State and Federal Charter School Policy

Virtual Schools: Assessing Progress and Accountability

Written by on February 26, 2014. Posted in Charter School Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy, Technology in Education

Virtual Schools: Assessing Progress and Accountability

Virtual Schools thumbnailAll schools present significant challenges for states and other entities charged with holding them accountable for their effects on student learning outcomes. However, virtual schools—full-time schools that provide most, if not all, instruction online—raise unique challenges and opportunities for accountability. This report, written for the National Charter School Resource Center, presents five recommendations, with multiple means to implement each, for facing the challenges of adequately assessing virtual schools.

Replicating Quality

Written by Bryan C. Hassel on January 27, 2014. Posted in Charter Management Organizations, Charter School Authorizing, Charter School Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Replicating Quality: Policy Recommendations to Support the Replication and Growth of High-Performing Charter Schools and Networks

Relicating Quality cover imageCould adoption of judicious policies and practices in the charter sector create a million more excellent opportunities for students over the next decade?  This report, prepared by Public Impact for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the Charter School Growth Fund, makes recommendations that legislators, authorizers, and state education agencies can use to build a policy environment that will substantially increase the prevalence and impact of high-quality charter schools.  The recommendations support four strategies to promote quality in the sector: differentiating charter operators based on performance, building system capacity to cultivate and support high-performing schools and networks, facilitating replication of high performers and accelerating closure of low performers.

Quality School Ratings

Written by on November 15, 2013. Posted in Charter School Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Quality School Ratings: Trends in Evaluating School Academic Quality

School Quality Ratings cover thumbnailThis review of 25 school quality rating systems, written by Public Impact for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, reveals clear trends that may help rating system designers and users think about optimal system designs. The rating systems inventoried include some from state departments of education, large public school districts, charter associations and authorizers, and private news and advocacy organizations. Among the trends found were: the inclusion of student growth; the expansion of college- and career-readiness measures; an exploration of new ways to focus attention on the lowest-performing students; an interest in valid measures of student engagement; simplified reporting formats to categorize school quality; and an increase in data transparency and public accessibility. The review foresees a stronger system for evaluating quality across states following the adoption of Common Core-aligned assessments.

Fulfilling the Compact

Written by publicimpact on June 26, 2012. Posted in Charter School Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Fulfilling the Compact: Building a Breakthrough, Results-Driven Public Charter School Sector

Fulfilling the Compact coverThis report from Public Impact for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools evaluates the charter school sector’s progress on the goals of growth and quality since the 2005 release of Renewing the Compact, a position statement for the charter school sector. The report recommends bold actions to capitalize on the sector’s successes while confronting persistent challenges. By acting on the report’s recommendations now, critical stakeholders can build a breakthrough sector and create a results-driven culture, which will improve the impact of charter schools on student outcomes and the education system.

New Orleans-Style Education Reform: A Guide for Cities

Written by publicimpact on March 9, 2012. Posted in Charter School Features, Districts & States: Turnaround Support, School Turnaround Features, School Turnaround Success Strategies, State and Federal Charter School Policy

New Orleans-Style Education Reform: A Guide for Cities

NSNO coverPublic Impact teamed up with New Schools for New Orleans to develop a guide for cities interested in dramatically growing their charter school sectors as part of an effort to turn around persistently low-performing urban school systems. This Guide builds on dozens of interviews with education and community leaders in New Orleans, insights from national experts who have supported the rebuilding efforts, and research and reporting on New Orleans’ education reforms. Centered around three key strategies: 1) strong governance and accountability, 2) building human capital pipelines to fuel the growth of schools and 3) incubating new schools and growing proven schools into networks, the Guide illustrates recommendations with vignettes of work done by bold school leaders and reformers.

The Guide also looks toward long-term sustainability of this new system, exploring topics such as building community demand and support for school reforms, developing a fiscally-balanced system that doesn’t rely long-term on philanthropy, and planning ahead for the new types of challenges that face a decentralized system of schools in areas such as transportation, equitable access, and transparent system oversight.

Going Exponential: Growing the Charter School Sector’s Best

Written by publicimpact on February 15, 2011. Posted in Big Ideas for Education, Charter Management Organizations, Charter School Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Going Exponential: Growing the Charter School Sector’s Best

Going-Exponential_2011-1The supply of seats in the nation’s best charter schools is not growing rapidly enough to serve the millions of low-income children who need better schools.  Based on lessons from the fastest growing organizations in other sectors, this report for the Progressive Policy Institute provides breakthrough solutions for growing the best charter schools and charter management organizations. With specific advice for charter sector leaders, policymakers and philanthropists, Going Exponential offers strategies that could enable every child living in poverty to have access to schools as good as today’s top ten percent charter schools by 2025. Recommendations address the major barriers limiting growth of the sector’s best, such as scarcity of excellent school leaders, funding for growth, and motivation of charter leaders to grow while maintaining excellence.

Better Choices: Charter Incubation as a Strategy for Improving the Charter School Sector

Written by publicimpact on December 8, 2011. Posted in Charter School Features, Help for Charter Schools, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Better Choices: Charter Incubation as a Strategy for Improving the Charter School Sector

Better ChoicesHigh-performing charter schools have shown that disadvantaged students can achieve at high levels. Unfortunately, too few of these schools exist today, severely limiting access among the highest-need students. Charter school incubation – recruiting, selecting, training, and supporting promising leaders as they launch new schools – is a crucial strategy for increasing the number of high-performing charter schools in cities across the country.  This policy brief, released by the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust (CEE-Trust) and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, explores current experience with charter incubation and the local policies and funding needed to create and sustain healthy markets for successful incubators.

Delivering on the Promise: How Missouri Can Grow Excellent, Accountable Public Charter Schools

Written by publicimpact on February 10, 2011. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Delivering on the Promise: How Missouri Can Grow Excellent, Accountable Public Charter Schools

missouri_charter_school_repIn this report, Nelson Smith of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, examines the development and status of Missouri’s charter schools and provides policy and practice recommendations to move these schools toward becoming a vibrant sector of high-performing options for students and families. With funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and research support from Public Impact’s Bryan Hassel, Dana Brinson, and Lyria Boast, Mr. Smith recommends: closing chronically low-performing charter schools, strengthening the authorizing environment, prioritizing the state’s role in authorizer oversight and charter school support, building a pipeline of strong school leaders and charter operators from within and outside the state, and serving all students—including English learners and students with disabilities—equitably.

Stimulating Excellence: Unleashing the Power of Innovation in Education

Written by publicimpact on September 2, 2009. Posted in Big Ideas for Education, Entrepreneurship in K-12, More Topics Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Stimulating Excellence: Unleashing the Power of Innovation in Education

education_entrepreneurs [pdf] A small number of highly-successful entrepreneurial ventures in education have begun to transform schools with innovative solutions that have extraordinary potential to serve students more efficiently and effectively. Yet federal, state and local policies often hinder these types of innovations. This report, written by Julie Kowal and Bryan C. Hassel and jointly released by Public Impact, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for American Progress, and New Profit Inc., offers politically viable solutions to address these barriers. Read more…

Charter School Autonomy: A Half-Broken Promise

Written by publicimpact on April 27, 2010. Posted in Charter School Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Charter School Autonomy: A Half-Broken Promise

Charte rAutonomy Report [pdf] Charter schools across the country, on average, are not enjoying the full autonomy from regulations that apply to typical district schools, autonomy that policymakers and education reformers promised as part of the charter school “bargain” of greater autonomy for strong accountability. This report, conducted for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute by Dana Brinson and Jacob Rosch, examined 100 charter contracts and 26 state charter laws to measure how much freedom charter schools have in fourteen critical areas of operations such as establishing curricula or teacher work rules.

The authors found that while, nationally, charter schools experience an average level of autonomy in the B- grade range, some states and charter school authorizers confer broad autonomy on charter schools—earning an A—while other state charter laws and authorizer contracts earned an F for the heavy restrictions they placed on schools. As education leaders across the country push for greater charter school accountability—urging rightly to close low-performing schools—this report asks, “Are charter schools enjoying the autonomy side of the bargain?” and finds the answer is ‘no’ in too many schools across the country.

Free to Lead: Autonomy in Highly Successful Charter Schools

Written by publicimpact on April 27, 2010. Posted in Charter School Features, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Free to Lead: Autonomy in Highly Successful Charter Schools

Free-to-Lead[pdf] Joe Ableidinger and Bryan Hassel of Public Impact interviewed leaders of five highly successful charter schools to understand how autonomy has enabled the schools to achieve outstanding results. This issue brief, prepared for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, explores seven autonomies that have made a difference in the profiled schools and that hold promise as part of broader reform strategies: freedom to develop a great team; freedom to manage teachers as professionals; freedom to change (or not change) curriculum and classroom structures; autonomy in scheduling; financial freedom; freedom from an elected board of directors; and freedom to define a unique school culture.

Exploring Success in the Charter Sector: Case Studies of Six Charter Schools Engaged in Promising Practices for Children with Disabilities

Written by publicimpact on October 22, 2009. Posted in Special Populations, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Exploring Success in the Charter Sector: Case Studies of Six Charter Schools Engaged in Promising Practices for Children with Disabilities

exploring-success[pdf] Ideally, charter developers use autonomy extended by state charter school laws to develop new robust educational options for all children, including children with disabilities. This report, written by Lauren Morando Rhim and Dana Brinson for the Center on Reinventing Public Education, presents findings from exploratory case studies of six charter schools identified due to their reported success educating children with disabilities. Collectively, they provide insight into practices that hold promise for educating children with disabilities in both traditional and charter public schools striving to develop high quality special education programs. Recurring school characteristics observed include a powerful school mission that incorporated a commitment to including children with disabilities, professional development that supported meaningful access to the general education curriculum for all students, highly individualized programs for all students that ‘normalized” special education, and easy transferability of the practices to traditional public schools.

Charter Districts: The State of the Field.

Written by publicimpact on September 2, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Charter Districts: The State of the Field

This update of a 2003 Education Commission of the States StateNote describes the latest developments and trends in charter districts throughout the country. Charter districts, in which all or most of the schools are charter or contract schools, are part of broader efforts to improve public schools. Rather than operating schools themselves, these districts enter into charters or contracts with individuals and entities to run schools.

State Policymaker’s Guide to Alternative Authorizers of Charter Schools

Written by publicimpact on August 31, 2009. Posted in Charter School Authorizing, State and Federal Charter School Policy

State Policymaker’s Guide to Alternative Authorizers of Charter Schools

Alternative-Authorizers [pdf] 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.

 

Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists

Written by publicimpact on July 7, 2010. Posted in Charter School Features, School Funding, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists

charterschfundingcoverIn a follow-up to a 2005 report showing that charter schools are significantly under-funded compared to district schools, the authors find that little changed over four years, and charter schools receive nearly 20 percent less funding per pupil than district schools. The report, created in collaboration with researchers Meagan Batdorff, Larry Maloney, and Jay May, examines FY 2006-07 data from 24 states and Washington, DC in the most comprehensive analysis of charter funding to date. While Public Impact did not carry out the data-gathering for this edition, the firm’s Daniela Doyle led the writing of the cross-state analysis.

The Charter School Challenge: Avoiding the Pitfalls, Fulfilling the Promise

Written by publicimpact on September 1, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

The Charter School Challenge: Avoiding the Pitfalls, Fulfilling the Promise

charter_school_challenge_coverThis book by Bryan C. Hassel examines the way state legislatures have crafted charter school legislation, how the legislation is playing out in practice, and what the future holds for charter schools. From The Brookings Institution, 1999.

School Finance in Dayton: A Comparison of the Revenues of the School District and Community Schools

Written by publicimpact on September 1, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

School Finance in Dayton: A Comparison of the Revenues of the School District and Community Schools [pdf], co-authored by Bryan Hassel and Michelle Godard Terrell. This report on the funding of charter schools in Dayton is in response to a mistaken public perception that charter schools receive higher public funding than traditional public schools. Prepared for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, this analysis makes clear that charter schools in Dayton receive considerably less operating money per student than schools within the Dayton Public School District. This discrepancy is primarily due to the charter schools’ lack of access to local tax dollars, a critical source of funds for the district.

Assessment of Charter Schools Program Dissemination Funding

Written by publicimpact on September 2, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Assessment of Charter Schools Program Dissemination Funding [pdf] Written for WestEd with funding from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement, this 2006 report examines the effectiveness of the federal dissemination grant program portion of the Charter Schools Program (CSP). While the majority of CSP funds go toward start-up and development grants for new charter schools, state grantees are allowed to set aside up to 10 percent of their funds to award as dissemination subgrants to established charter schools. These funds are designed to help successful charter schools disseminate promising practices to other charter and non-charter schools, but this analysis indicates that there is little evidence to suggest that these funds are having the desired level of impact on student performance. The report offers three separate recommendations for improvement: 1) the program should be revamped to provide more incentive for successful schools to participate; 2) the program should be redesigned so that funds are directed toward the replication of successful schools; or 3) Office of Innovation and Improvement should create a separate grant program for dissemination and allow a range of organizations to apply for funds through a national RFP process.

Special Education Challenges and Opportunities in the Charter School Sector

Written by publicimpact on October 22, 2009. Posted in Special Populations, State and Federal Charter School Policy

Special Education Challenges and Opportunities in the Charter School Sector

speced_feb08-1 [pdf] Ensuring the growth of successful charter schools requires special attention to a variety of challenges associated with providing high-quality specialized services to children with disabilities, such as lack of clarity about legal responsibilities, limited access to existing state support structures, and limited technical capacity to provide specialized services. This report, written by Lauren Morando Rhim for the Center on Reinventing Public Education, explores these challenges and examines potential opportunities to grow quality charter schools that have as a feature promising or innovative approaches to educating children with disabilities. Opportunities include advocacy to clarify existing laws and change laws that hinder charter schools’ efforts to develop quality special education programs, research to document how charter school operators are using their autonomy to craft potentially unique new instructional programs, and investments in building technical assistance networks and charter school infrastructures are essential. The multiple policy, research, and investment opportunities outlined can help pave the way for growing high-quality charter schools that successfully educate all children.

Charter School Replication: Growing a Quality Charter School Sector

Written by publicimpact on October 22, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Charter School Replication: Growing a Quality Charter School Sector [pdf] Replication of successful charter schools is a promising strategy to rapidly increase the number of new high-quality charter schools available to children. Replication strategies also hold significant potential for district reform agendas and, specifically, efforts to identify school operators to turn around persistently low-performing schools. This guide, written by Lauren Morando Rhim for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), outlines the critical considerations and makes recommendations to state policymakers who want not only to permit but to explicitly and vigorously promote replication of successful charter schools. Recommendations include clearly defining success worth replicating, removing or avoiding charter caps, allowing charter boards to govern multiple schools, and streamlining application procedures for potential replicators while maintaining rigor.

A Commitment to Quality: National Charter School Policy Forum Report

Written by publicimpact on August 31, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

A Commitment to Quality: National Charter School Policy Forum Report

commitment-to-quaility[pdf] This report, prepared by Dana Brinson and Bryan Hassel for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, highlights the accomplishments of and challenges facing the charter school sector nationwide. Outlining a vision in which charter schools provide high-quality educational options for students and families, the report calls for policy environments, charter support organizations, and authorizers that work toward improving the quality of all charters and closing those that do not live up to their promise of providing a high-quality educational choice. The briefing builds on the National Charter School Policy Forum held May 5, 2008 in Washington, D.C., which gathered more than 100 leaders from the charter sector including individuals from philanthropic foundations, charter and education management organizations, nonprofits, and other charter sector advocates.

Boosting Performance and Containing Costs through Mayoral Academies

Written by publicimpact on August 31, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Boosting Performance and Containing Costs through Mayoral Academies

mayoral academyA coalition of Rhode Island mayors, including Cumberland’s Daniel McKee, asked Public Impact and Brown University’s Martin West to analyze the state of public education in the Ocean State and in the five-town region surrounding Cumberland, which is north of Providence. The resulting report paints the picture of a state where performance lags the national average, despite very high per-pupil spending. Public Impact goes on to propose a new model of school governance–Mayoral Academies–in which a mayor-led board of trustees would contract with high-quality school providers to open new, regional public schools. RI’s general assembly passed legislation to enact the new model, and Mayor McKee’s coalition hopes to open the first schools in fall 2009. Education Week’s coverage is here.

“Working the Curve” for North Carolina’s Charter Schools

Written by publicimpact on August 31, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

“Working the Curve” for North Carolina’s Charter Schools

Working_the_Curve[pdf] Public Impact prepared this report for the North Carolina Blue Ribbon Commission on Charter Schools to inform the Commission on the current performance of the state’s charter schools, identify challenges the sector is facing, and provide proposals for the future direction of the state’s charter school policies. Public Impact’s report outlined a course of action to promote a stronger charter sector—including lifting the state’s charter cap, closing low-performing charter schools, and providing better support along the charter school life cycle. The Blue Ribbon Commission developed a report of recommendations for the State Board of Education to consider and included some recommendations outlined in Public Impact’s “Working the Curve.”

Ohio Charter School Performance Reports.

Written by publicimpact on August 31, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

ohreportcard coverOhio Charter School Performance Reports

Every August Ohio releases its K-12 state achievement test data. For the last five years, The Thomas B.Fordham Institute has commissioned Public Impact to conduct a brief analysis of charter school performance. Using Ohio Department of Education data, the reports compare the performance of urban charter schools with that of non-charter public schools in the eight largest urban districts in the state (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown). Separately, the reports compare the performance of different subsets of charter schools statewide.

 


2010-11 Report

2009-10 Report

2008-09 Report

2007-08 Report

2006-07 Report

Turning the Corner to Quality: Policy Guidelines for Strengthening Ohio’s Charter Schools

Written by publicimpact on August 31, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Turning the Corner to Quality: Policy Guidelines for Strengthening Ohio’s Charter Schools [pdf] At the request of Ohio’s top government and education leaders in the summer of 2006, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools commissioned Public Impact to help create a report recommending strategies to strengthen the state’s charter school program. The report breaks its 17 recommendations into four categories: Keep the Accountability/Autonomy Promise, Strengthen Ohio’s System of Charter School Sponsors, Fund Charter Schools Fairly, and Help Open Quality Charter Schools. Recommendations include closing low-performing charter schools and holding sponsors more accountable for oversight of the growing charter movement while also helping more high-performance schools to open and succeed in Ohio. In return for stepped-up accountability, the document calls for restrictions on the formation of high-quality charters to be removed and for charter schools to receive more equitable funding. In addition to Bryan Hassel and Michelle Godard Terrell, Louann Bierlein Palmer and Peter Svahn contributed to the report.

Florida Charter Schools: Hot and Humid with Passing Storms

Written by publicimpact on September 1, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Florida Charter Schools: Hot and Humid with Passing Storms [pdf] Florida is often referred to as “School Choice Central” due to its variety of public school choice options, including vouchers and tax credits, school-to-work academies, and virtual and home schools. Among all the choice options in Florida, none has reached as many children and families as charter schools. In the 2005-06 school year, there were over 300 charter schools serving about 3 percent of the state’s public school students. This report, co-authored by Bryan Hassel, Michelle Godard Terrell, and Julie Kowal, examines the outcomes of the first decade of charter schooling in the Sunshine State. Published by Education Sector, a nonpartisan education think tank, the report reviews the evolution of Florida’s charter school legislation, examines the achievements and the shortfalls of Florida’s charter schools, and offers several recommendations for improvement.

Charter School Achievement: What We Know

Written by publicimpact on September 1, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Charter School Achievement: What We Know [pdf] Several recent reports have raised questions about the performance of public charter schools. To answer these questions, and provide a full and fair picture of how charter schools are actually doing, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools commissioned an extensive review of the available research on charter school achievement. The third edition of this report, issued in October 2006, summarizes and evaluates 58 comparative analyses of charter school and traditional public school performance, including a study-by-study look at central findings and methodological strengths and weaknesses.

Stimulating the Supply of New Choices for Families in Light of NCLB: The Role of the State

Written by publicimpact on September 1, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

Stimulating the Supply of New Choices for Families in Light of NCLB: The Role of the State [pdf], co-authored by Bryan Hassel and Lucy Steiner. The states can play a vital role in the process of stimulating the supply of new choices so interested families can exercise their rights to transfer under No Child Left Behind. Published by The Education Commission for the States and funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Charter Schools Program this policy brief outlines how a targeted campaign that assesses needs, allows for new options and develops new supply can provide the choices families are requesting.

“The Rugged Frontier,” A Decade of Public Charter Schools in Arizona

Written by publicimpact on September 1, 2009. Posted in State and Federal Charter School Policy

“The Rugged Frontier,” A Decade of Public Charter Schools in Arizona [pdf], co-authored by Bryan Hassel and Michelle Godard Terrell. Published by The 21st Century Schools Project at the Progressive Policy Institute through funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this report reviews the unique Arizona charter school law, examines the outcomes charter schools have attained, and profiles some of the high and low points of chartering in Arizona. It analyzes the potential risks and rewards inherent in the Arizona model. It delves into some of the pressing challenges facing chartering in the state, and concludes with some recommendations for the future.

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