What's New With SUNY and
Charter School Replication?
SUNY Trustees Vote to Unanimously
Adopt Replication Policies
January 25, 2012
SUNY becomes the first charter school authorizer in the country to adopt policies specific to the replication of high quality charter schools.
The State University of New York (SUNY) is the largest charter school authorizer in New York and the largest university-based authorizer in the country. SUNY authorized charter schools lead the state's charter sector in student achievement on state assessments in mathematics and English language arts. Despite steady growth in the number of authorized schools, demand from New York State families for more seats in SUNY authorized charter schools has far outpaced the rate at which new schools are opening. In fact, the number of students on waiting lists for admissions to SUNY authorized charter schools has increased six fold in the last five years.
SUNY sought a way to be responsive to this demand without sacrificing the rigor and quality of its existing new school application review process. SUNY focused on the replication of existing successful schools as a possible area where efficiencies in its review process could be identified. While SUNY has already approved nearly 40 replications of existing, successful schools, it has largely done so one at a time and generally using the same application, contract, monitoring and renewal policies and practices as it uses for new schools.
There were also other factors that supported SUNY's focus on replication. The 2010 amendments to the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (Act) provided new pathways to charter replication. Charter networks and single successful independent schools across the state seek to replicate on a larger scale and at a faster pace than envisioned by SUNY's existing authorizing practices. In order to continue SUNY's record of granting charters to only the most worthy applicants, SUNY needed to differentiate its authorizing practices to allow for authorizing replicating organizations while maintaining the rigor and accountability for which SUNY is nationally-known.
In 2011 SUNY applied for and won a competitive grant from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and its Fund for Excellence in Charter School Authorizing to support its work in the area of charter school replication. Specifically, the planning grant supported a gathering of national public education leaders, Policy Matters: A SUNY Conference on Charter School Replication, which was held at SUNY Global in New York City in July 2011. New York based and national public education leaders; including fellow authorizers, national policy experts, philanthropists, civic leaders, SUNY Trustees and SUNY Charter Schools Institute (Institute) staff, and representatives from schools and charter management organizations interested in replication - engaged in a focused dialogue about the key design elements of authorizing policy specific to the replication of high quality charter schools. This national conversation was essential in shaping SUNY's thinking about replication, and in informing the considerations and policies included in the SUNY Trustees' policies.
11/21/11: Draft Policy Document
11/22/11: SUNY Offers Replication Options in New School RFP
7/26/11 - 7/27/11: Our Conference
Summer and Fall 2011: Grant Support