NACSA’s work to strengthen the ideas and practices of authorizing so communities—especially those historically under-resourced—thrive was affirmed in the new National Charter School Study III 2023 from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO).
According to the study, “The students hit hardest by school closures during the coronavirus pandemic are precisely those whom this research illuminates as being able to benefit the most from charter schools.” And the study affirms that this benefit has a lot to do with strong authorizing policies and practices.
“Authorizing is one of the most significant public education innovations of the last several decades,” said NACSA president and CEO, M. Karega Rausch, Ph. D. “Authorizing has helped create a new public education landscape, where school autonomy is balanced by a strong commitment to accountability and equitable access for all students. We are pleased that an accumulating body of evidence—of which the most recent CREDO report continues to illustrate—demonstrates that strong authorizing and charter schooling is among the most successful school improvement efforts of the last two decades. Nobody can ever say that public education is unable to create high-quality equitable schools at scale—the results of this study put that false and old narrative to rest, forever.”
Some of the most impactful findings and opportunities for authorizing from the study, include:
- Educational equity is real and scalable – The study identified more than 1,000 charter schools, described as “gap-busting”, that are showing educational equity is not just an idea, but a reality for tens of thousands of students. And these schools can be scaled to create even greater outcomes for students—especially Black, Latine, and low-income students. The scalability and sustainability of “gap-busting” schools requires authorizers to continue to hold high standards: saying “yes” and making it easier for charter networks with strong results to grow and expand, saying “no” to networks with mediocre or poor results, and effectively evaluating new educational opportunities that meet the needs and aspirations of communities.
- Accountability Matters – Authorizers play a critical role in the continued and increasing success of charter schooling. As some states weaken accountability in state policy, authorizing must hold the line on quality and demand educational excellence for all students. That means directly addressing underperforming schools through school closure and other approaches identified by the report like school turnaround. And there remains little doubt that charter schooling must find creative solutions to address the few areas of continued underperformance, including outcomes for students with disabilities and virtual charter schools.
- Better new schools – According to the study, “New schools opened with stronger results than at any time in the past.” As authorizers continue to partner with NACSA to evolve the new school application process, we know we’ll continue to see more high-quality, sustainable, innovative schools led by those with ties to the lived experiences of students.
According to Rausch, “The evidence is in. We know the framework of public charter schooling – autonomy, accountability, and access—has a profound impact on public education. We will continue to work with a wide range of stakeholders, especially families and communities, to make high-quality public education a reality for more students across the country.