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Process for Selecting Exemplar Policies and Implementation Sites
Because there is relatively little research about what constitutes exemplary policy for addressing charter school facilities financing issues, the selection process for this guide was challenging. As further described in appendix A, Research Methodology, the research team relied extensively on guidance from a five-member advisory group comprising charter school experts familiar with facilities issues and charter school facility finance experts. Based on an examination of the research and on advisor recommendations, the team developed a study scope and criteria for the selection of study sites that were reviewed by the advisors and further refined with their input.
The information included in this guide has been drawn primarily from phone interviews with 31 respondents across nine featured sites. A wide range of individuals were interviewed, including staff of state charter school associations and resource centers, staff of public entities issuing bonds on behalf of charter schools, financial experts within state agencies administering charter school programs, and staff working in charter offices within state departments of education. In addition, researchers contacted a small number of charter school operators that state respondents suggested based on school operators' understanding of and experience with the various forms of facilities assistance described in the guide. Three of these schools are profiled to illustrate how the state policies and programs described can effectively function in practice. For a list of those interviewed and their affiliations, see the methodology in appendix A. The research team also requested that respondents, when possible, send the state statutes that established the forms of assistance profiled. The URLs for the relevant Web sites where these statutes are available online are listed in appendix A.
This guide is not based on experimental research that can make causal claims about what policies and practices are most effective. Readers should judge for themselves the merits of the policies and practices profiled in the guide and reflect on why and how well the forms of assistance would work in their specific contexts. These descriptions neither constitute an endorsement of specific policies or practices nor make the claim that the policies and practices described in the guide are perfectly implemented. However, policymakers may be able to draw from the examples included in this guide to design facilities assistance policies that can best serve the needs of charter schools in their jurisdictions.