Authorizing Basics


What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are independently run public schools that are granted greater flexibility to meet children’s needs in return for greater accountability for meeting their promises to families and taxpayers.

Simply put, charter schools receive more freedom for meeting higher expectations.

But charters don’t just pop up in a community. Behind every charter school is an authorizer—and its responsibilities are essential to producing great charter schools around the country.

What is an Authorizer?

Charter School Authorizer Types Across the Country

Authorizers are the entities that decide who can start a new charter school, set academic and operational expectations, and oversee school performance. They also decide whether a charter should remain open or close at the end of its contract.

Authorizers vary depending on state law. Nearly 90 percent of authorizers across the country are local school districts, but they can also be state education agencies, independent boards, universities, mayors and municipalities, and non-profit organizations.

Some states have many types of authorizers (California, Ohio, Michigan), while others have only a few (Massachusetts, New York, Arizona). Best practice is to have more than one type of authorizer (local school districts plus an alternative); however, in six states, school districts are the only bodies that can approve and oversee charter schools.

Why Authorizing Matters For Quality

When done well, authorizers are a cornerstone for charter school quality and growth. Watch the next video to learn more→