WASHINGTON, D.C. While legislative changes for public charter school funding and accountability in 2014 improved the ranking of several state laws in the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' sixth annual rankings report, the study shows the need for additional policy improvements across the nation, especially in the area of funding equity for public charter school students.
Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws is an annual report that ranks each states charter school law. According to the findings this year, 14 states moved up in the rankings, while 17 states fell in the rankings.
"We are very pleased to see the improvements in state charter school laws that will lead to more high-quality public school options for families, especially those related to funding and facilities," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "We are optimistic that more such changes will follow in 2015."
The report analyzes charter school laws in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Eight states still don't have a charter school law and aren't included in the rankings: Alabama, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.
The methodology for this report includes scoring each law against 20 essential components from the National Alliance's model law. These components consider quality and accountability, equitable access to funding and facilities, and no caps on charter school growth.
This year, several states shifted in the rankings because of new data released by the University of Arkansas on the funding equity disparity between public charter schools and traditional public schools. With the new study showing that inequities are largely increasing across the country, many states moved down in their ranking.
Some of the key findings from this years report include:
- Minnesota's ranking remained at the number one spot. Minnesota has topped the chart for the best charter school law in the country for five of the six years that this report has been produced. On the other hand, Maryland remained last for the second consecutive year.
- South Carolina moved up six spots from 16 to 10 because of a new law that allows charter school applicants direct access to multiple charter school authorizers and requires more specifications from charters on applications related to replication of existing charter schools and the use of education service providers.
- Utah moved up seven positions from 25 to 18 because of changes made to the law that now requires charter contracts to describe the rights and responsibilities of the school and the authorizer and include minimum financial standards for operating the charter school and minimum standards for student achievement.
- While Alaska moved up only one step, from 40 to 39, its total score jumped from 67 to 78 points. This 11-point increase was tied for the highest in this years report along with Utah. This increase happened because the state enacted a law that created an appellate process for charter school applicants denied by their local school districts, provided a mechanism to fund the work of authorizers, and overhauled how the state funds public charter schools.
- Massachusetts moved down six spots from 11 to 17 because of the new data from the University of Arkansas on funding equity disparity.
"We continue to see the momentum build in states to improve their charter school laws. However, more states need to enact legislation that reduces the funding gap between charter schools and traditional schools, provides charter schools with the flexibility to innovate, and holds charter schools accountable for student achievement," said Rees.
About Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, manyindependent research studieshave found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.
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.