Ohio’s urban charter schools are (finally) better and more cost effective than you think

Fordham just put out a good brief on charter schools in Ohio.

In case you haven’t been following the charter school story in Ohio, here’s some headlines to catch you up.

 

Some of these headlines were earned by terrible behavior of online charter schools. Some of these headlines were earned by the historical unevenness in the Ohio charter sector, which has faced large rounds of closures over the past few years.

But how are the schools doing today?

Most education researchers agree that growth is the most accurate measure of a school’s quality when it comes to test scores, and Ohio’s accountability system provides good growth data.

Comparison of Ohio’s Big 8 Districts: Charter vs. Traditional

Ohio’s Big Eight districts include: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. They serve a lot of Ohio’s lowest-income and minority students. In 2017–18, these eight districts enrolled 41 percent of of the state’s black and Hispanic students.

Here’s the charter (brick and mortar) vs. traditional school breakdown:

Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 12.16.28 PM.png

28% of Ohio’s urban charters score and “A” or a “B” on the value-add system compared to 17% of traditional schools.

When you look at students instead of schools, the gap is even bigger: 31% vs. 16%. 

72% of traditional school score a “D” or an “F” on the value-add system compared to 59% of Ohio’s urban charters (numbers are about the same if you look at students).

Urban charter schools in Ohio are not amazing. But they are now better than Ohio’s urban traditional schools at increasing student learning (as measured by the state test).

Hopefully all of Ohio’s urban schools, charter and district alike, will get better overtime.

Ohio Charters Receive $3,000 Less Public Funds to Educate Public Students

A recent analysis on per-pupil spending found a 27% gap (about $3,000 less per student) between charter and traditional schools.

I would like to see a deeper breakdown of enrollment of students with severe special needs before making hard conclusions, but it appears Ohio’s urban charters are higher-performing and more productive.

The fact that charter school receive so much less money than traditional schools remains under-discussed in the media. Too many kids get less public resources simply because they attend a public charter school.

Also: Ohio’s Virtual Charters Score Very Very Poorly

Everyone of Ohio’s virtual charters scored an “F” on growth:

Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 12.33.04 PM

This is not a pretty picture when it comes to academic performance.

I worry that that virtual charters have set back Ohio’s charter school sector a decade.

Lastly: Overall District Performance Across the Big Eight

Here’s the value-add score breakdown across the districts (combining charter and traditional schools):

Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 12.28.05 PM

I was surprised by the amount of variation across the districts.

Toledo has 25% of its schools score an “A” or a “B” and 43% of its schools scoring an “F.”

Cincinnati only has 4% of its schools scoring an “A” or a “B” and 85% of its schools score an “F”.  

I’m not sure why Cincinnati is scoring so much worse. Given the relative amount of talent and resources in the city, I would have expected much better. Am I missing something?

Leave a Reply