Ohio Policy

At the request of Ohio's top government and education leaders, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools have issued a report seeking to strengthen the state's charter school program. Among its 17 recommendations are calls for closing low-performing charter schools and holding sponsors more accountable for oversight of the growing charter movement while also helping more high-performance schools to open and succeed in Ohio. In return for sharply stepped-up accountability, restrictions on the formation of high-quality charters should be removed, and charter schools should receive more equitable funding.

Turning the Corner to Quality bases its findings on research and analysis of Ohio school performance data; a review of best practices in other states; input from experts in charter school finance, sponsorship, accountability and policy; and evaluation of dozens of policy options.

 Ohioans Sound Off on Public Schooling, with a SPECIAL ANALYSIS of the Views of African Americans and Dayton Residents

What do ordinary Ohioans think about the myriad education reforms enacted in the Buckeye state over the last half-decade? How do parents, taxpayers, and citizens view public schooling in 2005? Do they like these reforms? Seek more or less of them? Have confidence that they'll succeed? Fordham decided to enlist veteran analysts Steve Farkas and Ann Duffett to examine the attitudes of Ohio residents toward their public schools. The results? Ohioans are frustrated with their K-12 education system on a number of fronts, and feel the state is in dire need of stronger, better leadership when it comes to education. Policymakers would do well to pay attention.

How are charter schools in Ohio truly performing when compared to their district counterparts? The latest Fordham Foundation report, School Performance in Ohio's Inner Cities: Comparing Charter and District School Results in 2005 provides a rare apples-to-apples comparison of charter school and district school achievement in four of Ohio's cities: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton. The results reveal that the performance of charter pupils isn't as dismal as Ohio's charter opponents want you to believe. However, the findings also illuminate the larger problem: ALL public schools in the Buckeye State still have a long way to go to reach academic success.

On April 21, 2005, Fordham President Chester E. Finn, Jr.  and Program Director Terry Ryan testified before the Alternative Education Subcommittee of the Ohio House of Representatives. They discussed Ohio's community schools (a.k.a. charter schools), which face a developing paradox: the more they expand and the more students they serve, the more threatened they become, by internal and external forces alike.

Charter school opponents have been taking shots nationally at charter schools in recent days, but these sorts of attacks have been a common occurrence in Dayton, Ohio since charter schools first opened there in 1998. Herewith is a report from the field on how charter schools are faring in the Buckeye State circa September 2004.

This report, prepared for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute by Public Impact, compares charter school funding and district school funding. It finds that charter schools are under-funded compared to their district counterparts, even after accounting for differences in students and grade levels. These findings should be taken seriously by those who argue that charter schools drain funds from district schools.

Prepared for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute By Public Impact

Much has changed in education in Dayton during the past two years. The remarkable election of a "reform" majority to the Dayton school board, and the selection of a new superintendent. Passage of a huge levy for school-building construction and renewal. The arrival of the No Child Left Behind Act and Ohio's Senate Bill 1. The dramatic growth of the charter-school sector and of controversy surrounding it. Some ferment on the high-school reform front. And much more. Thus, it seemed time to once again "take the community's temperature" with respect to a wide array of K-12 education issues. Herewith are the results.

Increasingly, charter schools are being held to the accountability standards of traditional district schools and are now also subject to the newest requirements regarding student achievement and accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act. Unfortunately, few charter schools have the financial resources necessary to hire full-time testing coordinators to help them navigate the intricacies of state and federal testing requirements. This primer is designed to aid charter school leaders in coordinating testing and test data reporting procedures as required by state and federal guidelines. The report seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the roles and responsibilities of charter schools under Ohio's new accountability system?
  2. What do charter schools need to know to effectively administer the test?
  3. What are the responsibilities of charter schools regarding testing?

This report presents a summary of the administration and results of annual pre- and post-testing of pupils enrolled in charter schools in Dayton and Springfield, Ohio during the 2001-2002 school year. The assessment activities were a project of the Education Resource Center of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce (DACC). The efforts of the DACC were supported in part via philanthropic gifts from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and other sources. The primary purposes of the assessment project were: 1) to help classroom teachers monitor individual student achievement and adapt instruction to promote learning; 2) to provide data for schools to assist them in gauging and improving their overall effectiveness; and 3) to foster public accountability and model the use of data to inform educational decision making.

This unique survey compares the views of parents with children in private, public and charter schools on the quality of their own schools as well as a range of education reform issues. Conducted in Dayton, Ohio,  home to one of the nation's fastest growing charter school programs as well as a strong private voucher program, the data show that, while public school parents are generally less satisfied with their children's present schools, the overwhelming majority of parents and non-parents support bold reform in the public school system. The survey also shows strong support among all groups for publicly funded vouchers, higher academic standards and performance pay for teachers.