CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – A national ranking of charter school policies released last week by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) recognized and applauded Oklahoma’s charter school oversight provisions.
The report, “On the Road to Better Accessibility, Autonomy, and Accountability,” analyzes current charter school oversight policies across the nation. Each state is scored against eight “best practices” in state policy that ensure a consistent, high-performing charter sector.
Oklahoma improved its national ranking dramatically by passing significant charter reform legislation earlier this year, Senate Bill 782 (S.B. 782). In the NACSA analysis, the Sooner leapt from 37th best charter school provisions into the number 10 ranking.
Several state and national leaders in the education arena gathered last Tuesday (December 8) to release the report at a state Capitol press conference.
In the Blue Room of the Capitol, Gov. Mary Fallin joined Greg Richmond, President & CEO, National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), state Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond and Sam Duell, Managing Director of the Education Collaborative for the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center (OPSRC) for the announcement.
Jolley and state Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, co-sponsored S.B. 782.
“By putting the interests of children first, Oklahoma now has one of the nation’s strongest charter laws,” said Greg Richmond, NACSA president and CEO.
“The new law focuses on school accountability and strong standards for authorizers, which we know is the foundation for creating and sustaining great public school options for children.”
The bill adopted nearly all of the nationally-recommended school and authorizing policies, and was supported by a broad coalition of authorizers, school operators, school boards, lawmakers and others.
“Every child in the state of Oklahoma should have access to a high quality education, and numerous charter schools in Oklahoma continue to provide outstanding education options for our students,” added Gov. Fallin.
“I was proud to sign multiple charter school bills into law during the last legislative session and am pleased by the recognition of our efforts by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. I encourage the Oklahoma Legislature to continue to expand school-choice options for our students as we seek to improve our state’s educational outcomes.”
The report highlights key accountability provisions that will drive charter school performance and innovation, such as the use of performance frameworks that set forth clear expectations for each charter school’s academic and financial performance. Authorizers responsible for approving and monitoring schools will be required to develop policies and practices based on professional standards and will also need to defend decisions to renew schools that perform in the bottom five percent of schools in the state over the average of three years.
In a statement, Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister applauded the recognition.
“High-quality charter schools in Oklahoma start with high-quality authorizing, equity and access for all kids, and strong accountability,” Hofmeister said.
“This new law balances charter school flexibility, innovation and deregulation with meaningful oversight to ensure the highest academic outcomes for Oklahoma schoolchildren.”
“I am encouraged by the progress our state has made as a result of Senate Bill 782. I firmly believe Oklahoma will continue to improve in providing the students of our state quality educational options that spark innovation and allow them to compete on a global scale,” said Rep. Denney, who as speaker pro tempore is the second-ranking member of the House.
Editor's Note: NACSA (National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) leaders described the group, in a press release, as “an independent voice for effective charter school policy and thoughtful charter authorizing practices that lead to more great public schools. Our research, policy, and consultation work advances excellence and accountability in the charter school sector. With authorizers and other partners, we have built the gold standard for charter school authorizing.
Through smart charter school growth, these authorizers will give hundreds of thousands of children an opportunity for a better education each year. More at information is available at www.qualitycharters.org .”