Since the first Ohio charter schools opened in 1998, they’ve regularly been subject to intense scrutiny. Detractors have criticized their academic performance, while advocates have pointed to bright spots within the sector. The competing narratives often give policymakers and the public mixed signals about the performance of these independently-run public schools that today educate just over 100,000 Ohio students.
Fordham’s latest report presents up-to-date evidence about the performance of the state’s charter schools. Dr. Stéphane Lavertu of The Ohio State University conducted a rigorous analysis of student-level data from 2015–16 through 2018–19.
Among his important findings:
- In grades 4–8, students in brick-and-mortar charters make significant gains on state math and ELA exams when compared to district students of similar backgrounds. Consistent with prior research, Black students make particularly strong progress. Though their gains are more modest, students of other races/ethnicities also make more progress than in district schools, as do both high and low achievers.
- Charters that choose to hire a for-profit or nonprofit management company to run daily operations both produce positive results when compared to districts, but those with nonprofits tend to register stronger performance.
- Ohio’s general education charter high schools also deliver notable academic benefits. Students’ scores on state English end-of-course exams improve when they attend a brick-and-mortar charter high school (gains in math are not statistically significant)
- Attendance rates increase and disciplinary incidents decrease when students attend a brick-and-mortar charter school.
We urge you to download the report to see for yourself the benefits that Ohio’s brick-and-mortar charter schools provide for students.
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On October 6, 2020, report author Stéphane Lavertu presented his findings at a virtual event. The complete video of that event can be viewed below or on our YouTube channel here.