Oversight and accountability standards exceed state law

Lansing, Mich. — The Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers (MCCSA) recently updated its self-imposed standards as it continues to advance quality practices that ultimately lead to school and student success. The ten-year-old roundtable of seasoned oversight professionals adopted new oversight and accountability standards at its board meeting last week to support students and families as they seek to understand the factors constituting a quality education.

“The new standards reflect effective oversight and accountability,” said Cindy Schumacher, chairperson of the MCCSA board of directors and executive director at The Governor John Engler Center of Charter Schools at Central Michigan University. “We have dedicated time developing the new oversight and accountability standards so that Michigan can continue to serve as a pioneer in education reform efforts. Our new standards are rigorous, thoughtful and advance education in Michigan through quality authorizing.”

The updated standards cover the following aspects of charter school authorizing:

  • Authorizing a charter school
  • Overseeing and evaluating a charter school
  • Reauthorization or nonrenewal
  • Authorizing best practices

Under the new standards for authorizing a charter school, MCCSA emphasizes that the application process should encourage expansion and replication of charter schools demonstrating success. Other highlights include:

  • The application review under Standards for Authorizing a Charter School should consider:
    • School performance goals
    • Sound and sustainable business and financial plans
    • The will and capacity to effectively implement the plans
    • Under Standards for reauthorization or nonrenewal, if a charter school is not making adequate progress towards meeting its performance goals (academic, fiscal or organizational) as defined in the charter school contract, the authorizer will impose appropriate consequences – up to and including school closure.
    • Under Authorizing Best Practices, a Michigan quality authorizer will consider the following practices that support the standards outlined in this document:
      • Establish a clear policy detailing the selection and appointment process for charter school board members.
      • Ensure each academy provides access to all students by monitoring the school’s application and enrollment procedures.
      • Ensure each school coordinates with the Michigan Department of Education, intermediate school districts and other appropriate organizations to ensure its inclusion in applicable local, state and federal programs.
      • Ensure the charter school uses properly certified teachers that have satisfied necessary criminal history checks and professional disclosure requirements.
      • Ensure the charter school develops and implements a financial monitoring system.
      • Ensure any charter school that contracts with an educational service provider performs sufficient due diligence and negotiates an arm’s-length agreement.

The Council’s initial Oversight and Accountability Standards, adopted in 2005, have served to inform and improve authorizer practices across the United States. According to MCCSA, the new standards reflect the ideals of the organization’s diverse array of members. The standards can be used as a resource for policymakers and the public seeking to learn more about authorizing.

“Our goal was to create a high standard for authorizing charter schools,” said Jared Burkhart, executive director of MCCSA. “These new oversight and accountability standards are over and above what is required by law to be good authorizers. These standards are the bedrock and foundation of what we do.”

According to Burkhart, “the standards reflect the best practices authorizers have developed during the last 20 years of authorizing charter schools in Michigan.”

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About the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers
The Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers (The Council) serves as a collaborative non-profit, non-partisan professional organization that allows for sharing of issues, ideas, resources and best practices among all authorizers working in the state. Council members have been working together to keep Michigan’s charter school strategy in motion since 1994.

Members of MCCSA include: Bay Mills Community College, Central Michigan University, Detroit Public Schools Office of Charter Schools, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior University, Northern Michigan University, Oakland University, and Saginaw Valley State University.

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