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New Report Released: "The Ultimate Choice: How Charter Authorizers Approve and Renew Schools in Post-Katrina New Orleans"

September 12, 2016

In a new report from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, authors Whitney Bross and Douglas N. Harris find that the charter application review process can help authorizers identify high-performing charters if they gather more information about potential charter operators than the charter application alone can offer.

It’s impor­tant that the only fac­tor pre­dict­ing both char­ter approval and renew­al is a school’s rat­ing from Louisiana’s inde­pen­dent eval­u­a­tor,” said Har­ris. Dur­ing the years stud­ied, the state almost always fol­lowed the evaluator’s rec­om­men­da­tions, the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Char­ter School Autho­riz­ers (NAC­SA), which were informed by a great deal of data beyond for­mal char­ter appli­ca­tions, includ­ing inter­views and site vis­its. The NAC­SA rat­ing pre­dict­ed whether the state would renew the char­ter in the future. The authors also found some indi­ca­tions that the NAC­SA rat­ings pre­dict stu­dents’ achieve­ment growth, though these results were less clear. Autho­riz­ers also have much more infor­ma­tion when mak­ing renew­al deci­sions of exist­ing char­ters because they can con­sid­er the school’s actu­al per­for­mance, and the study’s authors find that Louisiana’s state autho­riz­er, the Board of Ele­men­tary and Sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion (BESE), based its renew­al deci­sions on school per­for­mance. Accord­ing to Bross, The School Per­for­mance Score and stu­dents’ achieve­ment growth were the strongest pre­dic­tors of renew­al.” In con­trast, enroll­ment lev­els did not pre­dict renew­al, indi­cat­ing that BESE did not focus on fam­i­ly pref­er­ences. While this research focus­es on how well autho­riz­ers choose char­ter oper­a­tors, the Edu­ca­tion Research Alliance for New Orleans has a sec­ond forth­com­ing study ana­lyz­ing the effects that clo­sure and school takeover have on stu­dents. The full report is avail­able here.