Innovations In Education: Supporting Charter School Excellence Through Quality Authorizing
June 2007
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Part 1: Common Practices Among High-quality Authorizing Offices

The eight charter authorizers in this study have developed strong practices designed to strengthen the quality and success of the charter schools they authorize. The authorizers are diverse in many ways: One is part of a much larger nonprofit that has a mission to provide services to marginalized communities, while two others are based in large urban district offices that have chosen charter schools as one strategy to improve student performance. Some are the sole authorizer in their state; while others operate where there are multiple entities with authority to authorize charter schools. Some have chartered dozens of schools; others have far fewer. A checklist at the end of this section summarizes steps for building a strong authorizing program.

Despite these differences, these offices all share several fundamental characteristics—strong internal capacity, a rigorous selection process, transparent oversight policies, and willingness to make hard decisions—that form the basis of successful authorizing (see fig. 1). They implement these core processes in different ways, having developed them in response to their particular contexts, but all are focused on constant improvement. In their drive to improve education options for students, these authorizers have developed essential practices that offer a model for other authorizing offices across the country.

Fig. 1: Common Practices Among Highlighted Charter School Authorizers

  • Build a Strong Organization
  • Develop a Strong Talent Pool
  • Select for Quality
  • Support New School Operators
  • Provide Meaningful and Transparent Oversight
  • Hold Schools Accountable for Meeting Performance Goals

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Last Modified: 05/26/2009