Principles & Standards

Principles & Standards

The Principles & Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing, established in 2004, reflect lessons learned by experienced authorizers. This foundational resource guides authorizing practices across the country and is referenced in state statutes. 

Principles & Standards is designed to help authorizers set high expectations for the schools they charter, while recognizing there are many ways for schools to meet those expectations.

The Principles articulate a set of beliefs about quality charter school authorizing. The Standards identify core authorizer responsibilities and describe how the principles are upheld within each responsibility. Consult this resource often to fulfill the critical responsibilities of every charter school authorizers.

Maintain high standards for schools

Uphold school autonomy

Protect student and public interests

Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing

Each standard is categorized within the following five categories:

Agency Commitment and Capacity
A quality authorizer fosters excellent charter schools that meet identified community needs. They prioritize a commitment to excellence in education and in authorizing practices, and creates organizational structures, including  human and financial resources, to conduct their authorizing duties effectively and efficiently.

Application Process and Decision Making
A quality authorizer implements a comprehensive application process that includes clear application questions and guidance; follows fair, transparent procedures and rigorous criteria; and grants charters only to applicants demonstrating a strong capacity to establish and operate an effective charter school.

Performance Contracting
A quality authorizer executes contracts with charter schools that articulate the rights and responsibilities of each party regarding school autonomy, funding, administration, oversight, measures for evaluating success or failure, performance consequences, and other material terms. The contract  is an essential document, that establishes the legally binding terms under which the school will operate and be held accountable.

Ongoing Oversight and Evaluation
A quality authorizer evaluates performance and monitors compliance; ensures schools’ legally entitled autonomy; protects student rights; informs intervention, revocation, and renewal decisions; and provides annual public reports on school performance.

Revocation and Renewal Decision Making
A quality authorizer designs and implements a transparent and rigorous process that uses comprehensive academic, financial, and operational performance data to make merit-based renewal decisions, and revokes charters when necessary to protect student and public interests.