U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) today joined Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) in introducing legislation that would help the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) expand the growth of charter schools nationwide by implementing and building upon the successes of the best charter school models. The bill -- the All Students Achieving through Reform (All STAR) Act -- also takes several steps to strengthen public charter school accountability, transparency, and governance.
Senator Gregg stated, "Charter schools hold traditional public schools accountable by providing better education opportunities for students in New Hampshire and throughout the country. The success of these schools has brought parents back into the discussion on how to best educate their children and has also illustrated which schools are most effective in meeting student needs. The All STAR Act builds upon these examples of achievement by providing charter school leaders with an opportunity to replicate this good work and give students more options to excel in the classroom."
All STAR authorizes new competitive grants within the DOE's Charter School Program to replicate and expand the most successful public charter schools across the country and raises the authorized level of funding of the Charter School Program to $700 million. The five year grants can be used to add additional grades in an existing charter school or to create a new school based on an existing successful charter model.
The grants can be awarded to local education agencies, state education agencies, authorized public chartering agencies and non-profit organizations which then award subgrants to individual charter schools. Priority is given to the top performing charter schools in each state which: have significantly closed achievement gaps; rank in at least the top 25th percentile in the State in achievement; meet benchmarks on an exam selected by the Secretary of Education; serve a high-need student population; and have made Adequate Yearly Progress the last two consecutive years and exceed the state graduation rate.
In order to promote and strengthen accountability, transparency and governance, All-STAR encourages states to be better regulators of charter schools by giving funding priority to states and other entities that require detailed performance reports from and have established polices to encourage successful charter schools. Specifically, the bill will prioritize states and entities that have:
* A strategic plan for authorizing or approving public charter schools;
* Policies for authorizing or approving public charter schools which examine a school's financial plan, financial controls and audit requirements;
* A plan for serving students with disabilities, students who are English language learners, students who are academically behind their peers and gifted students;
* The capacity and capability to successfully launch and subsequently operate a public charter school, including the backgrounds of the individuals applying to the agency to operate such school; and
* A transparent, timely, and effective process for closing down academically unsuccessful charter schools.