Readers of JPGB are well aware of the many flaws of how charter school laws and policies are ranked by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). NACSA rankings serve as barriers to the opening of charter schools run by Black and Latino educators. NACSA rankings seem to prefer approaches that lead to few or no charter schools actually opening. And those NACSA rankings bear no relationship to test score measures of school performance or later life outcomes. This approach to ranking simply does not make sense.
Our very own Matt Ladner has been calling for these lousy and technocratic ratings put out by NACSA and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) to be replaced by new measures that consider whether policies and laws are conducive to charter schools opening, lead to charters wither stronger outcomes, and contribute to improved outcomes among traditional public schools because of competitive pressure.
Ask and ye shall receive. Today, the Educational Freedom Institute (EFI) released a new charter ranking approach developed by Ben Scafidi and Eric Wearne at Kennesaw State University along the lines Matt proposed. It considers four factors:
- (1) The percent of public school students in each state who are enrolled in charter schools
- (2) The percent of public school students in each state who reside in a zip code with a charter school
- Value-added learning gains for charter school students in (3) Reading and (4) Mathematics
The new EFI ranking does not yet capture the competitive effects Matt suggested, but it seems like a much more promising approach than those adopted by NACSA and NAPCS, especially if you care about the existing and availability of charter schools and some indicator of their performance. Now let’s see if organizations and foundations that claim to care about charter schools embrace this new approach.
Also, keep your eye on EFI. It’s a relatively new organization that is gaining steam and is slated to have a string of exciting new reports coming out over the next several months.