Study: Ohio charter schools are worst in nation

The Center for Research on Education Issues (CREDO) has just published its 2013 report, "National Charter School Study". CREDO Researchers looked at test data from charter schools in 26 states plus DC. Ohio was one of the 26 states. This study follow up on their 2009 study which garnered a lot of attention for bringing to light the poor quality of the nations charter schools.

This new study finds, despite charter schools being able to screen for the best students, only marginal improvement over the past 4 years

25 percent of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading while 29 percent of charters delivered stronger results in math. That marked an improvement over a similar 2009 study by the same research team.

But 56 percent of the charters produced no significant difference in reading and 19 percent had worse results than traditional public schools. In math, 40 percent produced no significant difference and 31 percent were significantly worse than regular public schools.

The marginal improvement comes not from improved quality of charter schools in general, but in the closure of more poor performing charter schools lifting the over all average performance.

In Ohio, the charter school experiment is failing miserably. According to the study, Ohio's charter schools got worse over the last 4 years, and now dwell at the bottom of the performance tables. Ohio students who attend charter schools are losing the equivalent of almost 3 weeks of instruction in reading, and an entire grading period in mathematics. That is astonishingly bad news for the 5% of Ohio's students who attend charter schools.

The following table was taken from table 14 (pg 52 of the study)

State Reading Days Math Days
Rhode Island 86 108
DC 72 101
Tennessee 86 72
Louisiana 50 65
New York 36 79
New Jersey 43 58
Massachusetts 36 65
New York City 0 94
Michigan 43 43
Indiana 36 14
Illinois 14 22
Missouri 14 22
California 22 -7
North Carolina 22 -7
Minnesota 14 -7
Georgia 14 -14
Colorado 7 -7
Florida -7 0
New Mexico 0 -29
Arkansas -22 -22
Utah -7 -43
Arizona -22 -29
Texas -22 -29
Ohio -14 -43
Oregon -22 -50
Pennsylvania -29 -50
Nevada -108 -137

You can see from the following graphs of performance in 2009 vs 2013 that Ohio's charters are getting worse, and in math, much worse.

It is time to reassess Ohio's 15 year, billion dollar, charter experiment in light of these results and put an end to boosting charter schools at the expense of public schools. The experiement has not only failed, it is getting worse.

Education News for 05-07-2013

Local Education News

  • Urban League might lose Head Start grant (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Two nonprofit groups have been offered federal Head Start grants to serve needy preschool children in central Ohio, but not the Columbus Urban League…Read more...

  • Argument over access (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Parents who are unhappy with the Champion School District's refusal to provide access for their special-needs son to attend Central Elementary School have filed a complaint with the Department of Justice…Read more...


  • Bus money (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Since 2005, Ohioans have enjoyed a 21 percent reduction in individual income tax rates. The Ohio House has proposed an additional 7 percent…Read more...

  • Hospital study is timely for parents (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Probably every parent wishes at some point that he or she could just bubble-wrap their little one. But guarding kids so closely for fear of injury…Read more...

  • Another blow to city schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Thursday’s records seizures at 20 Columbus high schools by the state auditor ought to prove convincing to those who have blindly defended…Read more...

Improving the Budget Bill Part II

Following up on part I of improving the budget, part II focuses on the unfairness of school funding vis-a-vi charter schools.

Innovation Ohio recently produced a report that should send shock waves through the "choice" community.

  • Because of the $774 million deducted from traditional public schools in FY 2012 to fund charters, children in traditional public schools received, on average, $235 (or 6.5%) less state aid than the state itself said they needed.
  • More than 90% of the money sent to rated charter schools in the 2011-2012 school year went to charters that on average score significantly lower on the Performance Index Score than the public schools students had left.
  • Over 40% of state funding for charters in 2011-2012 ($326 million) was transferred from traditional public districts that performed better on both the State Report Card and Performance Index.

This indicates that far too many parents are being provided a false choice between a traditional public school and a failing charter school. That's a choice that Ohio's scarce education tax dollars should not be subsidizing.

Building off of this study, CREDO's recently release study of charter schools found

“This report’s findings challenge the conventional wisdom that a young underperforming school will improve if given time. Our research shows that if you start wobbly, chances are you’ll stay wobbly,” said Dr. Margaret Raymond, CREDO’s director and the study’s lead author. “Similarly, if a school is successful in producing strong academic progress from the start, our analysis shows it will remain a strong and successful school.”

“We have solid evidence that high quality is possible from the outset,” Dr. Raymond said. “Since the study also shows that the majority of charter management organizations produce consistent quality through their portfolios – regardless of the actual level of quality – policy makers will want to assure that charter schools that replicate have proven models of success.”

Clearly, if we are to be evidence based, Ohio charter schools with a history of poor performance should cease to receive tax payer funding, and Ohio's charter school accountability laws should be stiffened to prevent failed charter schools from simply reopening under a different name, as is currently happening according to a report by Policy Matters Ohio.

Making Ohio's charter school more acocuntable, and permanently closing charter schools that underperform their traditional public school counterparts should be a priority in HB59 given that we are now spending close to $1 billion a year on charter schools.

Close failing charters quickly

Close failing charter schools quickly. That's the message from the latest study. The NTY times reports on a new charter school study that ought to send policy chills down the spines of those advocating for more failed choice

The charter school movement gained a foothold in American education two decades ago partly by asserting that independently run, publicly financed schools would outperform traditional public schools if they were exempted from onerous regulations. The charter advocates also promised that unlike traditional schools, which were allowed to fail without consequence, charter schools would be rigorously reviewed and shut down when they failed to perform.

With thousands of charter schools now operating in 40 states, and more coming online every day, neither of these promises has been kept. Despite a growing number of studies showing that charter schools are generally no better — and often are worse — than their traditional counterparts, the state and local agencies and organizations that grant the charters have been increasingly hesitant to shut down schools, even those that continue to perform abysmally for years on end.

As the Governor advocates for even greater charter school expansion in Ohio, where the experiment has failed even more catastrophically, there needs to be a serious look at closing down failed charters quickly. As the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University study noted

It debunked the common notion that it takes a long time to tell whether a new school can improve student learning. In fact, the study notes, it is pretty clear after just three years which schools are going to be high performers and which of them will be mediocre. By that time, the charter authorizers should be putting troubled schools on notice that they might soon be closed. As the study notes: “For the majority of schools, poor first year performance will give way to poor second year performance. Once this has happened, the future is predictable and extremely bleak. For the students enrolled in these schools, this is a tragedy that must not be dismissed.”

We're not just wasting tax payers dollars that could be better spent in higher performing traditional public schools, we're wasting educational opportunities of students who are attending these failing charter schools.

ODE publishes propaganda

1. Information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
2. The dissemination of such information as a political strategy.

That aptly describes the latest document published by the Ohio Department of Education, titled "Myths vs. Facts about the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System". The document lists 10 alleged myths about the teacher evaluation system being created. We thought we'd take a closer look at some of these alleged "myths".

1. Myth: The state is telling us what to do in local evaluations.

ODE, under a bulleted list discussing local board flexibility in creating evaluations, state "The percentages within the given range for student growth measures for the teachers in that district;" This is no longer true for teacher who have Value-add scores. These teachers (over 30% of Ohio's teaching corps) will have 50% of their evaluation based on student test scores. On this, local boards have zero flexibility, it's a state mandate. We judge aspects of this myth to actually be true

2. Myth: This is just a way to fire teachers.

ODE goes to great length to discuss how these evaluations will be great for teachers in identifying areas of improvement (though no money has been allocated for professional development). Utterly lacking is any discussion of the provision within HB153 prohibits giving preference based on seniority in determining the order of layoffs or in rehiring teachers when positions become available again, except when choosing between teachers with comparable evaluations. It is no secret that corporate education reformers such as Michelle Rhee desperately want to use evaluations for the basis of firing what they purportedly measure to be "ineffective" teachers. After all, this is exactly the process used in Washington DC where she came from. It's far too soon to call this a myth, it's more like a corporate educators goal.

3. Myth: One test in the spring will determine my fate.

It's nice that ODE stresses the importance of using multiple measures, but once again they fail to acknowledge that HB555 removed those multiple measures for 30% of Ohio's teachers. For those teachers their fate will be determined by tests. This myth is therefore true.

5. Myth: The state has not done enough work on this system – there are too many unanswered questions.

How can it be a myth when even this documents fails to state that "we're ready". SLO's have yet to be developed, Common Core is almost upon us but no one knows what the tests will be, the legislature keeps changing the rules of the game and no where near enough evaluator training has taken place to evaluate all of Ohio's teachers. Ohio isn't ready for this and that's a fact, not a myth.

6. Myth: “Value-Added” is a mysterious formula and is too volatile to be trusted.

This is perhaps one of the most egregious points of all. Study after study after study has demonstrated that Value add is volatile, unreliable and inappropriate for measuring teacher effectiveness. Their explanation conflates the use of value-add as a diagnostic tool and its use in evaluating teachers. Those are 2 very different use cases indeed.

As for it being mysterious, the formula used in Ohio is secret and proprietary - it doesn't get more mysterious than that! This claim by ODE is simply untrue and ridiculous, they ought to be embarrassed for publishing it. This myth is totally true and real and backed up by all the available scientific evidence.

7. Myth: The current process for evaluating teachers is fine just as it is.

Their explanation: "Last year, 99.7 percent of teachers around the country earned a “satisfactory” evaluation, yet many students didn’t make a year’s worth of progress in reading and are not reading at grade level." Right out of the corporate education reformers message book. Blame the teacher. Still think this isn't going to end up being about firing teachers? This myth is a straw-man, no one argues the current system is ideal, but the proposed OTES is dangerously constructed.

8. Myth: Most principals (or other evaluators) don’t have time to do this type of evaluation, so many will just report that teachers are proficient.

ODE states "Fact: Most principals are true professionals who want the teachers in their buildings to do well." But wait a minute, in Myth #7 these very same principals were handing out "satisfactory" grades like candy to 99.7% of teachers. Which is it? Are they professionals who can fairly evaluate teachers, or aren't they? We wrote about the massive administrative task faced by school administrators almost 2 years ago. Nothing has happened to alleviate those burdens, other than a $2 billion budget cut. This myth is 100% true.

9. Myth: This new evaluation system is like building the plane while we’re flying it.

ODE states: "Fact: Just as the Wright brothers built a plane, tried it by flying it, landed it, and then refined the plane they built, the new evaluation system was built, tried and revised. "

We'll just point out that 110 years have passed since the Wright Brothers first flew and the world has developed better design and project management tools since then.

10. Myth: It will be easy to implement the new teacher evaluation system.

Has anyone, anywhere said this? Or did the ODE brainstorming session run out of bad ideas at 9, and this is all they could come up with? Talk about ending with a straw-man, which frankly, given the rest of the document is probably the most appropriate ending.

ODE ought to withdraw this piece of propaganda from public view.

Education News for 01-14-2013

State Education News

  • Teacher evaluations to be more detailed under new standards (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The teacher on the video had clearly worked hard on her lesson…Read more...

  • Past school-funding plans (Columbus Dispatch)
  • When Gov. John Kasich in February rolls out his formula for funding Ohio schools, he will become the fourth-consecutive governor to attempt to transform the way the state pays for education…Read more...

  • Kasich’s turn for school reform (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Gov. John Kasich soon will become the fourth-straight Ohio governor to propose sweeping changes for financing public schools and improving student performance…Read more...

  • Auditor targets 100 more schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The state auditor has identified about 100 more Ohio schools that show signs they might have “ scrubbed” student data…Read more...

  • Hamilton schools: ‘A’ in frugality (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Hamilton schools are celebrating a milestone this year that few districts in Ohio can: They’ve gone 20 years without increasing their operating taxes. And based on current financial projections…Read more...

  • School reform: Outside help likely (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The Columbus school district isn’t the only education game in town. It’s the biggest. But a large, mayor-appointed commission that is meeting to help improve education for Columbus children is operating on the premise that other businesses…Read more...

  • Kasich appoints three to Ohio Board of Education (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Gov. John Kasich today made three more appointments to the Ohio Board of Education, among them a replacement for the last remaining appointee of his Democratic predecessor…Read more...

  • Private schools top public in average ACT, SAT scores (Dayton Daily News)
  • Local private high school students averaged much higher ACT and SAT scores than their public school counterparts in 2012, according to our study of schools across the Miami Valley…Read more...

  • State reports show most teacher candidates pass licensure test (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • Ohio has established a starting point for comparing and evaluating the college programs that train elementary, middle and high school teachers, releasing this week the first ever…Read more...

  • Use of seclusion, restraint to be restricted (Marion Star)
  • Ohio schools no longer will be allowed to use physical restraint or seclusion as a punishment for children under a draft policy, but those techniques still would be permitted to prevent dangerous situations…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Administrators tackle ‘school-to-prison’ pipeline (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Claren Chandler was two months pregnant with her daughter when she threatened to stab a Garfield High School classmate with a pair of scissors…Read more...

  • Teacher with fear of kids sues district (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • A longtime French and Spanish high-school teacher is suing a suburban Cincinnati school district, alleging that it discriminated against her because she has a disability — a phobia of young children…Read more...

  • Students praising others on Facebook (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Students in central Ohio have a new reason to smile. By logging onto Facebook and sending a message, teens are anonymously paying homage to fellow classmates’ good deeds and admirable qualities...Read more...

  • Schools say no to old drug programs (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Realizing that more young people are no longer “just saying no” to drugs, local schools are changing their approaches to drug-prevention programs…Read more...

  • Board votes to table charter school study (Dayton Daily News)
  • The Springboro Board of Education voted 3-2 to table a proposed conversion charter school study Thursday night, after dozens of Springboro parents and community members spoke out against the study and the concept…Read more...

  • Armed janitors may provide school district's line of defense (Findlay Courier)
  • A rural school district in Ohio is drawing attention with its plans to arm a handful of its non- teaching employees with handguns this year -- perhaps even janitors…Read more...

  • No new security measures for city schools (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Springfield City Schools will wait to see what government changes come from a national debate about guns and mass shootings before making any changes…Read more...

  • Cameras, locked doors among precautions for area Catholic schools (Toledo Blade)
  • With new entrance procedures, an online reporting system for threats, and training for students and staff, schools in the Catholic Diocese of Toledo are beefing up security measures and reviewing policies in response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn…Read more...

  • Steubenville Supt Plans Expanded Sexual Harassment, Date Rape Curriculum (WBNS)
  • Two 16-year-old high school football players have been charged with sexually assaulting a young girl after a series of parties in August…Read more...

  • Ridge Middle School to try out Google Chromebooks in Mentor School District (Willoughby News Herald)
  • Mentor Schools will join neighboring school districts by adding new technology to its classrooms…Read more...


  • Put the emphasis on educate, not regulate (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • In the fall of 2010, the Ohio Department of Education launched, with great fanfare, an initiative called Credit Flexibility…Read more...

  • Web-utation (Columbus Dispatch)
  • It might be hard for parents to get this message through, but teens and young adults should be made to understand that what they put online likely will be seen by a college- admissions officer or a potential employer…Read more...

  • Unwelcome comeback (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A malady mankind thought it had whipped, whooping cough, is again becoming a menace. More than ever, parents need to make sure that they and their children are current on immunizations…Read more...

  • Decency deficit (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The attention surrounding an allegation of rape at a high-school party in Steubenville isn’t surprising; the ugly details attract notice…Read more...

  • A first step (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The Ohio Department of Education’s effort to establish policies and rules for dealing with emotionally disturbed children with out-of-control behavior is welcome…Read more...

  • A start (Columbus Dispatch)
  • One of the most-talked-about topics amid all the media coverage of the Newtown school shootings was a blog item written by a mother who sympathized with what shooter Adam Lanza’s mother…Read more...

  • Schools should be instructed to be open about discipline issue (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • There’s a saying that when God closes a door, He opens a window. But politics isn’t divine, and experience shows that when government cracks a window, it often tries to slam shut a door…Read more...