A recent study from Stanford University’s Center for Research of Educational Outcomes (CREDO) examines Ohio’s charter school performance has gained attention around the state. The Akron Beacon Journal and Plain Dealer reports the CREDO’s findings that Ohio’s charter schools rank 23rd out of 26 states where charter schools had been in operation long enough to produce measurable results. In a state like Ohio, where for-profit companies dominate the charter school landscape, that means families, students and taxpayers may not be getting their money’s worth.
“After a year in a charter school, Ohio students typically lag behind district school students by weeks in reading and months in math,” the paper reports. Only Michigan and Texas surpass Ohio in the number of charter schools run by for-profit companies.
On December 10, 2014, Macke Raymond, Director of CREDO, outlined key findings from their newly released report before a group of education advocates and state leaders at the Cleveland City Club.
While the report highlights increased positive performance of Ohio’s charter schools, it also reinforces the need for increased oversight of charter school sponsors and boards in order to ensure that charter schools are providing quality educational opportunities for all students.
The Beacon Journal also shares data from its own study of charter school performance management, which found that:
- Charter schools that hired no company, as a group, performed the best academically; those managed by nonprofits showed the best student academic growth; and those managed by for-profits scored lowest in both categories.
- Of the 16 lowest performing networks, 14 were managed by for-profit companies.
- The online charter schools Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow and Ohio Virtual Academy, which account for a quarter of all charter enrollment, averaged the lowest student growth in the state.
- Of the 12 highest-performing charter school networks, eight hired nonprofit management organizations.
- $503 million of $920 million in public funding went to charter schools managed by for-profit companies. A little over half of the $920 million went to out-of-state companies.
- Out-of-state and for-profit companies enrolled 74,458 of the 119,271 Ohio charter school students.
- The 10 highest performing companies managed schools with above-average revenue, many propped up by private philanthropists who invest in successful academic models. Others got a boost from Cleveland voters, who approved additional local aid (about $1,000 more per pupil) for high-performing charter schools. A similar local levy failed in Columbus. The state offers no financial incentive for top-performers.