The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is one of the few levers the federal government plays in charter schooling around the country. To date, the program has put more than $5 billion dollars into the sector across 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
This Fall, the U.S. Department of Education is studying the CSP and how funding is used — a worthy endeavor since the program, while a critical component to ensuring strong, equitable public education, could be strengthened.
NACSA agrees with smart policy recommendations from Bellwether Education Partners. (Check out their report, Clearing the Air: An Analysis of the Federal Charter Schools Program.) But we also took a look at an important component of the “State Entity” grant program within the CSP, which provides 7% of funding to be used on technical assistance.
In our new brief, we look at how technical assistance can ensure strong, equitable, and effective authorizing in more states, and provide four key recommendations that policymakers should consider:
Boost funding for technical assistance, by increasing the 7% set-aside to at least 10%.
With more funding, states can ensure that quality is at the heart of authorizing and other technical support.
Promote and support high-quality authorizing by ensuring half of all technical assistance funding is used on authorizing.
Right now, funding can be used in a myriad of ways. If states invest more in high-quality authorizing, the sector will improve for students.
Provide flexibility for grantees to spend more technical assistance funding in the first two-years of grants.
By “frontloading” technical assistance funding, states can begin their work grounded in the supports necessary to build a stronger charter sector.
Ensure transparency and effectiveness by requiring grantees to conduct a needs assessment when applying for and an evaluation when concluding a SE grant.
What gets measured, gets done. When starting a grant, states would be wise to know where they are strong and where support is needed, and policymakers should have a better understanding of what works so we can move those lessons forward.
To learn more about these recommendations, download the report.