The State of Charter School Authorizing 2011
In its fourth annual report, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers offers a snapshot of the nation’s charter sponsors, capturing their size, their shape, and how many schools they open and shutter. For example, the majority of the nation’s authorizers are local education agencies (52 percent), and an even greater percentage are small (86 percent authorized fewer than six schools). More interestingly, charter-closure rates are on the decline. Just 6.2 percent of the nation’s charter schools up for renewal were shuttered (or non-renewed) in 2010-11, down from 8.8 percent the year before and 12.6 percent in 2008-09. Unfortunately, NACSA doesn’t link these stats to performance data, meaning that we can’t know if this trend indicates increased quality of charters, leniency of authorizers, or political pressures to keep them open. Digging further, NACSA reports that nonprofit authorizers (like Fordham) represent the smallest percentage of those that oversee charter schools but employ the most of NACSA’s own dozen “essential practices.” They’ve also closed more schools, on average, than other types of authorizers (including districts, institutions of higher ed, and independent chartering boards). Likewise, authorizers with a larger portfolio of schools were more likely to implement NACSA’s guidelines. Back in the fall, Andy Rotherham argued that we need to embrace risk-taking and consider that establishing a vibrant charter sector means occasionally allowing the creation of schools that turn out to falter. NACSA’s rather different view is not that the charter approval process should avoid all risk but, rather, that authorizers at least ask the right questions before okaying a school’s launch. Rotherham is right that the price of innovation includes some failures. But until we adopt the right benchmarks at the beginning, we should be less patient about living with them.
National Association of Charter School Authorizers, The State of Charter School Authorizing 2011 (Chicago, IL: National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 2012).
Category: Charters & Choice
blog comments powered by Disqus