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Study Framework and Data Collection
This study builds upon a fairly robust, though incomplete body of research on charter school authorizing. Because the field of charter school authorizing is fairly new (the first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1991), there is not a large and conclusive body of evidence related to best practices. The majority of studies rely on surveys and practitioner expertise as well as expert opinion. Based on the current research, a conceptual framework was developed to guide the study. Those variables that the research suggests contribute most to effective authorizing are highlighted in the conceptual framework, which was designed to guide both site selection and data collection. Feedback from an advisory group of experts in the field and from the Office of Innovation and Improvement staff further informed the scope of the project. The dimensions of the conceptual framework were:
1. Authorizer Ability to Negotiate Policy Context
Working effectively within the existing political and bureaucratic environment.
2. Authorizer Capacity
Developing an effective organization.
3. Recruiting and Selecting Applicants
Establishing and running an application process that yields high-quality charter schools.
4. Contracting Process
Delineating rights and responsibilities, defining ambitious performance goals, and establishing consequences for performance.
Engaging in rigorous and transparent performance monitoring and providing appropriate support and intervention.
6. Accountability for School Performance
Making decisions about intervention, renewal and closure that increase the quality of charter schools over time.