’ access to quality schools
  • Providing educators the autonomy they need for schools to excel
  • Holding schools accountable for their performance

For charter schools to play a vital role in providing better schools:

  • Quality authorizing is essential.
  • Quality authorizers ensure access, autonomy, and accountability.
  • Authorizers are responsible for the overall performance of their portfolios of schools.

Our History

When most charter school laws were first passed in the 1990s, we understood the potential of charters to improve public education options for families. But we didn’t yet understand how essential good authorizers would be to the quality and quantity of those schools. Nor did we know what actions were most important for authorizers to take to ensure a strong charter school sector.

But individuals doing this work soon learned what tools and resources were necessary, and began to share information informally with each other. In 2000, a small group gathered in Detroit to hold the inaugural meeting of a new membership organization of charter school authorizers.

Since then, NACSA has grown into an organization with 30 staff and 175 member organizations representing more than 1,200 professionals. NACSA is funded by foundations, state and federal government, and member dues.

Our Focus

We focus on authorizers, the legal entities doing the work of authorizing. They decide who can start a new charter school, set expectations and oversee school performance, and decide which schools should continue to serve students or not. Depending on state law, authorizers can be school districts, education agencies, independent boards, universities, mayors and municipalities, and nonprofit organizations.

Over 1,000 authorizers in 44 states (43 plus the District of Columbia) with charter laws are on the forefront of creating the next generation of public schools, helping translate charter school ideas into solid realities for millions of children. The schools they oversee are both more nimble and more accountable, built on the premise that it is a privilege to educate America’s children. This privilege must be earned, not granted into perpetuity.

Our Three Main Strategies

Charter school authorizing is a powerful way to make excellent public schools and educational opportunities available to all students. When done well, authorizing expands the number of quality public schools to satisfy unmet needs of a community. It is complex work: quality authorizing requires specialized knowledge, skill, commitment, and adherence to essential professional standards in order to serve students, families, and taxpayers well and achieve the purposes of state charter laws.

Shape Practice

We deliver the tools, education, and resources that authorizers need to make the best education options available in each community.

Inform Policy

Our expert team helps you cut through the noise and gain clarity, bringing you knowledge and resources needed to make sound, informed policy decisions on charter schools and authorizing.

Develop Talent

Our experience and perspective makes us a true partner to each and every authorizer striving for better schools in his/her community.

Our People, Programs, and Services

NACSA’s staff, board, and advisory board, as well as an array of programs and services, support authorizers.


In addition to dedicated professional staff and board members, our vision requires efforts from a broad coalition of authorizers, superintendents, and state and local advocacy organizations, as well as  public officials, civic leaders, lawmakers, funders, and others. Ultimately, we strive to share knowledge and build community so we can tackle challenges together.

About our teams

Programs and Conference

NACSA offers solutions-focused programs to support current authorizers, develop leaders in the field, and introduce talented students to the profession.

About our programs and conference

Professional Services

Since 2009, we’ve provided guidance to authorizers that collectively oversee more than half of our nation’s charter schools. We have worked with authorizers of all sizes and in all geographies to improve authorizer practices across the U.S.

About our professional services