Thursday, December 8, 2011

Selecting a Charter School Attorney: Advice, Part 1

When I'm visiting charter schools I often get asked for advice. This includes everything from how to handle a particular situation, where to find specific information or how to improve school governance. There are some things I regularly repeat such as get good legal counsel with charter school experience. It's important to find an attorney with knowledge about education laws and charter schools specifically. But beyond that, you want someone who will be an advocate for your charter school and is willing to step in on your behalf. This is especially important when negotiating the charter contract, but it also applies to student discipline issues and disagreements with the authorizer.

Some charter school attorneys have strengths with particular issues such as Special Education, facility financing or negotiations. It's important for charter school leaders to check out attorneys before making a commitment to hire. In addition, get several recommendations from others within the charter school community before making a decision. People have different experiences with their legal counsel and so it's important to hear a variety of perspectives. This way you can make a decision based on what's best for your particular public charter school and your particular situation.
Note: This is the first of a new series I'll be doing about the standard advice I give to charter school leaders.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life Skills of Denver Loses Appeal to State

Yesterday the State Board of Education on a split vote, 4-3, decided to affirm the Denver Public Schools' refusal to renew the contract for Life Skills of Denver. Life Skills serves 100% at-risk students qualifying for an Alternative Education Campus (AEC) designation. There are 160 students in Life Skills at present and the average student has attended 5 other schools before choosing Life Skills.
Life Skills also appealed a DPS decision to close them back in 2007. At that time, the State Board voted to remand the decision and DPS allowed the charter school to remain open. Numerous changes were made at the school, including a wide array of wrap-around services for students, many of whom were over age and under credit.
At yesterday's hearing the primary point of disagreement was whether or not Life Skills' contract required them to make "reasonable progress" or, as Supt. Tom Boasgberg asserted the contract stated if they committed a material breach of ANY provision the contract could be terminated. The Life Skills contract had 12 provisions in the contract and the school contended they made 9 of those provisions. Legal counsel for the State Board, Nick Stancil, responded to a question from Board member Paul Lundeen by pointing out that "makes reasonable progress" is language in the Charter Schools Act, and in the Life Skills contract. He disagreed with the claim that any breech of contract provisions was enough reason to revoke a charter school, however.
Students, teachers and family members attending the hearing were visibly upset with the Board's decision. The school, operated by White Hat Management out of Ohio, has not decided their initial next steps.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Principal Reports to the Board: Advice, Part 2

Principals should provide a written report for the board at each regular board meeting, usually once a month. In between those regular reports, the Principal may choose to email the board with important information that needs to be provided in a timely manner.
The written Principal's report should be brief, not more than a page or two, and focus on board level information. Delving in to too much detail leads to a natural tendency for board members to get involved in day-to-day operations and so care should be used to keep the report high level.
The report should have standard categories such as academics, highlights and upcoming events. Because these reports are public information, and generally provided to the public via a board packet link on the school's website, there should never be confidential information included. If the administrator needs the board to get involved in a particular issue or situation, this monthly report is a great to place to bring that to their attention. This could be anything from needing board members to participate in graduation ceremonies to something that's come up with the school's charter authorizer that is the responsibility of the governing board to address.
Each regular monthly board meeting should include a section of the agenda for reports. These should generally be in writing and the board only asks questions. The individual presenting a written report, either from the administrator or a committee, should never have to verbally present the same report to the board. Meetings are much more efficient when board members only ask questions about a written report. Because written reports are usually submitted to the board a week prior to the board meeting, the Principal should always be able to bring additional information to the board's attention during this portion of the agenda.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Use Data: Advice,Part 3

Data should drive everything in a school. Too often school leaders react to a comment or a small group of parents who are complaining about something when they make decisions. Instead, facts should drive decision making.

The governing board should use a "data dashboard" to monitor the key indicators they watch to determine if the school is on track and performance is at the level they expect. This might include student academic data, financial figures and student enrollment. There are several key indicators that show when a charter school is entering what is commonly referred to as the "death spiral." This is a decline in student enrollment that eventually causes the school severe financial hardship and/or closure.

As a public school, it's important for school leaders to constantly monitor student academic achievement data. This means not only the CSAP/TCAP data, but assessments that are given more frequently throughout the school year such as NWEA/MAPS, DIBELs, or formative assessments developed by the school or district to measure subjects not tested by CSAP/TCAP. Usually the school administrator monitors this data and uses it to drive discussions with staff, but it's also important for the governing board to completely understand trends that are occurring or if certain subgroups of students are struggling. It's wise for school staff to do an annual workshop on student achievement data for the board. This could be done in conjunction with the development of the annual Unified Improvement Plan before it's submitted to the authorizer.

Having the actual per student revenue on the dashboard is important because it explains why public schools are all tightening their belts over the past several years when the State Assembly is making budget cuts. Showing the Per Pupil Revenue over the past several years is a very powerful tool to explain the school's financial situation to parents.

It's important to align the board's dashboard with their strategic plan. Because the strategic plan is the board's way to implement the school's vision and mission, everything should reflect the same focus and direction. The strategic plan should should progress based on specific measures. It's also a good idea to communicate once or twice a year about the strategic plan and board dashboard to the school community so that others understand how the board monitors progress. It also conveys what the board deems important to monitor.

Making decisions based on data is a solid way to make decisions. That means it's important to have enough data to make decisions. This data might be in an annual survey of parents or staff or even students. But data doesn't lie, even if the message isn't what was expected. Every charter school should have a broad set of data that they examine at different levels and to different degrees. Having the discussions about what is important to monitor and how that data should be obtained and analyzed is vital!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Put the School First: Advice, Part 4

I've seen it hundreds of times and it never quits! People who step into leadership at a charter school to satisfy their own personal agendas or bolster their egos. Worst of all, in almost every situation, it's the students that lose.

These are the people who get on a governing board and immediately start making significant changes to the charter school in order to put their mark on it. Or the administrator who thinks that he/she is irreplaceable and stirs up parents to help reinstate him/her as administrator. Or the administrator that develops factions among the staff and pits the entire staff against the governing board. Or the parent that gets recognition for leading a parent revolt against the governing board and attempts to recall board members. I could give countless examples--all without resorting to a fictitious scenario. These are all true situations. In the end, it all boils down to someone's ego getting fed.

What's the right thing to do? Focus on what the students of the school needs. Pretty simple, right? Not for a lot of adults, sad to say.

First and foremost, a public charter school should make sure it's providing the best education possible for students. This means not only a focused, rigorous curriculum, but also exemplary teachers and a culture of continuous improvement where everyone realizes they can do better.

People become complacent. They rationalize why test scores are falling each year. If parents like the teacher or lead administrator, they make excuses and justify their belief that as long as their child is happy and safe, slipping academics is acceptable. Even worse is when the administrator clearly doesn't understand how to raise student achievement through high expectations, staff training and instructional coaching, but instead makes excuses, or worst of all--blames the students, or a group of students.

When a governing board member or an administrator is faced with a tumultuous situation, he/she should do some soul-searching about what is the best for the students in the long run. That may require that board member of administrator to resign and let someone else step in to lead the school. But ultimately, everyone, should put the needs of the school first--in front of personal agendas.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

DPS Gives Green Light to Two Charter Schools After Appeals to the State Board

The Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education voted 4-3 to let Monarch Montessori open this fall after every board member expressed their distaste for the State Board of Education ruling against them at the February charter school appeal hearings. The board met in Executive Session for almost an hour before coming out and receiving public comment on the appeal remands and then voting.
Monarch Montessori plans to open K-2 in the old Samsonite building along I-70 in northeast Denver. The school is already open as a preschool and will add a grade level until they serve grades K-5.
The DPS board also approved Northeast Academy to operate as a K-5 next year, this after an appeal to the State Board when the DPS board voted to take away K and 6th grade for the 2012-2013 school year. The Superintendent said earlier in the day that his board would be voting to close Northeast Academy entirely and the charter school responded with a counter proposal.
Northeast Academy was deemed a Turnaround school in 2009 after several years of poor test scores. They operated under a management company for the 2010-2011 school year and test scores fell even further. In May 2011 the governing board hired Jere Pearcy, with a strong Core Knowledge background to lead the school. While significant changes have been made at the school this year, the DPS board continued to express doubt that the school could improve. Northeast Academy faces renewal in the fall.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Peak to Peak is #1 in Colorado and #29 in the Nation!

Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette is the best high school in Colorado according to Newsweek's ranking system this year. No other Colorado high school made it in to the top 100 nationwide, but Peak to Peak came in at #29!

One might consider this old hat for the people from Peak to Peak who every year get ranked among the best in the nation by various measures. Believe me, they're very happy to get this recognition and accolades for their student's achievements! But the culture at Peak to Peak is different than the neighborhood high school.

At P2P the mantra is, "it's about getting a little bit smarter every day!" There is an intense focus on student academic achievement. Yes, the school offers extracurricular sports and clubs, but the real competition is in the classroom. In the classroom there is learning from bell to bell. The expectation is that teachers start their clas period with an activity that preps the students for the lesson that day. Students should be in their seats and ready to engage when the bell rings--or else they're late.

P2P has a culture of continuous improvement. This doesn't stop with the students' learning. This is also about the adults. P2P started a Center for Professional Development because their value for improving the adults in their school system is very high. Everyone should be improving!

The culture among the leaders at P2P is that new leaders are always in the making. In addition to growing up their own from within, the school raises up leaders to go to other schools and also works with other schools to raise up their own leaders. This is done through a combination of coaching and training. The clear message is: when you get better, your students will also get better.

P2P started in about 2000 with a handful of parents who wanted a better education for their own children. Even back then, state charter school leaders affectionately referred to the founding group at P2P as the "overachievers" because they were at every event, learning as much as they could and asking lots of good questions. P2P doesn't do things the easy way and they don't rest on their laurels. That's probably a key to their success! And well-deserved recognition for the hard work and dedication they put in to their student's academic achievement!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Peak to Peak Job Fair 2012

Peak to Peak Charter School held its annual Charter School Job Fair on Saturday with over 800 participants and 37 charter schools. As usual, the job fair ran very smoothly with a host of volunteers from Peak to Peak taking care of everything from meals to water bottle distribution.
The job fair, the only one of its kind in Colorado, is THE place to learn about openings in the state's charter schools. One teacher candidate even flew in from England to attend. In addition to numerous new, or soon-to-be, graduates there were also many experienced candidates looking for a different position.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How to Write a Grant Application: Advice, Part 5

There are some things about writing grant applications that are universal for any type of grant application. I've both administered a federal grant program and also reviewed federal and state grants on a number of occasions. Some applicants know how to tell their story, including the use of data, and others make the reviewer wonder if they even read the instructions. Thus, here are a few tips:

Don't assume the reader knows anything about your school or plans. As much as the applicant may think everyone knows about the great things they're doing at their school, and believe their school has a national reputation, it isn't so. Don't use acronyms or jargon, especially without explaining them. Every state has their own acronyms and while they're commonly used locally, they're meaningless for reviewers. Further, if for example, the state assessment system allows schools to qualify for alternative status if they serve a very high percentage of at-risk students, explain what that means as far as qualification and accountability.Be succinct. Reviewers don't want to dig through data to determine the accomplishments of students on state assessments. Tell them your story: simply and forthrightly. Have someone, not associated with your program, read your grant application and give you feedback. Did you address all of the criteria in the instructions? Does it make sense to a novice? Follow instructions. They're included for a reason. Nothing screams, "I don't care about your instructions! Just give me the money!" more than using binder clips if they're prohibited or using a 9 point font when 12 point is required.Don't submit an application with grammatical errors. Sounds like common sense, doesn't it? I've never read a grant application that didn't have errors. It's the ones with numerous grammatical or spelling errors that raise the question, "How can these people possibly operate a school?"That said, there are numerous grant applications that I've read over the years that I still remember. One of the best was written by a mother who started a charter school in a remote region of Colorado. She poured her heart into the application and everyone who read it commented on how they felt like they needed to visit the school because they could almost picture it when reading the application.
A challenge for many applicants is how to tell their story with data. Oftentimes data is provided, but there isn't anything to compare it to. For example, a Proficient/Advanced figure is provided, but it's impossible to determine if that's "good enough" when there isn't a district or state figure to compare it with. This also applies to demographic data.
Many federal and state grant programs are very competitive. Further, there is a great deal of accountability to ensure the funds (tax revenue) is being spent wisely. Applicants should have key leaders meet to discuss the proposed application, the expected outcomes and how effectiveness will be evaluated--before even starting the application.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Governing Boards: Advice, Part 6

I've heard numerous stories in the past few weeks about charter school governing boards behaving badly. I was recently asked what's better: a board of parents or a board of professionals from the community? Colorado has always been unique in that the charter school movement has been driven by grassroots involvement of parents. It wasn't until about 2004 when the state Charter School Institute formed that we really had any significant presence from the management company sector of the market.

Whereas the early charter schools to open in Colorado all had parent governing boards, that has changed over time. Management companies often don't want to deal with the instability of having parent representation on the board and so choose non-parents from the community. These are often professionals or elected officials that don't want to get involved in the day-to-day operations, as parents tend to do when their own child is involved.

What's ideal? Probably a blend. Parents should have a meaningful role in their child's education, but oftentimes parents cannot separate their role of parent from their role on a governing board. That said, there have been numerous parents in the state who have done that very well. They don't make a decision for the school based on their individual child. They realize they don't wear their charter school board member hat unless they're in the board room. Many of these parents have made incredible sacrifices in order to see their charter school get opened and off to a successful footing.

There's also a lot to be said for involving community leaders in a public charter school. Other states even require this type of board member. These types of board members represent their school well in the community and oftentimes are successful fundraisers. It's not uncommon for "professional" boards to meet only quarterly and not the monthly or semi-monthly typical for parent governing boards.

Regardless of the composition of the governing board, training is imperative! Even individuals that have already served on numerous boards, need to learn about issues relevant to charter schools. Colorado is the only state with online board training modules specific to charter school governance. The website,, is invaluable in providing the foundation for solid governance.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Charter School Management Organizations in Colorado

The Colorado Charter Schools Act (C.R.S. 22-30.5 et seq) doesn't specify what type of an entity can be party to a charter school contract. Although it's never happened in the state, a for-profit company would be permitted to charter with a school district authorizer.
SB12-067 requires that only nonprofits can charter. This could either be a founding board that has incorporated in order to start a new charter school or a charter management organization (CMO). CMOs are generally defined as nonprofit, differentiating themselves from for-profit, education management organizations or EMOs.
There are currently CMOs that have chartered directly with an authorizer in Colorado. While it's permissible for a CMO to hold individual charters, it's also possible for a CMO to oversee independent governing boards that hold the charter. There is no predetermined structure that's best. It's totally up to the authorizer and the charter school applicant.
SB 067 grandfathers in schools established before August 6, 1997 to accommodate charter schools that never incorporated and therefore became nonprofits. Some of the earlier charter schools considered themselves a public school and therefore getting separate nonprofit status was redundant. There has been differing legal opinions about this over the years. In recent years almost all of the newly established charter schools became nonprofits. In fact, the state Charter School Institute law requires nonprofit status for its schools.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's a Million Dollars?

The current version of the School Finance Act, HB 1345, has an additional million dollars for charter school capital construction. The base of $5 million was all that was left in 2004 when a new administration cut funding previously added by then-Governor Bill Owens, the original Senate sponsor of the state's Charter Schools Act.
After all these years of the funding being whittled away by an increasing number of charter school students who all share in the finite amount, there is a plan to restore a small portion of the pot, which at one time was over $8 million.
Charter schools use this fund, Charter School Capital Construction, to pay for their capital needs. For most of the state's charter schools, it's the only money available for charter schools to use outside of their Per Pupil Revenue (PPR). Unlike school district operated schools, charter schools don't have access to bond funds obtained through ballot questions. If districts choose to include their charter schools in mill or bond questions, a charter school can receive these funds, but it is at the discretion of the local district if the charter school is included.
A million dollars is a small portion of what charter schools need to cover their capital needs in a manner comparable to their non-charter public school counterparts. However, it is certainly a step in the right direction!

Attending the National Charter School Conference

People attending the National Charter School Conference for the first time may feel overwhelmed. There are a couple of strategies that may be helpful, including picking a strand (e.g., governance, facilities, etc.) and just going to workshops in that strand. Another strategy is to pick a variety of workshops, on different topics, to get a little bit of everything.
Almost everyone who attends a conference with a group of people makes sure that they are all in different workshops so they can report back and discuss what they've learned. This is a great strategy because it's one thing to hear about a new or innovative idea, but it's totally different for it to be instituted back at your charter school. Further, it's often the side conversations, with other people in the workshop, where real nuggets are unearthed.
I've always liked when new charter school leaders attend the national conference and then come back appreciating how great we have it in Colorado! We have a wealth of resources available for charter schools and a comprehensive support system in place. Most states don't have that level of support.
The best part of the conference, however, is in getting to catch up with old friends and meet new friends. Attendees are typically very eager to learn and so are eager to engage in conversations. Everyone likes to talk about their charter school and it's fun to hear about the variety of models in use around the country.
I went to the very first National Charter School Conference in 1997 in Washington, DC. There were maybe 150 people there. Now we have more charter schools than that in just the state of Colorado!
Lots of great memories are made during the conference each year! I hope to see you at this week's conference!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Charter School Appeals in Colorado

I've been going through the list of charter school appeals to the State Board of Education and came across some interesting findings.
First, Denver Public Schools (DPS) has the most appeal cases with 19. To put that into context, Jeffco has 17, Aurora seven, and Adams 12 five. This is out of 132 appeal cases.
Second, there were two years, 1994 and 2006, when there were the highest number of appeals: 14. The high number of appeal hearings in 1994 makes sense because that's the first year the Charter Schools Act was in effect and there were numerous charter school applications that year. The high number in 2006 is harder to explain. It was the year after the Legislature adopted the Charter School Institute Act, which created the state's alternative authorizer. However, probably the most noteworthy piece in the data is that the number of appeal hearings dropped precipitously after that so that in 2008 there were only three hearings and in 2009 only one. This can easily be explained by the state's development of the standard application and model contract language. Both of these documents, for the first time, explained what was acceptable practice for charter school applications and charter contracts.
Another interesting point is the number of charter schools that never open even after a successful appeal to the State Board. The vast majority of appeal hearings are from brand new charter applicants; however, the law also allows an existing charter school to appeal "gross imposition of conditions" or issues with which the two parties disagree. Further, the vast majority of appeals are only heard once by the State Board. Even if the charter school wins a remand, most of the time the parties settle their differences and it doesn't go to the State Board for a second appeal. But when there is a second appeal and the State Board orders a local district to open a charter school, only a small number of those schools actually open.
It's also interesting to note that in 1994 there were more appeal hearings than charter schools that were approved to open. There were 14 appeals, but only 11 charter schools opened. Again in 1995, when there were 10 appeals, only 10 charter schools opened. In the early years of the Charter Schools Act, there was a high number of appeals and not many schools opening. But the law was also under pilot status until 1998 when the sunset provision was lifted.
This year there have been four charter school appeal hearings and none others scheduled for hearing at this time. Of the four, three of the cases are from Denver. The State Board ruled in favor of Northeast Academy and Monarch Montessori in February. However, the March hearing of Life Skills High School went in favor of the district on a 4-3 vote.
The appeal provision of the Charter Schools Act is one of the tenets that makes Colorado's law rank strong on national studies of charter school laws. It allows any applicant that has been denied, to bring their case to the State Board of Education for a quasi-judicial proceeding. In Colorado, the State Board has historically ruled with the district about half of the time and with the charter school half the time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2012 Charter School Hall of Fame Inductees

This morning's opening session of the National Charter School Conference gave recognition to charter school leaders that were instrumental in the early years of charter schools in the early 1990's. Colorado's own Jim Griffin, President of the Colorado League of Charter Schools was inducted in to the Hall of Fame for his work, which includes starting the first charter support organization in the country. The video clip of Jim's work also featured the North Routt Community Charter School outside of Steamboat Springs.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were several leaders from Minnesota, the first state to pass a charter schools law in 1991. Jon Schroeder, Eric Mahmoud and City Academy were all honored. City Academy, started by Milo Cutter, was the first charter school in the country. Alums of City Academy were featured in a video clip and also personally addressed the audience.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Federal Programs and Their Impact on Charter Schools

Vic Klatt, Ursula Wright and Lisa Grover presented a workshop on federal programs at the 2012 National Charter School Conference.

Here are a few points that were made:
* There is complete gridlock in Washington. The ESEA was originally intended for reauthorization in 2007, but it still hasn't been done. The House put the ESEA in five chunks; only one passed and that includes the Charter School Program.
* NCLB is totally done. AYP is done. Teacher accountability is on the rise and there is general support for charter schools.
* The new waivers policy under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is huge. In essence, every state with waivers has their own ESEA in 2-3 year segments. Waiver requests contains lots of jargon and confusing language; it's possible the ED doesn't even know what's in some of the approved requests.
* It will probably hold off until after the November elections, but there is a "fiscal Armageddon" coming between election day and January when the newly-elected members of Congress are seated. There will be an automatic 9% cut and cuts to military spending; the debt limit and unemployment tax needs to be addressed; and Bush tax cuts are still in place but will be revisited.
* Obama and Romney are fairly similar on education issues.
* There was no competition for SEAs to get CSP money in 2012 and probably won't be again in 2013. In 2010 funds were overcommitted and so states awarded in that year that are on 5 year grant cycles are probably the only states that are safe. The CSP grant is much more competitive.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Green Schools

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced their first Green Schools awards. Seventy-eight public schools were honored for their environmental impact, sustainability and "innovative school reforms."

It should be noted that the presumably now-healthy students in these Green Schools could be destined for a life of low achievement, underemployment and possibly even incarceration, but will undoubtedly have the satisfaction and peace of knowing they attended school in an environment that promoted recycling and a minimal impact on the environment.

As is the case with almost all education initiatives, there was data used to make the determination for which schools deserved this incredible distinction. For example, schools that now use rain barrels, previously-used pavement or off-grid solar power measured rainfall, tire pressure and iPad charge time, respectively. In the case of districts using school buses powered by used cooking oil for fuel, students who could correctly guess what type of food was made in the cooking oil were given a higher score.

The department's press release described the academic benefits for rope climbing, kayaking and other activities in their outdoor classrooms. In fact, reading "on the green" was used to enhance wilderness adventures. To ensure that school parents and communities were also involved in the green initiative, some schools posted "no idling" signs in parking lots and distributed garden produce to local shelters.

Students were prepared for growing up in the 21st Century by caring for bunnies, chickens, goats, fish and ducks. However, there was no mention of students learning about the anatomy and physiology of these animals in their Biology classes. One can only imagine these animals will also benefit from the enhanced green environment and live forever in their nurturing environment.

The one glaring omission from this press release was the hundreds of public schools deemed failing by the department and the hundreds of thousands of students attending these schools who cannot read or write on grade level. The effort put in to determining Green Schools meant that even less was being done for the students who have been failed by the public education system. Further, the message that everything is blissful as long as schools are recycling and minimizing their impact on the environment and therefore, focusing on getting students smarter isn't important, is part of the reason our nation is where it is today: performing significantly below countries that have clearly established the importance of a good education.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Alpha Authorizing

Jim Goenner is an excellent speaker, regardless of the topic he's presenting on. True to his nature, Jim Goenner presented an excellent workshop on Alpha Authorizing. Goenner started by talking about Ted Kolderie's July 1990 paper called "The States Will Have to Withdraw the Exclusive." Kolderie spoke about the system's need to change the incentives in public education. Kolderie's goal was to improve public education for ALL students. He proposed these goals be met through choice (empower families to choose their schools) and diversification (empower someone other than the district to create new public schools).

Goenner said that authorizers can either be change agents, market makers, forces for quality, and catalysts for excellence or they can be gatekeepers, monitors and evaluators. Goenner encouraged authorizers to think innovatively and challenge the "givens." Instead to foster an environment that attracts talent, capital and entrepreneurship. Authorizers should provide leadership and ideas for improving education, rather than being reactive to policies and practices that stimulate mediocrity.

Geonner stressed that public charter schools are "chartered" (a verb) and not "charter" (a noun). They are dynamic and evolving. Charter schools should foster an environment that attracts the can-do people who can strategize creative solutions.

By focusing on quality, charter school authorizers should:
*Thoroughly screen applicants and their applications.
* Measure and evaluate performance.
* Preserve discretionary judgement; in other words, be able to make wise decisions on a case-by-case basis rather than being locked in to policy restraints that aren't what's best for students.
* Protect school autonomy.
* Appropriately intervene when people fail. Don't be afraid to step in to close a charter school that doesn't perform well academically.

By being a catalyst for excellence, a charter school authorizer should
* Recognize and reward performance.
* Encourage the replication and expansion of successful charter schools.
* Create new performance-based paths for authorizing, overseeing and renewing charter contracts.
* Relentlessly pursue excellence (at all levels).
* Protect, preserve and advance the idea behind chartering. This is in regard to Kolderie's assertion that "someone other than" districts should be able to create new public schools.

Goenner also highlighted several statistics from the National Alliance for Public Charter School's website. He noted that every authorizer should have established key performance indicators for their schools collectively and individually. These indicators can fall into the broad categories of academic achievement/growth, fiscal performance and sustainability, organizational performance and student engagement.