About The Project
The Quality Practice Project (QPP) is NACSA’s multi-year research initiative to identify what high-performing authorizers do to achieve stellar student and public interest outcomes. Participants and researchers collaboratively investigated the perspectives and practices of high-performing authorizers compared with a sample of authorizers achieving moderate, but not weak outcomes. This first-of-its kind research and NACSA’s report based on its findings are an important step toward developing a more evidence-informed connection between practices and outcomes.
Selecting Authorizers Based on Outcomes
NACSA enlisted the talents of a diverse and well-recognized group of authorizers and accountability experts to develop a set of outcome criteria used to judge authorizers. This Advisory Panel agreed on a set of 11 indicators separated into two broad categories: Portfolio Outcomes (e.g., student performance, protecting student and public interest, transparency) and Performance Outcomes (e.g., closing failing schools, allowing quality schools to expand).
Studying Similarities and Differences
Intensive case studies were conducted with authorizers with strong and moderate outcomes. This 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). Areas of commonality and difference were examined and tested, resulting in a list of practices and contexts that appear similar and different across these two groups of authorizers.
Validation and Engagement
Initial findings were presented to the Advisory Panel and participating authorizers, who provided feedback. Additional non-participating authorizers (through NACSA’s Leaders Program) and internal staff were given the opportunity to provide feedback on findings. Those engagement and feedback opportunities resulted in a strengthened and validated set of findings.
NACSA and authorizers with strong portfolios will work with the field to promote adoption of QPP practices and contexts for successful authorizing. In addition, NACSA will work with authorizers to more deeply understand which practices and approaches seem to make the strongest contributions to improved outcomes.
The method and process used by the QPP has been used successfully in other educational and business research to identify correlates of success. It does not, however, yield causal relationships. Thus, findings from the QPP are best positioned as strong correlates of outcomes worthy of consideration, adoption, and further testing. More research is needed to yield causal relationships between authorizer practices and outcomes.