National Alliance’s Annual Ranking of State Charter School Laws Shows Key Changes

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To help states create laws that support high-quality public charter schools, the National Alliance has developed a model state law. Each year, we rank states based on how well their laws align to this model, and today we released the 2016 rankings

The Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws report analyzed charter school laws in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Eight states have not passed a charter school law and aren’t included in the rankings, including: Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

Improvements to charter public school laws in several states shook up the state rankings in this year’s report. Key findings from this year’s report include:

  • Indiana is ranked first, moving up from fifth in last year’s report and from 29th when the report was first issued in 2010. Indiana’s ascension is a result of legislative changes in autonomy, accountability, and funding made in 2015, as well as the culmination of efforts since 2011 by two governors and several key legislators from the House and Senate to ensure Indiana has the strongest charter school law in the country.
  • Alabama is ranked second this year, their first year in the rankings. Alabama became the 43rd state to enact a public charter school law in 2015. Alabama lawmakers took great care in writing this law to ensure that the state heeded the lessons learned in the first quarter-century of the charter movement.
  • Minnesota moved from first to third, marking the only the second time in the seven years that we have been producing this report that Minnesota is not ranked on top. This drop was due to positive changes made in other states, not due to any steps backward in Minnesota.
  • Oklahoma made the biggest jump—from 36th to 19th—because it enacted legislation that overhauled its law, including statewide expansion, school and authorizer accountability, and replication of high-quality charters. Its point total jumped from 112 to 147 points, the highest in this year’s report.
  • Maryland continues to hold the 43rd spot, having the weakest public charter school law in the country.

The report’s methodology includes scoring each state charter school law against 20 essential components from the National Alliance’s model law, including quality and accountability, equitable access to funding and facilities, and no caps on charter school growth. The model law is used to guide states that have weak or no charter laws into states with strong charter laws so that they can better foster the growth of high-quality charter schools.

Check out our interactive map where you can view results for each state by total score or by individual component of the law. Or you can download the full report.

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