The National Association of Charter School Authorizers has launched a campaign put one million more children into 3,000 high-performing schools over the next five years.
Organizers put an emphasis on “high performing” because they want the lowest performers shut down.
Greg Richmond, President and CEO of NACSA, acknowledged that many charters are not serving students well.
“According to an analysis we have conducted on charter school performance on state reading and math tests, at least 900 charter schools across the country are performing in the lowest 15 percent of all public schools within their state, and that’s unacceptable,” Richmond said.
“We didn’t start the charter movement in order to create more under-performing schools.”
As part of the “One Million Lives” campaign, NACSA is promoting three types of state policy for smarter growth and stronger accountability in charters:
- Create clear expectations for charter school performance – NACSA is urging states to establish clear expectations in statute and automatically close schools that persistently fail to meet those standards.
- Hold charter school authorizers accountable – NACSA is advocating for laws to hold authorizers accountable for the quality of the schools they approve. Those who continue to approve failing schools or allow them to stay open should lose their ability to authorize charters.
- Establish a statewide authorizer – NACSA is urging each state to establish a statewide authorizer that will implement professional practices based on high standards and to promote quality growth. It’s too difficult and even impossible in some areas to start a charter school.
Florida doesn’t have an independent authorizer. Those decisions are made by local school districts.
Richmond said the push for a statewide authorizer is nothing against local districts, many of which are NACSA members.
“We believe all school districts should have this power to authorize charter schools. But we don’t think they should have the exclusive power,” Richmond said. “The reality is that their core business as a school district is to run their schools.”
Richmond said most districts that authorize charters only have one or two of them.
On the other hand, he said authorizers that approve a larger number of schools are more likely to have a longer set of standards.
“So for us, it’s around developing that expertise and capacity to know who is putting forward a strong proposal, that capacity to monitor schools well when they’re running,” Richmond said.
“That’s where we’re attracted to this notion of statewide authorizing as really being a powerful driver for quality and growth in the charter school sector.”
NACSA plans to put forward model legislation in state houses around the country this winter.