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Joint Statement by National Alliance CEO Nina Rees and NACSA CEO Greg Richmond on GAO Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools President and CEO Nina Rees and National Association of Charter School Authorizers CEO Greg Richmond released the following joint statement regarding a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report concluded that a full GAO analysis on the enrollment of English language learner (ELL) students in public charter schools was not possible because of incomplete data, and that while many traditional public schools are similarly neglecting to report full information, they have a higher rate of compliance than charter schools.

“We appreciate the GAO’s efforts to shine a spotlight on the need for full information on every public school and agree that anything less is unacceptable.

“While research shows charter schools are doing a good job of serving ELL students, this GAO report demonstrates that charter schools have an opportunity to lead the way in working with state education agencies to ensure that all appropriate data is reported. This will help schools further drive improvements, arm parents with information to make the right choices and demonstrate that charter schools are meeting student needs.

“We strongly encourage them to do so.

“We also call upon:

  • Charter school organizations to revisit the toolkit produced and distributed by the National Alliance outlining the general legal requirements of public charter schools serving ELL students
  • Authorizers to require data reporting within their role as overseers
  • Charter schools and school districts to better cooperate in tracking how ELL students are moving between these schools
  • State legislators to require complete data collection from all public schools
  • State education agencies to reject any incomplete or misleading data and
  • The federal government to provide incentives for timely and accurate reporting, as well as penalties when it is absent.

“We hope that all schools—public charter or traditional public—will take reporting requirements seriously and follow the letter of the law.

“It is important to note that the GAO report did not find that charter schools are insufficiently serving ELL students. To the contrary, research from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes found that ELL students in public charter schools are outperforming their traditional public school peers in both math and reading. The impact of attending charter schools for Hispanic students who are also categorized as ELL is particularly strong. For ELL Hispanic students, attending a charter school resulted in 50 additional days of learning in reading and 43 additional days of learning in math. This study also found that ELL students on average in charter schools gained the equivalent of an extra 36 days of learning in both reading and math.

“The most recent set of national charter enrollment data available also shows an increasing number of ELL students and Hispanic students enrolled in charter schools.

“We are confident that with full data reporting and collection, charter schools will demonstrate they are well serving ELL students and their families. And, we have found through working directly with state departments of education that in states that collect ELL data, more than 90 percent of charter schools report it. However, as the GAO report notes, improvements are needed in most states in charter school reporting and state data collection.

“We look forward to doing everything we can to closely assist the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that public charter schools become leaders in data reporting.”

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org.

About the National Association of Charter School Authorizers
The mission of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers is to achieve the establishment and operation of quality charter schools through responsible oversight in the public interest. We are devoted exclusively to improving public education by improving the policies and practices of the organizations responsible for authorizing charter schools.