Charter School Accountability
Charters are public schools, so they must meet the same accountability requirements as all other public schools. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), most recently reauthorized in 2001 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) required all charter schools to follow the same content standards and take the same assessments as all other public schools in their state. They are also responsible for making “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) in math and reading. Even in states that have received ESEA flexibility waivers, charter schools are still held accountable to the state’s accountability system. ESEA defers to state charter school laws, however, on exactly how these provisions are implemented for charter schools. ! Charter schools also have an extra layer of accountability from their authorizer. Public charter schools enter into an explicit agreement—or charter—that lays out expectations for performance. The entities that award charters and are responsible for monitoring charter schools’ performance against their charter agreements are called charter authorizers. The specific types of entities that can authorize charters vary from state to state, but may include local education agencies, state education agencies, higher education institutions, mayors or other municipal authorities, and independent charter boards. Nationally more than 90 percent of charter school authorizers are school districts. If schools do not meet the expectations set out within the charter, the authorizer may close them.