Washington, D.C. Improvements to charter public school laws in several states shook up the rankings in the National Alliance for Public Charter School's seventh annual report examining the quality of state charter school laws. Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws cites favorable changes in authorizing and funding policies in many states, as well as the enactment of a strong charter school law in Alabama, as the primary reasons for shifts in this years rankings.
"This is a critical time as parent demand for high-quality public schools is at a record high," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "By enacting strong charter school laws and implementing them effectively, states can significantly expand the number of great public schools available to families, particularly those most in need of better options. Fortunately, many states have responded by accelerating improvements to their charter school laws, and we hope to see additional improvements in the 2016 legislative sessions."
The report analyzes charter school laws in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Eight states do not have a charter school law and are not included in the rankings: Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
Key findings from this years report include:
- Indiana is ranked first, moving up from fifth in last years report and from 29th when the report was first issued in 2010. Indianas 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 joins the ranking in second place after enacting a strong public charter school law in 2015. Alabama lawmakers took great care in writing this law to ensure the state heeded the lessons learned in the first 25 years of the charter movement.
- Minnesota moved from first to third, marking only the second time in the seven years of this report that the state does not come out 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.
- Nevada moved up from 14th to eighth on the list because it enacted legislation that strengthened its charter application processes, clarified the guidelines for public charter school partnerships with educational service providers, and encouraged replication and expansion of high-quality public charter schools.
- Georgia jumped five spots to 18th place because it enacted regulations that strengthened authorizer accountability, charter school monitoring processes, and charter school autonomy.
- Ohio also moved up five spots to 23rd because it enacted legislation that improved its authorizer funding provisions and strengthened its charter school monitoring processes.
- Delaware dropped five spots from 19th to 24th because it enacted a moratorium on public charter school growth in Wilmington, the states largest urban city.
- Maryland continues to hold the 43rd spot with the weakest public charter school law in the country.
"We are pleased that so many states have embraced the National Alliances model law to improve their charter school laws, providing supportive environments for the growth of high-quality charter schools and giving hope to families who want better public educational options for their children," said Rees.
The reports methodology includes scoring each state charter school law against 20 essential components from the National Alliance's model law, such as 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.
About Charter Schools
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, many research studies have 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 movement. For more information, please visit www.publiccharters.org.