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ERIC Number: ED539303
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Oct
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Steadying the Three-Legged Stool: Authorizers, Charter Schools, and Education Service Providers. Authorizing Matters. Issue Brief
Lowe, Adam; Lin, Margaret
National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NJ1)
A three-legged stool is always stable, regardless of its placement on an uneven surface. Keeping the top parallel to the floor and comfortable to sit on, however, requires careful steps to achieve balance among each of the three legs. In carrying out their work, authorizers typically work to achieve steadiness in a two-party accountability relationship with a charter school. Introducing a third-party service provider adds complexity to the relationship, but need not destabilize the stool. Indeed, if constructed well, the three parties joined together can form a particularly solid and stable foundation for school success. A well-structured accountability system is the key to a stable trilateral relationship that will foster school success. Nearly 30% of charter schools nationwide receive substantial services--such as whole-school design or comprehensive school management--from external organizations known as education service providers (ESPs). ESPs will continue to play an important role in the growth of the charter school movement, bringing substantial capacities and resources to the schools they serve. At the same time, outsourcing core school functions creates special oversight responsibilities for charter school governing boards as well as for authorizers chartering schools with such contracts. Authorizers must understand these responsibilities in order to create a solid foundation for schools working with service providers. This Issue Brief is a primer for authorizers overseeing contractual relationships between charter schools and ESPs. It will help authorizers understand the benefits that ESPs can bring to charter schools, as well as how to oversee these service relationships effectively. The brief begins by identifying the main types of education service providers serving the charter school market today and various reasons why charter schools contract with these organizations. It then focuses on authorizers' responsibilities in approving and overseeing charter schools that contract with ESPs, offering examples of practices that help authorizers steady the three-legged stool to support and increase school success. (Contains 8 endnotes and 3 resources.)
National Association of Charter School Authorizers. 105 West Adams Street Suite 3500, Chicago, IL 60603. Tel: 312-376-2300; Fax: 312-376-2400; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Administrators; Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: Department of Education (ED)
Authoring Institution: National Association of Charter School Authorizers