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Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Report Card: Charters Perform Slightly Better in 2 of 9 Categories, Slightly Worse in 1 and Far Worse in 6

Charter Schools have slightly higher percentages of As and Bs in one report card grade category and slightly lower percentages of Ds and Fs than districts in that same report card category, plus another this year. However, districts clobber charters in every other comparable category. By a lot.

The two report card categories where charters outperform districts are in student growth among the lowest performing students and growth among special needs students. In the lowest performing students category, charters had 42.2% Ds and Fs and 27.1% As and Bs. Districts had 49.8% Ds and Fs and 26.7% As and Bs. Meanwhile, in the special needs category, charters had 45.2% Ds and Fs and 24.6% As and Bs. Likewise, districts had 52.1% Ds and Fs and 27.1% As and Bs.

However, the other categories were striking for how much districts outperformed charters. In 5 of the remaining 7 categories, more than 80% of charter grades were D or F. In one other, 70% were Ds and Fs. In Indicators Met and closing achievement gaps (AMO), more than 90% of charter grades were D or F. By contrast, more than 1/2 of district grades in Indicators Met were As or Bs and more than 30% were As or Bs in closing achievement gaps.

The only category where charter performance was even remotely close to districts' was in overall value added, or student growth. While 52.7% of charter grades were D or F and 31.1% were A or B, 48.5% of district grades were D or F and 40.1% were A or B.

So while I expressed concern in my previous post about districts' ability to address the needs of our state's most needy, those concerns are overwhelmed by our state's charter schools' stunning inability to perform across so many report card categories. And even where they do perform better than districts, it's only slightly better.

Let me bottom line Ohio's charter school performance: For a public investment of what is now $1 billion a year, along with 16 years of commitment, we have a charter system that provides slightly better performance than districts in two report card categories, slightly worse in one other and dramatically worse in 6 others.

Remember that charters take about 1/2 their students from districts outside Ohio's urban core.

That's not a performance record one would expect given this state's three-decade policy and financial commitment. Let's hope the state's new found quality focus will change this story. And soon.


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