Measuring Up to the Model



New York

TOTAL SCORE:
158 out of 228

Rank: 7 out of 43

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted:  1998 Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools in 2013-14:  233 Estimated Number of Public Charter School Students in 2013-14:  91,813 New York did not pass any legislation in 2013 that affected its score and ranking. New York’s score increased from 148 points in 2013 to 158 points this year.  The score changed because of because of a change in our methodology for Component #4 (Authorizer and Overall Program Accountability System Required) and further clarification about the specific policies for Component #8 (A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed) and Component #14 (Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemption).  Its ranking went from #8 to #7. Potential areas for improvement include ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities.

Do New York's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

New York's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

New York law contains a cap of 460 start-up charter schools. In addition to the first 200 charters, almost all of which have been issued, it provides that 130 may be authorized by the State University of New York (SUNY) and 130 may be authorized by the State Board of Regents, with annual caps of 33 new schools for SUNY and 32 new schools for the Board of Regents until 2014 (with any unused new school slots each year rolling over into future years). Of the 260 new charter school slots created when the state lifted the previous cap of 200 charter schools to 460 charter schools in January 2010, the law provides that a maximum of 114 charter schools may be issued for New York City. The law does not provide any caps on conversions. There are currently 233 charter schools open in the state.

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

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

2. A Variety of Public Charter Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New York law allows new start ups and public school conversions. The law does not address virtual schools, but a provision in it that no grade can be housed at more than one site has been interpreted by authorizers as prohibiting virtual schools.

4

2A. New start-ups.

2B. Public school conversions.

2C. Virtual schools.

3. Multiple Authorizers Available

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Under New York law, applicants can apply directly to a district board of education, SUNY, or the State Board of Regents, although only the State Board of Regents can officially issue a charter. By law, if SUNY approves an application and reasserts approval if the State Board of Regents rejects it, then the State Board of Regents must issue the charter for that school. The law requires districts to approve conversions of schools from district schools to charter schools, with final approval given to the State Board of Regents. There is considerable authorizing activity by SUNY and the State Board of Regents.

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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

New York law requires the State Board of Regents to submit an annual report to the governor, senate president, and speaker with the following information: number, distribution, brief description of new charters, assessment of current and projected programmatic and fiscal impact of charters on delivery of services by districts, data on academic progress of charter students compared to other public and non-public school students, list of authorizer actions on renewal and revocation, best practices employed by charter schools, and any other information the Regents deem necessary. It does not require a similar report from the State University of New York and local school board authorizers.

The ability of the State Board of Regents and the State University of New York to continue authorizing can be removed by the New York legislature and governor (the entities that gave them that authority).

The law does not provide for a regular review process by authorizer oversight body for local school district authorizers and does not provide an authorizer oversight body with authority to sanction local school district authorizers including removal of authorizer right to approve schools.

6

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

4B. Application process for other eligible authorizing entities.

N/A

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

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

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

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

5. Adequate Authorizer Funding

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

New York law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for adequate authorizer funding.
SUNY’s authorizing activities are funded through two separate appropriations in the New York State Budget. The State Education Department’s appropriation includes the majority of this funding within its allocation for “aid to localities.” The rest of the funding comes from SUNY’s appropriation, under the allocation for “university-wide systems.”

2

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

New York law contains application elements for all schools and additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

New York law requires charter school applicants partnering with a for-profit entity to specify the extent of its participation in the management and operation of the school, but doesn’t require anything additional for other types of educational service providers.

Statute requires authorizers to issue a request for proposals for any new applications, including specific requirements and criteria.

The law requires public hearings and full disclosure for new charter applications, renewal applications, and material revisions, but no specific requirement exists for in-person interviews.

As public entities, New York authorizers must make approval or denial decisions at a public meeting subject to the state Open Meetings Law. The law requires that a denial of an application for a charter by an authorizer must be in writing and state the reasons for the denial.

New York law does not contain additional application elements specific to replications.

12

6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

6C. Additional application elements specific to virtual schools.

N/A

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

Under New York law, successful applicants must enter into a formal charter agreement with their authorizer. The law provides that such contacts must explicitly include the elements identified in the section of the New York Charter Schools Act relating to applications, including the roles and responsibilities of the school and of the authorizer, student achievement goals, and methods to determine if students have attained the skills and knowledge specified in those goals. Statute requires that the contracts for any schools approved detail specific academic performance expectations.

In practice, charter schools in New York are generally held accountable for additional academic and operational expectations incorporated by their authorizer into the charter agreement. This practice is consistent with New York charter law, which states that the charter agreement shall include any other terms or conditions, not inconsistent with law, agreed upon by the applicant and the charter entity. The SUNY Trustees, for example, utilize a particularly comprehensive charter agreement.

New York law provides that the initial term may not exceed five operating years.

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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.

N/A

8. Comprehensive Charter School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

New York law requires charter schools to submit annual reports and audits to both their authorizer and the State Board of Regents, and to make them publicly available by posting them on their website, though such reports are clearly subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Law and would be requires to be produced upon request. Such reports include academic data, fiscal data, progress toward goals, graduation rates, dropouts, and other variables as outlined in statute.

New York law requires authorizers to provide oversight sufficient to ensure that the charter school is in compliance with all applicable laws and charter provisions, which include performance benchmarks. The state education department and the authorizer have joint oversight authority.

The law allows authorizers to put a school on probation and issue a remedial plan. If the conditions of the plan aren't met, the authorizer may revoke the charter.

In practice, authorizers may provide charter schools with additional opportunities for corrective measures. SUNY, for example, frequently utilizes a corrective action plan for schools that have moderate compliance problems, which is less severe than, and a precursor to, the remedial action plan set forth in the law.

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

New York law requires schools seeking renewal to apply for it.

The law provides that renewal applications must include a report on progress towards the school’s educational objectives, financial statement, annual reports, and indications of parent and student satisfaction.

For renewal, the law references the same criteria that applies to the approval of initial charter applications – an applicant must meet applicable legal requirements, demonstrate the ability to operate in an educationally and fiscally sound manner, and show it is likely to improve student learning and achievement and further the purposes of the law. The law also requires a school to show the efforts it has undertaken to enroll and retain comparable numbers of at-risk students (that is, students that are free and reduced price lunch eligible, receiving special education services, or classified as English Language Learners) as are enrolled and retained in district schools.

New York law provides that the renewal term may not exceed five years.

New York law provides that revocation or termination may be based on insufficient student achievement, serious violations of law, material and substantial violations of the charter, violations of civil service laws relating to employee rights, or repeated failure to meet targets for the enrollment and retention of at-risk students (though, on the last one, good faith efforts by a school can insulate it from action being taken against it).

New York law requires authorizers to provide schools facing closure with a notice of intent to revoke the charter, an opportunity to be heard, and time to correct the problems identified.

Since authorizers are subject to the state open meetings law, they are therefore required to make all renewal and closure decisions within a public meeting. Statute states that charter denials must include reasons in writing.

New York law requires applicants to establish viable processes for closure and dissolution, Including orderly student and record transitions, and property and asset disposition. It does not address timely parent notification.

The law does not require authorizers to issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year and 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. In practice, authorizers issue renewal application guidance.

12

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

9B. Schools seeking renewal must apply for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Educational Service Providers (ESPs) Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

For any school that was or will be approved under the first 200 charters issued, New York law allows all types of educational service providers to operate all or parts of charter schools. But for any schools approved using one of the 260 new charters available, the law does not allow for-profit entities to apply for a charter or to manage any schools.

New York law requires applicants seeking to partner with for-profit providers to specify the extent of their participation in the management and operation of the school within the charter application, but does not require that performance record of any provider and an explanation of the provider’s capacity for growth be included and that the material terms of the contract be approved.

Statute states that the charter school board shall have final authority for policy and operational decisions of the schools and may only delegate decision-making authority to officers and employees of the school in accordance with the provisions of the charter.

Statute requires strict conflict of interest provisions, including a prohibition on hiring for-profit entities in which board members or employees have a substantial interest. It also requires that a code of conduct policy be included in charter applications and that the proposed founding board members submit disclosure documents and handle conflicts in accordance with the approved code.

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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

New York law provides that charter schools are education corporations, and deems them independent and autonomous public schools.

The law provides that charter boards of trustees are autonomous, and that the powers of charter boards of trustees includes the full set of rights of trustees under the not-for-profit corporation law of the state.

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

New York law requires that charter school admissions be open to students statewide and that the state department of education develop a uniform student enrollment application.

New York law requires that charter schools conduct a lottery if applications exceed available seats and that the state department of education regulate these lottery processes.

New York law requires charter schools to provide enrollment preferences to pupils returning to the charter school in the second or any subsequent year of operation, pupils residing in the school district in which the charter school is located, and siblings of pupils already enrolled in the charter school. Students from conversions are treated as returning students with preferences as well. In New York City, the district preference applies to the community school district in which the school is located.

New York law allows a charter school to have a preference for students deemed “at risk of academic failure” (which a charter school can define as English language learners and student with disabilities) and students of a single gender.

New York law requires charter schools to meet or exceed enrollment and retention targets for students with disabilities, English language learners, and students eligible for Free- or Reduced-Price Lunch as prescribed by the Board of Regents or the Board of Trustees or the State University of New York, as applicable.

The law does not provide an 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.

6

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

New York law provides that a charter school must meet the same health and safety, civil rights, and student assessment requirements applicable to other public schools, except as otherwise specifically provided in the state's charter school law. It provides that a charter school is exempt from all other state and local laws, rules, regulations, or policies governing public or private schools, boards of education, and school districts, including those relating to school personnel and students, except as specifically provided in the school's charter or in the state's charter school law. Also, nothing in the state's charter school law affects the requirements of compulsory education established in state law.

New York law states that up to 5 teachers or 30% of a school’s teaching staff (whichever is less) may be uncertified.

While New York’s law exempts charter schools from most state and local laws, rules, regulations, and policies, the state is starting to constrain charter school autonomy, according to charter school advocates in New York. For example, the state education department has repeatedly requested that all charter schools report teacher evaluation scores in the mandated format that applies to other public schools in the state as part of the state’s Race to the Top grant program, even if those schools chose not to accept Race to the Top funds.

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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

New York law exempts most public charter schools from existing collective bargaining agreements. However, the law requires that conversion schools are part of district collective bargaining agreements, but it allows such agreements to be modified. The law also provides that if enrollment at a new charter school exceeds 250 students within the first two years of operation, all employees of the school will be considered members of the same union or employee organization that represents like-employees in the school district. Such schools may still apply for one of a limited number of waivers under the law.

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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

New York law allows each school to be issued a charter as counted toward the cap with individual performance goals, but these can be under a larger charter agreement that involves the same board governance structure for more than one school.

New York law allows an education corporation to operate more than one school or house any grade at more than one site, provided that a charter is issued for each additional school or site with each charter issued and overseen in accordance with all requirements.

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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

New York law provides that school districts may offer extra-curricular activities to resident charter students, but does not require them to do so.

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

Under New York law, a charter schools is a school within a school district LEA for special education purposes, with the school district LEA in which the student resides ultimately responsible for providing special education services as well as creating and evaluating the students’ progress on the individualized education program. The law provides charter schools with the choice of whether to provide services directly, hire a third party to provide them, or ask the district to provide them. The law requires districts to provide certain funding to the charter school where the school itself provides such services, but such funding is significantly less than what the district would otherwise provide if the student were enrolled in a district school.

There are provisions in the law and regulations that provide supplemental high cost aid for high-cost services for charter schools for students with low incidence, relatively severe disabilities.

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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 districts to pass a proportional share of their per-pupil spending on school operations based on a funding formula, as well as other federal and state aid, to charter schools enrolling students who reside in their geographic area. In recent years, however, the funding formula has been “frozen” at existing levels through successive amendments to the charter law.

The law requires pass through payments to charter schools in six substantially equal installments per year. In the event that a district fails to pass along adequate funding to a charter school on a timely basis, the law empowers the New York State Comptroller to deduct funds owed to the charter school from district budgets and direct them to the school. According to charter school advocates in New York, this process is weak in practice, with the state often slow in intercepting dollars from school districts and sending them to charter schools.

Under New York law, charter schools are treated like non-public schools for the purpose of transportation and the district must provide services similar to those it provides to regular district schools. The law requires charter schools to provide any supplemental transportation.

In a national study of charter school funding (Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, 2010), New York charter schools were receiving on average $12,908 per pupil, while traditional public schools would have received $19,782 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $6,874 per pupil - or 34.7% - 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 funding and significant inequities 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.

19. Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

New York law provides a charter schools stimulus fund, which provides discretionary financial support to charter schools for start-up costs and for costs associated with the acquisition, renovation, and construction of school facilities. Currently, the state has appropriated approximately $3.1 million to this fund.

New York law defines charter schools as public agents that are eligible to obtain tax-exempt financing through various local industrial development agencies.

For charter schools issued a charter provided under the 200-school cap, the law subjects them to the local land-use and zoning and building codes applicable to non-public schools.

For charter schools issued a charter provided under the 260 additional charters, the law subjects them to the same local land use, zoning, and building code compliance as regular public schools. In addition, the law requires such charter schools to gain approval for their facilities from the state education department and requires them to comply with all department health, sanitary, and safety requirements applicable to public school facilities. However, the law allows the state education department to grant a waiver from such requirements where the school can demonstrate undue economic hardship or where other good cause exists.

Statute provides that the New York City Schools Chancellor must identify and publish which public school buildings are subject to location or co-location of charter schools. The law requires the Chancellor to develop a building usage plan that defines the allocation of classroom and administrative space between the charter and non-charter schools and the collaborative usage of shared resources and spaces. The law requires such allocations to result in an equitable and comparable use of public school buildings between charter and non-charter schools, including equity in any funding received for facility upgrades.

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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

New York law provides charter schools with the option of participating in relevant employee retirement systems.

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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).