State Policies at a Glance




ACCESS: protect student interests and provide opportunities to attend good schools

AUTONOMY: uphold school autonomy

ACCOUNTABILITY: maintain high standards for schools and authorizers and uphold the public interest


  1. Who Authorizes (alternative authorizer): every charter school can be authorized by at least one body other than the local school district
  2. Authorizer Standards: the state endorses national professional standards for quality charter school authorizing
  3. Authorizer Evaluations: a state entity can evaluate authorizers on their practices—regularly or as needed
  4. Authorizer Sanctions: authorizers face consequences if they have poor practices or a high proportion of persistently failing schools
  5. Reports on Performance: every authorizer publishes an annual report on the academic performance of the charter schools it oversees
  6. Performance Management and Replication: every charter school is bound by a charter contract and a set of performance expectations; high-performing charter schools are encouraged to replicate
  7. Renewal Standard: authorizers can close charter schools that don’t meet their academic performance expectations
  8. Default Closure: charter schools that perform below a certain minimum threshold are closed

Together, these eight policies ensure a legal framework for every state to

  • set high standards for all charter schools;
  • approve only good new charter schools;
  • monitor the performance of all charter schools;
  • empower successful schools to remain open and possibly grow;
  • close charter schools that persistently fail.

ESSA and State Charter Policies

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), currently being implemented at the federal and state level, requires states to make changes to their state accountability and report card systems. ESSA may impact state charter school policy in two major ways:

  • A state’s charter law may need conforming amendments to ensure it is up-to-date and enforceable after ESSA is implemented. State charter laws often incorporate terms and requirements from state accountability systems in places such as standards for renewal, a default closure mechanism, or the basis of school performance goals. Any affected terms will need to be updated as soon as possible.
  • The content of a state’s Title I plan—and how it addresses ESSA’s requirements—matters. It can have an impact on charter school accountability and authorizers. Unless charter schools are specifically treated differently in a Title I plan, any action that is required of a school or an LEA (for LEA charters) also applies to a charter school or, in some cases, a charter school authorizer. This includes the new flexibilities and planning requirements and any triggered state interventions. ESSA statute has a specific provision designed to make sure that state charter law is the primary mechanism of charter accountability, but a poorly constructed state Title I plan could get in the way of these systems and make it more difficult to hold schools accountable. A Title I plan should complement state charter law to together foster a quality charter school sector. (More information on the impact of ESSA, including Title I, can be found here.)

View Policies in Detail

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