Measuring Up

 



Oklahoma

TOTAL SCORE:
156 out of 240

Rank: 15 out of 44

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted: 1999
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17: 37
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17: 22,300

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

The biggest areas for improvement in Oklahoma’s law are ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities, ensuring transparency regarding educational service providers, and strengthening accountability for full-time virtual charter schools.

Do Oklahoma's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Oklahoma's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

State law allows most authorizers to approve an unlimited number of charter schools. However, In counties with fewer than 500,000 population, the law provides that the state board of education shall not sponsor more than five charter schools per year each year until 2020, with not more than one charter school sponsored in a single school district per year. Statute also limits the state board of education to approving not more than two schools affiliated with the Office of Juvenile Affairs between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2016.

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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

Oklahoma 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

Oklahoma law permits the following entities to serve as authorizers:

* Local school districts, provided such charter school shall only be located within the geographical boundaries of the sponsoring district;
* A technology center school district if the charter school is located in a school district served by the technology center school district in which all or part of the district is located in a county having more than 500,000 population;
* A technology center school district if the charter school is located in a school district served by the technology center school district and the district has a school site that has been identified as in need of improvement by the state board of education pursuant to federal law;
* A comprehensive or regional institution that is a member of the Oklahoma state system of higher education or community college if the charter school is located in a school district in which all or part of the district is located in a county having more than 500,000 population;
* A comprehensive or regional institution that is a member of the Oklahoma state system of higher education or community college and has a teacher education program accredited by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation and have a branch campus or constituent agency physically located within the school district in which the charter school is located in the State of Oklahoma, if the charter school is located in a school district that has a school site that has been identified as in need of improvement by the state board of education pursuant to federal law;
* A federally recognized Indian tribe, operating a high school under the authority of the Bureau of Indian Affairs as of November 1, 2010, if the charter school is for the purpose of demonstrating native language immersion instruction, and is located within its former reservation or treaty area boundaries;
* The State Board of Education in two instances: (1) when the applicant has first been denied a charter by the local school district in which it seeks to operate; and (2) when the applicant of the charter school is the Office of Juvenile Affairs or the applicant has a contract with the Office of Juvenile Affairs to provide a fixed rate level E, D, or D+ group home service and the charter school is for the purpose of providing education services to youth in the custody or supervision of the state;
* The statewide virtual charter school board when the charter school is for the purpose of establishing a full-time statewide virtual charter school.

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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

If the State Board of Education overturns an authorizer’s decision to renew a school ranked in the bottom 5% of all public schools in the state, the Board may implement one of the following actions:

* Transfer the sponsorship of the charter school to another authorizer;
* Order the closure of the charter school at the end of the current school year;
* Order the reduction of any administrative fee collected by the authorizer that is applicable to the charter school.

If the State Board of Education has closed or transferred authorization of at least 25% of the charter schools chartered by one authorizer, the authority of the authorizer to authorize new charter schools may be suspended by the Board until the Board approves the authorizer to authorize new charter schools. A determination to suspend the authority of an authorizer to authorize new charter schools shall identify the deficiencies that, if corrected, will result in the approval of the authorizer to authorize new charter schools.

Oklahoma law requires the state board of education to issue an annual report to the legislature and the governor outlining the status of charter schools in the state.

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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

Oklahoma law includes a small number of the model law's provisions for adequate authorizer funding.

Oklahoma law permits an authorizer to withhold up to 5% of a school's state aid allocation for administrative purposes.

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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

Oklahoma law outlines the elements to be contained in the charter application. It also contains additional application elements specific to educational service providers and replications that non-school district authorizers must use.

The law requires authorizers to make all charter approval or denial decisions in a public meeting.

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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

Oklahoma law requires the authorizer and charter school governing board to enter into a written contract, but the requirements only concern school roles, powers, and responsibilities and don’t address authorizer roles, powers, and responsibilities.

The law requires charter contracts to define academic and operational performance expectations by which the school will be judged based on a performance framework.

Oklahoma law provides that a charter contract must be for five 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

Oklahoma law requires each charter school to annually file a report with the Office of Accountability. It provides that this report must include such information as requested by the Office of Accountability, including but not limited to information on enrollment, testing, curriculum, finances, and employees.

The law requires charter schools to be subject to the same reporting requirements, financial audits, audit procedures, and audit requirements as school districts.

Oklahoma law requires authorizers to provide oversight of the operations of charter schools through annual performance reviews of charter schools and monitor, in accordance with charter contract terms, the performance and legal compliance of charter schools.

Oklahoma law provides that an authorizer shall not request any metric or data from a charter school that it does not produce or publish for all school sites in the district or under its sponsorship, unless the metric or data is unique to a charter school.

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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

Oklahoma law requires schools seeking renewal to apply for it and requires authorizers to issue school performance renewal reports to schools whose charter will expire the following year and to issue renewal application guidance that provides an opportunity for schools to augment their performance record and discuss improvements and future plans.

Oklahoma law provides that a charter school authorizer may deny the request for renewal if it determines the charter school has failed to complete the obligations of the contract or comply with the provisions of the state's charter schools law. It also provides that a charter school authorizer may terminate a contract during the term of the contract for failure to meet the requirements for student performance contained in the contract, failure to meet the standards of fiscal management, violations of the law, or other good cause.

Oklahoma law provides that at the time of its charter renewal, based on an average of the current year and the two prior operating years, an authorizer may close a charter school site identified as being among the bottom five percent of public schools in the state. In the event that an authorizer fails to close a charter school site, the authorizer shall appear before the State Board of Education to provide support for its decision. The State Board of Education may, by majority vote, uphold or overturn the decision of the authorizer. These provisions do not apply to a charter school that has been designed by the State Department of Education as implementing an alternative education program throughout the charter school.

In making a school site closure decision, the State Board of Education shall consider the following:

* Enrollment of students with special challenges such as drug or alcohol addiction, prior withdrawal from school, prior incarceration or other special circumstances;
* High mobility of the student population resulting from the specific purpose of the charter school;
* Annual improvement in the performance of students enrolled in the charter school compared with the performance of students enrolled in the charter school in the immediately preceding school year;
* Whether a majority of students attending the charter school under consideration for closure would likely revert to attending public schools with lower academic achievement.

If the State Board of Education overturns an authorizer’s decision to renew a school ranked in the bottom 5% of all public schools in the state, the Board may implement one of the following actions:

* Transfer the sponsorship of the charter school to another authorizer;
* Order the closure of the charter school at the end of the current school year;
* Order the reduction of any administrative fee collected by the authorizer that is applicable to the charter school.

Oklahoma law requires an authorizer to give written notice of its intent to deny the request for renewal at least eight months prior to expiration of the contract. It requires an authorizer to give at least 90 days written notice to the governing board prior to terminating the contract.

Under Oklahoma law, a charter contract may be renewed for successive five-year terms of duration, although the sponsor may vary the term based on the performance, demonstrated capacities and particular circumstances of each charter school.

Oklahoma law requires authorizers to provide charter schools with timely notification of potential revocation or non-renewal (including reasons) and reasonable time to respond and to provide charter schools with due process for nonrenewal and revocation decisions (e.g., public hearing, submission of evidence).

Oklahoma law requires authorizers to make all charter approval or denial decisions in a public meeting, state in a resolution the reasons for the revocation or nonrenewal, and provide a public report summarizing the evidence used as the basis for each decision.

Oklahoma law contains school closure protocols that authorizers must use.

According to the law, before an authorizer may issue a charter to a charter school governing body that has had its charter terminated or has been informed that its charter will not be renewed by the current authorizer, the authorizer shall request to have the proposal reviewed by the State Board of Education at a hearing. The State Board of Education shall conduct a hearing in which the authorizer shall present information indicating that the proposal of the organizer is substantively different in the areas of deficiency identified by the current authorizer from the current proposal as set forth within the charter with its current authorizer. After the State Board of Education conducts a hearing, the Board shall either approve or deny the proposal. If the proposal is denied, no authorizer may issue a charter to the charter school governing body.

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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

Oklahoma law allows all types of educational service providers and contains additional application elements specific to educational service providers that non-school district authorizers must use.

Oklahoma law provides that charter school boards have the same statutory conflict of interest requirements as noncharter school boards, which prevent school board members from being affiliated with an ESP.

Oklahoma law provides that all employees of charter schools, including employees of an ESP, must have a criminal history records check.

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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

Oklahoma law allows a charter school to enter into contracts and sue or be sued. It also provides that charter schools are considered a school district for purposes of the Governmental Tort Claims Act.

Oklahoma law requires charter schools to provide for a governing body for the school that shall be responsible for the policies and operational decisions of the charter school.

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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

Oklahoma law provides that charter schools must provide open enrollment to any student in the state.

Oklahoma law requires a charter school to give enrollment preference to eligible students who reside within the boundaries of the school district in which the charter school is located. For schools created in 2010 or later, this required preference includes students who meet this criteria and attend a school on the state’s school improvement list.

According to the law, a charter school shall not limit admission based on ethnicity, national origin, gender, income level, disabling condition, proficiency in the English language, measures of achievement, aptitude, or athletic ability.

The law provides that a charter school shall admit students who reside in the attendance area of a school or in a school district that is under a court order of desegregation or that is a party to an agreement with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights directed towards mediating alleged or proven racial discrimination unless notice is received from the resident school district that admission of the student would violate the court order or agreement.

Oklahoma law allows a charter school to designate a specific geographic area within the school district in which the charter school is located as an academic enterprise zone and may limit admissions to students who reside within that area (an academic enterprise zone is a geographic area in which 60% or more of the children who reside in the area qualify for the free or reduced school lunch program).

Oklahoma law requires charter schools to select students through a lottery selection process if capacity is insufficient to enroll all eligible students.

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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

Oklahoma law provides that except as provided for in the state's charter school law and a charter school's charter, a charter school is exempt from all statutes and rules relating to schools, boards of education, and school districts.

Oklahoma law exempts charter schools from state teacher certification requirements.

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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

Oklahoma law exempts charter schools from participation in district collective bargaining agreements.

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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

Oklahoma law provides that a charter contract may provide for one or more schools by an applicant to the extent approved by the authorizer and consistent with applicable law. An applicant or the governing board of an applicant may hold one or more charter contracts. Each charter school that is part of a charter contract shall be separate and distinct from any other charter school under the same charter contract.

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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

Oklahoma law provides that a brick and mortar charter school may sign a co-op agreement with a school district allowing charter school students to play on district teams.

Oklahoma law provides that students enrolled full-time in the statewide virtual charter school governed by the statewide virtual charter school board shall not be authorized to participate in any activities administered by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association. However, it provides that these students may participate in intramural activities sponsored by the statewide virtual charter school, an online provider sponsored by the statewide virtual charter school, or any other outside organization.

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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

Oklahoma law states that charter schools are their own local education agencies and specifies that a charter school must comply with all federal and state laws relating to the education of children with disabilities in the same manner as a school district. The law provides that federal dollars flow directly to charter schools and provides a specific, clearly defined process for state dollars.

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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

Oklahoma law requires the state board of education to determine the policy and procedure for making payments to a charter school.

Oklahoma law requires that charter schools receive state aid, but not local dollars.

The law provides that federal dollars flow directly to charter schools and provides a specific, clearly defined process for state dollars.

Under Oklahoma law, a charter school may provide transportation. Where it is provided, charter schools receive the same per-pupil allotment as district public schools for transportation.

According to a recent study, Oklahoma’s 22 charter schools received 35.9 percent less funding than district schools: $6,001 vs. $9,366 per pupil, respectively, a difference of $3,366 per pupil.

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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.

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

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

Oklahoma law provides the charter school incentive fund, which provides up to $50,000 per school to cover costs associated with renovating or remodeling existing buildings and structures for use by a charter school.

It also allows charter schools to access tax-exempt bond financing through the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority.

The law provides that charter schools have access to the State Public Common School Building Equalization Fund. It provides that charter schools must use these funds to acquire buildings, grants can only be awarded to charter schools that have secured matching funds for acquiring buildings in an amount of not less than 10% of the total grant amount, and the amount of each grant cannot exceed $4,000,000. From the total amount available to provide grants to public schools, the law requires that charter schools be allocated the greater of 10% of the total amount or the percent of students enrolled in charter schools that are not sponsored by the statewide virtual charter school board as compared to the student enrollment in school districts which have a total assessed property valuation per average daily membership that is equal to or less than 25% of the state total assessed property valuation per average daily membership. It also provides that the state board of education shall make available to eligible charter schools any unused grant funds that remain after the initial allocation to all eligible public school districts and charter schools.

The law provides that charter schools that choose to lease property are eligible to receive current government lease rates.

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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

Oklahoma law provides charter schools the option to participate 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).

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

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Oklahoma law contains a small number of the model law’s provisions for full-time virtual charter schools. Oklahoma law provides that the statewide virtual charter school board must serve as the authorizer when the charter school is for the purpose of establishing a full-time statewide virtual charter school. It also provides that no school district shall offer full-time virtual education to students who are not residents of the school district or enter into a virtual charter school contract with a provider to provide full-time virtual education to students who do not reside within the school district boundaries.

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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.