Measuring Up

 



Mississippi

TOTAL SCORE:
149 out of 228

Rank: 14 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  2010
Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  0
Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  0

Mississippi enacted a significant overhaul of its charter school law in 2013.

Under its previous charter school law, the state allowed only up to 12 chronically low-performing schools to convert to charter status; provided weak autonomy, accountability, and funding; and required applicants to apply to the state board of education.

Under its new charter school law, the state allows up to 15 start-ups and conversions per year, provides strong autonomy, accountability, and operational and categorical funding, and creates a new state authorizer to be the state’s sole authorizing entity.

As a result, Mississippi’s score increased from 39 points in 2013 to 149 points this year, the largest score increase in the five years we have been producing this report. Its ranking went from #43 to #14, the largest jump in rankings in the five years we have been producing this report.

Potential areas of improvement in Mississippi’s law include addressing open enrollment, clarifying teacher certification requirements, providing charter teachers with access to the state retirement system, providing applicants in all districts with direct access to the state authorizer, and providing equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

Do Mississippi's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Mississippi's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Mississippi law allows the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board to approve a maximum of 15 qualified charter applications during a fiscal year.

6

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

Mississippi 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

Mississippi law provides that applicants in districts rated “D” or “F” may apply directly to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board. It also provides that in any school district rated "A," "B" or "C", the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board may authorize charter schools only if a majority of the members of the local school board votes at a public meeting to endorse the application or to initiate the application on its own initiative.

0

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

Before October 1 of each year, beginning in the year that the state has had at least one charter school operating for a full school year, the law requires the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board to issue to the Governor, Legislature, State Board of Education, and the public an annual report on the state's charter schools for the preceding school year. The law provides that the report must include a comparison of the performance of charter school students with the performance of academically, ethnically and economically comparable groups of students in the school district in which a charter school is located. In addition, the law provides that the report must include the authorizer's assessment of the successes, challenges, and areas for improvement in meeting the purposes of this act. The law provides that the report also must include an assessment on whether the number and size of operating charter schools are sufficient to meet demand, as calculated according to admissions data and the number of students denied enrollment based on lottery results. The law does not require the report to summarize the agency’s authorizing activities.

The law requires the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review to prepare an annual report assessing the sufficiency of funding for charter schools, the efficacy of the state formula for authorizer funding, and any suggested changes in state law or policy necessary to strengthen the state's charter schools.

The ability of the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board to continue authorizing can be removed by the legislature and the governor (the entities that gave it that authority).

9

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

N/A

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

To cover the costs of overseeing charter schools in accordance with this act, the law provides that the state authorizer shall receive 3% of annual per-pupil allocations received by a charter school from state and local funds for each charter school it authorizes.

While the law does not require the state authorizer to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures, it does require the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review to prepare an annual report assessing the sufficiency of funding for charter schools, the efficacy of the state formula for authorizer funding, and any suggested changes in state law or policy necessary to strengthen the state's charter schools.

The law does not require a separate contract for any services purchased from an authorizer by a school and does not include a prohibition on authorizers requiring schools to purchase services from them.

4

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

Statute requires application elements for all schools and additional elements for conversion schools, those using educational service providers, and replications. It does not include additional application elements specific to virtual schools.

Statute requires the state authorizer to issue requests for proposals and to conduct a thorough evaluation of each application including an in-person interview and public meeting. It also requires the state authorizer to make all charter approval or denial decisions in a public meeting and to state reasons for denials in writing.

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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

Statute defines a charter contract to be a fixed term, renewable contract between a charter school board and an authorizer that outlines the roles, powers, responsibilities, and performance expectations for each party. It also requires such contracts to contain a performance framework that details the academic and operational performance indicators, including all those included in the model law.

The initial contract must be granted for a term of five years.

The law does not require charters to include requirements 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

Statute requires that the state authorizer collect and analyze data to support ongoing evaluation according to the performance framework in the charter contract, including financial accountability.

State law provides the state authorizer with specific authority to conduct oversight activities needed to fulfill its responsibilities.

As part of its annual report to the legislature, the law requires the state authorizer to publish and provide a performance report for each charter school it oversees in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract. The law provides that report must be made available to the public at the same time as it is submitted to the legislature. The law allows the state authorizer to require each charter school it oversees to submit an annual report to assist the authorizer in gathering complete information about each school, consistent with the performance framework. Statute requires the state authorizer to notify their schools of any perceived problems and provide them with reasonable opportunity for the school to remedy the problem.

Statute allows the state authorizer to take appropriate corrective actions short of revocation as needed.

16

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

Statute requires the state authorizer to issue school performance renewal reports and requires schools seeking renewal to apply for it using renewal application guidance provided by the state authorizer. State law requires the state authorizer to have clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal decisions and to base decisions on evidence in accordance with the performance framework set forth in the charter contract. The law provides that the state authorizer may not renew the charter of any charter school that, during the school's final operating year under the term of the charter contract, is designated an ""F"" school under the school accreditation rating system. Statute requires charter contract renewals to be for five-year terms, although it allows the state authorizer to vary the terms based on the particular circumstances of a charter school.

State law requires the state authorizer to provide schools with timely notification of potential revocation and due process, including the requirement to conduct a public hearing. It requires all charter renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions be made in a public meeting, with the state authorizer stating reasons for non-renewals and revocations in writing. Statute requires the state authorizer to develop a charter school termination protocol to ensure timely notification to parents, orderly transition of students and student records, and proper disposition of public funds, property, and assets.

16

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

The law provides that an educational service provider (ESP) that provides comprehensive management for a charter school must be a nonprofit education organization. For those schools proposing to use such ESPs, state law requires them to include in their charter application evidence of the ESP’s success in serving student populations similar to their targeted population and evidence of past performance and their capacity for growth.

Within their application, statute requires them to provide a term sheet setting forth the proposed duration of the service contract, including things like the roles and responsibilities of the school board and the service provider, the scope of services, the performance evaluation measures and timelines, the compensation structure, the methods of contract oversight and performance, and the conditions for renewal and termination of the contract.

Statute provides that school governing boards operate as entities completely independent of any educational service provider. Statute also requires applications to disclose and explain any existing or potential conflicts of interest between the charter school board and the proposed service provider.

6

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

Statute describes charter schools as independently managed public schools operated by qualified nonprofit organizations. It provides that such schools function as a local education agency and are governed by a board of directors appointed or selected under the terms of their charter application. It states that such boards have clear statutory authority to operate a fiscally and legally autonomous school, including things like receiving and disbursing funds and entering into contracts.

12

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

The law provides that charter schools must be open to any student residing in the geographical boundaries of the school district in which the charter school is located. It does not require charter schools to be open to any student in the state. The law requires that students must be selected by lottery if more students apply than a school can accommodate. It requires enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions, prior year students within chartered schools, siblings of enrolled students enrolled at a charter school. The law also requires that the underserved student composition of a charter school's enrollment collectively must reflect that of students of all ages attending the school district in which the charter school is located, to be defined for the purposes of this act as being at least 80% of that population. If the underserved student composition of an applicant's or charter school's enrollment is less than 80% of the enrollment of students of all ages in the school district in which the charter school is located, despite the school's best efforts, the law provides that the state authorizer must consider the applicant's or charter school's recruitment efforts and the underserved student composition of the applicant pool in determining whether the applicant or charter school is operating in a nondiscriminatory manner. It provides that a finding by the state authorizer that a charter school is operating in a discriminatory manner justifies the revocation of a charter. The law allows schools to provide an 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.

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

The law provides exemptions from most laws, except those covering such items as health, safety, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information, and generally accepted accounting principles. The law provides that charter schools must comply with applicable federal laws, rules and regulations regarding the qualification of teachers and other instructional staff. It states that no more than 25% of teachers in a charter school may be exempt from state teacher licensure requirements at the time the initial charter application is approved by the authorizer. It provides that administrators of charter schools are exempt from state administrator licensure requirements. However, the law requires teachers and administrators to have a bachelor's degree as a minimum requirement, and teachers must have demonstrated subject-matter competency. Within three years of the date of initial application approval by the state authorizer, the law requires all teachers to have, at a minimum, alternative licensure approved by the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development.

9

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

State law provides that charter schools are exempt from participation in state and school district personnel policies.

12

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.

N/A

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

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Statute provides that a single charter contract may govern one or more charter schools and that a single charter school board may hold one or more charter contracts. It also provides that each school must be separate and distinct from any others and must report its performance as separate schools, being held independently accountable for its performance.

8

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

State law provides that a charter school is eligible to participate in state-sponsored or district-sponsored athletic and academic interscholastic leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships and recognition programs for students, educators, administrators and schools to the same extent as non-charter public schools.

3

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

State law provides that a charter school must function as a local educational agency, and as such, a charter school is responsible for meeting the requirements of local educational agencies under applicable federal laws, including those relating to special education, receipt of funds and compliance with funding requirements. According to the law, status as a local educational agency does not preclude a charter school from developing, by mutual agreement or formal contract, links with the local school district for services, resources and programs. The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other local educational agencies. However, subject to the approval of the state authorizer, the law allows a charter school and a local school district to negotiate and enter into a contract for the provision of and payment for special education services, including, but not necessarily limited to, a reasonable reserve not to exceed 5% of the local school district's total budget for providing special education services. It provides that the reserve may be used by the local school district only to offset excess costs of providing services to students with disabilities enrolled in the charter school.

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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

The law requires the state department of education to make payments to charter schools for each student in average daily attendance at the charter school equal to the state share of the adequate education program payments for each student in average daily attendance at the school district in which the charter school is located. In calculating the local contribution for purposes of determining the state share of the adequate education program payments, the law requires the state department to deduct the pro rata local contribution of the school district in which the student resides. The law requires a school district in which a charter school is located to pay directly to the charter school an amount for each student enrolled in the charter school equal to the ad valorem tax receipts and in-lieu payments received per pupil for the support of the local school district in which the student resides. The law requires that the pro rata ad valorem receipts and in-lieu receipts to be transferred to the charter school shall include all levies for the support of the local school district under Sections 37-57-1 (local contribution to the adequate education program) and 37-57-105 (school district operational levy) and may not include any taxes levied for the retirement of the local school district's bonded indebtedness or short-term notes or any taxes levied for the support of vocational-technical education programs.

The law requires the state department of education to direct the proportionate share of monies generated under federal and state categorical aid programs, including special education, vocational, gifted and alternative school programs, to charter schools serving students eligible for such aid. It requires the department to ensure that charter schools with rapidly expanding enrollments are treated equitably in the calculation and disbursement of all federal and state categorical aid program dollars.

The law requires the state department of education to disburse state transportation funding to a charter school on the same basis and in the same manner as it is paid to school districts under the adequate education program. While it appears that this law has many of the model law components related to equitable operational and categorical funding, there is no evidence yet of the actual level of equity once implementation of such elements occurs.

4

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

State law provides that a charter school has a right of first refusal to purchase or lease at or below fair market value a closed public school facility or property or unused portions of a public school facility or property in the school district in which the charter school is located if the school district decides to sell or lease the public school facility or property. It also provides that a charter school may negotiate and contract at or below fair market value with a school district, state institution of higher learning, public community or junior college, or any other public or for-profit or nonprofit private entity for the use of a facility for a school building. States law allows public entities, including, but not limited to, libraries, community service organizations, museums, performing arts venues, theatres, cinemas, churches, community and junior colleges, colleges and universities, to provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations.

4

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

State law prohibits charter schools from accessing relevant state retirement systems.

0

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).