Today marks the end of National School Choice Week. What started four years ago as a relatively small coalition of reform-minded organizations drawing attention to an issue they passionately supported has turned into a movement. Highlighted by a nationwide whistle-stop train tour, the most amazing part of the week is the thousands of events held all around the country by schools and organizations of all types. For at least one week, the focus shifts from the usual argument of public vs. private and lands squarely where it belongs—on empowering parents and their children with high quality educational options.

In honor of National School Choice Week, we want to take a break from our role as a Gadfly where we too often have to point out situations where quality is lacking. We’d like to recognize some Ohio charter schools that during 2012-13 achieved at a very high level. These schools made a difference in the lives of the students they served.

Given our consistent stance for high standards in all areas, it probably won’t surprise you that the bar to earn our recognition is quite high. To make the list, a charter school must be in the top 10 percent of all schools in the state on either the performance index measuring overall academic achievement or the value added measure that tracks learning gains.

We are proud to recognize and honor these twenty-five schools that have achieved a top ten rating.

Some of you may be wondering who the best of the best is, the Top Gun this year is Columbus Preparatory Academy (CPA). CPA, a Mosaica school, has a record of unmatched success and led all charters in BOTH performance index and value added. You can learn a little more about the school here. This tremendous accomplishment is worthy of praise and is an appropriate marker for other charters to strive toward.

There is little doubt that charter schools have drawn (and sometimes earned) their share of criticism over the years. Before questioning the institution though, look again at the list of the schools above. None of these schools would exist without the opportunity offered by the creation of charter school concept, and they serve as proof that charter schools – like our district schools – when well-run, can educate students at an extremely high level. 

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