Archived Story

Charters not making the grade

Published 12:38pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ohio’s public school systems have been at odds with the state’s charter schools for the near decade and a half since they were created. But data from the recent state report cards show that public school administrators — and taxpayers — should have legitimate concerns.

Charter institutions, called community schools in the state, blur the line between public and private primary and secondary schools. They receive more than $500 million in state funds each year. But, because tuition is free, they are considered public, even though they have far more flexibility on what is taught and how they spend their dollars.

School administrators across the state have rightfully raised concerns over whether or not the charter school systems drain money from public schools without offering quality results.

The raw numbers certainly raise red flags.

A total of 138, or 23 percent, of public school districts were rated as Excellent with Distinction. Only four, or 1 percent, of the charter schools received the same marks.

Forty one percent, 249 districts, were ranked Excellent. That dropped to 7 percent, 26 schools, for charter institutions.

Under Effective, 172 public schools, 28 percent, were ranked. For charter schools that number was 54, which equates to 15 percent.

Only 6 percent, 38 school districts, were ranked as in Continuous Improvement compared to 27 percent, 96 total, of charter schools in the same category.

Only 11 schools, less than 1 percent, were listed as under academic watch. A total of 55 schools, 16 percent, of charter schools fell in this dangerous category.

The worst ranking, Academic Emergency, is the equivalent of an F. Only two public schools received this, that is far less than 1 percent. However, 66 charter schools, 19 percent, earned these marks.

This data doesn’t mean that charter schools are all bad. They aren’t.

But it does show that legislators and taxpayers should demand more accountability to ensure that valuable resources aren’t being diverted from public schools without good results.

We expect better of our students and we must expect more from our schools — both public and charter.


  • Noesis

    Yeah Mick I also don’t trust the numbers. I found a Chicago Tribune article on the results and here is what they said:

    The Tribune compared Cleveland schools with high-poverty student populations, because all of the city’s traditional schools and most charter schools serve large numbers of disadvantaged students. Sixty-four percent of traditional schools serving high-poverty populations got D and F academic ratings, compared with 32 percent for charter schools.

    Statewide, however, Ohio’s high-poverty charters trailed, by a slight margin, the state’s traditional public schools. For example, 28 percent of high-poverty traditional schools earned A or B ratings, compared with 23 percent of charter schools. And 37 percent of high-poverty traditional schools got D or F grades, while 38 percent of charters earned those low ratings.

    So it appears that there are a lot of Charter Schools in high poverty areas and the author of the Ironton article is comparing all schools to Charter schools where a large number of them are in high poverty areas.

    When comparing apples to apples the charter schools aren’t doing so bad.

    It appears that somebody’s liberal bias is coming through.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    This grading system, how through and reliable is it? When it comes to relying on grading and test scores, I feel this is a narrow minded assessment. I offer as an example, General and later President Ulysses S. Grant. At West Point he graduated 21st in a class of 39. He was the greatest leader and commander in the civil war, even surpassing Robert E. Lee (my favorite). I feel Charter, Private and Religious Schools keep Public Schools on their toes and are worthy of financial assistance. School Vouchers are the ultimate solution, thereby giving people a choice.

    (Report comment)

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