Virginia ranks 39th in 2013 state charter law rankings

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Virginia’s charter school law ranks 39th among the 43 states with approved charter school laws, according to a national study released Tuesday. The annual ranking of state laws, now in its fourth year, is done by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ (NAPCS), a Washington-D.C. based nonprofit that favors charter schools. 

It said Minnesota’s law ranked first and Mississippi’s charter school law remained last.
Under the ranking, each state receives a score on the strength of its law based on 20 components from the NAPCS model law. They include measuring quality and accountability, equitable access to funding and facilities and limited caps on charter school growth.

“Virginia’s law needs improvement across the board …” Todd Ziebarth, NAPCS’s vice president for state advocacy and support and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

Among other weaknesses, he said the state’s law needs additional authorizing options for charter applicants, increased operational autonomy and more equitable operational funding and access to capital funding and facilities.

Six states made notable jumps over the past year. Minnesota moved back into the top spot that it occupied in the first two years of the rankings, from second place last year. By closely aligning its recently enacted charter school law with NAPCS’s model law, Washington landed in third place. After making several authorizing improvements, Colorado moved from seventh to fourth. Hawaii saw the biggest jump after overhauling its law in several areas, including lifting its caps and strengthening its authorizing environment ― jumping from 35th to 14th place.

“This has been a historic year for public charter school policy across the country, as voters in two states, Washington and Georgia, passed public charter school initiatives,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

According to the organization, the top 10 states with laws best positioned to support the growth of high-quality charter schools are: Minnesota, followed by Maine, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, California, New York, Indiana and New Mexico.

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