Although Ball State University’s Office of Charter Schools has faced some tough criticism in the past, it is working to set an example of how an authorizer can drastically improve its policies and practices—and consequently the strength of the schools in its portfolio.
The largest authorizer in Indiana for over a decade, Ball State has taken the heat for the number of persistently low-performing schools it authorizes. But two years ago, the university started working with NACSA to improve its practices across the board.
“About two years ago, we took a hard and close look at our work, and clearly saw what we needed to improve,” explains Bob Marra, executive director of the university’s Office of Charter Schools (OCS). “It was a critical piece—though not very pleasant—to put ourselves under the microscope.”
Ball State’s improved accountability framework led to its announcement a few weeks ago that it was non-renewing seven failing charter schools. While these decisions were made after thorough analysis of school performance and careful deliberation, they are still never easy.
Said Marra, “We had to make these decisions—which we realize are extremely difficult for schools and their communities—because we know they are the right decisions for children.”