Measuring Up

 



Michigan

TOTAL SCORE:
137 out of 240

Rank: 27 out of 44

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted: 1993
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17: 301
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17: 146,100

Michigan’s law contains caps on charter public schools that allow for ample growth, includes multiple authorizers, and provides a fair amount of accountability. However, it provides inadequate autonomy and inequitable funding.

Potential areas for improvement include beefing up the law’s application requirements, increasing operational autonomy, ensuring equitable access to capital funding and facilities, and strengthening accountability for full-time virtual charter schools.

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 is generally free of caps. However, it does contain caps on charter “schools of excellence” and cyber charter schools.

Michigan law 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 of 15 on the total number of contracts that may be issued by all statewide authorizing bodies for schools of excellence that are cyber schools. 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 its 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.

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1A. No numeric or geographic limits are placed on the number of charter schools or students.

1B. If caps exist, there is room for growth.

2. A Variety of Charter Public Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Michigan law allows new start-ups and public school conversions.

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2A. New startups.

2B. Public school conversions.

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

The law requires that an authorizer must be accredited in order to approve additional schools in Detroit.

While the statute does not require a regular review 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.

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4A. Registration process for school boards to affirm their interest in authorizing.

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities (except a state charter schools commission).

4C. Authorizer submission of annual report.

4D. The ability for the state to conduct a review of an authorizer’s performance.

4E. The ability for the state to sanction an authorizer for poor performance, including suspending an authorizer’s authority to approve new 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.

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5A. A uniform statewide formula that guarantees annual authorizer funding that is not subject to annual legislative appropriations.

5B. Requirement to publicly report detailed authorizer expenditures.

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

5D. 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. 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.

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 in our analysis, 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.

6C. Additional application elements specific to using educational service providers.

6D. Additional application elements specific to replications.

6E. Requirement for thorough evaluation of each application, including an in-person interview and a public meeting.

6F. Application approval criteria.

6G. 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 (along with a copy of the application) being sent to the state superintendent of public instruction.

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.

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

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

7B. With such contracts defining the roles, powers, and responsibilities for the school and its authorizer.

7C. With such contracts defining academic, financial, and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.

7D. With such contracts providing an initial term of five operating years.

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

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.

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8A. Required annual school performance reports.

8B. Financial accountability for charter schools (e.g., generally accepted accounting principles, independent annual audit reported to authorizer).

8C. Authorizer authority to conduct oversight activities.

8D. Authorizer notification to its schools of perceived problems, with opportunities to remedy such problems.

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

8F. Authorizer may not request duplicative data submission from its charter schools and may not use performance framework to create cumbersome reporting requirements.

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 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.

The law prohibits a new charter being granted to a school to open in the same location, if that school’s previous charter was revoked for performance issues or if the school would have substantially the same board of directors, leadership and curriculum offerings as the closed school.

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 in our analysis, 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. Ability to have a differentiated process for renewal of high-performing charter schools.

9E. Authorizers must use clear criteria for renewal and nonrenewal/revocation.

9F. 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.

9G. Requirement that authorizers close chronically low-performing charter schools unless exceptional circumstances exist.

9H. Authorizers must have the authority to vary length of charter renewal contract terms based on performance or other issues.

9I. Authorizers must provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or nonrenewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond.

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

9K. All charter renewal, nonrenewal, and revocation decisions must be made in a public meeting, with authorizers stating reasons for nonrenewals and revocations in writing.

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

9M. Any transfer of charter contracts from one authorizer to another are only allowed if they are approved by the state.

10. Transparency Regarding 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 requires that management agreements must require the ESP to provide the charter school board at least annually all of the same information that a school district is required to disclose under law, with such information being made available to the public via the school’s website.

The law requires all teachers and administrators working at a charter school comply with the criminal background and records checks.

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10A. All types of educational service providers (both for-profit and nonprofit) are 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, 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 charter school board and the ESP, with such contract approved by the school’s authorizer.

10D. School governing boards operate as entities completely independent of any ESP, individuals compensated by an ESP are prohibited from serving as voting members on such boards, and existing and potential conflicts of interest between the two entities are required to be disclosed and explained in the charter application.

10E. Provides that charter school governing boards must have access to ESP records necessary to oversee the ESP contract.

10F. An ESP must annually provide information to its charter school governing board on how that ESP spends public funding it receives when the ESP is performing a public function under applicable state law.

10G. Requires that similar criminal history record checks and fingerprinting requirements applicable to other public schools shall also be mandatory for on-site employees of ESPs who regularly come into contact with students.

11. Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Charter Public 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. Independent school governing boards created specifically to govern their charter schools.

12. Clear Student 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 provides that charter schools cannot discriminate on the basis of intellectual or athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a student with a disability, or any other basis that would be illegal if used by a school district.

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 and to children of employees and board members.

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

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

12B. Anti-discrimination provisions regarding admissions.

12C. Required enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students within conversions and for prior-year students within charter schools.

12D. Lottery requirements.

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 district 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 district 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 bargaining agreement of the district in which they reside.

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14A. Charter schools authorized by nonlocal board authorizers are exempt from participation in any district 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.

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15A. An independent charter school board may oversee multiple schools linked under a single contract with independent fiscal and academic accountability for each school.

15B. An independent charter school board may 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 extracurricular and interscholastic activities available to noncharter public school students and employees.

16B. Laws or regulations explicitly allow charter school students in schools not providing extracurricular and interscholastic activities to have access to those activities at noncharter public schools.

17. Clear Provisions Regarding 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.

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

17B. Clarity regarding the flow of federal, state, and local special education funds to the designated LEA.

17C. 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).

17D. Clarity that charter schools have access to all regional and state services and supports available to traditional districts.

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 charter schools 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 (University of Arkansas, Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2014), Michigan charter schools were receiving on average $9,270 per pupil in public funds, while district public schools would have received $12,700 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $3,430 per pupil - or 27% - less than what the district 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

18D. Annual report offering district and charter public school funding comparisons and including annual recommendations to the legislature for any needed equity enhancements.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

Michigan law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

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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Facilities Funding

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

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

19C. Equal access to existing state facilities programs available to noncharter public schools.


Access to Public Space

19D. A requirement for districts to provide school district space or funding to charter schools if the majority of that school’s students reside in that district.

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


Access to Financing Tools

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

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

19H. Pledging the moral obligation of the state to help charter schools obtain more favorable bond financing terms.

19I. The creation and funding of a state charter school debt reserve fund.

19J. The inclusion of charter schools in school district bonding and mill levy requests.

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


Other

19L. Charter schools allowed to contract at or below fair market value with a school district, a college or university, or any other public or for-profit or nonprofit private entity for the use of facility for a school building.

19M. Certain entities allowed to provide space to charter schools within their facilities under their preexisting zoning and land use designations.

19N. Charter school facilities exempt from ad valorem taxes and other assessment fees not applicable to other 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).

21. Full-Time Virtual Charter School Provisions (if such schools allowed by state)

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Michigan’s law does not include any of the model law’s provisions regarding full-time virtual charter schools. However, it includes other provisions concerning these schools.

The law allows a cyber school to serve up to 2,500 students in its 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. However, the enrollment increases are not based on performance.

The law also provides that any entity applying for a school of excellence charter school that is a cyber school must demonstrate experience in delivering a quality question program that improves pupil academic achievement, with the authorizing body using the standards for quality online learning established by national associations.

The board of any charter school that offers online learning must submit a report to the state that details per-pupil costs, including those related to textbooks, computers, salaries, purchased courses, fees associated with oversight and regulation, travel costs associated with school activities and testing, facilities costs, and costs associated with special education. Monthly reports on the number of students enrolled are also required.

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21A. An authorizing structure whereby full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from more than one district may be approved only by an authorizer with statewide chartering jurisdiction and authority, full-time virtual charter schools that serve students from one school district may be authorized by that school district, and a cap is placed on the total amount of funding that an authorizer may withhold from a full-time virtual charter school.

21B. Legally permissible criteria and processes for enrollment based on the existence of supports needed for student success.

21C. Enrollment level provisions that establish maximum enrollment levels for each year of a charter contract, with any increases in enrollment from one year to the next based on whether the school meets its performance requirements.

21D. Accountability provisions that include virtual-specific goals regarding student enrollment, attendance, engagement, achievement, truancy, and attrition.

21E. Funding levels per student based on costs proposed and justified by the operators.

21F. Performance-based funding whereby full-time virtual charter schools are funded via a performance-based funding system based on meeting the accountability performance provisions.