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What is the National Association of Charter School Authorizers?

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is a nonprofit membership association of educational agencies across the country that authorize and oversee charter public schools. Created in 2000 by a diverse group of charter school authorizers nationwide, NACSA is dedicated to supporting and strengthening the capacities of authorizers to charter successful schools.  NACSA serves the full range of of chartering authorities: local school boards for districts of all sizes, state boards and departments of education, universities and colleges, municipal bodies, private non-profit institutions, and independent chartering boards.  NACSA's Membership reflects every type of chartering entity.

The Association's members support charter schools as a promising strategy to expand and improve public education opportunities, and wish to work with charter schools in developing new models of school governance and accountability that can be instructive for public education broadly.

With this goal in mind, NACSA recognizes and helps charter authorizers address the unique challenges that they face in developing and overseeing performance-focused contracts with highly diverse schools. NACSA facilitates ongoing exchange of information, ideas, lessons and effective practices among charter authorizers nationwide.

As the agencies charged with licensing and overseeing charter schools, charter authorizers are a cornerstone of the infrastructure needed for quality charter schools and can be powerful catalysts for charter development. NACSA exists to help authorizers fulfill these responsibilities and promise.

To learn more about why NACSA is important to the success of charter schools and to achieve broader education reform, read our December 2001 Guest Column in the ECS Governance Notes, published by the Education Commission of the States.

The Association welcomes and serves the needs of the full range of chartering authorities: school boards and districts of all sizes, state boards and departments of education, universities and colleges, municipal bodies, and independent chartering boards. All of these types of institutions are represented in NACSA’s membership.

In addition, NACSA welcomes non-charter-authorizing organizations and individuals as Associate Members. You can join us by mail, using the appropriate
Membership or Associate Membership Forms, or you canJoin Online, using a credit card.

Why Join NACSA?

NACSA supports and strengthens the capacities of authorizers to charter high-quality schools that contribute to improving public education. Members regularly receive information and resources on a variety of topics of high interest to charter authorizers, such as evaluating charter applications and school performance, negotiating accountability agreements, renewal/revocation decision-making, policy updates, and state-by-state information on authorizers. NACSA's initiatives in 2001-2002 include:

o Special Education Initiative -- offering special education-related information, resources, and technical assistance tailored to the needs of charter school authorizers.

o Educational Service Providers (ESP) Project -- providing (1) a national information bank on school management/design organizations that provide substantial services to charter schools, and (2) resources to help authorizers work effectively with schools and ESPs in such relationships.

NACSA's activities and services are responsive to the needs and interests of our members. Thus, a strong, committed membership is critical to our association's success. NACSA members receive services and benefits such as:

* Regular briefings on developments of interest to charter authorizers nationally

* Access to a national resource bank of charter authorizer policies, protocols,
guides,reports, publications and other tools that can help members meet the
challenges of chartering successful schools

* Referrals to technical assistance, consultants and other resources

* NACSA's annual membership directory with complete contact information for members nationwide

* Membership in online discussion groups and listservs for charter authorizers

* Opportunities to gather and learn from each other at meetings and events across the country.

o Building Excellence in Charter School Authorizing - producing six major resources and technical assistance that will improve charter authorizing by building essential knowledge among both authorizers and policymakers: (1) a Web-based Library of Charter School Authorizer Resources; (2) Standards for Transparency in Charter School Authorizing; (3) an Overview of Charter School Authorizing Approaches and Options; (4) Charter School Authorizer Case Studies; (5) a Design Handbook for Charter School Authorizers; and (6) Workshop modules for Charter School Authorizers, adapted from the Design handbook (funded by the U.S. Department of Education)

For more information about membership, contact NACSA at 703.683.9701 or e-mail us at