Measuring Up

 



Oregon

TOTAL SCORE:
126 out of 240

Rank: 34 out of 44

Year Charter School Law Was Enacted: 1999
Estimated Number of Charter Schools in 2016-17: 126
Estimated Number of Charter School Students in 2016-17: 32,900

While Oregon’s law does not contain a cap on charter public school growth and provides adequate autonomy to charter schools, it also includes limited authorizing options, insufficient accountability, and inadequate funding.

Oregon’s law needs significant work on ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities. The law also needs to provide additional authorizing options for charter applicants and strengthen accountability for schools (including full-time virtual charter schools) and authorizers.

Do Oregon's laws align to the model law?

Model Law Component

Matches

Oregon's Charter Law

Score

1. No Caps

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Oregon law does not place any caps on charter school growth. However, the law provides that if more than 3% of students residing in a district are enrolled in virtual charter schools not sponsored by that district, any additional resident students must receive approval from the district before enrolling in a virtual charter school. The law provides for a state appeal if the district does not give approval in such cases.

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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.

N/A

2. A Variety of Charter Public Schools Allowed

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Oregon 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

Oregon law provides that local school boards are the only authorizers of first resort. If a local school board denies a proposal, an applicant may appeal the decision of the local school board to the state board of education or submit a proposal to an institution of higher education. If one of these entities approves the application, it becomes the authorizer. There is some authorizing activity by local school boards but little activity by the other authorizing options.

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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

Oregon law includes a small number of the elements of the model law's authorizer and overall program accountability system.

While the law does not require the legislature and governor to regularly review the performance of the state board of education as an authorizer, they can do so at any time. In addition, the ability of the state board of education to continue authorizing can be removed by the legislature and governor (the entities that gave it that authority).

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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

Oregon law includes a small number of the model law's provisions regarding adequate authorizer funding. Oregon law allows authorizers to retain a significant portion of charter school per-pupil funding, typically 20% for K-8 schools and 5% for high schools. The law does not mandate that these retained funds be spent on oversight, but that was the legislative intent.

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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

Oregon law sets forth a non-exclusive list of general requirements for the minimum content of charter school proposals and explicitly permits local school boards to require additional relevant information. The law includes additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

As part of the criteria that local school boards must use to evaluate a proposal, the law requires them to examine the prior history, if any, of the applicant in operating a charter school or in providing educational services.

The law requires a public hearing but not an in-person interview as part of the application review process.

The law requires authorizers to make charter approval and denial decisions in an open meeting and to state reasons for denial in writing.

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6A. Application elements for all schools.

6B. Additional application elements specific to conversion schools.

6C. Additional application elements specific to 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

Oregon law requires the execution of a legally binding “charter” that is separate from the charter proposal. It provides that the charter is based on the proposal, but that the authorizer and the charter governing body may agree to change or exclude elements in developing the charter.

Oregon law provides that an initial charter term may not exceed 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

Oregon law requires each charter school to report to its authorizer and the state board of education at least annually on the performance of the school and its students and on the school’s legal compliance.

The law requires charter schools to have sound financial management systems, including a budget and accounting system that is compatible with the authorizing district and meets requirements of the uniform budget and accounting system adopted by the state board of education. It also requires each charter school to have an annual financial audit prepared in accordance with the Municipal Audit Law, which must be submitted to the authorizer, the state board of education, and the state department of education.

Oregon law requires each authorizer or authorizer’s designee to visit the charter school at least annually to review the school’s compliance with the terms of its charter.

If the grounds for termination of a charter contract include failure to maintain a sound financial management system, the law allows the authorizer and the school to agree to develop a plan to correct deficiencies. The law allows the authorizer to withhold up to 50 percent of the moneys owed to the charter school while the charter school is on the plan to correct deficiencies unless the withholding would create an undue hardship, as determined pursuant to rules of the state board of education.

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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

Oregon law provides that charter schools seeking renewal must submit a renewal request to their authorizer and that the authorizer must hold a public hearing and then either grant or deny the renewal within a specified timeline after the public hearing. The law and regulations specify a timeline for the renewal decision-making process but also allow a charter school and authorizer to agree to a different timeline.

The law and regulations state the general criteria upon which authorizers are to base renewal, non-renewal, and revocation decisions. Regulations require authorizers to base renewal evaluation primarily on review of charter school annual performance reports, annual audits, annual site visits and review, and any other information mutually agreed upon.

Oregon law provides that the first renewal of a charter must be for the same duration as the initial charter and that subsequent renewals must be for a minimum of five years but may not exceed 10 years.

Regulations provide for a public hearing prior to a renewal or non-renewal decision. In the event of a non-renewal decision, regulations allow the school to submit a revised renewal request and appeal to the state board of education. They also require an authorizer to state in writing the reasons for non-renewal, and make renewal, non-renewal and revocation decisions subject to open-meetings requirements.

Oregon law requires an authorizer to provide at least 60 days notice to a charter school prior to revocation of a charter (which can be waived in case of an emergency), provide a public hearing upon request of the school, and state in writing the reasons for revocation. It also allows a charter school to appeal a revocation decision to the state board of education.

Regulations state generally how the assets of a closed charter school shall be distributed. However, they do not require authorizers to have school closure protocols as recommended in the model law.

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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

Oregon law provides that if a charter school chooses to contract with a for-profit management organization, the school must maintain a right of control over the contractor and provide procedural safeguards to affected members of the public in relation to those aspects of the school’s operations that constitute the governmental function of providing a public education. The law does not contain similar requirements for schools that contract with non-profit providers.

As part of the criteria that local school boards must use to evaluate a proposal, the law requires them to examine the prior history, if any, of the applicant in operating a charter school or in providing educational services.

For charter schools approved by higher education institutions or for virtual charter schools that contract with a third party entity, the law includes conflict-of-interest provisions.

For virtual charter schools, the law prohibits any third party entity employees from serving on the school board and requires that school boards have access to ESP records and expenditures (including any profit margins) and prohibits any ESP employee from serving as a teacher in the charter school (and thus all teachers in a charter school are employees of that school and subject to criminal background requirements).

The aforementioned provisions do not apply to the rest of Oregon’s charter schools that may contract with an ESP.

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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

Oregon law explicitly provides for fiscal and legal autonomy and requires each charter school to be established as a nonprofit corporation with its own governing 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

Conversion schools are only open to those in the district, and as space allows to nonresidents.

The law requires all charter schools to comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

The law indicates that a preference for prior-year students may occur, but it is not required. The law is also silent on conversion school preferences.

For non-virtual charter schools, the law gives charter school enrollment preference to students residing in the district where the charter school is or will be located. If the number of applications from resident students exceeds the school’s capacity, the law requires an equitable lottery to select students. If space permits, non-resident students may enroll.

The law states that if more than 3% of students residing in a district are enrolled in virtual charter schools not sponsored by that district, any additional resident students must receive approval from the district before enrolling in a virtual charter school. The law provides for a state appeal if the district does not give approval in such cases.

The law allows limited enrollment preferences for previously enrolled students in conversions and, after a new-start school’s first year, for prior-year students and for siblings.

For the purpose of ameliorating the impact of discrimination against historically underserved students, a charter school may select students through a weighted lottery that favors historically underserved students (defined as students who are at risk because of any combination of two or more factors including their race, ethnicity, English language proficiency, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and geographic location. This provision is set to expire on January 2, 2020.

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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

Oregon law provides that charter schools are automatically exempt from statutes and rules that apply only to school districts and district schools, except as provided for in the charter law and the school’s charter.

Oregon law provides that at least one-half of a charter school’s teachers must be licensed by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) and that the non-licensed staff must be registered by TSPC.

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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

Oregon law provides that charter schools are exempt from district collective bargaining agreements and personnel policies, though they may participate in a district bargaining unit by choice or organize separately.

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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

Oregon law is silent regarding these arrangements.

2

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

Oregon law is silent regarding charter eligibility and access.

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

Oregon law provides that responsibility for providing special education services resides with the school district in which a charter school is located and provides that the district of location is eligible to receive high-cost disabilities grants for charter school students from the state as provided by state law.

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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

Oregon law provides that per-pupil funding for charter schools is 80% of the weighted Average Daily Maintenance (ADMw) funding formula for students in grades K-8 and 95% of ADMw for students in grades 9-12. The ADMw formula assumes that a charter school serves the same percentage of students in poverty as the district in which it is located.

Oregon law provides that special education funds go to the LEA of residence and establishes the minimum percentages of funds the resident district provides to the charter school.

In a national study of charter school funding (University of Arkansas, Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands, 2014), Oregon charter schools were receiving on average $5,835 per pupil in public funds, while district public schools would have received $9,843 for those students. As a result, the state's charter schools were receiving $4,008 per pupil - or 40.7% - less than what the district public schools would have received for those students. This figure includes all sources of funding, and analysis reveals significant continued inequities for both operational and 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.

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

Oregon law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding equitable access to capital funding and facilities. Oregon law provides that charter schools are eligible for bonds from the Oregon Facilities Authority.

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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

Oregon law provides that all charter school employees must participate in the state retirement system.

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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

Oregon law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding full-time virtual charter schools. Oregon law and includes some additional requirements for full-time virtual charter schools, covering things like record keeping, requirements if contracting with an ESP, and the provision of equipment, teachers, and other program services. The law also requires the inclusion of performance criteria the school must use to measure obtainment of academic performance goals and that the school must also monitor and track student progress and attendance.

3

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.