REL Southwest Hosts Bridge Event on Charter School Authorization in Louisiana

REL Southwest and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) cohosted the "Charter School Authorization in Louisiana" bridge event and workshop in Baton Rouge on May 10, 2017. Nine staff from LDOE and 18 local and state education agency staff and school board members attended. Participants represented district superintendents, directors, supervisors, legal staff, instructional specialists, and chief academic officers.

Charter school authorizers are responsible for the approval, oversight, performance expectation setting, renewal, and closure of charter schools, and as such, are critical to the overall success of the portfolio of schools they oversee. The bridge event and workshop provided staff from local education agencies that serve as charter school authorizers with research, best practices, performance measures, and policies to guide charter school authorization. The topic is particularly timely as effective authorizing is increasingly becoming associated with the overall quality of the charter school sector.

Kunjan Narechania, assistant superintendent of portfolio at LDOE, opened the event and welcomed participants. Darlene Morgan Brown, Ph.D., liaison for REL Southwest's Louisiana Charter Schools Research Alliance, followed with an overview of the REL program, the work of the alliance, and LDOE’s work in supporting charter school authorization practices.

Karega Rausch, Ph.D., vice president for research and evaluation at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), followed with a presentation on the charter school authorizing landscape. Dr. Rausch shared evidence-informed and practical recommendations for participating school authorizers. His presentation drew on evidence from NACSA’s annual survey of charter school authorizers, an analysis of more than 50 authorizer evaluations conducted across the United States over the last 5 years, as well as on the organization’s forthcoming comparative study of authorizers with high and average performance portfolios.

The remainder of the day was dedicated to an LDOE workshop for district and school leaders. Narechania kicked off the workshop with an overview of the agency’s support for charter school authorizers. Nine LDOE staff were in attendance and facilitated group activities. These activities consisted of sessions aimed at providing the groups with high-level information on charter school performance frameworks, operations, oversight, and law and policy.

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