(The Center Square) – Iowa charter school laws are now 18th best and the “most-improved” in the nation following last year’s changes, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announced in its annual rankings report.
“Iowa is the most improved state, leaping from #41 to #18 after enacting an overhaul to its charter school law,” the organization’s news release said. “Major improvements included strengthened authorizing and enhanced autonomy and accountability.”
The Measuring Up to The Model report compares states’ charter school laws against the National Alliance’s preferences in 21 components focused on flexibility, accountability and equity.
Iowa received 157 out of a possible 240 points.
The Hawkeye State received full points in the following components: No Caps, A Variety of Charter Public Schools Allowed, Non-District Authorizers Available, Authorizer and Overall Program Accountability System Required, Performance-Based Charter Contracts Required, Comprehensive Charter Public School Monitoring and Data Collection Processes, Fiscally and Legally Autonomous Schools with Independent Charter Public School Boards, Automatic Collective Bargaining Exemption, and Multischool Charter Contracts and/or Multicharter Contract Boards Allowed.
“Iowa took a strong step forward by overhauling its law to enact policy that will create more high-quality public education options,” National Alliance Senior Vice President for State Advocacy and lead author of the report Todd Ziebarth said. “We urge the Iowa Legislature to continue improving its much stronger law.”
However, Iowa collected zero points in Adequate Authorizer Funding, Equitable Access to Capital Funding and Facilities, Access to Relevant Employee Retirement Systems and Full-Time Virtual Charter School Provisions. The organization also docked Iowa because it does not require that authorizers close chronically low-performing charter schools unless exceptional circumstances exist.
Ziebarth said Iowa law needs to clarify public charter school students will receive equitable funding compared with other public school students. He said the law could also be clearer regarding autonomy in innovation and charter school leader licensing.
Iowa was among nine states that improved their rankings and 14 states that improved their scores from 2021. Alabama, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia and Wyoming also improved both their rankings and scores. Indiana, which has led the pack for the past several years, Colorado, Alabama, Minnesota and Florida are the top five states for public charter schools, the report said.
Wisconsin, Virginia, Alaska, Kansas and Maryland are at the bottom of the rankings.