ON THE ROAD TO BETTER ACCOUNTABILITY: An Analysis of State Charter School Policies
Last week, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) released a first-of-its-kind policy analysis which describes, state by state, which state-level policies promote quality and accountability among charter schools and their authorizers.
On the Road to Better Accountability: An Analysis of State Charter School Policies divided states into three different categories and then ranked the states. Minnesota was one of five states identified as having ‘multiple authorizers’. It received 20/27 points based on seven criteria, ranking second to Indiana among the five states (See Minnesota specific report here). Two other categories included ‘district authorizing states’ (17) and ‘states with few authorizers’ (21). Eight states have no charter law.
The one area in which the report said Minnesota clearly lacked accountability was by not having some sort of ‘Default Closure’ for charters who fail to meet minimum academic standards, receiving zero out of a possible six points in that category.
Study’s recommendation on closure reflects CSP’s policy efforts
The study’s recommendations echo CSP’s call to close down the state’s chronically lowest-performing charter schools. A previous blog outlined our efforts in the last legislative session. Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) sponsored legislation that would ‘flag’ some of the state’s lowest-performing charters and shine a light on the lack of academic success, empowering authorizers with more flexibility to deal with these failing schools, and closing them when warranted.
We argued that a policy of empowering authorizers to more easily close the state’s lowest performing charters would:
* Inoculate the charter community from its vocal critics who would seek anti-charter policies because of perceived failures of specific schools or the sector itself,
* Assist authorizers who have faced difficulty closing down persistently low-performing charters including potentially providing additional legal cover in case of a closure,
* Provide families and children with more quality school choices (as more high-impact charters open, grow, and replicate), and,
* Free up additional facilities and good teachers to work in successful schools.
Here is the Star Trib’s editorial Hold Charter Schools fully accountable endorsing Senator Bonoff’s bill from last legislative session as well as an Op-Ed supporting the closure policy by CSP’s Al Fan and Alex Medler, VP for Policy and Advocacy with NACSA.
Recommendations from the Report
The recommendations of last week’s NACSA report included the following:
“Minnesota should continue to focus on implementing and executing a strong authorizer review and evaluation process in 2015 and beyond. The number of active authorizers in Minnesota presents challenges for school accountability, as charter applicants and schools can engage in either forum shopping to be approved or authorizer hopping to avoid closure. Minnesota should explore requiring performance frameworks and establishing a state policy on default closure to ensure that closure is expected outcome for persistently failing schools.”
“In addition, Minnesota will have appropriate instances of acceptable schools seeking new authorizers as the number of authorizers decreases. Nevertheless, the state should strengthen its charter school transfer provisions to prevent authorizers from inappropriately facilitating forum shopping or authorizer hopping by weak schools.”
CSP RELEASES NEW 2013/2014 TWO-YEAR COMPOSITE: Minnesota School Ratings by Authorizer
Charter School Partners today released new scatterplots and charts that show how Minnesota’s largest authorizers’ (only authorizers who authorize more than five schools) schools are performing academically. This data utilizes the 2013 and 2014 two-year composite of the state’s Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) from the state’s annual assessments (MCA’s) for Grades 3-12.