We use a fair, rigorous, and equitable process to review proposals for public charter schools pursuant to section 118.40(2x) and 1180.40(3m) of Wisconsin Statutes, including the principals and standards from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Proposal Standards and Review Criteria

The Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) recognizes the tremendous public trust and responsibility it carries to authorize taxpayer funding for a school, and most importantly for parents to trust a school to care for and educate their children. We also recognize the unacceptable gaps in educational opportunities for Wisconsin kids and the need for new approaches.

To advance any proposal through our review process, it must increase educational equity by providing students with access to educational innovations or incubating existing educational practices in innovative ways. While we do not have an exact definition of “innovation,” potential applicants should consider the Ten Leaps for Equitable 21st Century Learning from Transcend Education.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

OEO subscribes to the Department of Public Instruction’s definition of educational equityTo increase educational equity, a proposed educational model should help close Wisconsin’s achievement gap by serving at-risk students or other underserved populations including students of color and low-income families.  

Is there a need in the proposed community for new educational opportunities, and is there a demand (especially from the population the school intends to serve) for the educational model being proposed?    

Need refers to the reason(s) or evidence that existing schools are insufficient or inadequate. Demand refers to interest from prospective families to attend the proposed school.

To demonstrate a need and demand for a school, an applicant should be prepared to share:  

  • Information on existing schools and types of educational programs available
  • Current and projected demographic information;  
  • Characteristics of proposed students and families; 
  •  Measures of actual interest (which could include letters of support, survey information, sign-in data from interest meetings) and how you have gained this data  

Is the proposed academic model likely to provide innovative, high-quality learning opportunities that improve student outcomes and meet that need and demand?

An innovative educational model does at least one of the following:  

  •  Increases quality learning opportunities for all students;   
  •   Uses different and innovative teaching methods (relative to what kids currently can access) 
  •  Establishes new forms of accountability for a school and/or measures of outcomes; or  
  • Creates new professional opportunities for teachers 

Is the group or team proposing the school prepared to execute on the model and govern, administer, and financially manage the school to effectively serve all kids?

Application and Authorization Process

The 2023 Application and Authorization Process is intended to align with the timing and requirements of the Department of Public Instruction to:

It consists of 5 phases:

  1. Initial Application
  2. Secondary Application
  3. Capacity Interview
  4. Contract Execution
  5. School Opening

Proposal Phases

The application period for the Phase I Application begins on March 1, 2023. Anyone or group interested in seeking authorization for an independent public charter school authorized by OEO must submit a Phase I Application prior to July 1, 2023. The Phase I Application will be reviewed by the OEO Advisory Council, which will make a determination as to whether the proposal should move on to the next phase of the process. If so, a Community Input Meeting facilitated by the OEO will be held to gather community and stakeholder feedback regarding the proposed charter school.

Phase I Application pdf

If invited to continue the application process, the design team must submit the Phase II application prior to November 1, 2023. The Phase II Application will be reviewed by the OEO Advisory Council which will collectively make a recommendation as to whether the proposal should move on to the next phase of the process. A determination that more information is needed may also be made, at which time subsequent application materials will be reviewed directly by the OEO.

2022 Phase II Application Example pdf

Following a successful Phase II Application review, the OEO Advisory Council will host a Capacity Interview with the design team following the guidance and adaptable tools provided by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Contract negotiations will take place and draft contracts will be submitted to the Department of Public Instruction for the Benchmark Review Process. Contracts will also be reviewed by the UW System President for approval before execution by the OEO.

All school opening pre-requirements must be met prior to the school opening its doors to students. A list of each of these requirements can be found on the Department of Public Instruction website.

Learn More

Contact us for more information about submitting a proposal, for technical assistance, or to request a meeting.