National Alliance for Public Charter Schools: Building Charter Schools into ESSA Planning
March 17, 2017

ESSA accountability regulations were overturned. What now? We know reform advocates will continue their work to support ESSA engagement and implementation at the state level. At the same time, a complicated landscape just became even more murky for those on the front lines. To help navigate through the complexities, we’re tapping the expertise of eight PIE Network federal-facing partners. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools weighs in below.

Accountability that Celebrates Growth & Maximizes Opportunities

The following are key components of a strong accountability plan from the point of view of charter schools seeking to preserve autonomy and accountability frameworks that align with the mission of their schools, parents of students in schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement, and charter schools serving special populations of students, such as dropout recovery schools.

  • State education agencies (SEAs) must engage charter school leaders throughout the implementation of the state’s consolidated plan under ESSA.  Engagement can help ensure that SEAs aren’t in a position of retrofitting requirements to charter schools after plans are in place. Regardless of what is in the revised ESSA Consolidated Plan template, the statute requires consultation with charter school leaders.(Sec. 1111(a)(1)(A))
  • Ensure that student growth is part of a state index to ensure that schools receive adequate credit when students achieve significant learning gains. (Sec. 1111(c)(4)(B)(i)(II) and 1111(c)(4)(B)(ii)(I)
  • Maximize Title I’s 7 percent set-aside for school improvement to replicate and expand high-quality charter schools in order to serve students otherwise attending low-performing schools (i.e., those identified for comprehensive support and improvement). Without clear permission, local educational agencies (LEAs) and SEAs may be hesitant to use school improvement funds to open or expand high-quality schools. Section 1003(b)(1)(B) and Sec. 1111(d)(3)(B)(i-ii) provide authority to do this.
  • Encourage LEAs to use school improvement funds to strengthen schools that feed into or out of struggling schools, not just schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement in isolation. In addition to including targeted support schools in improvement efforts, to facilitate K-12 school improvement states should ensure that identified Title I eligible schools that don’t receive funding can benefit from the seven percent set-aside.
  • Ensure that high-quality schools serving dropouts and other under-credited students aren’t tagged as “failing” because their four-year graduation rate is below 67 percent, so long as they meet that standard based on an extended-year rate. The statute does not require states to use a four-year rate–it doesn’t specify any type of rate, in fact. States should instead leverage this flexibility to develop strong, meaningful accountability for these schools.  (Sec. 1111(c)(4)(D)(i)(II).

For more on ESSA and charters see:

Eight PIE Network federal-facing partners weighed in with advice for state advocates. Check out the complete list of responses. 


Christy Wolfe

Christy is the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' Senior Policy Advisor


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