S 686

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 686

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve public charter schooling by addressing quality issues.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 30, 2011

Ms. LANDRIEU (for herself, Mr. BENNET, Mr. CARPER, Mr. COONS, Mr. DURBIN, Mrs. HAGAN, and Mr. LIEBERMAN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


A BILL

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve public charter schooling by addressing quality issues.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Charter School Quality Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

    Section 5201 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7221) is amended--

      (1) in paragraph (3), by striking `and' after the semicolon;

      (2) in paragraph (4), by striking the period and inserting `; and'; and

      (3) by adding at the end the following:

      `(5) promoting high-quality professional authorizing standards and practices.'.

SEC. 3. PROGRAM AUTHORIZED.

    Section 5202 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7221a) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (c)(2)(C), by striking `section 5204(f)(6)(B)' and inserting `section 5205'; and

      (2) in subsection (e)--

        (A) in paragraph (1), by striking `subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (3)' and inserting `subparagraph (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), (H), or (I) of paragraph (3)';

        (B) in paragraph (2), by inserting `ensures that each authorized public chartering agency holds every charter school that the agency oversees to student performance standards set forth in the charter school's performance contract, holds each public chartering agency accountable under the evaluation system developed under paragraph (3)(G), and' after `that the State'; and

        (C) in paragraph (3), by adding at the end the following:

        `(D) The State has--

          `(i) a statewide authorized public chartering agency with authority to--

            `(I) offer a statewide authorizing option for charter applicants;

            `(II) assume authorizing responsibilities from another authorizer that has been determined through a State's authorizer oversight process, as described in subparagraph (G), to be underperforming; or

            `(III) become the authorizer, upon appeal, for a school for which another authorizer has refused to approve a charter application that the statewide authorized public chartering agency determines deserves to be authorized under the statewide authorized public chartering agency's own application process; and

          `(ii) a funding mechanism in place to adequately support the operations of its statewide authorized public chartering agency.

        `(E) The State works cooperatively with its authorized public chartering agency to streamline data collection and reporting and avoid duplicative reporting requirements.

        `(F) The State ensures that authorized public chartering agencies follow high-quality standards that reflect research-based best practices.

        `(G) The State has developed a transparent process for accrediting, training, or evaluating the effectiveness of the State's authorized public chartering agencies, or each authorized public chartering agency in the State has implemented such a process, including--

          `(i) a process for annually reviewing and periodically evaluating the performance of the authorized public chartering agencies in the State in authorizing or approving public charter schools, including a process that enables the authorized public chartering agencies to respond to any State concerns or deficiencies regarding such authorizing or approving; and

          `(ii) any other necessary policies to ensure effective charter school authorizing in the State that are developed in conjunction with the State's charter school community in accordance with the principles of quality charter school authorizing, as determined by the State in consultation with the charter school community and stakeholders.

        `(H) The State's authorizer evaluation process described in subparagraph (G) is accessible to the public via online methods that school leaders, policymakers, parents, and other stakeholders can easily understand. The evaluation system tracks each authorizer's performance over time and in determining each authorizer's annual rating, examines such factors as the following:

          `(i) The academic and financial (including annual audits) performance of all operating public charter schools overseen by the authorizer, according to the performance expectations for public charter schools set forth in each charter as well as determined by the State standardized assessments administered to all public schools and any additional testing mutually agreed upon between each school and authorizer clearly delineated in each school's charter.

          `(ii) The status of each authorizer's public charter school portfolio, identifying all public charter schools in each of the following categories:

            `(I) Approved (but not yet open).

            `(II) Operating.

            `(III) Renewed.

            `(IV) Transferred.

            `(V) Revoked.

            `(VI) Not renewed.

            `(VII) Voluntarily closed.

            `(VIII) Never opened.

          `(iii) Any additional factors necessary to ensure authorizers continually work towards building charter school quality.

        `(I) The State has laws, policies, or procedures in place requiring that student academic achievement for all groups of students described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v) be a primary factor in authorizer decisions around charter school approval, renewal, and revocation, and the State has a record of, or demonstrated commitment to, effective authorizer oversight and revoking or not renewing the charters of low-performing charter schools.'.

SEC. 4. IMPROVING SUBGRANT PROCEDURES AND AUTHORIZER TRANSPARENCY.

    Section 5203 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7221b) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (b)--

        (A) in paragraph (2)(C), by striking `and' after the semicolon;

        (B) by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (4);

        (C) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:

      `(3) describe the criteria that the State educational agency will use to award subgrants to eligible applicants to ensure high-quality charter schools, including through competitive subgrant competitions; and'; and

        (D) in paragraph (4) (as redesignated by subparagraph (B)), by striking subparagraph (D) and inserting the following:

        `(D) a description of the administrative relationship between the charter school and the authorized public chartering agency, including--

          `(i) how the school and authorizer will report publically the authorizing functions (such as approval, monitoring, and oversight) provided by the authorized public chartering agency to the public charter schools authorized or approved by such agency, including the authorizer's operating costs and expenses detailed in annual audited financial statements that conform with generally accepted accounting principles; and

          `(ii) how the services purchased (such as accounting, transportation, or data management and analysis) from the public chartering agency by the public charter schools authorized or approved by such agency will be reported publically, including an itemized accounting of the actual costs of these services;'; and

      (2) in subsection (d)(1), by striking `subsection (b)(3)' and inserting `subsection (b)(4)'.

SEC. 5. ADMINISTRATION.

    Section 5204 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7221c) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (a)--

        (A) in paragraph (6), by striking `and' after the semicolon;

        (B) in paragraph (7)--

          (i) by striking `subsection (f)(6)(B),' and inserting `section 5205'; and

          (ii) by striking the period and inserting `; and'; and

        (C) by adding at the end the following:

      `(8) the rigor of the State's subgrant competition to ensure that subgrants are awarded only to high-quality applicants that are likely to create high-performing charter schools.';

      (2) in subsection (b)(7), by striking `subsection (f)(6)(B),' and inserting `section 5205'; and

      (3) in subsection (f)--

        (A) in paragraph (1), by striking `paragraph (6)' and inserting `section 5205'; and

        (B) by striking paragraph (6).

SEC. 6. NATIONAL ACTIVITIES.

    Section 5205 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7221d) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (a), in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking `The Secretary shall reserve for each fiscal year the greater of 5 percent or $5,000,000 of the amount appropriated to carry out this subpart, except that in no fiscal year shall the total amount so reserved exceed $10,000,000, to carry out the following activities:' and inserting `The Secretary shall reserve for each fiscal year the necessary sums from amounts appropriated to carry out this subpart, except that in no fiscal year shall the total amount so reserved exceed 15 percent of such amount appropriated, to carry out the following activities:'; and

      (2) by adding at the end the following:

    `(d) National Dissemination-

      `(1) IN GENERAL- From amounts appropriated to carry out this subpart for a fiscal year, the Secretary shall reserve not more than $10,000,000 to award grants to entities to carry out activities under this subsection.

      `(2) ELIGIBILITY- In order to be eligible to receive a grant under this subsection, an entity shall--

        `(A) be--

          `(i) a charter school that has been in operation for not less than 3 consecutive years and has demonstrated overall success, including--

            `(I) substantial progress in improving student academic achievement;

            `(II) high levels of parent satisfaction; and

            `(III) the management and leadership necessary to overcome initial start-up problems and establish a thriving, financially viable charter school;

          `(ii) a high-quality public chartering agency;

          `(iii) a nonprofit entity with a track record of success in meeting the objective of this subsection; or

          `(iv) a consortium of entities described in clauses (i), (ii), and (iii); and

        `(B) submit an application to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require.

      `(3) CRITERIA FOR AWARDING GRANTS- The Secretary shall award grants under this subsection on the basis of--

        `(A) the quality of the applicant and application;

        `(B) the capacity of the applicant to execute the application; and

        `(C) the scale of the expected impact of the application.

      `(4) ACTIVITIES- An entity that receives a grant under this subsection shall use funds received under the grant to assist other schools, authorized public chartering agencies, charter support organizations, and eligible entities in the grant recipient's State and in other States in adopting successful innovations, or to disseminate information about innovations, through activities such as--

        `(A) assisting other entities with the planning, start-up, and improvement of 1 or more new public schools, including charter schools, or new authorized public chartering agencies;

        `(B) developing partnerships designed to improve student academic achievement, including implementation and improvement plans for partnerships funded with dissemination grants;

        `(C) developing systems or materials that promote increased student achievement and are based on successful practices at charter schools, authorized public chartering agencies, charter support organizations, or eligible entities;

        `(D) conducting evaluations and developing materials that document successful practices at charter schools, authorized public chartering agencies, charter support organizations, or eligible entities and that are designed to improve student performance in other schools; and

        `(E) training, regarding the innovative practices developed at the original site, for personnel that are adopting innovations or successful practices.'.

SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.

    Section 5210 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7221i) is amended--

      (1) in paragraph (1)--

        (A) by striking subparagraph (I) and inserting the following:

        `(I) agrees to conduct an annual, independent, and timely financial audit that is filed with the charter school's authorized public chartering agency and carried out in accordance with applicable Federal and State requirements;';

        (B) in subparagraph (K), by striking `and' after the semicolon;

        (C) by striking subparagraph (L) and inserting the following:

        `(L) has a written, legally-binding performance contract or charter with an authorized public chartering agency in the State that--

          `(i) includes a description of how student performance and growth will be measured in the charter school pursuant to State assessments that are required of other schools and pursuant to any other assessments mutually agreeable to the authorized public chartering agency and the charter school;

          `(ii) describes the obligations and responsibilities of the school and of the authorized public chartering agency;

          `(iii) identifies the material aspects of the charter school's operations;

          `(iv) describes the school's educational objectives and outcomes and how such objectives and outcomes will be measured;

          `(v) articulates the autonomies the charter school will have; and

          `(vi) is negotiated and executed by 2 separate legal entities, the charter school and the authorized public chartering agency, capable of entering into and enforcing the contract or charter; and'; and

        (D) by adding at the end the following:

        `(M) is governed by a governing board that is independent from the authorized public chartering agency and has autonomy over decisions, including matters concerning finance, personnel, scheduling, curriculum, and instruction.'; and

      (2) in paragraph (4)--

        (A) in the heading, by inserting `OR AUTHORIZER' after `CHARTERING AGENCY';

        (B) by inserting `or authorizer' after `chartering agency'; and

        (C) by adding after `charter school' the following: `and that uses student performance and growth, at the whole school level and for each subgroup described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v) served by the school as a primary factor when assessing the performance of charter schools and when determining whether to renew or revoke a school's charter, in addition to other criteria'.

END