NCLB CHOICES FOR PARENTS
Innovations In Education: Supporting Charter School Excellence Through Quality Authorizing
June 2007
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Process for Selecting Profiled Authorizers

Because there are many strong authorizing offices across the country, the selection process for this guide was challenging. As further described in Appendix A, advisors and researchers with extensive charter school experience conducted several levels of review in order to select the eight authorizers profiled in this guide.

Preparation began with a literature review examining the existing research about authorizing and oversight of charter schools, including theories and essays as well as reviews of empirical research and major research studies. This review identified variables that the research suggests contribute most to effective authorizing. (For more information on the existing research base, see Appendix B: Resources.)

The set of variables were organized into a framework that was reviewed by an advisory group composed of seven researchers and expert practitioners in charter schools and charter authorizing. Meeting on Feb. 5, 2006, in Washington, D.C., the advisors refined and validated the framework, prioritized key concepts, and suggested methods for authorizer selection.

The variables identified by literature review and refined by the advisory group were used to guide the selection of the sites profiled in this guide and the data collection at these sites. The site selection process involved several steps. In order to narrow the list of authorizers that could potentially be included in the guide, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, sent out a memo inviting people to voluntarily nominate authorizers that they believed met the initial set of criteria identified by research and confirmed by the advisory board.

Several factors were considered in screening the list of potential sites, including: the number of nominations 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 whether nominations suggested that a particular authorizer met several of the indicators for success defined by the advisory group.

The advisory board agreed that the authorizers selected for this guide should represent a crosssection of several variables in order to be applicable to a wide audience. Site selection involved two levels of screening: the characteristics that each individual authorizer should have in order to be included and the overall characteristics of the authorizers as a pool.

In order to be considered for this guide, each authorizer had to meet several characteristics, including: 1) strong performance of the schools chartered by the authorizer, as compared to traditional schools within its jurisdiction; 2) some impact on public education as measured by the number of charter schools in its jurisdiction (as a percentage of all public schools), the number of charter school students (as a percentage of all public school students), or both; 3) experience responding to school failure, school renewal issues, or both; and 4) evidence (provided by nominators, interviews with the authorizer’s staff, or both) indicating that the authorizer engages in the effective practices.

The individual site selection process also took into account the reality that a single authorizer may be very successful in one or more of its roles, while less successful in others. Each site profiled in this guide exemplifies some successful innovations, even though there may be other areas of each site’s work that may need strengthening.

After the pool of potential authorizers was narrowed by applying the criteria listed above, the remaining authorizers were sorted by various characteristics that the advisors felt should be represented in the overall pool of authorizers to be included in the guide. These "pool" characteristics included: 1) diversity by type of authorizer (ideally including one or two local school boards, a college or university, a nonprofit organization, a state-level board, and a mayor or city council); 2) diversity by volume of authorizing; and 3) diversity by authorizing approaches. The advisors also made sure that the final selection of authorizers profiled in this guide included geographic diversity and included a balance between authorizers that had been profiled in several other publications and newer or lesser-known authorizers. Selected variables for each profiled authorizer are provided in table 1 and also in the individual authorizer profiles later in this guide.


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Last Modified: 05/26/2009