NAPCS Releases New, Improved ‘Health of Charter Movement’ Report

charter

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has released the second edition of its state-by-state analysis in an effort to evaluate how each state is doing with its public charter school movement.

The report builds on the first edition and made adjustments for feedback they received. The alliance hopes the two reports can be used to bring a focus onto the states that are working to create supportive policy environments in addition to states that are working toward a healthy movement.  Information is also being offered through the reports on the strengthening of both laws and implementation of those laws for struggling states.

The second edition of “The Health of the Charter Public School Movement: A State-by-State Analysis” uses 13 indicators of growth, innovation, and quality to determine the health of the charter public school movement, with three significant changes from the previous edition.

First, the criteria states need to meet in order to be scored and ranked saw a change.  Two criteria were required for the last report: that the charter school movement enrolled at least 1% of public school students in the state for the 2013-14 school year, and that it participated in the Center for Research on Education Outcomes’ (CREDO’s) National Charter School Study 2013.  In all, 26 states met that criteria.

This year, states must meet a total of three criteria, including serving at least 2% of public school students for the 2014-15 school year, participation in CREDO’s National Charter School Study 2013, and having a state accountability system in place that ranks public schools based on performance for 2012-13 and 2013-14.  In all, 18 states met these criteria.

Second, the updated report uses four indicators of quality, while only two were used previously.  The two used in the original report were taken from CREDO’s National Charter Schools Study 2013, which the authors say is still the only source of student outcome data covering a large quantity of states that offer an equal comparison of similar students within charter public and traditional public schools.  However, the most recent data available is from 2010-11.

The authors included two additional indicators that evaluate whether state charter school movements are improving over time through an increase of the percentage of top rating charters, and decreasing the percentage with a low rating.

The last change deals with innovation.  Because the subject can be defined in a number of ways, the authors asked school leaders about a number of issues last year, including educational focus and instructional delivery.  However, for this year, charter schools were categorized based on one of 13 special focuses in an effort to show whether a variety of charter schools were being created that meet the needs of a diverse student population.

Findings suggest that, overall, states with higher-ranking charter public school laws also performed highly on the report’s health-of-the-movement rankings.  Despite this, a small number of high-performing states were not ranked highly on the report.  The authors believe this is due to the amount of time between policy changes in the state and the impact of those changes on authorizers and schools.