The National Association of Charter School Authorizers’ recently released State of Charter Authorizing report shows continued growth in the movement.
In 2015, the number of charter school authorizers reached 1,050 in 42 states plus Washington, D.C., overseeing nearly 7,000 schools and more than 2.5 million students. One reason for this growth is the growing role of local school districts in authorization, (90 percent of authorizers are local school districts), suggesting they are embracing charters as part of innovative solutions to transform school districts.
M. Karega Rausch, vice president of research and evaluation at NACSA, said of having the majority of authorizers being local school districts, “This could be troublesome or beneficial for students across the country. We know many districts have not developed the capacity to effectively oversee charter schools in addition to their other duties. However, we also know there can be great outcomes when district officials work together to manage a great portfolio of both traditional and charter schools to meet community needs. Denver Public Schools is one strong example of this kind of partnership.”
One of the most notable aspects of charter schools is that they are more likely than traditional district schools to be closed if they’re not serving children.
“School closures are painful for students, families, and communities, but are sometimes necessary to ensure every student has the opportunity to go to a quality school,” the report says. This is another responsibility that falls to authorizers, who have maintained a steady rate of around 3.8 percent over the last four years (among authorizers managing 10 or more schools), even as the number of charter schools has grown.
The report also found that more charter schools are network affiliated. So while authorizers are receiving fewer applications overall, more authorizers are receiving applications to replicate existing charter school models. In 2010, only 16 percent of new charter schools were organization-affiliated, a number that grew to 41 percent in 2015.