Written by Public Impacts Joe Ableidinger and Bryan C. Hassel, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools issue brief, Free to Lead: Autonomy in Highly Successful Charter Schools, identifies seven distinct ways autonomy impacts operational and academic performance at five highly successful charter schools. Autonomy has long been regarded as crucial to charter school success because it gives principals, school leaders and teachers authority to make decisions that directly enhance student achievement. However, in order to protect and truly encourage autonomy for charter schools, this publication illustrates its critical role in the success of high-performing charter schools. The Alliance selected five schools in separate states, each with a unique culture, and interviewed their leaders about how autonomy helps them better serve their students. The seven types of autonomy revealed are: freedom to develop a great team, freedom to manage teachers as professionals, freedom to change (or not to change) curriculum and classroom structure; autonomy in scheduling, financial freedom, board freedom to focus on education and freedom to define a unique school culture. This issue brief takes an important first step in explaining autonomy and how it works in highly successful charters. Readers are encouraged to share this work with your community to ensure autonomy remains a pillar of the charter school movement. Read the Alliance's official press release. Click the icon below to download a copy of the issue brief.