National Association of Charter School Authorizers Announces Support for U.S. House Quality Charter Schools Bill

National Association of Charter School Authorizers Announces Support for U.S. House Quality Charter Schools Bill

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has announced its strong support for new legislation that focuses on both the growth and the quality of the charter school sector. The organization’s support for the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (HR 10) was announced Monday during a congressional visit to Global Academy Charter School in Minneapolis by one of the Act’s primary authors, U.S. Representative John Kline (R-MN). Kline was accompanied by committee member Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) and NACSA president and CEO Greg Richmond.

Kline, Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, along with ranking Democratic Representative George Miller (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan legislation Tuesday with the intent of both expanding and strengthening the federal Charter School Program (CSP). In its announcement, NACSA noted the Act’s specific provisions to support the continued growth of the charter sector both among successful networks of charter schools and by stand-alone charter schools launched by educators, parents and communities.

“The federal CSP program is a primary driver for growth in the sector, but more importantly, it is a primary lever for improved quality. Growth without quality is not our objective.” said Greg Richmond, NACSA president and CEO. “Quality is our objective and the Act contains strong provisions to promote quality and accountability among charter schools.”

Richmond noted several new provisions that expand both the power and the reach of this lever:

  • States receiving CSP grants may spend at least 7% of these funds to improve the quality of charter school authorizing and their application will be judged by the quality of their plan to do so;
  • State recipients must support authorizers in their school accountability efforts including the provision of student performance data; and
  • States must demonstrate that they have certain controls in place to ensure that schools can be held accountable for academic, financial and operational performance.

Richmond said that through this program states are granted the resources to grow a strong quality charter sector, the incentives to improve authoring in their state, and the flexibility to support a vibrant educational environment. Richmond also pointed to the creation of a new grant program to replicate and expand high quality charter schools.

He added that the emphasis on replicating quality is important. In 2012-2013, the sector served more than 2.3 million students in nearly 6,000 schools. If recent growth trends continue, the sector could double in size by 2025, serving 4.6 million children and representing nearly 10% of all public school students. But in some places quality remains an issue – an issue that NACSA’s Richmond contends requires stronger authorizing.

“Through its One Million Lives campaign, NACSA is committed to changing the lives of one million children across the nation. This can only happen through stronger policies that govern charter schools, stronger practices to ensure autonomy and accountability, and stronger people dedicated to doing the important work of authorizing. This legislation is an important step in that campaign.”

NACSA’s support for the federal legislation is in line with recommendations included in its recent publication Replicating Quality: Policy Recommendations to Support the Replication and Growth of HighPerforming Charter Schools and Networks. The report called on legislators, authorizers, and other policymakers to build a policy environment that encourages the creation of more great schools based on successful models.

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