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ERIC Number: ED544290
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Quality Authorizing for Online and Blended-Learning Charter Schools. NACSA Monograph
Watson, John; Rapp, Chris
National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NJ1)
Online charter schools are one key subset of the K-12 online education landscape, which also includes state virtual schools, district-level online programs, private providers of both individual courses and entire schools, and others. As of late 2010, online and blended charter schools existed in more than 20 states, serving more than 100,000 students. Growth has been rapid, in the range of 15 percent to 25 percent annually, as parents and students seek new educational options. Despite the presence and growth of online charter schools, little research has been done regarding the practices of online charter school authorizers. Policymakers recognize that online charter schools present unique challenges for authorizers, but few best practices for authorizing online charter schools have emerged. Many online charter schools have been operating for five years or less, and some states are just beginning to open their first few online charter schools. In many cases, authorizing processes have not kept up with the rate at which online charter schools have opened, as most states are still in the early stages of developing authorizing procedures for online schools. To address this gap, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has begun a multi-phase project to review online-school authorizing practices and make recommendations to authorizers. The purpose of this initial stage of research was to conduct a preliminary environmental scan in order to identify key issues that authorizers of online charter schools experience. NACSA engaged with the Evergreen Education Group and Donnell-Kay Foundation to accomplish the first stage of work, which included in-depth interviews with seven key authorizers from across the country to identify similar key issues they are working to address. The key findings generated from the interviews are outlined and explained in greater detail throughout this paper. They are: (1) Charter school authorizing is still in its early stages of development; (2) Online charter schools present opportunities and challenges for oversight; (3) Accountability for student achievement in online environments can be unique; (4) Governing board expertise may be lacking; (5) Online special education can be a serious challenge; (6) Building process and capacity in authorizing offices is critical; and (7) Appropriate funding levels are still under debate. Online and blended learning have created new opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students across the United States. Online learning, however, is still new enough that practices are outpacing policies and, in many cases, oversight. The sustainable, long-term growth of online and blended schools requires that policy frameworks keep pace with educational practice. "Research Methods" are appended. (Contains 1 figure and 3 notes.)
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: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Evergreen Education Group; National Association of Charter School Authorizers; Donnell-Kay Foundation
Identifiers - Location: California; Georgia; Michigan; Nevada; Ohio; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; Utah