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How States Address Charter School Educator Evaluation in ESEA Waivers

Given the ticking clock on the requirements laid out under the most recent authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 (click here for background), the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) has approved the ESEA flexibility requests (waivers) of 32 States, plus the District of Columbia. The Department offered States the opportunity to request flexibility from certain ESEA/NCLB requirements. In return, the States must show that they are implementing rigorous and comprehensive plans to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.

In our review of the waivers, NAPCS paid particular attention to how the approved waivers addressed the issue of teacher and principal effectiveness in states with public charter school laws. This issue was of particular importance because the degree to which a state plans to mandate, include or exempt charter participation in educator evaluation could either infringe or protect charter autonomy over personnel decisions. A breakdown of the approved waivers, and notes on their inclusion (or lack thereof) of charters can be found here.

We found that while some states exempted charters from participation in the state educator evaluation system, others explicitly (or implicitly) included charter participation in the system. For example, New York requires charters to participate in the evaluation process, but the schools do not have to use the information in personnel decisions, therefore abiding by existing rules for unionized and non-unionized schools. Oklahoma struck a middle ground by stating that charters are required to have an educator evaluation system in place with a number of components required by the legislature, but they have the ability to craft the system themselves. Some of the most hands off approaches come from Arkansas and South Carolina, which entirely exempt charter participation in the state plans.

NAPCS commends states that directly address the treatment of public charter schools within their waiver requests for keeping the charter sector at the forefront of their application process. We recommend that the Department closely monitor waiver implementation in the states that did not directly address the impact these new rules would have on the charter sector, to ensure that existing state laws are not ignored because an entire population of educators was not specifically addressed in the application.

OSSE ESEA Waiver (1)





Image via the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE)