In the new year, Congress will be considering a new bill, All Students Achieving Through Reform, or All-STARs. This bill, introduced by Colorado U.S. Representative, Jared Polis (D-Boulder), along with 15 original Co-sponsors will provide for a competitive grant program for entities wanting to replicate successful charter school models.
Replicating successful charter schools is the latest trend in public charter schools. Rather than take a chance on a brand new charter school application, many authorizers are more eager to accept an application for a new charter school if its based on a model that they know works and if the same people they've already been working with are involved.
Replication is quite different than creating a brand new charter school. Replication models typically identify a new school leader early in the process and create the new school out of the existing school. The schools may share professional development opporunities, business services and a governing board.
Because replication is still so new, there is very little research about what are effective replication practices. In Colorado, it's considered a best practice to identify a new school leader from within the existing school's staff or bring in a qualified school leader from the outside that interns at the existing school for at least one year.
Colorado's authorizers haven't determined yet if they consider it a best practice to contract (charter) with a governing board for the individual charter school (like CSI requires) or a board over multiple charters (such as Denver Public Schools allows).
This new proposed federal legislation, All-STARs, complements the priorities in the federal grant programs Race to the Top and the Charter School Program. Replicating proven models allows students to benefit more quickly from a better school. This is especially appealing in urban areas where there is a very poor school system and drastic measures are needed.