NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charter School Report Card

March 25, 2014

More than half of state charter school laws are weak, according to a new report from the Center for Education Reform.

For the last 15 years, the Center has produced a report card -- not grading the schools themselves, but grading the state laws that encourage (or discourage) charter school operations. What gets a state a good grade?

  • Strong -- and permanent -- authorizing structures, equitable funding and autonomy for the states to operate and educate children without being constricted by regulations.
  • These rules must be codified in law, or else resources and charter flexibility are subject to political whim.
  • Even the states that earn an A are not perfect, and most charter laws are average, earning a C. Most discouragingly, with one or two exceptions, states have not substantially improved their policies since last year.

The report gives a numerical value to the four major charter law components that have the biggest impact on the creation and development of charters: multiple authorizers (does the school board authorize charters, or does the state allow independent authorizers to create and manage charter schools?), number of schools allowed (are the number of schools capped, and do those caps hinder the growth of the charter movement?), operations (how much independence do the schools have?), and equity (do charters receive the same amount of money for each student, and do they receive funding from the same streams as other public schools?). States also earn and lose points based on accountability and how well they implement the law.

How did the scores shake out?

  • Five states (District of Columbia, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan and Arizona) earned an A, nine states a B, and 18 states a C. Eight states received Ds, and three states earned Fs (Virginia, Iowa and Kansas).
  • Mississippi boosted its score from an F last year up to a C this year by implementing new legislation that increased autonomy.
  • Only two other states improved their letter grades -- Arizona going up from a B to an A, and Wisconsin from a C to a B.

Source: "2014 Charter School Law Rankings & Scorecard," Center for Education Reform, March 17, 2014.


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