NACSA is out with the fifth edition of its annual report on the state of charter authorizing.
I love this thing—great data on a critically important part of our field. If you’re interested in chartering, school-level accountability, or The Urban School System of the Future, you definitely want to check it out.
Almost a decade ago, NACSA produced the equivalent of industry standards—the stuff a high-quality authorizer ought to do. These relate to assessing charter applications, monitoring school performance, helping grow high-performers, revoking the charters of low-performers, etc.
This report assesses authorizers against what NACSA deems the 12 “essential practices” of the industry.
Overall, authorizers’ scores improved over last year’s, and large authorizers (those with 10+ schools) scored better than small ones.
Continuing a long-term trend, authorizers are increasingly picky shoppers—they approve far fewer applications than they did back in the day. The average approval rate is now 33 percent.
But many authorizers are still falling short on the back end of accountability: 34 percent of authorizers lack a clear, established policy to close underperforming schools.
Some of the report’s most interesting findings relate to the different types of authorizers (there are six kinds nowadays). The vast majority (more than 90 percent) are local school districts, but they generally authorize few schools apiece; their portfolios combine for only 53 percent of all charters.
Districts score lower than non-district authorizers overall, and their policies are far less friendly to replication than non-district authorizers, meaning they...