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Colorado charter school law remains nation’s second best

From a Colorado League of Charter Schools press release:

Colorado continues to have the nation’s second-best public charter school laws, according to a ranking released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) in its annual report, “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter Public School Laws.”

It is the fifth consecutive year that Colorado has ranked second.

The report measures state laws against the National Alliance’s model charter school law that comprises 21 essential components focused on flexibility, accountability, and equity to determine which states have created the statutory and regulatory environments that best support high-quality public charter schools.

Indiana was the top-ranked state, followed by Colorado, Alabama, Minnesota and Florida.

Colorado public charter schools serve more than 131,000 students, which is approximately 15% of Colorado’s student population. For context, Denver Public Schools is Colorado’s largest school district, and it serves 88,889 students. During the pandemic, enrollment in public charter schools in Colorado has continued to increase while overall traditional public school enrollment has declined.

The report’s authors focused on several positive areas of state law, including that Colorado does not cap public charter school growth, provides autonomy and accountability to charter schools, and provides a robust appellate process for charter school applicants. Colorado has also made notable strides in recent years to provide more equitable funding to charter public school students—although work remains to be done.

“National rankings show that eight of the best 10 high schools in Colorado are public charter schools, and that shows what is possible when parents are able to choose from innovative options that best meet their students’ needs,” said Dan Schaller, president of the Colorado League of Charter Schools. “We’re once again proud to be ranked near the top of the National Alliance’s report as it demonstrates our state’s commitment to ensuring all students have access to the high-quality public schools they deserve.”

The National Alliance’s 2022 rankings measure each state’s charter school law against the “gold standard” model charter school law, “A Model Law for Supporting the Growth of High-Quality Charter Schools: Second Edition,” released in 2016. The 2022 report ranks public charter school laws in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Each law receives a score based on 21 essential metrics, including accountability, flexibility and funding equity.

“In 2021, we saw incredible support and momentum to expand access to high-quality charter schools in state capitols across the nation. It also marked a year where families were vocal about their demands for more and better options in public education and voted with their feet,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

“Since the pandemic began, hundreds of thousands of students nationwide enrolled in free, open-to-all, and always public charter schools that better suit their needs. In response, we saw a record number of legislative actions aimed at improving or protecting charter laws to meet parental demands for more public education options.”