Last year the Colorado Department of Education, the state Charter Schools Institute, and the Colorado League of Charter Schools released a common application, checklist for completion and review rubric. Now New York has followed Colorado's lead and is releasing a common application.
The Colorado application is meant to embody everything there is to know about the application and review process. In an effort to bring transparency to chartering, the applicant sees the same information the authorizer uses to review their application.
Colorado's charter schools law requires the applicant to submit a "complete" application before it's reviewed by the potential authorizer. This is a gray area of the law and historically, districts have handled it differently. The common application contains a "checklist for completeness" that allows the authorizer to do a quick review of the application to make sure it's complete. If it's not, the applicant receives a letter from the authorizer and a chance to remedy the incomplete application within a certain time period. Incomplete applications are not reviewed and therefore, not able to appeal, if they are denied.
The review rubric gives the authorizer a standard means of reviewing an application. This is an instrument the State Board of Education asked for when a wide variety of denied applicants came to them on appeal. The Board was looking for standards for what was a "good" application. The common application contains specifics for what should be included and how it should be evaluated.
It's nice that New York's charter school community will now have a means to more fairly evaluate charter school applications. It's especially nice that they've seen fit to follow Colorado's lead.