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Georgia Wins National Charter School Award

MEDIA CONTACTS:  - GaDOE Communications office, (404) 463-1487, dtofig@gadoe.org      December 17, 2008 -- The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) presented Georgia with the Improving Policy award at its recent annual conference. This was NACSA's first year giving out the award. Georgia was selected as the winner because of its strong policies that promote quality charter school growth.     Shepherded by dedicated and committed policymakers, including State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox, State Representative Jan Jones, and Associate Superintendent of Schools Andrew Broy, charter school development has been at the center of the state’s school reform and turn-around efforts. Since 2003, several key changes to state charter school policy have helped quadruple the number of charter schools in Georgia from 28 to 114.     "This award is a testament to the sound policies we've developed in Georgia to ensure that our Charter Schools raise student achievement," said Superintendent Kathy Cox. "I'm proud of the work we've done internally as well as the collaborative efforts with Governor Perdue, Lieutenant Governor Cagle and the legislature, particularly Rep. Jan Jones."    Charter Systems Act      In 2007, Superintendent Cox partnered with Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and other legislators to enact groundbreaking charter school legislation. This law, the Charter Systems Act, brings the benefits of chartering to entire school systems rather than individual schools, provided such districts implement local school governance. In addition to holding these districts accountable for more aggressive student achievement goals, the charter system initiative addresses the scale question that has challenged the charter sector in recent years.    No Child Left Behind      Superintendent Cox explicitly included charter schools in Georgia’s Differentiated Accountability model under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. In July, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Georgia would be one of seven states granted new flexibility under NCLB. Recognizing the transformative power of chartering, Superintendent Cox allowed charter turnaround as an express method of restructuring to improve student achievement.     "I believe school-level autonomy and accountability are crucial to improving student achievement," said Superintendent Cox. "That's why I included Charter Schools as an option for school improvement in our accountability plan for No Child Left Behind."     Unlike other states which have largely ignored chartering as a turnaround strategy, Superintendent Cox has embraced the approach in Georgia because she feels the charter route is a very effective step a school can take toward making Adequate Yearly Progress and she has seen schools have tremendous success doing so.    LINKS AND DOCUMENTS   - National Association of Charter School Authorizers:  http://www.qualitycharters.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1     - Charter Systems Act:  http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2007_08/sum/sb39.htm    - No Child Left Behind ( Georgia's Differentiated Accountability Plan ):  
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