Closing bad schools is necessary to maintain quality in a system based on performance accountability. However, even “failing” schools may have pockets of strength and/or “assets” that are worth preserving: a committed parent body, high-quality teachers, a valuable school building in a tight real estate market. In this report, prepared for the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s National Charter School Research Project, Lucy Steiner and Bryan Hassel draw upon interviews with high-quality charter school authorizers and school districts to offer a framework and preliminary lessons for considering alternatives to school closures. Three approaches — installation of new leaders, school reconstitution (where governance structures and personnel are replaced but students remain) and facility acquisition (new school operator takes over a failing school’s facility) — have shown promise for intervening in failing schools when closure is not the best option.
Charter School Authorizing
This brief helps state policymakers think through what kind of alternative authorizing structures may make sense for their states. The paper presents the advantages, disadvantages and policy considerations for each of the seven types of alternative authorizers. In addition, it discusses the critical design issues facing states interested in creating alternative authorizers.
This brief, written by Bryan Hassel and Robin Halsband, explores the ways in which authorizers can, indirectly and directly, affect a school’s ability to obtain the financing necessary for a schoolhouse. Part I examines the indirect impact: how the quality of the authorizer, as perceived by a financial institution, can affect loan decisions. Part II considers the direct, proactive roles that some authorizers have taken to help schools meet their facilities financing needs.
This two-part NACSA issue brief series by Lauren Morando Rhim identifies the issues related to navigating special education in the charter school sector. The first brief introduces the basic foundation underlying provision of special education in public schools and research findings regarding key challenges and strategies charter schools are using to build capacity to provide special education and related services. The second brief outlines authorizers’ roles in ensuring the development of quality special education programs in charter schools. It also identify issues authorizers should consider when reviewing applications and developing accountable systems.
The report, prepared by Daniela Doyle and Tim Field for NewSchools Venture Fund, explores a variation on school closure where a charter school’s operator and governance (board) changes, while the school continues to serve the same students — charter school “restarts.” The report examines how charter restarts fit within the larger context of charter school quality and accountability and describes how restarts have played out at five charter schools. It concludes with a series of recommendations for board members and charter authorizers interested in pursuing a restart strategy.
This national research project, funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation, examined 50 cases of charter schools that have come up for high-stakes decisions – having their charters renewed, not renewed, or revoked. The study investigated how clear authorizers’ expectations for the schools were, the information authorizers used to judge progress, and how they made their decisions.
This issue brief for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers deals with the unique challenges of authorizing blended charter schools, which combine digital learning with instruction at supervised brick-and-mortar locations. Authorizing blended charter schools requires a mix of application review and oversight methods applicable to typical brick-and-mortar charter schools and full-time online charter schools. This brief begins with an explanation of the variety of blended charter school models, followed by a brief discussion of key issues for authorizer awareness and consideration in the blended school context, with attention to both initial approval and ongoing oversight. It then provides more specific guidance on evaluating proposals for blended charter schools. Finally, the brief provides general recommendations for overseeing and evaluating blended charter schools.