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.”
State and Federal Charter School Policy
This 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.
Several new schools are breaking with tradition so that they can deliver a more personalized experience to students. But in order to do this, they need certain autonomies, especially with respect to the ways they can use time, talent, and technology. Since the public charter sector is uniquely positioned to provide many of these autonomies, it may offer a particularly welcoming space for these “next generation” learning models. This issue brief, written for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, explores the ways that next generation learning models use time, talent, and technology, the autonomies they require, and how the autonomies in the public charter movement can align with what next generation models need to be successful. It also includes brief case studies of four promising next generation models in public charter schools.
Charter schools are well positioned to serve the needs of English Learner (EL) students, but need to be aware of the legal parameters governing public education of ELs. The greater flexibility afforded to charter schools offers opportunity to develop innovative approaches to providing ELs, one of the fastest growing demographic groups among students in the United States, with a quality education. But as charter schools are still subject to all federal and some state education laws, charter schools must understand their legal obligations to EL students. This report, co-authored by Safal Partners and Public Impact for the National Charter School Resource Center, examines federal requirements under civil rights laws and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and state laws governing charter school recruitment, retention, enrollment of EL students and their accountability for EL student performance; requirements and current challenges related to EL data reporting; and whether existing laws are adequate to address the needs of this growing population of ELs in charter schools.
More than 40 North Carolina education leaders convened in January 2014 to consider the challenges and opportunities of an expanding charter sector since the cap was lifted in 2011, and ways that district and charter leaders can work collaboratively to improve how charter schools serve North Carolina students. This report, from Self-Help, The A. J. Fletcher Foundation, and Public Impact, reflects their thoughts on policies, practices, and outcomes related to the state’s charter application and approval process, and the oversight and measurement of charter school performance. It details recommendations to improve charter authorizing practices and increase accountability. The report also addresses equity and funding issues that exacerbate distrust between districts and charter schools, and examines ways in which the two sectors may work together to improve opportunities for all students to attend charter schools and to increase charter schools’ access to district resources that would enhance their ability to serve all types of students. [Read more…]
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.
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.