How States Use CSP Funds to Support High-quality Charter Schools and Authorizing

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In addition to providing funds for opening or expanding new charter schools, the CSP State Entity (SE) program provides important resources to strengthen the overall quality of the charter school community. When a state educational agency (SEA) or charter support organization (CSO) receives an SE grant, funds are split among three activities: at least 90% for subgrants to charter school developers, no more than 3% for administrative costs, and at least 7% for technical assistance for subgrant applicants and to support quality authorizing in the state. The technical assistance funds can be leveraged through partnerships; several CSOs have worked with SEA grantees to meet the needs of schools and authorizers in their states.  

How are states currently leveraging these technical assistance funds? Until recently, there has been limited information available from the U.S. Department of Education on the use of these funds. Earlier this year, however, the National Charter School Resource Center put out a report responding a request from congressional appropriators for information to better understand the impact of these funds. This report examines the 19 state entity grantees from 2017-2019 and found that most grantees committed more of the TA set aside funds to TA for applicants. Many grantees specifically used funds to help new or expanding charter schools meet the needs of students with disabilities and English learners.i Authorizer TA included direct TA to authorizers as well as other activities that would improve the state authorizing environment. Many states contracted with organizations like the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to support quality authorizing, conducted ongoing analysis of current practices, provided individualized TA or professional development for authorizers, and disseminated promising practices. For TA to applicants, the most common practices included pre-award trainings, dissemination of resources, and TA during the application process. See below for more of the most commonly reported TA activities.  

Highlights from selected states: 

  • Colorado – In addition to ongoing TA on serving students with disabilities and English learners, Colorado is using a combination of funds (including CSP TA set aside funds and administrative funds) to disseminate information about supporting students with disabilities during the pandemic through state equity convenings. During these convenings, participants work to identify potential barriers that could perpetuate inequities and share best practices.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is launching a program for subgrantees and other charter school leaders focused on leadership development. This program also includes specific support for school leaders of color and for developing a pipeline of diverse leaders.
  • Washington – To support students with disabilities and English learners in charter schools, the Washington State Charter School Association operates the True Measure Collaborative (TMC) for subgrantees. The TMC provides TA and professional development on a range of critical topics, including on serving students with disabilities and English learners, and connects subgrantees to field experts to help them provide compliant, high-quality programming to all students.

Senate technical clarification addresses use of set-aside funds: Historically, some grantees have been restricted to using 7% of their annual award each year, limiting their ability to leverage their full set-aside during crucial early years at the start of their grant. This year, however, the Senate Democratic bill included language in the FY23 Appropriations Report (see page 254) that clarifies that states have flexibility in the allocation of TA funds across the life of a grant. This clarification may make it easier for states to meet the changing needs of the sector from year to year and increase the impact of these vital technical assistance funds. 

Check out the full report at the National Charter School Resources Center.


Fiona Sheridan-McIver is the director of policy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.