A national ranking of charter school policies released today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) recognizes and applauds the strength of Alabama’s first charter school law.
The report, “On the Road to Better Accessibility, Autonomy, and Accountability,” analyzes current charter school oversight policies across the nation. Each state is scored against eight known best practices in state policy that ensure a consistent, high-performing charter sector.
In 2015, Alabama passed its first charter school law, the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act. It includes all of NACSA’s recommended policies.
“With a strong charter school law based on national best practices in place, Alabama has built a solid foundation for charter school success,” said Amanda Fenton, director of state and federal policy at NACSA. “The law focuses on school accountability and strong standards for authorizers, the groups that approve and oversee charter schools. It’s a winning formula to create great charter schools that meet the needs of all Alabama students.”
The report encourages Alabama to persist in its thoughtful development and implementation of high-quality authorizer practices for local school districts and the Alabama Public Charter School Commission. Statutory adoption of strong charter school oversight policies, including a robust and well-defined charter school petition and evaluation process, will help ensure that Alabama authorizers conduct rigorous front-end quality controls to get the state’s new charter school sector off to a strong start.
Under the new law, any local school board in the state may register with the Department of Education for the authority to authorize charter schools in its district. In addition, the Alabama Public Charter School Commission serves as the statewide authorizer, which may directly authorize charter schools in jurisdictions where the local school district is not a registered authorizer and may also authorize on appeal.
“The law gives local school districts that choose to become authorizers the tools they need to be successful in their authorizing work. As the 43rd state in the nation to adopt a charter law, we worked hard in Alabama to get ours right from the start, and it is rewarding to see our efforts recognized at the national level,” said Emily Schultz, senior manager of state advocacy and policy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, who works to help implement the new law. Ms. Schultz previously lead the Alabama Coalition, where she worked to pass the state’s law.
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 will give hundreds of thousands of children an opportunity for a better education each year. More at www.qualitycharters.org