Today the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) announces the launch of its Charter Operator Tracker (Beta), a new database of information about charter school management organizations and the schools they operate. The beta version focuses on Florida, a state where nearly 45 percent of charter schools work with management organizations. This launch coincides with Florida’s August 1 statewide charter school application deadline. In 2013-14, Florida’s rate of first-year charter school closures (10%) was three times the national average. One of the most important things an authorizer can do is to help ensure that every new school opening will be a quality opening. NACSA is committed to providing authorizers with tools and resources needed to make confident, data-driven decisions during the application process.
The Charter Operator Tracker (Beta) is a tool that authorizers and other stakeholders can rely on for access to objective, publicly-available data about management organizations and the schools they currently operate or have previously operated in Florida and throughout the country. Data is searchable by operator and by school.
“If you hire someone to run your business, you want to know where they’ve been working and what kind of results they’ve had. If an organization has done charter school management work before or is doing it now in other places, authorizers should know where and how well they’re doing it,” said William Haft, vice president for authorizer development. “We are designing the Tracker to help school boards approve only quality options for the children and families in their districts.”
Using this database as a research and decision-making tool will help authorizers provide confident, data-driven recommendations about whether each operator has demonstrated the capacity to open a high-quality charter school in the community.
Adam Miller, executive director of the Florida Department of Education’s office of independent education and parental choice, added, “NACSA’s Charter Operator Tracker, together with my Department’s soon-to-be launched database of an individual’s associations with charter schools and operators, gives Florida authorizers an unprecedented level of access to key background and organizational information. The critical information they need, and have struggled to gather for so long, will now be will available anytime at their fingertips.”
“As authorizers, we do everything we can to ensure the charters we approve have the best chance at success,” says Jenna Hodgens, president of FACSA and authorizer at Hillsborough County Schools. “This tool will be invaluable to Florida authorizers as we evaluate proposals for new schools.” NACSA will use learnings from the beta version to improve and further develop the Tracker. The database extends the due diligence support that NACSA has been providing authorizers for several years. We also work nationally on demand to deliver customized, in-depth reports about the academic, financial, and organizational track records of selected management organizations. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is committed to advancing excellence and accountability in the charter school sector and to increasing the number of high-quality charter schools across the nation. To accomplish this, NACSA works to improve the policies and practices of authorizers—the organizations designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter schools.