A strength of the charter school community has been its willingness to address quality and accountability issues, especially in the face of inconsistent academic quality among charters. Charter school advocates increasingly realize that great authorizing includes the will and ability to close failing schools.
As authorizers and states have increased performance expectations and grown less hesitant to close failing schools, “authorizer shopping” has emerged as a growing threat to overall charter school quality. Authorizer shopping happens when a charter school chooses or changes its authorizer specifically to avoid accountability. A low-performing school may shop for a new authorizer to avoid closure, or reopen under a new authorizer after closure.
In Authorizer Shopping: Lessons from Experience and Ideas for the Future, released today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), I and my co-authors, Public Impact colleagues Shonaka Ellison and Bryan Hassel and NACSA’s Sean Conlan and M. Karega Rausch, consider five examples of authorizer shopping in action. We provide specific guidance to authorizers, policymakers, and advocates to address authorizer shopping—and examples of policies now in use, to ensure that students are not subjected to chronically failing schools year after year.
Thanks to NACSA for the opportunity to shine a spotlight on this!