2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 0%
Charter Schools Score: 75%
Idaho’s ranking dropped from a B to a C in the Center for Education Reform’s most recent charter school law rankings. While Idaho law allows for universities to authorize charter schools, in practice they do not. Meanwhile, state government and the quasi-independent Idaho Charter School Commission heavily regulate the charter sector. This hurt Idaho on the Center’s evaluation of operational autonomy.
- Fast Facts:
- Law passed in 1998
- Number of Charters: 52
- Estimated Charter School Enrollment: 21,400 (up 1 percent from 2015-16)
- Idaho does not cap the number of charter schools that districts and school boards can authorize, but it does limit the number of university authorized charter schools to one, per district, per year
- Virtual charter schools are allowed
- Charter Schools can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management purposes
- Idaho earns 9 of 15 points for “authorizing” because law allows multiple authorizers, including universities. In practice however, the Public Charter School Commission authorizes the vast majority of charter schools in Idaho. No university currently authorizes charter schools. Idaho is an excellent example of why it is important to examine the entirety of a charter school environment and not just the text of a law in order to evaluate the strength of a charter school sector. While the text of Idaho’s law says that Idaho’s schools should have the flexibility university authorizers offer, in practice this flexibility does not exist. One advantage of Idaho charter law is that decisions made by the Idaho Charter School Board and local school boards are subject to appeal, which means that charter applicants have recourse from arbitrary or capricious treatment.
- Idaho earns 10 out of 15 for “growth” because the law limits the number of schools that can be authorized by universities. This limitation of the autonomy of potential university authorizers could be a reason why many universities have declined to become authorizers. Further, charter school growth in Idaho has slowed (likely due to the heavily regulated environment). This, too, harmed the state’s score..
- Idaho earned 10 out of 20 points for “operations.” If CER rankings didn’t account for implementation, Idaho might have had a high score. Charters in Idaho have waivers from most regulations, except for teacher certification and school accreditation. Charters are also their own LEAs. Properly implemented, these features of the law should produce autonomous charter schools., In practice, the public charter school board heavily regulates schools, which hinders autonomy and creates a sector where arbitrary decisions about charter schools hamstring both growth and innovation.
Idaho ears a 6 out of 15 for “funding equity.” Charter school funding comes from state sources and federal money that schools qualify to receive. Charters do not receive any local tax revenues or supplemental funds; thus, charter schools are at a severe financial disadvantage compared to traditional public schools. Charter schools do receive per-pupil facilities funding from the state, but the amount of money that charter schools receive for facilities is not equitable compared to traditional public schools.
Online Learning Score: 75%
Legislation was passed via SB1091 to appropriate funds for the development and maintenance of an online course portal, begun by the State Department of Education (SDE). This portal will include online courses from the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, one of the largest state virtual schools, from school districts, charter schools, and post-secondary institutions.
- Source: Grade: C
Teacher Quality Score: 72%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers D+
Expanding the Pool of Teachers D
Identifying Effective Teachers C+
Retaining Effective Teachers D-
Exiting Ineffective Teachers C