HB2, the charter school reform bill recently passed by the Ohio General Assembly, legalizes the scale tipping activities of ODE.
The "Chartergate" scandal, reported widely, had the school choice director for the Ohio Department of Education resigning after throwing failing grades for online schools out of charter school evaluations. Without the grades from the pitifully performing e-schools, authorizers could look like they were doing a decent job.
The discovery of this scheme however has forced ODE to include those e-schools in their sponsor ratings.
In order to prevent this causing the inevitable ineffective grade, ECOT proposed changing the way their grade would be calculated. Instead of being weighted by the number of students they taught, they would simply be weighted as a single school, equal to a school with only a handful of students.
Needless to say, that got a lot of pushback too. That is, until last minute changes were introduced into HB2.
Part of why the e-schools were left out is that their large enrollments would dominate the ratings, if they were weighted by the number of students.
The compromise gives e-schools part of what they want -- to be counted just as a school, not weighted by enrollment -- but not exactly. Schools will now be counted both ways.
The new rules call for the academic rating of sponsors to be partly done by counting each school as a single unit and partly by weighting the rating by enrollments of each school.
Colleen Grady, the main education advisor for the House and a key player in the adjustments to the bill, said the bill does not spell out the percentages that each way will count, leaving that up to ODE.
That makes how the department decides to calculate the ratings a key issue in the coming weeks.
ODE has already signaled a willingness to fix the sponsors grades, what's the betting that their weightings will now legally benefit terrible e-schools? We won't have long to wait to find out.