Quality Choices

Nationally and in Ohio, we strive to develop policies and practices leading to a lively, accessible marketplace of high-quality education options for every young American (including charter schools, magnet schools, voucher programs, and online courses), as well as families empowered and informed so that they can successfully engage with that marketplace.


Our many choice-related blog posts are listed below.

Fordham’s choice experts:


OhDELA testing new approach to online learning

The Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy (OhDELA) is now working with ACCEL Schools. The charter school’s new operator, ACCEL CEO Ron Packard, recently announced his plans for improving OhDELA’s performance using a “new approach to online learning.” Some of the changes include requiring more in-person meetings between students and teachers, doing less advertising to ensure they’re recruiting students who are truly well-suited for online classes, and more.

It’s time to be pragmatic about online charter schools

Last month, the General Assembly passed two pieces of legislation (SB 216 and HB 87) that, among other things, seek to address some of the issues that have plagued online charter schools in Ohio. But an important measure (from HB 707—a bill that didn’t pass) that would have required ODE to adopt rules allowing online charter schools to disenroll students for not “actively participating in learning opportunities” didn’t pass. Fordham’s Chad Aldis believes Ohio needs to revisit this recommendation—he explains why here.

IDEA schools success story

This week, Idea Public Schools’ superintendent Joann Gama is celebrating: All 849 seniors from her charter schools graduated this...


Online charter schools have been front-page material in every major Ohio newspaper for the past two years. The coverage, largely focused on the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), has featured the very public funding dispute between ECOT and the Ohio Department of Education, a host of legal proceedings, the school’s mid-year closure and subsequent displacement of 12,000 students, and the political rush from both parties to take credit or assess blame for the entire situation.

Last month, the General Assembly passed two pieces of legislation (Senate Bill 216 and House Bill 87) that, among other things, seek to address some of the issues that have plagued online charters in Ohio. A quick overview of the changes can be found in this summary of education-related legislation for the first half of 2018. The online charter provisions, while generally recognized as being positive, also drew criticism for not going far enough. This is likely because another piece of legislation—House Bill 707, which was introduced in mid-June by Republican Representatives Reineke and Faber—had even stronger accountability provisions, many of which came from recommendations made by Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost.




A good news online charter school story

Sarah Robinson, an online charter school graduate from Massillon, Ohio wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Canton Repository this week. Robinson, the co-valedictorian for the class of 2018 at Ohio Connections Academy (OCA), describes how the school’s flexibility enabled her and her sister to learn self-discipline, work at their own paces, and pursue outside interests (like taking college classes and volunteering). This is a great reminder that, despite the flurry of negative stories, there are many students like Sarah who thrive in online schools.


Analyzing the impact of dropout recovery report card changes

As we’ve described previously, the State Board of Education recently adopted significant changes to the rules around report cards for Ohio's dropout prevention and recovery schools (DPRS). A new piece from Fordham’s Jessica Poiner examines the potential impacts of those changes, specifically around identification as a DPRS and graduation rate performance levels.


Ohio charters in the news

The Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy (OhDELA), an online charter school long operated by White Hat management, is now working with ACCEL Schools. This story in the...



Ohio charter school success story

Yesterday, the Fordham Institute released their latest Pathway to Success profile that’s part of a series dedicated to highlighting how charter schools are helping students and families across Ohio thrive. This profile features a student at Near West Intergenerational School in Cleveland, a charter that emphasizes relationships and rigor to ignite lifelong learning. If you (or someone you know) would like to have a school or student featured in Fordham’s Pathway to Success series, please contact [email protected].

Big changes to Newark, Ohio, charter schools

Newark City Schools has decided, for now, to stop sponsoring charter schools. The two schools it sponsored, Newark Digital Academy and Par Excellence Academy, will continue serving students but with new governance structures. The district will take over Newark Digital Academy, while Par Excellence will be sponsored by the Ohio Department of Education. For Par Excellence, this means the school is now accepting more students for K-5 and is expanding to include two sixth grade classrooms (much to the delight of many parents who have pushed for the expansion for years).


New Orleans becomes first district in U.S. to oversee a...


Did you know that there’s a great new resource to help you keep up with charter school news in the Buckeye State and across the country? It’s called Ohio Charter News Weekly and you can have it delivered to your email Inbox every Friday. To subscribe to this quick mix of news, opinion, and events collated with the busy charter school stakeholder in mind, click here, and you won’t miss another edition.

You’ll be glad you did.



Big changes are coming for Ohio’s dropout prevention and recovery charter schools

The State Board of Education recently adopted significant changes to the rules around Ohio's dropout prevention and recovery school report cards. Among other changes, graduation rate expectations have increased and it will now be more difficult for schools to earn dropout prevention and recovery school designations. Fordham’s Jessica Poiner breaks down some of the changes here.  

Toledo charter school students attend behavioral health summer camp

This year, Caregiver Grove (a behavioral health service provider) started providing in-school counseling at several charter schools in Toledo, including Achieve, STAR Academy of Toledo, and REACH Academy. But their work didn’t stop when summer vacation began. Instead, they launched a summer version of the program and 20 students, ages 8 to 17, are currently enrolled. The program is set up like a summer camp (with sports, field trips, and art) that’s designed to help the students with anger management, depression and anxiety, social skills, and expressing emotions.

Innovation Ohio’s half truths about ECOT and school funding

Over the past month, several newspapers have published articles on ECOT and based their coverage on an...


Since 2012, Tennessee has taken a unique approach to intervening in struggling schools. With the goal of turning around the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state (known as priority schools), officials introduced two separate models: the Achievement School District (ASD) and Innovation Zones (iZones). The ASD is a state-run district that directly manages some priority schools and turns others over to select charter management organizations. iZones, on the other hand, are subsets of priority schools that remain under district control but are granted greater autonomy and financial support to implement interventions. There are four districts that contain iZones: Shelby County Schools (Memphis), Metro-Nashville Public Schools, Hamilton County Schools (Chattanooga), and Knox County Schools (Knoxville). The remaining priority schools weren’t included in either of these initiatives, effectively creating a comparison group.

Research teams from Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky have kept a close eye on both initiatives. In 2015, they published an evaluation of the ASD and iZone schools after three years of implementation. They found that, while ASD schools did not improve any more or less than other priority schools, iZone schools produced moderate to large positive effects on student test scores. A separate ...



Legislative update: SB 216 and HB 87

This week, the House and Senate each passed wide ranging education bills—SB 216 and HB 87, respectively. The bills, on their way to Governor Kasich for approval, revamp Ohio’s teacher evaluation system, tweak teacher licensure provisions, allow districts to administer paper and pencil assessments to third graders, and make a variety of changes related to online charter schools. The online charter measures drew the most public attention with stories in all major newspapers.

Supreme Court Janus decision

The Supreme Court ruled on the Janus case this week, holding that requiring employees to pay negotiating fees to unions violates the first amendment. The 74 describes the particulars and captures early public reaction.

New resource: Success Academy makes its literacy curriculum available

On Thursday, Success Academy Charter Schools (the largest and highest performing charter network in New York City) published its entire middle school curriculum as well as its first e-courses. That means that the charter school network’s entire K-8 literacy program (which has led to exceptional reading achievement for students in New York) is now available for free to everyone....



New Ohio online school legislation

New legislation on online charter schools, House Bill 707, was introduced in the Ohio House on Tuesday. The bill would, among other things, create a study committee to determine how to better fund online schools. For a detailed breakdown of other changes in the bill, see here.

Charter schools are helping to stabilize Cleveland’s population

Cleveland’s population has been declining since the 1960s. The Scene recently reported on changes that the city is making to attract and retain young parents in an effort to stabilize and grow the population. And it looks like a focus on great new schools, including charters, is helping the city make some progress. 

New White House proposal to merge Departments of Education and Labor

Yesterday, the White House released a proposal to reorganize the federal government in a reform plan titled, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century.” The plan includes a recommendation to merge the Departments of Education and Labor to create a new department named the Department of Education and Workforce. Reaction from Congress, which would need to approve this type of change, was quick and...


It’s never been cool to be a racist, but now may be the easiest time, at least in my memory, to be one in America. The pungent mix of social media flippancy and a shift in the nation’s politics toward two largely white constituencies (the Rust Belt’s disaffected and dislocated, and the coastal progressive elite) has wrecked the walls that used to keep hate, fear, distrust, and malice against minority folks at least tolerably private.

Go for a cookout, a Stanford employee calls the cops on you. Go to sleep in your dorm, and a Yale grad student hits up the campus police. It seems like racial animus that used to express itself as angry sidelong glances has metastasized into something wholly other. These are dark days for race relations in America, for sure.

Which is why it’s so interesting that many on the political left and the progressive left—and the progressive anti-charter-and-choice left in particular—are going all in for school integration at this moment in time. In an era of college campus safe spaces, Twitter pile-ons for real and perceived racial insensitivity, and social and political mores that are ever more fragile, one wonders why...