Innovations In Education: Supporting Charter School Excellence Through Quality Authorizing
June 2007
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Part II Conclusion: Policy Considerations

Each of the authorizers profiled here operates within a unique policy environment, with its own advantages and challenges for effective authorizing. Rather than viewing the environment in which they work as an impediment, all have worked to understand and use their state’s charter policies to their advantage and perform the practices associated with highquality authorizing because of and in spite of their environment.

Still, it is vital for state policymakers to create as strong an environment as possible for effective charter school authorizing. To support authorizing as a key to high-quality charter schools, policymakers must examine what should be changed in their state to ensure that authorizers have the accountability, autonomy, and support to enable them to work effectively. While there are many ways policymakers can approach each of these challenges, the experience of the authorizers pro- filed here suggests a common set of issues that all policymakers should take into account (summarized in fig. 16, "Checklist of Policy-related Factors that Affect the Quality of Charter Authorizing").

Figure 16. Checklist of Policy-related Factors That Affect the Quality of Charter Authorizing

Level and Type of External Accountability

Define authorizer "success" and devise systems to hold authorizers accountable for meeting these standards.

Since authorizer's environment is already complex, make these systems as least burdensome and as results-oriented as possible.

Level of Operation Autonomy

Provide authorizers with sufficient autonomy to pursue their authorizing missions and carry out their responsibilities.

In cases of joint oversight of charter schools by the authorizer and other entities (e.g., the New York State Department of Education) foster a streamline relationship between monitoring entities that maximizes efficiency and minimizes the administrative burden upon charter schools.

Vulnerability to Political Change

Empower a mix of authorizers so that quality authorizing will continue in the state despite political change.

While exposing authorizers to accountability for results, insulate authorizers from specialized interests and protect their ability to make merit-based decisions.

Limits on Charter School Growth

In cases where authorizers have a proven ability to open and monitor successful schools, remove caps on the number of charter schools that can operate in a given locate.

Foster success by providing authorizers with adequate resources and holding them accountable for results.

In states with caps, consider rewarding authorizers that open and monitor successful schools by allowing them to authorize additional schools. Conversely, disempower authorizers that do not meet expectations.

Level and Type of Funding

Analyze the current funding structure to determine if it provides adequate resources to support high-quality authorizing practices.

Improve funding if necessary by increasing the amount of per-pupil funding, the availability of external funding, the level of institutional support, or by some other means.

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Last Modified: 05/26/2009