Cashing in on Kids

Report: Ohio charter schools perform worse than public schools

6517253983_7f75b1906b_m Charter school operators in Ohio may need to cut their holidays short and get back to work early. A new report released by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) investigates five years of charter school performance in Ohio and finds that the average charter school is performing worse than the average public school:
“On average charter school students in Ohio have less learning in a year than their district school peers. This shortfall in learning can be equated to a student losing about 14 days of learning in reading and 43 days in math based on a hypothetical 180-day school year.”
See here for more context for CREDO’s “days of learning” metric.

The report holds even more bad news for charter management organizations (CMOs): students in schools managed by large CMOs, like Ohio’s White Hat, perform worse than students in public schools or in stand-alone charter schools without a management company:

“[O]n average, students enrolled in CMO charters are more disadvantaged in both reading and math learning gains than students in non-CMO charters schools.”
Calling the CREDO report “another reality check for Ohio charters”, the conservative pro-charter school think tank Thomas B. Fordham Institute speculates that the poor performance of the state’s many virtual charter schools, such as those operated by Imagine, may be dragging down results for all charters. The report updates research CREDO first published in 2009, and as the Akron Beacon Journal notes, there hasn’t been much improvement for Ohio charters in the past five years:
“The report’s authors began tracking charter schools’ impact on student performance in 2009, when they declared Ohio one of five states (out of 16) where charter schools had a significant and negative effect on student learning. The group reported in 2013 that Ohio was one of four states where charter school impact had worsened.”
These consistently poor results have CREDO researchers questioning the wisdom of employing market-based policies, like charter schools, in public education. As CREDO’s Dr. Margaret Raymond said in a recent discussion of the report, education “is the only industry/sector where the market mechanism just doesn’t work.”

Read the Ohio CREDO report here.

Image: "Bad Grade" by Robert Hruzek