Today, we released the third annual edition of Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws. This report evaluates, scores, and ranks each of the country’s 42 state charter school laws against the 20 essential components from the NAPCS model law.
2011 was a significant year for charter school policy across the country, as evidenced by the shifts in this year’s report. Here are the major takeaways from the report:
- Sixteen states saw their charter school law scores increase, 22 states’ overall scores remained the same, and four states fell in their overall score.
- In the 2011 rankings, the average score of all states with a charter school law was 100 (out of a maximum possible 208), and in this year’s rankings the average state score rose to 107, demonstrating that state charter laws are improving.
- By aligning their recently enacted charter school law with the NAPCS model law, Maine’s law landed at the top spot on this year’s list. Mississippi’s law remains at the bottom of the list.
- Additionally, as a result of positive policy changes made over the past year, New Mexico made a big jump in the rankings, moving from 20th to fourth; Indiana went from 25th to sixth; and Rhode Island from 37th to 26th.
- Conversely, Georgia fell from seventh to 14th. In addition, South Carolina fell six spots from 19th to 25th. And four states dropped five places: Missouri (13th to 18th), Oklahoma (22nd to 27th), Connecticut (24th to 29th), and New Jersey (26th to 31st).
- The top 10 states with laws best positioned to support the growth of high-quality charter schools are Maine, Minnesota, Florida, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Indiana, Colorado, New York, California and Michigan.
What’s most encouraging about the charter school movement’s legislative efforts is that they’re more frequently marrying growth and quality. As we’ve long argued at NAPCS, the long- term viability of the charter school movement is primarily dependent on the quality of the charter schools that open. It’s critical that state lawmakers recognize the importance of charter school quality – and the impact that their laws have on it. We are glad to see that they are increasingly doing so.
Notwithstanding this progress, much work remains to be done to ensure that charter school laws support the promise of the charter school concept. From lifting arbitrary caps on growth to providing full autonomy to ensuring accountability for performance to providing equitable funding and facilities support, more states than not have work left on their to-do list with regard to establishing a strong charter school law.