Ohio Charter Accountability Takes Big Leap Forward with First Sponsor Evaluation Ratings

Today the Ohio Department of Education released results for the state’s new comprehensive sponsor evaluation system. The ratings resulted in 5 sponsors being deemed effective, 39 ineffective, and 21 poor. No sponsors were rated exemplary.

“Completion of the first sponsor performance review is a critical step forward in Ohio’s goal to improve its charter sector,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Sponsors provide critical oversight for charters schools, determining when to intervene, non-renew, or close schools—and just as importantly, when and where to allow charters to open in the first place. Given this tremendous responsibility, they are essential to our accountability system.”

Ohio’s sponsor evaluation system—initially put in place by HB 555—was revised last fall by a Department task force. The evaluations grade sponsors on three equally weighted categories: compliance—how well they follow applicable rules and laws and ensure their sponsored schools do the same; quality practices—whether they are adhering to general principles of quality authorizing; and academic performance—how well their schools performed on a variety of report card metrics.

“The Department of Education deserves credit for implementing the new sponsor evaluation system,” Aldis added. “These evaluation results give sponsors important information about what they’re doing well, and where they can improve. I’m confident that, especially in the areas of compliance and quality practice, sponsors can take immediate steps to improve their oversight.”

“At the same time, the evaluations are a work in progress. It is the first year of the measure, and we still believe there’s room for improvement especially as it relates to the academic and compliance portions of the grade,” Aldis said. “Given that charter schools are mostly located in economically challenged communities, we would like to see student growth weighed more evenly alongside achievement and factors that correlate heavily with student demographics. On compliance, we must ensure that the process measures how laws are being followed without becoming an overly burdensome or duplicative process.”

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