Press Release

Report: Michigan’s state policies ignore best practices

ROYAL OAK, MICH.  – A new report, published today by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), paints a troubling picture of Michigan’s charter school landscape.

NACSA, a pro-charter school organization, ranks Michigan as last among five states with many charter school authorizers, which are the organizations responsible for approving, monitoring and closing individual charter schools. The Chicago-based group gives Michigan very low marks for the state’s failure to adopt best practices for charter authorizers, including public reporting on the overall academic performance of an authorizer’s schools and sanctions for poor-performing charter authorizers.

The authors of the report, titled On the Road to Better Accountability: An Analysis of State Charter School Policies, reviewed state-level school oversight and accountability policies for charter school authorizers. With about 40 authorizers, Michigan has more authorizers than the vast majority of states. Michigan’s authorizers include public universities, community colleges, school districts and the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), a statewide recovery school district.

“More than 140,000 Michigan students attend charter schools across Michigan, including many of our most vulnerable students,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “Michigan students deserve the same quality assurances that leading education states provide for their students. We can — and we must — do better for our kids.”

“This report reinforces the findings of other organizations — including the Detroit Free Press and Ed Trust-Midwest — that Michigan lacks strong accountability policies for charter schools,” Arellano added.

According to the NACSA report, Michigan has not set clear, professional standards to guide how charter authorizers approve and oversee charter schools. To address lax charter accountability policies, the report suggests: strengthening sanctions for underperforming authorizers; preventing low-performing charter schools from switching authorizers; setting higher standards for charter schools to remain open; requiring states’ lowest-performing charter schools to close; and requiring better reporting on charter authorizer performance.

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The Education Trust-Midwest is a statewide, non-partisan, education research, information and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students, particularly low-income, African American, Latino and American Indian students. We provide data-driven information and expertise to our state’s families, educators and policy and civic leaders about how to make Michigan a top education state and close our achievement gaps.