Great authorizers—those with strong portfolios of charter schools—are moving the needle for their communities. But what exactly do these authorizers do differently to achieve stellar outcomes? NACSA set out to answer this question, and we’re proud to share our findings. This first-of-its-kind research is an important step toward developing a more evidence-informed connection between practices and outcomes.
See what our nation’s top authorizers are doing to create positive outcomes for students and their communities.
“Authorizers are the gatekeepers—they are responsible for the quality, quantity, and variety of schools families have available to them…”
Great authorizers implement foundational best practices that NACSA has promoted for years. But to achieve outstanding outcomes, more is needed. When compared to others nationally, great authorizers also share certain additional unmistakable characteristics:
At the heart of our research is the close-up study of a small group of stellar authorizers, chosen for the strong outcomes of their portfolios of schools. By spending significant time on the ground with these five authorizers—studying, observing, questioning, learning, cataloging—NACSA has significantly expanded knowledge about what great authorizing looks like.
The process involved document reviews, artifact reviews, multi-day on-site visits, interviews with authorizing institution members, and interviews with other key stakeholders in the authorizer’s context (e.g., charter associations, school leaders). The result is tangible examples of the authorizer practices associated with high-quality charter school portfolios.
What follows are thumbnail sketches of each of the five case studies, which are available in full-length, detailed form in the appendices. Each sketch highlights examples of three essential elements in action in that particular authorizer’s office: leadership, commitment, and judgment.
- Full Report: Leadership, Commitment, Judgment: Elements of Successful Charter School Authorizing
- Practices That Matter
- About the Quality Practice Project (QPP)
- 3 Keys for All Authorizers of Public Charters in Creating More Great Schools, The 74 Million
- The Charter School Challenge
Rick Hess and Amy Cummings, American Enterprise Institute
- What Does it Take to Be a Quality Authorizer
Sara Mead, Principal, Bellwether Education Partners
- The Art and Science of Charter School Authorizing
Michael J. Petrilli, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- A First Step to Address the Critical Need for Evidence in Authorizing
Robin Lake, Director, Center on Reinventing Public Education
- Elements of Successful Charter School Authorizing
Kevin Hesla, Director of Research and Evaluation, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools