“Authorizer shopping” is a growing threat to charter school quality, according to a report from a national advocacy and research organization.
Authorizers are the groups that enter into a contract with a charter operator allowing a school to open. They are also responsible for shutting down failing charters. Authorizer shopping takes place when a charter school switches authorizers either to avoid being closed or to reopen after being shuttered by their original authorizer.
It’s hard to pin down exactly how big an issue authorizer shopping is, write the authors of the report prepared by Public Impact for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. They based their conclusions on anecdotes from news stories and interviews with authorizers, policymakers, and state charter school associations across the country.
Among the report’s recommendations for ending the practice are: requiring “higher authorities,” such as state boards of education or state education agencies, to approve authorizer switches; setting a minimum performance level that charter schools must meet before they can transfer; and barring authorizers from collecting fees for authorizing low-performing schools.
A version of this article appeared in the March 30, 2016 edition of Education Week as Charter Schools