NEPC Review: The Policy Framework for Online Charter Schools
Relative to earlier research, this study from the Center on Reinventing Public Education provides a more in-depth analysis of policy features across the 27 states that allow online charter schools. It presents a well-organized description of policy features and includes a set of policy recommendations that generally, but not always, follow well from the study’s evidence. Because the findings are largely negative, this report may be seized on by groups that are broadly critical of charter schools. But the report is published by an organization that often advocates for charter school growth, and the authors’ discussion of findings suggests that the charter school establishment is advocating for separating online charter schools from brick-and-mortar charter schools and governing them with a separate policy framework. While there is some justification for such an approach, online charter issues are not completely distinct from issues that arise from other charters. Overall, the detailed analyses of policy environments and the summary of problems in the online charter school sector included in this report should be useful to policymakers who are willing and able to pursue more restrictive oversight and increase accountability for online charter schools.