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  • Staff photo by DON HIMSEL

    The Academy for Science and Design in Merrimack is shown Friday.
  • File photo by Don Himsel

    In this January 2012 photo, students work on a project in a technology and engineering class at the Academy for Science and Design in Merrimack. The school has since moved to Nashua.
  • Staff photo by DON HIMSEL

    From left, 11-year-old students Viraj Bhat, Liam Earley and Stephan Lensky work on a project in a technology and engineering class at the Academy for Science and Design in Merrimack on Friday.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Valli Muthukaruppan, 11, carries materials back to her group as they work on a project in their Technology and Engineering class at The Academy of Science and Design, in Merrimack, Friday, January 20, 2012.
Sunday, January 22, 2012

NH makes progress in national charter school ranking system

New Hampshire fell in the middle of the pack in an annual ranking of state charter school laws released by a charter school advocacy group last week.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked New Hampshire 19th out of the 42 states that have charter school laws and regulations on the books, according to the report “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws.”

New Hampshire earned an overall score of 112 out of a possible 208, which was an increase from the score of 106 the state achieved last year. Still, the state dropped three spots in the rankings because of larger gains made in other states, according to the report.

Maine, in its first year on the list after passing a law to allow charter schools and modeling after the alliance’s model, took the top spot with a score of 158.

Other New England states also were ranked in the study: Massachusetts was fifth, with a score of 132; Rhode Island was 26th, with 103; and Connecticut was 29th, with 97.

New Hampshire scored among the top states in several categories, including laws that allow a variety of charter schools, allowing the schools to be fiscally and legally autonomous, automatic collective bargaining exemptions and employee access to the state retirement system, according to the report.

“The long-term viability of the charter school movement is primarily dependent on the quality of the charter schools that open,” Todd Ziebarth, the alliance’s vice president for state advocacy and support, said in a statement released with the report.

“It’s critical that state lawmakers recognize the importance of charter school quality – and the impact that their laws have on it.”

New Hampshire scored most of its points for having strong laws allowing for clear processes for schools to renew their charters, having a comprehensive data collection and monitoring process of the schools, having a clear application and review process for new charters, and for requiring performance-based contracts, according to the report.

The state also enacted legislation last year that removed the cap on the number of charter schools the state Board of Education can approve, according to the report.

The state’s score would improve if it allows for more ways for people to charter a new school and by making sure charter schools have the same access to operations and capital funding, according to the report.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).