Washington State’s Charter Public School Law Receives Perfect Score in New Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Contact: Cynara Lilly at (206) 915-7821

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Ranks Washington First in the Country on the Strength of its Charter Law


SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington ranks first in the country when it comes to state policies that promote a strong charter school sector, according to a new report out today from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).

The report, On the Road to Better Charter Schools, provides an analysis of current charter school oversight policies across the nation. Each state is scored against eight known best practices in school accountability and authorizer quality that help to ensure a consistent, high-performing charter sector. 

Washington’s charter school law, reinstated last year with bipartisan support from the state’s legislature, received a perfect score.

“NACSA’s recognition of the strength of our charter law serves as validation for the tireless efforts of thousands of parents and students that fought so hard for these schools in Olympia last winter,” said WA Charters CEO Tom Franta. “Through their efforts, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were compelled to create a charter law that recognizes and upholds the basic tenets of the accountability bargain – schools should be given autonomy to meet the individual needs of their students and held meaningfully accountable for improving student outcomes in their community.  Simply stated, this law creates more high quality public school options across the state.”

The NACSA report comes on the heels of the Department of Education’s award of $6.9M to Washington state charter schools, a signal of the federal government’s confidence in the state’s growing charter sector. 

“Washington is a national model for how to get charter school policies right,” said John Hedstrom, Vice President of Policy for NACSA. “Its law strikes the right balance that gives charter schools the freedom they need to thrive, while ensuring these schools meet a high bar and are good schools for students and taxpayers.” 

The report details the state’s strengths in school accountability, including required annual performance reports and a standard for charter school renewal. It also details the state’s policies to ensure the organizations responsible for opening and monitoring charter schools adhere to professional authorizing standards, including evaluations and sanctions.

With all of NACSA’s recommended policies in law, Washington educators are well-positioned to do the hard work of creating and sustaining great public schools. Despite this, quality school options are yet again threatened by a new lawsuit filed by charter school opponents in the state.

See NACSA’s WA State Policy Detail here. 

About Washington’s Public Charter Schools
Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. A majority of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide, and a majority of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide.

In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. In Washington, African American, Latino and Native American students are scoring between 15-20 percent lower on state assessments. According to 2015-16 mid-year and end-of-year assessment results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.

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