Year in Review: 2019 in Authorizing Policy

Year in Review: 2019 in Authorizing Policy

As the year comes to a close, we’re taking a moment to reflect on all that 2019 meant for charter school authorizing. It was an important year, with key legislative changes in many states and big ideas to improve authorizing policies. We’re recapping the year by revisiting some of our biggest blog pieces from the year.

Celebrating the Good, Calling Out the Bad in State Policies

We started off 2019 by highlighting what we were watching for in state legislative sessions, shining a light on states doing good work and flagging policies that missed the mark. In New Mexico, we called attention to legislation that preserved authorizer autonomy; in Tennessee, we celebrated legislation that created a new independent chartering board. We also called out states that missed opportunities to improve policies or were pushing forward poorly thought out legislation. California missed another opportunity to improve its charter school policies, while Pennsylvania’s docket included good, bad, and downright ugly policies. Next year, we’ll continue to keep authorizers and other stakeholders up to date on what’s going on around the country and what it means for raising the quality of authorizing standards.

Policy Trends and Patterns

We also looked at the big picture, analyzing legislative proposals across the states to uncover trends in the national policy landscape. We identified and examined two policy trends impacting authorizers. First, many states looked to raise expectations on charter schools, while trusting authorizer judgment and experience to get oversight right. Second, we discussed the diverging views of policymakers around non-district authorizers. From a national vantage point, we’ve been able to pick up on common threads in policy discussions happening around the country.

Underscoring Big Ideas

This was a great year for big ideas i­n charter authorizing policy and we emphasized several opportunities for policymakers and authorizers. This year NACSA launched a new policy initiative focused on equity and access issues: we led off with a discussion of the importance of transportation policies for ensuring fair access. We also highlighted policy proposals and recommendations from our advocacy partners, including how authorizers could better support students with disabilities, and how the federal Charter Schools Program could be reimagined to strengthen existing charter schools.


In 2020, we’ll continue to further the dialogue around improving authorizing, including additional work on equity and access issues and new research on expansion and replication policies. We’re currently surveying partners in the field and will soon share trends to watch for in the new year. Most of all, we’re excited to continue engaging with authorizers and stakeholders on their most important issues, helping bring quality schools to all students and families.


Jason Zwara analyzes and develops charter authorizing policies as part of NACSA’s policy team. He tracks state and federal legislation and creates policy resources for members and advocacy partners. Have policy questions? Please reach out at [email protected]


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