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Site Selection Process
The first step in site selection was to compile a comprehensive list of known authorizers from every state with a charter school law. This initial list, which included 852 authorizers from 40 states and the District of Columbia, was compiled through online research and information gathered from state-level officials and other national resources. This initial list provided a limited range of information about each authorizer, including state, authorizer type, and volume of schools authorized.
In order to narrow the list of authorizers that could potentially be included in the guide, the Office of Innovation and Improvement sent out a memo inviting people to nominate authorizers that they believed met the initial set of criteria identified by research and confirmed by the advisory board. This e-mail memo was sent out on several listserves that target state charter school directors, charter school support organizations, charter authorizers, and others. Nominations were received from schools, states, experts, and authorizers.
From all of the nominations, a pool of 29 authorizers was identified for further screening. In narrowing the list, the research team considered several factors, including the number of nominations sent in for a particular authorizer, whether a particular authorizer was nominated by a variety of sources, such as school leaders, charter support organizations, and state-level directors; and finally, whether the nomination suggested that the authorizer meets several of the indicators for success defined by the advisory group of experts in the field that was convened for the study.
Using report card data from state department of education Web sites, school Web sites, and Schoolmatters.com, the research team gathered preliminary information about student achievement in the schools authorized by each of the 29 authorizers. The researchers also contacted authorizers directly and asked them to provide achievement information. In addition, they gathered preliminary information online about the level of impact charter schools authorized by a particular authorizer have had on public education in their jurisdiction, as measured by the percentage of students in the district that attend charter schools, the total number of charter schools, or some other indication. Where readily available, the team also gathered information about traditional school performance in these same districts.
In addition, a phone interview was conducted with each of the 29 authorizers. Information from this interview was used to complete a screening matrix that reflected the selection criteria recommended by the advisory group.