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I'm pleased to introduce this newest edition in the Innovations in Education book series, which identifies real-world examples of innovative education practices that are helping students achieve in schools all across the nation. This guide complements two additional publications in the series, Charter High Schools Closing the Achievement Gap, which was released in 2006, and a forthcoming publication regarding high-performing K–8 charter schools.
The charter school movement has come a long way since 1991 when the first charter law was passed in Minnesota. now, 40 states and the District of Columbia have adopted charter laws, and some 3,600 charter schools are operating throughout the nation, serving over one million children. In many local school districts, charter schools have raised their students' academic achievement and influenced other district schools to do more to raise their performance.
Throughout the last few years, it has become apparent how critical charter school authorizers are in advancing the quality and growth of charter schools. They're the ones responsible for approving new schools, monitoring schools' compliance with applicable laws, providing technical assistance, and evaluating schools' performance. As such, authorizers are in a powerful position to close ineffective schools and champion successful ones so that they can serve as models for others.
One of the most important purposes of charter schools is to give parents high-quality options for their children's education. The eight authorizers profiled in this guide share this commitment to quality and remain focused on improving and expanding the education options in their areas.
The No Child Left Behind Act recognizes the value and vitality of charter schools, and their important role in helping us reach our goal of every child reading and doing math at grade level by 2014. I hope this guide will prove a helpful resource for policymakers, current charter school authorizers, and potential authorizers so that they may replicate the successful practices described within the following pages.
U.S. Secretary of Education