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New Report: States' Charter Laws Should Vary Based on Charters' Performance

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In order to spur the growth of high-performing charters and quell the number of underperforming charter schools, state lawmakers should pass laws that differentiate the way charter schools are governed based on their academic and financial performance, says a new report from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the Charter School Growth Fund.

"School choice only works if parents and students have good choices," said Greg Richmond, NACSA president and chief executive officer in a press release accompanying the release of the report. "We can create and multiply better schools for children by replicating excellence, not mediocrity."

The report, written by Public Impact—a North Carolina-based education policy and consulting firm—offers ten policy recommendations to improve the quality of charter schools, which, if the sector maintains its current level of growth, could double in size by 2025, educating more than 4.6 million children, or about 10 percent of the total student population, the report says.

The ten policy recommendations break down into four broader categories: passing or revising charter laws that allow for the differentiation of charter operators based on performance levels, building capacity for and supporting high-performing charter schools and networks, facilitating the replication of high-performing charter schools and networks, and accelerating the closure of underperforming charter schools.

In order to accelerate and support the growth of high-performing charters and networks, it is first necessary to allow a state's charter law to differentiate based on the performance of each school or network, the report says. 

Lawmakers should establish one independent chartering board and at least one other authorizing agency, the report recommends. In addition, caps that limit the growth of high-performing charter schools and networks should be removed. 

The application and renewal process for high-performing charter schools and networks should be streamlined, says the report, and all states should adopt legislation that calls for the automatic closure of underperforming charters. Criteria for closure should be well-defined in the legislation. 

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