Measuring Up to the Model



Illinois

TOTAL SCORE:
125 out of 228

Rank: 31 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  1996
Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  145
Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  63,175

Illinois did not pass any legislation in 2013 that affected its score and ranking.

Illinois’ score increased from 117 points in 2013 to 125 points this year. The score changed because of further clarification about the specific policies for Component #8 (Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes) and Component #9 (Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal, and Revocation Decisions). Its ranking went from #28 to #31.

Illinois’ law needs significant work in several areas, most significantly ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

Do Illinois's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Illinois's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Illinois law contains a limit of 120 charter schools, with a maximum of 75 in Chicago and 45 in the rest of the state. It reserves five of the charters in Chicago for drop-out recovery schools. Illinois law includes a one-year moratorium on virtual charter schools outside of Chicago, running from April 1, 2013 to April 1, 2014. There are currently 67 charter schools open in Illinois - 52 in Chicago (including two drop-out recovery charter schools) and 15 in the rest of the state.

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1A. No limits are placed on the number of public charter schools or students (and no geographic limits).

1B. If caps exist, adequate room for growth.

2. A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Illinois law allows new start-ups, public school conversions, and virtual schools.

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2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Illinois law allows local school boards to serve as authorizers. In addition, a charter school applicant may apply to the State Charter School Commission if: 1) it is denied by the local school board first; 2) in the case of a charter school proposed to be jointly authorized by two or more school districts, the local school boards unanimously deny the charter school proposal with a statement that the local school boards are not opposed to the charter school, but that they yield to the Commission in light of the complexities of joint administration.

The law also requires a local school board, whenever petitioned to do so by 5% or more of the voters of a school district or districts identified in a charter school proposal, to submit to the voters at a regularly scheduled election the question of whether a new charter school shall be established. The law provides that if the majority of voters approve the referendum, the State Charter School Commission must enter into a contract with the charter school.

There is some authorizing activity by local school boards but little activity by the State Charter School Commission.

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3A. The state allows two or more authorizing options (e.g., school districts and a state charter schools commission) for each applicant with direct application to each authorizer.

4. Authorizer & Overall Program Accountability System Required

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Every odd-numbered year, the law requires all authorizers to submit a report to the state board of education that includes the authorizer’s strategic vision for chartering and process toward achieving that vision, the academic and financial performance of all operating charter schools, the status of the authorizer’s charter school portfolio, and the authorizing functions provided to the charter schools including operating costs and expenses as detailed in annual audited financial statements.

Every even-numbered year (not every year), the state board of education must issue a report to the General Assembly and the Governor containing the aggregate findings from the authorizer reports, information comparing charter school performance with that of traditional schools similarly situated, a review of the regulations and policies from which charter schools are exempted, and suggestions.

Based on this information and their on-going monitoring of both schools and authorizers, the state board of education has the power to remove the power to authorize from any authorizer in the state and, as needed, revoke the chronically low-performing charter schools approved by that authorizer.

The law does not require at least a registration process for local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state.

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4A. At least a registration process for local school boards to affirm their interest in chartering to the state.

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities.

N/A

4C. Authorizer submission of annual report, which summarizes the agency’s authorizing activities as well as the performance of its school portfolio.

4D. A regular review process by authorizer oversight body.

4E. Authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction authorizers, including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

4F. Periodic formal evaluation of overall state charter school program and outcomes.

5. Adequate Authorizer Funding

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Illinois law allows the State Charter School Commission to charge up to 3% of the revenues provided to its approved schools. It does not contain a similar provision for school district authorizers.

The law requires the state board of education’s periodic report on charter schools to detail the authorizing functions that authorizers provided to their charter schools, including operating costs and expenses as detailed in annual audited financial statements.

It does not require a separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school and does not prohibit authorizers from requiring schools to purchase services from them.

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5A. Adequate funding from authorizing fees (or other sources).

5B. Guaranteed funding from authorizing fees (or from sources not subject to annual legislative appropriations).

5C. Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.

5D. Separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.

5E. Prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

6. Transparent Charter Application, Review, and Decisionmaking Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Illinois law provides application elements for all schools. Illinois law provides additional application elements specific to conversion schools. It does not provide additional application elements specific to virtual schools, educational service providers, and replications.

The law does not require authorizers to issue requests for proposals. However, the law establishes that authorizers must give priority to those schools demonstrating a high level of community support with rigorous levels of expected pupil achievement and designed to enroll a high percentage of at-risk students.

The law requires authorizers to set a public hearing within 45 days of receipt of application and to determine a decision within 30 days of the public hearing in a public forum. However, it does not require authorizers to conduct an in-person interview of each applicant.

Under Illinois law, reports of denials, revocations or non-renewals must consist of the charter proposal or current charter contract voted upon by the authorizers. The law requires authorizers to send a copy of each board's resolution setting forth the board's action and its reasons for the action to the state board of education.

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6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

6C. Additional application elements specific to virtual schools.

6D. Additional application elements specific when using educational service providers.

6E. Additional application elements specific to replications.

6F. Authorizer-issued request for proposals (including application requirements and approval criteria).

6G. Thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

6H. All charter approval or denial decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

7. Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Illinois law provides that a certified charter proposal constitutes a binding contract and agreement between the charter school and a local school board under the terms of which the local school board authorizes the governing body of the charter school to operate the charter school, including the roles, powers, and responsibilities of the charter school and the pupil performance standards to be achieved by the charter school. But such contracts are not required to be separate contracts signed by both legal parties, to define the roles, powers, and responsibilities of authorizers, and to define academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.

Illinois law provides that a charter may be granted for not less than five years and not more than 10 years.

It does not require contracts to include provisions addressing the unique environments of virtual schools.

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7A. Being created as a separate document from the application and executed by the governing board of the charter school and the authorizer.

7B. Defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.

7C. Defining academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged, based on a performance framework that includes measures and metrics for, at a minimum, student academic proficiency and growth, achievement gaps, attendance, recurrent enrollment, postsecondary readiness (high schools), financial performance, and board stewardship (including compliance).

7D. Providing an initial term of five operating years (or a longer term with periodic high-stakes reviews.

7E. Including requirements addressing the unique environments of virtual schools, if applicable.

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

The law does not require the collection and analysis of student outcome data annually by authorizers nor does it require schools or authorizers to develop annual school performance reports that are made public. Instead, it requires authorizers to submit a bi-annual report regarding their schools to the state board of education.

The law requires charter schools to submit annual audits of their financial and administrative operations as conducted by an independent auditor.

Illinois law specifically states the powers of authorizers to include the monitoring and oversight of charter schools.

The law requires authorizers to notify a charter school subject to revocation in writing of the reason why the charter is subject to revocation. It requires the charter school to submit a written plan to the authorizer to rectify the problem, which must include a timeline for implementation not to exceed two years or the date of the charter's expiration, whichever is earlier.

If the authorizer finds that the charter school has failed to implement the plan of remediation and adhere to the timeline, the law requires it to revoke the charter. Except in situations of an emergency where the health, safety, or education of the charter school's students is at risk, the law provides that the revocation must take place at the end of a school year. The law allows a charter to appeal a local school board’s notice of their decision to revoke or not renew a charter to the State Charter School Commission, whose decisions are subject to judicial review.

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8A. The collection and analysis of student outcome data at least annually by authorizers (consistent with performance framework outlined in the contract).

8B. Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).

8C. Authorizer authority to conduct or require oversight activities.

8D. Annual school performance reports which are made public.

8E. Authorizer notification to their schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.

8F. Authorizer authority to take appropriate corrective actions or exercise sanctions short of revocation.

9. Clear Processes for Renewal, Nonrenewal, and Revocation Decisions

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Illinois law requires charter schools to submit a renewal proposal to its authorizer.

The law allows a charter to be revoked for committing a material violation of any of the conditions, standards, or procedures set forth in the charter, failing to meet or make reasonable progress toward achievement of the content standards or pupil performance standards identified in the charter, failing to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management, or violating any provision of law from which the charter school was not exempted.

The law provides that a charter may be renewed in incremental periods not to exceed five years.

In the case of revocation, the law requires the authorizer to notify the charter school in writing of the reason why the charter is subject to revocation. It requires the charter school to submit a written plan to the authorizer to rectify the problem, which must include a timeline for implementation not to exceed two years or the date of the charter's expiration, whichever is earlier.

If the authorizer finds that the charter school has failed to implement the plan of remediation and adhere to the timeline, the law requires it to revoke the charter. Except in situations of an emergency where the health, safety, or education of the charter school's students is at risk, the law provides that the revocation must take place at the end of a school year. The law allows a charter to appeal an authorizer’s notice of their decision to revoke or not renew a charter to the state board of education, whose decisions are subject to judicial review.

Under Illinois law, reports of denials, revocations, or non-renewals must consist of the charter proposal or current charter contract voted upon by the authorizers. The law requires the authorizers to determine a decision in a public forum and to send a copy of each board's resolution setting forth the board's action and its reasons for the action to the state board of education.

Illinois law does not require authorizers to issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year, require authorizers to issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans, and require authorizers to have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

12

9A. Authorizer must issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year.

9B. Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.

9C. Authorizers must issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.

9D. Clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.

9E. Authorizers must ground renewal decisions based on evidence regarding the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract (in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract).

9F. Authorizer authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.

9G. Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.

9H. Authorizers must provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).

9I. All charter renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

9J. Authorizers must have school closure protocols to ensure timely parent notification, orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition.

10. Educational Service Providers (ESPs) Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Illinois law lacks most of the model law’s provisions for educational service providers. Under Illinois law, a charter school may negotiate and contract with a for profit or nonprofit private entity for the use of a school building and grounds or any other real property or facilities that the charter school desires to use or convert for use as a charter school site, the operation and maintenance thereof, and the provision of any service, activity, or undertaking that the charter school is required to perform in order to carry out the terms of its charter. However, there are no statutory provisions guiding any charter application requirements for educational service providers, authorizer approval of contracts, school governing boards operating completely independent of any educational service provider, and conflicts of interest.

2

10A. All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and non-profit) explicitly allowed to operate all or parts of schools.

10B. The charter application requires 1) performance data for all current and past schools operated by the ESP, including documentation of academic achievement and (if applicable) school management success; and 2) explanation and evidence of the ESP’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.

10C. A performance contract is required between the independent public charter school board and the ESP, setting forth material terms including but not limited to: performance evaluation measures; methods of contract oversight and enforcement by the charter school board; compensation structure and all fees to be paid to the ESP; and conditions for contract renewal and termination.

10D. The material terms of the ESP performance contract must be approved by the authorizer prior to charter approval.

10E. School governing boards operating as entities completely independent of any educational service provider (e.g., must retain independent oversight authority of their charter schools, and cannot give away their authority via contract).

10F. Existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

11. Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Public Charter School Boards

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Illinois law requires a charter school be organized and operated as a nonprofit corporation or other legal entity, governed by its own board of directors or other governing body of a discrete legal entity already existing or established to operate the proposed school, and responsible for the management and operation of its fiscal affairs.

Illinois statute does not include all provisions that would clearly indicate that every charter school, including conversion schools, is a separate legally autonomous school (e.g., it does not state that they can sue and be sued in their own names). Also, charter schools authorized by local school boards remain part of school district LEAs. Charter schools approved by the State Charter School Commission, however, are their own LEA.

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11A. Fiscally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to receive and disburse funds, incur debt, and pledge, assign or encumber assets as collateral).

11B. Legally autonomous schools (e.g., schools have clear statutory authority to enter into contracts and leases, sue and be sued in their own names, and acquire real property).

11C. School governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

12. Clear Student Recruitment, Enrollment, and Lottery Procedures

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Illinois law does not require charter schools to provide open enrollment to any student in the state.

Illinois law requires that if there are more applicants than spaces, charter schools must choose students by lottery.

Illinois law requires charter schools to give priority in admissions to siblings of pupils enrolled in the charter school and to pupils enrolled in the school the previous school year, unless expelled for cause. It does not require them to have an enrollment preference for previously enrolled students within conversions.

Illinois law allows charter schools to give priority to pupils residing within the charter school's attendance boundary in Chicago, if the Chicago school board has designated a boundary. The law allows the Chicago school board to designate attendance boundaries for no more than one-third of the charter schools permitted in the city if it determines that attendance boundaries are needed to relieve overcrowding or to better serve low-income and at-risk students.

It also allows a charter school located in a school district that contains all or part of a federal military base may set aside up to 33% of its current charter enrollment to students with parents assigned to the federal military base, with the remaining 67% subject to the general enrollment and lottery requirements. It also provides that if a student with a parent assigned to the federal military base withdraws from the charter school during the course of a school year for reasons other than grade promotion, those students with parents assigned to the federal military base shall have preference in filling the vacancy.

The law does not allow charter schools to give an enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees.

4

12A. Open enrollment to any student in the state.

12B. Lottery requirements.

12C. Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions, prior year students within chartered schools, siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school.

12D. Optional enrollment preference for children of a school’s founders, governing board members, and full-time employees, not exceeding 10% of the school’s total student population.

13. Automatic Exemptions from Many State and District Laws and Regulations

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Under Illinois law, charter schools are exempt from all state laws and regulations in the school code governing public schools and local school board policies, except the following: the state's charter school law; certain sections of the school code regarding criminal background investigations of applicants for employment; certain sections of the school code regarding discipline of students; the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act; a certain section of the General Not For Profit Corporation Act of 1986 regarding indemnification of officers, directors, employees, and agents; the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act; the Illinois School Student Records Act; and a certain section of the school code regarding school report cards.

Outside of Chicago, state law requires charter schools to have at least 75% of instructional staff certified and requires non-certified teachers to have a bachelor's degree, five years' experience in the area of degree, a passing score on state teacher tests, and evidence of professional growth and requires charter schools to provide mentoring to uncertified teachers. The law also requires at least 50% of the individuals employed in instructional positions by a charter school in Chicago established after April 16, 2003, to hold teaching certificates and 75% of the individuals employed in instructional positions by a charter school in Chicago established before April 16, 2003, to hold teaching certificates.

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13A. Exemptions from all laws, except those covering health, safety, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information, and generally accepted accounting principles.

13B. Exemption from state teacher certification requirements.

14. Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemption

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Illinois law provides that charter schools are exempt from district collective bargaining agreements. It also specifies that any bargaining unit of charter school employees that is formed must be separate and distinct from any bargaining units formed from employees of a school district in which the charter school is located.

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14A. Charter schools authorized by non-local board authorizers are exempt from participation in any outside collective bargaining agreements.

14B. Charter schools authorized by local boards are exempt from participation in any district collective bargaining agreements.

15. Multischool Charter Contracts and/or Multicharter Contract Boards Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Current law allows the first 15 charter contracts in Chicago to include multiple schools with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school, but prohibits such an arrangement in charter contracts beyond the first 15. No language exists to allow charter contracts outside the city of Chicago to include multiple schools.

2

15A. Oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

15B. Hold multiple charter contracts with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

16. Extracurricular and Interscholastic Activities Eligibility and Access

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

Illinois law is silent about charter eligibility and access.

1

16A. Laws or regulations explicitly state that charter school students and employees are eligible to participate in all interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships, and recognition programs available to non-charter public school students and employees.

16B. Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extra-curricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at non-charter public schools for a fee by a mutual agreement.

17. Clear Identification of Special Education Responsibilities

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Illinois law addresses special education, but is unclear about responsibility for providing services and for funding low-incident, high- cost services.

2

17A. Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.

17B. Clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).

18. Equitable Operational Funding and Equal Access to All State and Federal Categorical Funding

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Under current law, charters may receive no less than 75% and no more than 125% of what traditional public schools receive in per pupil funding.

A charter school may apply for and receive, subject to the same restrictions applicable to school districts, any grant administered by the State Board that is available for school districts.

In a recent national study of charter school funding (Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2010), Illinois charter schools were receiving on average $10,616 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $12,130 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $1,514 per pupil - or 12.5% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals continued inequities for both operational and capital funding (see component #19 for information on capital issues).

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18A. Equitable operational funding statutorily driven.

18B. Equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding, and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds.

18C. Funding for transportation similar to school districts.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Under current law, charters may receive no less than 75% and no more than 125% of what traditional public schools receive in per pupil funding.

A charter school may apply for and receive, subject to the same restrictions applicable to school districts, any grant administered by the State Board that is available for school districts.

In a national study of charter school funding (Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2010), Illinois charter schools were receiving on average $10,616 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $12,130 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $1,514 per pupil - or 12.5% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals continued inequities for both operational and capital funding (see component #19 for information on capital issues).

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19A. A per-pupil facilities allowance which annually reflects actual average district capital costs.

19B. A state grant program for charter school facilities.

19C. A state loan program for charter school facilities.

19D. Equal access to tax-exempt bonding authorities or allow charter schools to have their own bonding authority.

19E. A mechanism to provide credit enhancement for public charter school facilities.

19F. Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to non-charter public schools.

19G. Right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed, unused, or underused public school facility or property.

19H. Prohibition of facility-related requirements stricter than those applied to traditional public schools.

20. Access to Relevant Employee Retirement Systems

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Illinois law provides that certified teachers in Chicago must participate in the Chicago Teacher Pension Fund, but prohibits non-certified teachers from participating. The law also provides that certified teachers outside of Chicago must participate in the State Pension Fund, but prohibits non-certified teachers from participating.

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20A. Charter schools have access to relevant state retirement systems available to other public schools.

20B. Charter schools have the option to participate (i.e., not required).