New Report Identifies What Charter School Authorizers Do Differently to Achieve High-Performing Portfolios

New Report Identifies What Charter School Authorizers Do Differently to Achieve High-Performing Portfolios

New report finds successful authorizing depends on great leadership, institutional commitment, and strong professional judgment

CHICAGO — Today, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) releases “Leadership, Commitment, Judgment: Elements of Successful Charter School Authorizing,” the first report based on its groundbreaking research to identify the authorizer practices and other elements associated with high-quality school portfolios.

Over three years, NACSA examined the practices of authorizers with the strongest charter schools in the country, as measured by 11 student and community outcomes, as well as the practices of authorizers with average portfolios. Through a comparison of the two groups, NACSA identified the unique practices of high-quality authorizers.

“We have always known the best authorizers create environments where quality charter schools thrive, but until now we lacked evidence to point to what they were doing differently to achieve stellar student and community outcomes,” said M. Karega Rausch, NACSA Interim CEO and Vice President of Research & Evaluation. “This report is an important first step towards developing a more evidence-informed connection between authorizer practices and good schools for kids and families.”

Great authorizers—those with strong school portfolios and performance outcomes—implement foundational best practices that NACSA has promoted for years and continues to refine. But to achieve outstanding outcomes, great authorizers also share the following, unmistakable characteristics:

  • Great Leadership: Authorizers are dedicated to a mission of giving more children access to better schools through the proactive creation and replication of high-quality charter schools and the closure of academically low-performing ones.
  • Institutional Commitment: Authorizing is visible, championed, and adequately resourced, rather than buried in a bureaucracy. The people responsible for day-to-day authorizing functions have influence over decision making.
  • Strong Professional Judgment: Decisions are made based on what will drive student outcomes, not based on checking boxes or personal beliefs.

“Ultimately, authorizers exist to create great student outcomes and expand quality choices for families,” Rausch concluded. “Simply put: an authorizer cannot be considered a good authorizer if it is overseeing a group of poorly performing charter schools.”



The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is an independent voice for effective charter school policy and thoughtful charter authorizing practices that lead to more great public schools. Our research, policy, and consultation work advances excellence and accountability in the charter school sector. With authorizers and other partners, we have built the gold standard for charter school authorizing. Through smart charter school growth, these authorizers give hundreds of thousands of children an opportunity for a better education each year.

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