Charter school performance crisis

The Ohio Department of education finally released their complete set of school ratings data, so we can once again take a look at the performance of traditional public schools and Ohio's charter schools. Keep in mind as you look at these results that charter schools in Ohio cost $54 more per pupil than traditional public schools, and that 90% of the money going to charter schools that are rated in Ohio go from better performing school districts to poorer performing charter schools on the Performance Index.

So, with that in mind, how do these schools stack up against each other?

The answer is, that charters do not stack up well against traditional public schools at all. Less than 10% of Ohio's charter schools rate excellent or better, compared to 54% of Ohio's traditional public schools. Worse still, at the bottom end, almost 40% of Ohio's charter schools are in academic emergency or academic watch, compared with just over 11% of Ohio's traditional public schools.

These results make it very difficult to justify diverting over $820 million from traditional schools delivering a quality education to charter schools delivering failure.

Standards are now so low in some Ohio charter schools that an investigative report by State Impact has found

Can’t pass the Ohio Graduation Tests? No problem, some charter schools say. You can still graduate.

At some Ohio charter schools, if a student can’t pass Ohio’s five graduation exams — in reading, writing, math, science and social studies — the schools enroll them in a series of correspondence courses through an Illinois-based school. The student then earns a high school diploma from the state of Illinois. Illinois does not require students to pass a state test to graduate.

If there's an education crisis in Ohio, it's with Ohio's charter schools first, and most.

Education News for 07-16-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • New state law: Third graders must read to pass (Marion Star)
  • MARION - An educator will tell you that, until the third grade, a student learns to read. When that student reaches third grade, that's when the student reads to learn. A new law in Ohio adds another layer to that adage. A third-grader will have to read to pass. A compromise in Columbus postponed the full implementation of what's called the third-grade reading guarantee. Students entering third grade in 2013 will have to pass a threshold to be determined by the Ohio Board of Education. Read more...

  • Troubled tutoring service gets dismantled (Dayton Daily News)
  • A troubled tutoring program that drew allegations of fraud and mismanagement locally and across the state has been dismantled in favor of giving local school districts more control over providing help to struggling students in low-performing schools. The Ohio Department of Education revamped the federally-funded Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program as part of its waiver under No Child Left Behind. Individual school districts will now receive money through the program and be in charge of providing the necessary oversight. Read more...

Local Issues

  • Property owners pay to ‘settle’ schools’ tax-value appeals (Dispatch)
  • Property owners owe taxes to schools, parks, libraries, county agencies that protect children and help the developmentally disabled, and others. But what if they could cut a deal to pay just the schools and make part of the potential bill that they owe the others disappear? It’s happening more and more as businesses settle property-value disputes with a “direct payment” to a school district in return for the district dropping a case in which it claimed that a parcel’s appraised value was too low. Read more...

  • Talk about East Holmes schools over breakfast (Times Reporter)
  • BERLIN — Residents of the East Holmes Local School District are invited to join board members and administrators for breakfast and conversation about the schools during a series of meetings in the coming weeks. Residents will have the opportunity to share thoughts and concerns directly with the board and to have any questions answered. Meals will be paid for by the Citizens For East Holmes for any East Holmes resident willing to attend. “We want to talk about whatever they want to talk about,” said Superintendent Joe Edinger. Read more...


  • Talk to kids about sexting (Houston Chronicle)
  • There was a time, not that long ago, when a young person's occasional minor lapses in judgment were treated mostly as private matters involving his or her parents, maybe school officials and perhaps a member of the clergy or other trusted counselor. No more. Technology has made many a young person's "What was I thinking!" moment a matter of public and unfortunate permanent record - before discretion and privacy concerns intervene. This is not brand-new. Read more...

Education News for 05-25-2012

Statewide Education News

  • $700 million in federal education grants coming (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • National education groups said this week that they’re putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to improving teacher effectiveness. Cincinnati Public Schools said Thursday it will join the growing cadre of districts applying for the $400 million latest round of federal Race to the Top school reform grants announced this week by the U. S. Department of Education. Read More...

  • Late changes stall education bill (Springfield News Sun)
  • State lawmakers aren’t finished revising Gov. John Kasich’s education reform bill and will continue to hash out their disagreements and attempt compromise after the holiday weekend. Senate Bill 316 was scheduled for a floor vote in the House on Thursday, but there was disagreement about changes that include:
    • Raising the minimum reading test score students need to pass third grade.
    • Scrapping the report card committee.
    • Creating a system of charter schools for gifted students. Read More...

  • Five Things You Can Learn Tomorrow About Ohio Teacher Evaluations (State Impact Ohio)
  • Ohio school districts are in the middle of making major changes to how public school teachers are evaluated. The changes come amid a national push to make teacher evaluation actually count. That means using it to help teachers improve and to tie performance to how teachers are paid and whether they keep their jobs. How important is this change to teachers and principals? So important that about 2,500 of them will descend upon Columbus tomorrow for a conference on what the new evaluations will look like and what they mean. Read More...

Local Issues

  • Ohio Graduation Test scores down, but still good (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Early reports indicate Ohio Graduation Tests scores at all Richland County public schools decreased this year. Lucas High School Principal Eric Teague said he wasn't surprised scores dropped a bit in his district. Last year, scores were phenomenal and students scored a 100 percent in reading, mathematics and writing, he said. Read More...

  • Inmates May Soon Work Inside Central Ohio School District (NBC-4, Columbus)
  • They've been sentenced to years in prison, but inmates may soon be working in and around schools in a Central Ohio district. Leaders with the Fairbanks Local Schools in Union County are currently working on a partnership with the Ohio Reformatory for Women. Read More...

  • Lane to be tried as adult in Chardon High shootings (News Herald)
  • T.J. Lane will be tried as an adult in the Chardon High School shootings, Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Judge Tim Grendell ruled Thursday. Lane is being held in the county Juvenile Detention Center without bond. Read More...

  • Special-needs students benefit from work-training program (Vindicator)
  • A year of hands-on vocational training has helped 10 special-needs students secure entry-level jobs. Corey and Brian Dyer, work-training coordinators for the Mahoning County Educational Services Center, brought the work-training program to Austintown Fitch High School and the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center. Read More...

  • Male teachers are rare in elementaries (Hamilton Journal News)
  • Men make up only 10 percent of the elementary school teachers in Butler County, a trend seen nationally and one that concerns education experts. The Hamilton JournalNews analyzed staff lists in 10 Butler County districts, and of the 1,603.8 full-time equivalent teachers in elementary schools, 164 — or 10.2 percent — are men, according to 2010-11 data from the Ohio Department of Education. Read More...

  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's education plan does not get legislative approval, but deal is made to pass it soon (Plain Dealer)
  • Mayor Frank Jackson did not get final approval from state lawmakers on his education reform plan, but they struck a deal late Thursday that it would be passed soon. Jackson was adamant he wanted his sweeping plan to pass Thursday so he could move ahead with a school tax campaign. Raising property taxes would help offset the school district's projected budget deficit. Read More...

  • Cleveland mayor reaches agreement to fix troubled schools (Dispatch)
  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson reached an agreement tonight with state legislative leaders on a bill to overhaul his struggling school district. House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said there will be a news conference on Friday to announce the details, but said it is his intent to pass House Bill 525 when the legislature returns to Columbus in mid-June. Read More...

Common Core, costly

The Cincinnati Enquirer has an article pointing to the logistical and expensive costs ahead to implement the Common Core Curriculum, which is set to begin in earnest in 2014. One of the first major hurdles is having the requisite infrastructure in place to accommodate the millions of computer based tests that will occur.

The new tests will be taken online, replacing the standardized No. 2 pencil-and-paper tests that Ohio schools have always used.

While local school leaders like the idea of online testing, the switch is also creating concern because it's unclear who's going to pay for the computers and software upgrades needed for the new system. District officials worry the state will pass costs onto local districts - and their taxpayers. That's something many districts fear they won't be able to afford.

At a time when requests for new school levies are proving difficult to pass, and Columbus is keen to abrogate its responsibility to funding public education, additional costs like this are sure to hit districts up and down the state hard. Not only will schools need to significantly boost their IT hardware spending, but the level of IT infrastructure needed to support these new testing requirements will also require on going IT support to keep it all running smoothly.

Without additional computers or greater wireless capability, the new tests shrink the number of computers available for remedial classes and other kinds of instruction, Farmer said.

"We'd be very much in trouble if they expect us to do all that (testing) online," he said.

Northwest voters, like Cincinnati's, rejected a combination bond issue/operating levy this month that would have paid to renovate the high schools and improve technology.

With the selection of the consortia Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), Ohio might also expect to test its students even more.

Instead of tests once a year, the new tests will probably be taken at least twice a year, said Dennis Evans, an Ohio Department of Education spokesman.

With each of these millions of tests costing at least $14 each, it's not just the cost of IT infrastructure that needs to be contended with anymore.

Whatever the merits of these policies as tools to increase educational quality, it is clear that Ohio is going to need to find a way to invest more readily in these transitional efforts.

November 2011 School Levy Results

Here are the results of the November8th 2011 school levy elections.

Type Failed Passed Pass Rate
New 83 33 28.4%
Renewal 8 62 88.6%
All Levies 92 95 50.8%

11/9/2011 Ohio School Levy Results