Knowledge Core


Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing

The Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, first established in 2004, reflect the lessons learned by experienced authorizers. The Principles articulate a set of beliefs about quality charter school authorizing. The Standards identify core authorizer responsibilities and describe how the principles are upheld through essential authorizing practices. The resources and tools found in NACSA’s Knowledge Core speak to these core responsibilities and essential practices and are here to assist authorizers in fulfilling and implementing them.

The Resources within the Knowledge Core are categorized into the five Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing. Use the Standards pages below, or the Keyword tool, to find the Resources you need.


A quality authorizer engages in responsible oversight of charter schools by ensuring that schools have both the autonomy to which they are entitled and the public accountability for which they are responsible. The following three responsibilities lie at the heart of the authorizing endeavor, and authorizers should be guided by and fulfill these Core Principles in all aspects of their work:

Maintain high standards for schools

Uphold school autonomy

Protect student and public interests



A quality authorizer engages in chartering as a means to foster excellent schools that meet identified needs, clearly prioritizes a commitment to excellence in education and in authorizing practices, and creates organizational structures and commits human and financial resources necessary to conduct its authorizing duties effectively and efficiently.

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A quality authorizer implements a comprehensive application process that includes clear application questions and guidance; follows fair, transparent procedures and rigorous criteria; and grants charters only to applicants who demonstrate strong capacity to establish and operate a quality charter school.

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Performance Contracting

A quality authorizer executes contracts with charter schools that articulate the rights and responsibilities of each party regarding school autonomy, funding, administration and oversight, outcomes, measures for evaluating success or failure, performance consequences, and other material terms. The contract is an essential document, separate from the charter application, that establishes the legally binding agreement and terms under which the school will operate and be held accountable.

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Ongoing Oversight and Evaluation

A quality authorizer conducts contract oversight that competently evaluates performance and monitors compliance; ensures schools’ legally entitled autonomy; protects student rights; informs intervention, revocation, and renewal decisions; and provides annual public reports on school performance.

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Revocation and Renewal Decision Making

A quality authorizer designs and implements a transparent and rigorous process that uses comprehensive academic, financial, and operational performance data to make merit-based renewal decisions, and revokes charters when necessary to protect student and public interests.

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