Why are Ohio's charter schools so poor?

In a previous post we took a look at the difference in performance between Ohio's traditional public schools and their charter school counterparts, and discovered a wide and growing gap. Why does this gap exist?

One of the clear reasons is in the quality of the workforce. Ohio's traditional public schools have invested a lot of time and money developing an experienced, highly qualified teacher workforce, an investment that Ohio's charter schools have resisted or failed to developing.

Steve Dyer at Innovation Ohio took a look at the latest teacher data made available by ODE and discovered that the typical (i.e. the mode) charter school teacher has 0 years of experience, while their traditional school counterpart had 14 years of experience. We took a look at this too, and came to the same conclusion.

Our analysis also showed that the average level of experience of a charter school teacher is only 4.9 years, while in traditional schools that figure is over 14 years.

Dyer also discovered, what he called "two equally stunning statistics"

1) The average Traditional Public School building has about 2/3 of its teachers with a masters degree. The average Charter School building has about 1/3 of its teachers with a masters degree.
2) About 1 out of 3 Charter Schools in Ohio have at least some core courses taught by someone with a temporary teaching certificate. Of the more than 3,200 Traditional Public School buildings in the report card data, not a single one has core courses taught by teachers with temporary certificates.

Furthermore, over 10% of Ohio's charter schools have class sizes greater than 25 students per teacher, 20 of them more than 30 students per teacher!

The major innovation attempted by Ohio's charter school community has not been to find ways to deliver higher quality education, but instead to find ways to minimize teacher costs in order to maximize profits. This is made very clear when once looks at this experience and qualification differences, education outcome quality differences and the subsequent difference in average salaries where the charter school average is $33,993 and traditional schools $57,303.

Major evaluation change slipped into HB555

Over the Holidays, the Governor signed the latest education bill, HB 555. StateImpact has a decent rundown of most of the items that were addressed in the bill. However, one major piece of policy change made in HB555 has gone totally unreported, not surprisingly since it was done in the 11th hour, with no testimony or hearings. Indeed, we're doubtful many lawmakers even knew it had been slipped in there.

Sec. 3319.112. (A) Not later than December 31, 2011, the state board of education shall develop a standards-based state framework for the evaluation of teachers. The state board may update the framework periodically by adoption of a resolution. The framework shall establish an evaluation system that does the following:

(1) Provides for multiple evaluation factors, including student academic growth which shall account for fifty per cent of each. One factor shall be student academic growth which shall account for fifty per cent of each evaluation. When applicable to the grade level or subject area taught by a teacher, the value-added progress dimension established under section 3302.021 of the Revised Code or an alternative student academic progress measure if adopted under division (C)(1)(e) of section 3302.03 of the Revised Code shall be used in the student academic growth portion of an evaluation in proportion to the part of a teacher's schedule of courses or subjects for which the value-added progress dimension is applicable.

If a teacher's schedule is comprised only of courses or subjects for which the value-added progress dimension is applicable, one of the following applies:

(a) Beginning with the effective date of this amendment until June 30, 2014, the majority of the student academic growth factor of the evaluation shall be based on the value-added progress dimension.

(b) On or after July 1, 2014, the entire student academic growth factor of the evaluation shall be based on the value-added progress dimension. In calculating student academic growth for an evaluation, a student shall not be included if the student has sixty or more unexcused absences for the school year.

If you're not familiar with legislative language, here's the summary

HB 555 radically changes the method of calculating evaluations for about 1/3 of Ohio's teachers. If a teacher's schedule is comprised only of courses or subjects for which the value-added progress dimension is applicable - then only their value-add score can now be used as part of the 50% of an evaluation based on student growth. Gone is the ability to use multiple measures of student growth - ie Student Learning Objectives or SLO's.

Teachers and school districts have spent countless months collaborating on the development and implementation of an evaluation system originally detailed in HB153 - only to now find the rules of the game changed at the 11th hour. Furthermore, the change is regressive. We have detailed the growing list of research that demonstrates the very real and serious problems with heavy reliance on value-add, and the need to offset these problems by using multiple measures of student growth. See here, here, here, and here for examples.

Education News for 05-30-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • Federal waiver in hand, state to get tough evaluating schools (Dispatch)
  • WASHINGTON — The Obama administration gave Ohio extra flexibility to use its own education standards yesterday in exchange for the state using a hammer on school districts to ensure they adequately prepare students for college and careers. Also yesterday, a state study of the Kasich administration’s revised accountability system showed that about a quarter of all Ohio traditional and charter school districts — including Columbus and virtually all urban schools — would flunk. Read More...

  • Student pay-to-play fees rise at local schools (Dayton Daily News)
  • Many area families will have to pay two or three times the amount they paid last year for their kids to participate in school sports and other activities as part of districts’ efforts to cut costs. For the affected districts, the average increase is more than 100 percent. At Beavercreek, Huber Heights, Valley View and Vandalia-Butler school districts — each of which recently announced multimillion-dollar cuts to stem widespread budget deficits — costs will be higher for the 2012-13 than they were this past school year. Read More...

  • Ohio granted waiver to federal education law (Enquirer)
  • Ohio public schools are no longer under the gun to get 100 percent of their students proficient in math and reading by 2014. Ohio on Tuesday joined seven states that won federal approval to waive that requirement and other aspects of No Child Left Behind education law. “This is a major step forward that will allow us to raise the bar for our schools,” said Stan Heffner, Ohio’s superintendent of schools. In total, 19 states have received federal waivers, including Kentucky, which received one in February. Read More...

  • Federal government waives No Child Left Behind standards for Ohio (Plain Dealer)
  • WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Education has granted Ohio's request to waive some compliance standards of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law and replace them with benchmarks that Ohio's education department deems more realistic. Ohio's waiver was among eight that Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today, bringing the total number of state waivers granted to 19. "We couldn't be more proud of the creativity, courage and innovation shown by these states," Duncan told reporters. Read More...

  • Middle-schoolers get additional shots at taking high-school courses (Dispatch)
  • By the time 12-year-old Kallie Boren starts high school, she’ll have enough credits to be a sophomore. She’s set to finish the seventh grade at Pickerington’s Lakeview Junior High School with two high-school credits, for Spanish I and honors Algebra I. She’ll earn four more next school year by taking Spanish 2, honors geometry, integrated science, theater and technology. “I’d like to get ahead when I’m in high school,” she said. “I like the challenge.” Read More...

Local Issues

  • High-school students taking courses in Columbus State program must choose major (Dispatch)
  • High-school students who take classes at Columbus State Community College through a special state program will have to declare a major and follow a program of study starting in the fall. They also will be required to take the courses they need to graduate, such as English, math and science, at their high school before they can take courses in those areas at Columbus State. “We simply want to put students on a clear path to success,” said Karen Gray, Columbus State’s director of dual enrollment. Read More...

  • Akron schools’ anti-bullying program dismantled to avoid deficit (Beacon Journal)
  • Akron Public Schools has eliminated its innovative anti-bullying program to balance the books this year, according to the latest five-year budget projections the school board approved at a special meeting Tuesday. The program is part of the district’s Office of Drug/Violence Prevention, which is tasked with handling the social and emotional problems that can interfere with learning. Akron Public Schools had received funding for the program through competitive federal, state and local grants, which dried up in 2010 for all 50 states. Read More...

  • Utica gets iPads for high-schoolers (Newark Advocate)
  • UTICA - Utica High School students are going to be connected in a new way in the 2012-13 school year. Every student will be given an iPad on the first day of school in the fall. "I think it's the way education is going," Principal Mark Bowman said. "Myself and my staff are very excited, and my students are very excited. Any time you can get kids excited about coming to school, that's great." The North Fork Local School District is leasing 560 iPad 2s at a cost of $74,500 per year for four years, with the option to buy each for $1 at the end of the lease. Read More...


  • No one is representing the children (Dispatch)
  • Working in the world of state-level education policy, frustration and disappointment are part of the job. I admit to giving in to frustration and even a little anger over the past year at the all-too-frequent hypocrisy. Everyone always says, “It’s about the kids,” but in reality, policy too often has little to do with children or their well-being. The focus always seems to come down to adults and institutions doing what they do best — protecting their status quo. Read More...

  • Out of the loop: The state must talk to Duquesne students' districts (Post-Gazette)
  • Now that officials have told Duquesne's sixth- and seventh-graders they'll be attending either West Mifflin or East Allegheny schools in the fall, it's time for the state Education Department to talk to those districts, too. It's been clear that Duquesne no longer can provide the education its children require and deserve. With its high schoolers already attending the neighboring districts, extending the arrangement to next year's seventh- and eighth-graders makes sense. Duquesne students should be in classrooms where they can learn and succeed. Read More...