New State Charter Law Rankings Announced: Include Quality and Accountability Measures

Jan 13, 2010, 10:37 ET from National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Report Finds 24 States Risk Race to the Top Funding Because They Are Closed to New, High-Quality Charters

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools today released the first-ever ranking of all state charter school laws that is based on the full range of values in the public charter school movement: quality and accountability, funding equity, facilities support, autonomy, and growth and choice.

"How State Charter Laws Rank Against The New Model Public Charter School Law," assesses the strengths of each state's charter school law against the 20 essential components of a strong law contained in the new model public charter school law released by the Alliance in June 2009. Evaluating each state law against each component – a total of 800 separate ratings – the Alliance ranks each law from strongest to weakest.

"State legislation really sets the bar for the charter school movement," explained National Alliance President and CEO Nelson Smith.  "When states combine equitable resources, real autonomy, and tough accountability, charter schools flourish and meet the high expectations of parents and policymakers. These new rankings not only show which state laws are making the grade, but also show how they do it: by paying attention to specific issues that are crucial to school and student success."  

As states prepare to submit applications for the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant program, the rankings provide clear indications of where some states excel and others come up short in charter-related policies.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan commented, "It's very important to have better, clearer charter laws – laws that enable innovation, promote transparency about how charter schools perform and how they are held accountable, and provide fair access to public funds and facilities.  We're encouraged that the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools supports creation of better charter school laws as models of learning, and we encourage authorizers to hold charters accountable for student performance."

The report finds that 13 states fail to meet a key test of the Race to the Top guidelines because they continue to place restrictive caps on charter school growth. They are: Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island. Plus, 11 states still have yet to enact public charter school laws.  

According to the lead author of the report, Alliance Vice President for Policy Todd Ziebarth, these 24 states are closed to new high-quality charters and should be disqualified from the RTTT competition until they significantly improve their laws:  "No matter how strong its policies in other areas, a state that maintains a cap on charter schools – or passes no charter law at all – is a state that is missing a key building block of reform."

For this analysis, the Alliance weighted each of the 20 essential components from the Alliance's model law on a scale of "1" to "4."  Then the Alliance rated each state law on each component on a scale of "0" to "4."  To obtain each state's rank, the Alliance multiplied the weight and rating for each component, then added up the scores for each of the 20 components. The highest score possible was 208.

The top ten state laws shown to support the growth of high-quality charter schools are: Minnesota (152), D.C. (131), California (130), Georgia (130), Colorado (128), Massachusetts (125), Utah (123), New York (121), Louisiana (120), and Arizona (120). The complete analysis can be downloaded at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools web site: www.publiccharters.org/charterlawrankings. See detailed state-by-state summaries and color-coded maps of how state laws measure against each component at www.publiccharters.org/charterlaws.

About the Alliance: The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (http://www.publiccharters.org) is the national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. The Alliance works to increase the number of high performing charter schools available to all families, particularly low-income and minority families who currently do not have access to quality public schools. The Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement. Over 1.5 million students attend more than 4,900 charter schools in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

SOURCE National Alliance for Public Charter Schools



RELATED LINKS

http://www.publiccharters.org/