|[October 22, 2013]
NACSA Releases Recommendations on Accountability Measures for Alternative Charter Schools
CHICAGO --(Business Wire)--
The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA)
today released Anecdotes Aren't Enough: An Evidence-Based Approach to
Accountability for Alternative Charter Schools, a report
that sets out recommendations for appropriate accountability systems for
this growing segment of the American education sector.
Alternative schools-whether charter or traditional-are schools whose
mission is to serve special populations including adjudicated youth,
dropouts, pregnant teens, and recovering addicts.
Over the years states have struggled with defining and implementing
accountability systems for the academic performance of these schools.
Charter school authorizers, the entities that approve and oversee
charter schools, have been left to make high-stakes decisions about
these schools without adequate guidance from state policies. Addressing
this issue is critical to the success of NACSA's One
Million Lives campaign to improve educational options for the
In order to assist the charter sector in navigating these difficult
waters, NACSA convened a working group comprised of authorizers,
operators, and researchers in order to define the parameters of good
practice. Their recommendations are the centerpiece of today's report.
"School leaders serving disadvantaged youth often claim that 'Our kids
are different, and standardized tests can't measure what we do,'" said
NACSA Senior Advisor Nelson
Smith who led the organization's working group. "But authorizers
have to hold all charter schools accountable for performance. Our report
makes clear that there are ways to do this job with rigor, even for
schools whose students may not do well on conventional measures."
The report recommends that authorizers:
Set a high bar when identifying a school as an alternative school;
Be open to different but detailed approaches;
Provide specialized oversight, tailoring oversight and monitoring to
the circumstances of alternative schools;
Make the charter contract the central instrument of accountability
forming a solid basis for evaluating the alternative charters with
academic and non-academic goals, as well as both traditional and
non-traditional measures of academic performance.
According to Smith, "It is important for authorizers to judge
performance using a range of measures, and to set targets that focus on
the improvement in student learning and success in moving toward college
and career readiness."
Smith said there needed to be a recognition that these schools engage
students differently than traditional schools. A one size fits all
approach, he added, does not work.
The next stage of this project will address needed changes in state
policies that affect accountability for alternative charters.
The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is
committed to advancing excellence and accountability in the charter
school sector and to increasing the number of high-quality charter
schools across the nation. To accomplish this mission, NACSA works to
improve the policies and practices of authorizers-the organizations
designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter
schools. NACSA provides training, consulting, and policy guidance to
authorizers. It also advocates for laws and policies that raise the bar
for excellence among authorizers and the schools they charter. In late
2012, NACSA launched its One Million Lives campaign to give one million
more children the opportunity to attend a great school. Visit www.qualitycharters.org.
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