‘Relatively strong, improving, though with major challenges remaining’, is one way a new evaluation of Nevada’s laws governing its public charter schools can be summarized succinctly.
The latest annual review of state charter school laws by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Nevada’s laws 11th best in the country, in an analysis that revealed both strengths and weaknesses. Last year, Nevada’s laws ranked 13th best.
The report released this week is considered the nation’s most authoritative of its kind. Its authors considered a range of factors, and identified relative strengths and weaknesses of Nevada’s legal and funding frameworks for charter schools.
Strengths in Nevada’s system included its system which uses two statewide agencies, called “authorizers” with the authority to approve and oversee charter schools, in addition to school districts which also supervise some charter schools. Charter schools in Nevada benefit from robust levels of operating and financial autonomy in their work. The strong accountability system for measuring the quality of charter schools here also earned praise in the evaluation.
“Potential areas for improvement include ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities and strengthening accountability for full-time virtual charter schools,” it concluded.
With more than 5,500 students served, Nevada’s two large statewide virtual charter schools, Nevada Virtual Academy and Nevada Connections Academy, factor very prominently into any analysis of how Nevada’s charter school students perform overall. While each of these schools remains a popular choice among Nevada’s families, their overall academic performance and lower graduation rates have been the focus of extensive deliberations by the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority in recent years.
Charter schools are public schools, free for students to attend, that are granted flexibility from a wide range of school district requirements in exchange for demonstrating agreed-upon levels of academic performance.