Measuring Up

 



Michigan

TOTAL SCORE:
145 out of 228

Rank: 18 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  1993 Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  297 Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  141,204 Michigan did not pass any legislation in 2013 that affected its score and ranking. Michigan’s score increased from 138 points in 2013 to 145 points this year.  The score changed because of further clarification about the specific policies for Component #7 (Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required) and Component #11 (Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Public Charter School Boards). Its ranking went from #15 to #18.  This drop had more to do with the aggressive changes made in other states than with any steps backward in Michigan. Potential areas for improvement include increasing operational autonomy and ensuring equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

Do Michigan's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Michigan's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Michigan law includes a cap on schools approved by university authorizers of 500 until the end of 2014. There is no cap for 2015 and beyond. There are currently 199 charter schools approved by university authorizers.

Michigan law also allows charter “schools of excellence” - of which the first 5 must serve high school students. With the exception of statewide cyber schools, schools of excellence may only be approved within districts having a graduation rate of less than 75% for the most recent three school years for which the data are available.

Michigan law includes a cap on the total number of contracts that may be issued by all statewide authorizing bodies for schools of excellence that are cyber schools of 10 until the end of 2014 and of 15 after the end of 2014. The law provides that a board of a school district, an intermediate school board, the board of a community college that is not a statewide authorizing body, or two or more public agencies acting jointly according to state law may not act as the authorizing body for more than one school of excellence that is a cyber school.

The law allows a cyber school to serve up to 2,500 students in their first year of operation, not more than 5,000 students in its second year of operation, and not more than 10,000 students in its third and subsequent years of operation.

The law provides that the total statewide enrollment in cyber schools may not exceed 2% of the state’s public school student population in the 2013-14 school year and each school year thereafter.

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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

Michigan law allows new start-ups and virtual schools, but not public school conversions.

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2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Michigan law allows local school boards, intermediate school boards, community colleges, and state public universities to serve as authorizers, all subject to state board of education review for compliance with law. There is considerable authorizing activity by these authorizing entities.

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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

While the statute does not require a regular authorizer process by an oversight body, it does provides that if the state superintendent of public instruction finds an authorizer is not engaged in appropriate continuing oversight, then it can suspend the ability of that authorizer to issue future charters.

Michigan law requires the state board of education to submit an annual report to the legislature, offering detailed information on the overall charter school program, as well as individual charter school data.

The statute does not require local school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing to the state, does not require an application process for other eligible authorizing entities, and does not require authorizers to submit an annual report that summarizes the agency’s authorizing activity and the performance of its school portfolio.

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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.

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

Via an assessed fee, Michigan law allows authorizers to receive up to 3% of the total state school aid to be received by their charter schools.

Michigan law provides that as public entities, all public fund expenditures for authorizers are a matter of public record. However, the law does not require specific separate reporting of authorizer fee expenditures.

Statute allows authorizers to charge a fee for other services, but states they cannot require such arrangements as a condition to issuing a contract to a school.

The law does not require a separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school.

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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

Michigan law includes a detailed list of items to be covered in a charter proposal, including some specific requirements for cyber charter schools of excellence. For those schools seeking to replicate the same grades at multiple locations, the law requires them to demonstrate compliance and measurable progress toward meeting goals for their existing charters if they are a current operator or provide evidence that a proposed educational model has resulted in a school making measurable progress if they are a new operator.

The law does not require additional application elements specific when using educational service providers, does not require authorizers to issue requests for proposals, does not require a thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and a public meeting, and does not require that all charter approval or denial decisions be made in a public meeting with authorizers stating reasons for denials in writing.

It should be noted that the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers has adopted a common set of standards. While such standards are great practice and address many of the missing requirements noted above, they are not required per statute or regulation.

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6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

N/A

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

Per statute, authorizers must issue a contract for each approved charter school, with a copy of that contract being sent to the state superintendent of public instruction, along with a copy of the application.

Michigan law requires each contract to contain educational goals and how they will be assessed using at least the state assessment program, methods to monitor the school’s compliance with applicable laws, a process for amending the contract, all matters set forth in the application, the renewal process and standards which must include student growth as a major factor, procedures and grounds for revoking the contract, description of and address for the physical plant, and requirements and procedures for financial audits.

However, the law does not require the contract to include details regarding the responsibilities for each authorizer and define academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.

The law provides that the initial charter term may be up to 10 years, with a mandatory review at least every seven years.

Statute does require some additional contract provisions for cyber 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

While Michigan law does not require authorizers to produce and publish annual school performance reports aligned with the performance framework set forth in the charter as provided in the model law, statute requires the state board of education to submit an annual report to the legislature, including detailed outcome data for each charter school (attendance statistics, dropout rate, aggregate assessment test scores) as well as financial stability and number of, and comments on, supervisory visits by the authorizing body. Although not required by statute, this information is collected through and reviewed by authorizers.

Michigan law requires an annual financial audit to be completed for each school..

Michigan law requires each authorizer to monitor their charter schools for both outcome performance and compliance with applicable laws and allows authorizers to take corrective actions. However, statute does not require that authorizers notify schools of perceived problems and provide them with opportunities to remedy such problems.

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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

Michigan law requires all charter contracts to detail the process and standards for renewal which must include increases in academic achievement of all groups of students as measured by assessments or other objective criteria as the most important factor in all renewal decisions. The law lists the standard grounds for revocation, and also requires that procedures and grounds for revocation be included in each charter’s contract. In addition, the law requires the revocation of any charter school operating for at least four years that is in the lowest achieving 5% of all public schools in the state and in their second year of restructuring sanctions.

Michigan law does not dictate the length of renewal contracts, so authorizers are indeed allowed to grant renewal contract term lengths based on performance.

Statute contains closure provisions regarding assets and student placement for urban high school academies. It also contains closure provisions regarding student placements and funds for other types of charter schools, but nothing about required parent notification, record transfer and asset disposition.

Statute does not require authorizers to issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year, does not require schools seeking renewal to apply for it, does not require authorizers to issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans, does not require authorizers to provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond, does not require authorizers to provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions, and does not require all charter renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions be made in a public meeting with authorizers stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing.

It should be noted that the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers has adopted a common set of standards. While such standards are great practice and address many of the missing requirements noted above, they are not required per statute or regulation.

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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

Michigan’s statutes grant the board of a charter school the ability to enter into binding legal agreements with persons or entities as necessary for the operation, management, financing, and maintenance of the charter schools.

The law requires authorizers to review – and allows them to disapprove – any agreement between a charter school and an educational management company before such an agreement is final and valid. The law provides that disapproval may only occur if the agreement is contrary to the contract or applicable law.

Statutes prohibit specifically identified family relations between members of the board of directors and officers and members of any educational management company involved in the operation of the school (with such provisions detailed in charter contract). However, it does not require existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

The law requires authorizers to ensure that charter school governing boards operate independently of any educational management organization.

The law does not require the charter application to provide performance data for all current and past schools operated by the provider and an explanation and evidence of the provider’s capacity for successful growth while maintaining quality in existing schools.

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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

Michigan law requires charter schools to be organized as a non-profit corporation and clearly states that the school is a body corporate and a governmental agency.

Michigan law requires charter schools to be organized and administered under the direction of a board of directors in accordance with law and with bylaws adopted by the board of directors. Statute also requires each authorizer to adopt a resolution establishing the methods used to select board members, length of terms, and the number of members for the board of directors of each school it oversees, which means authorizers have great influence over the composition of a given charter school board.

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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

Michigan law requires charter schools to be open to all students within the state.

Michigan law requires that if a charter school receives more applications than space available, then a random selection process must occur.

Michigan law provides that students enrolled in a charter school the previous year must be given enrollment preferences for future years. It also allows charter schools to give enrollment priority to siblings of existing students (but does not require it) and to children of employees and board members (but not to children of founders).

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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

Michigan law requires that charter schools must abide by all laws required of traditional public schools, except being part of the collective bargaining agreement of the district in which they reside. Like traditional districts, Michigan law allows charter schools to seek waivers from the state department of education.

Michigan law requires teachers within charter schools to meet the same state certification as all traditional public schools, except that schools authorized by public universities or community colleges may hire full-time faculty from such institutions who meet certain criteria (e.g., tenured or tenure-track or five years experience in the community college).

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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

Michigan law provides that charter schools are exempted from required participation in the collective agreement of the district in which they reside.

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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

Per statute, a charter school applicant can request to be approved to operate the same grade levels at more than one site, but there is no fiscal and academic accountability for each site.

4

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

Michigan law is silent about charter eligibility and access. Although charter schools are LEAs with all the rights and responsibilities associated with other district LEAs, silence on these provisions results in a level of uncertainty.

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

Michigan law provides that charter schools are entities independent from traditional school districts and are thus the LEA for special education purposes.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs. In practice, however, intermediate school districts (ISD) provide support for low-incident, high-cost special needs children for all LEAs in their region, including charter schools. Yet, how this matter is handled may vary by ISD since detailed provisions do not exist in statute.

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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

Per statute, charter schools receive a “foundation allowance” (that is, basic, per pupil operating revenue) from the state, and generally have equal access to categorical funding. These provisions should result in 100% of state and school district operations funding following each student. In reality, the amount of foundation allowance is dependent on the district in which the charter school is located, as Michigan law provides that charter schools must receive the same foundation as the district in which they are located or a state maximum foundation allowance, whichever is less. This approach results in the majority of charters receiving a smaller foundation allowed from the state than the local district in which they are located.

Michigan law does not provide transportation funding to either school districts or charter schools.

In a national study of charter school funding (Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2010), Michigan charter schools were receiving on average $8,652 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $10,781 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $2,129 per pupil - or 19.7% - less than what the traditional public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals some continued inequities for operational, but the significant inequities exist for 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.

N/A

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Michigan law provides that charters sponsored by school districts can access district bond levy funds for facilities as determined by their charter. It also provides that all charter schools are eligible to access tax-exempt financing and technical assistance through the Michigan Public Educational Facilities Authority’s bonding and loan programs.

Statute states that property occupied by a charter school and used exclusively for educational purposes is exempt from a portion of school property taxes.

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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

Michigan law provides that participation in the state retirement system is dependent on employee status. If an employee is employed by a charter board of directors, he or she must participate in the state retirement system. If an employee is not employed by a charter board of directors, they are prohibited from participating in state retirement system. Thus, charter schools have access and an option by virtue of how they hire their employees.

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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).