Interdistrict Open Enrollment in Ohio: Participation and Student Outcomes

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Interdistrict open enrollment allows students to attend public schools outside their district of residence. It is among the largest and most widespread of school-choice efforts in the United States but often flies under the radar in policy discussions. In Ohio, over 70,000 students open enroll into schools outside their district of residence. However, despite the large scale, relatively little is known about the operation of open enrollment and the outcomes of students who participate in it.

This first-of-its-kind analysis, conducted by Ohio State University professor Stéphane Lavertu and Deven Carlson of the University of Oklahoma, uses statewide data to examine who uses open enrollment and how open enrollees perform academically.

The report yields the following findings:

  1. Consistent open enrollment is associated with modest but positive test-score gains
  2. African American open enrollees appear to make substantial gains
  3. Open enrollment throughout high school boosts the probability of on-time graduation

This is invaluable new data for a little-understood but heavily-utilized program. We urge you to download the report to learn more about what works for open enrollees across Ohio.

To see if your district participates in open enrollment, click on the image below to access a searchable, interactive map of Ohio (to scroll side to side, use the small arrow at the bottom of the list of icons) :


Pathway to Success: The Charles School broadens college access for students who need it

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A college degree is becoming increasingly necessary in order for young people to attain the jobs they want, and yet getting to and through college in some ways has never been more challenging. Many students are ill-prepared when they arrive, others lack the “soft” skills necessary to succeed in a postsecondary environment, and the cost of college is immense. For first-generation college students, these challenges can be daunting.

The Charles School (TCS), a Columbus charter high school that is part of the Graham Family of Schools, partners with Ohio Dominican University to provide an early college experience to students. Students can graduate with up to 62 hours of college credit, tuition free, and earn a high school diploma as well as an associate’s degree in a five-year program.

TCS and other high-quality charter options like it illuminate a path to and through college for many students like Chris Sumlin, profiled in this report. May his compelling story encourage us to support any school option that is effective at closing the college-going gap and setting young people up for success.

A Formula That Works: Five ways to strengthen school funding in Ohio

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By Jennifer O’Neal Schiess, Max Marchitello, and Juliet Squire
Ohio’s current approach to school funding (K-12) has several strengths, including its ability to drive more state aid to disadvantaged districts and to add dollars for students with greater educational needs. But in a time when Ohio’s budget – like that of many other states – is stretched thin, policy makers need to ensure that every dollar is being well spent. As state lawmakers debate Ohio’s biennial budget, thoughtful analysis is more important than ever.
Our latest research report, A Formula That Works, takes a deep dive into Ohio’s education funding policies and includes several recommendations for improvement. Conducted by national education policy experts at Bellwether Education Partners, this analysis touches on questions such as: How well does Ohio’s funding system promote fairness and efficiency to all schools and districts? How can policy makers better ensure that all students have the resources needed to reach their goals? And what are the most critical policy issues that legislators should concentrate on as the budget debate proceeds this spring?
All vital questions for Ohio's students, families, schools, and districts.

Pathway to Success: Citizens Leadership Academy develops strong citizens and scholars

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Citizens Leadership Academy (CLA) is preparing its middle schoolers for success in high school, college, and life. CLA is second among all public schools in the city on student growth. The school’s eighth graders reach and surpass proficiency at a rate that is more than three times that of their peers across the city. Reading and math proficiency rates at CLA are more than double those of Cleveland Metropolitan School District's.
No matter how you slice the data, CLA is providing academic preparation that would likely be unavailable to them if the schools—and its broader high-performing charter network (Breakthrough Schools)—did not exist. And yet its academic prowess is just the tip of the iceberg.
We invite you to read this profile of a CLA student and see for yourself how this high-performing charter school has helped Keith become an honors scholar as well as an active, engaged citizen and community member.

On the Right Track: Ohio’s charter reforms one year into implementation

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Ohio House Bill 2 (HB 2) was signed into law on November 1, 2015. It was a landmark piece of legislation that significantly altered the framework governing the state’s charter schools. The comprehensive legislation sought to right a sector that has struggled since Ohio’s first charter schools opened in 1998, while also protecting the very school-level autonomy that is essential to the charter model.
HB 2 aimed to reverse years of poor oversight and to put Ohio’s charter schools on the road to redemption through tougher oversight of sponsors, the entities that hold charter schools accountable (also commonly known as “authorizers”); strengthening of charter governing boards, the bodies that oversee school operations and management; and requiring greater transparency from charter operators.
Now that more than a year has passed, we take a first close look and how these charter reforms are being implemented—with vigor and care, or with neglect? Are there any early indications that the reforms are improving sector performance? Alternatively, are any unintended consequences becoming clear?
Download the full report now to see for yourself.


In the Media

January 18, 2017
Analysis says Ohio's new charter school reforms are working
November 02, 2015
Kasich signs charter-school reform bill into law
June 17, 2016
Poor-performing charter schools aren't finding second chances after Ohio's charter reform

2016 Fordham Sponsorship Annual Report

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The 2015–16 school year was one of transition in Ohio. New state assessments (again), new charter sponsor evaluations, and even a new state superintendent.  Change is hard, but it is important to remember that the developments of the last twelve months have their roots in policy decisions designed to improve Ohio’s academic standards overall and its charter school sector in particular.

The 2016 Fordham Sponsorship Annual Report is our opportunity to share the Fordham Foundation’s work as the sponsor of eleven schools serving approximately 3,200 students in five cities, especially as that work relates to the large education policy landscape in Ohio.

We urge you to read this report to learn of Fordham’s commitment to quality schools for all children.

Pathway to Success: KIPP Columbus takes seriously its mission to send kids to and through college

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KIPP Columbus achieves extraordinary outcomes for its students, predominantly students in poverty and students of color. Led by Hannah Powell and a visionary board, the school has a rare knack for forging powerful partnerships at every turn—ones that strengthen KIPP students, their families, and the entire community near its campus. We invite you to read this profile of Steve, a KIPP graduate, an immigrant and first-generation college student now attending Vanderbilt University. Steve’s entire family has been uplifted by the school and his story shows powerfully what is really possible in a high-quality charter school.

Setting Sights on Excellence: Ohio’s School Report Cards, 2015-16

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On September 15, Ohio released report cards for approximately 600 school districts and 3,500 public schools (district and charter). These report cards are based on state exam results from the 2015-16 school year, along with several other gauges of student success. This year’s report card analysis, Setting Sights on Excellence, offers a close look at the report card data while also placing them within the context of Ohio’s major policy reforms. With the aim of readying more students for college and career, such reforms include a shift to higher learning standards and more rigorous state assessments. 

The key findings:

  • Reflecting Ohio’s higher learning standards, fewer students in Ohio are deemed “proficient” on state exams than in previous years. In 2015-16, roughly 55 to 65 percent of Ohio pupils met the proficiency bar in the core subjects. Nevertheless, Ohio’s proficiency benchmark still falls short of matching a rigorous, college and career ready standard.
  • In turn, school ratings across that state have declined. In urban areas, public schools receive almost universally low ratings on proficiency based metrics: On the state’s performance index—a key gauge of student achievement—94 percent of urban schools received D or F ratings in 2015-16. This reflects both higher standards and the persistent achievement gaps between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
  • Ohio’s urban schools, however, can perform well on the value added measure—a gauge of student growth that is not correlated with demographics. In 2015-16, 29 percent of urban charter schools received an A or B rating on value added, while 19 percent of district-run schools did so. This report recognizes twenty-five high-performing urban schools that have earned strong value added results over the past three years.

In addition to analyses of statewide data, Setting Sights on Excellence provides an in-depth look at the performance of charter and district sectors in the Ohio Big Eight cities (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown). Download the report today to learn more about Ohio’s report cards.

Pathway to Success: Columbus Collegiate Academy embodies high expectations for all students

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Columbus Collegiate Academy (CCA) epitomizes the relentlessness and vision necessary to close achievement gaps in urban education. Started in the basement of a church with 57 students in 2008, CCA evolved into one of the city’s top-performing middle schools. That success jump-started the United Schools Network, now serving 600 students in four buildings.
Through this profile of one CCA eighth-grader, you can clearly see the benefits of the school’s relentless focus on academics and high expectations both academically and behaviorally. We hope her story reminds you what is possible when we invest in and empower high-quality charter schools and what is at stake when we don't.

Evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program: Selection, Competition, and Performance Effects

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Shortly after Ohio lawmakers enacted a new voucher program in 2005, the state budget office wrote in its fiscal analysis, “The Educational Choice Scholarships are not only intended to offer another route for student success, but also to impel the administration and teaching staff of a failing school building to improve upon their students’ academic performance.” Today, the EdChoice Scholarship Program provides publicly funded vouchers to more than eighteen thousand Buckeye students who were previously assigned to some of the state’s lowest-performing schools, located primarily in low-income urban communities. Yet remarkably little else is known about the program.

Which children are using EdChoice when given the opportunity? Is the initiative faithfully working as its founders intended? Are participating students blossoming academically in their private schools of choice? Does the increased competition associated with EdChoice lead to improvements in the public schools that these kids left?

Fordham’s new study utilizes longitudinal student data from 2003–04 to 2012–13 to answer these and other important questions. 

Three key findings:

  • Student selection: The students participating in EdChoice are overwhelmingly low-income and minority children. But relative to pupils who are eligible for vouchers but choose not to use them, the participants in EdChoice are somewhat higher-achieving and less economically disadvantaged.
  • Competitive effects: EdChoice modestly improved the achievement of the public-school students who were eligible for a voucher but did not use it. The competition associated with the introduction of EdChoice appears to have spurred these public-school improvements.
  • Participant effects: The students who used vouchers to attend private schools fared worse on state exams compared to their closely matched peers remaining in public schools. Only voucher students assigned to relatively high-performing EdChoice eligible public schools could be credibly studied.

Dr. David Figlio, Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and of Economics at Northwestern University, led the research.

In the Media

July 07, 2016
Ohio’s voucher students fare worse than public-school peers, study finds
July 07, 2016
Ohio Study Latest to Show Poor Voucher Results: 7 Theories Dissect The Trend
July 07, 2016
Ohio Vouchers Have Mixed Impact on Student Performance, Study Finds