The State of Public Charter Schools: Has Competition Delivered Results?

Riding the national wave of coverage related to public charter school performance in Ohio, a recent Columbus Dispatch article calls into question whether charter schools in the state are having the intended results of increasing high-quality options, “Charter schools were originally intended to unleash free-market competition and innovation, but their overall performance is making the state’s “Big 8” urban districts appear more competent”.

As national conversation around the performance of public charter schools grows, policymakers in Ohio have experienced pressure to increase accountability for public charter schools. Following a recent scandal where a Department of Education official was found to have removed data in order to increase performance ratings for many charter school sponsors, questions pertaining to the evaluation and performance of charter schools have further increased among stakeholders and media outlets throughout the state.

ACS client, The Ohio 8 Coalition, is a strategic alliance composed of the superintendents and teacher union presidents from Ohio’s eight urban school districts – Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown. The Ohio 8 Coalition’s mission is to work with policymakers to improve academic performance, increase graduation rates, and close the achievement gap for students in Ohio’s urban communities.

The Columbus Dispatch article highlights that of the 19 charter and urban schools rated an A for graduating students on time only two were charters. The other 17 were traditional public schools served by The Ohio 8 Coalition districts.

To further emphasize concerns regarding charter school performance compared to traditional public schools, the article highlights that every charter school in Canton, Ohio earned an F on the state’s K-3 literacy measure and no charter schools in Cincinnati or Youngstown received above a C. These results should call to question whether or not public charter schools are increasing quality options for families throughout the nation.

ACS works to support The Ohio 8 Coalition’s demand that public charter schools be held to the same standards as traditional public schools in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately to support the educational needs of students.

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