The Ohio Department of Education put out their full report card data today, without the bells and whistles, pending an ongoing, and increasingly suspect, investigation of data manipulation being done by the Ohio Auditor.
While I will delve into these numbers in more detail in coming posts, I thought it would be helpful to explain just how well Ohio's traditional school districts are doing relative to their Charter School counterparts.
-- The average Charter School meets a little more than 30% of the state's indicators. The average traditional public school meets 78% of the state's indicators.
-- On the state's performance index score, Charter Schools score an average of 78. That is a lower score than 92% of Ohio's 3,070 traditional public school buildings that receive a performance index score. So the average Charter School would rate in the bottom 8% of traditional schools.
-- Ohio's traditional public schools graduate nearly 90% of their students, on average. Charter Schools graduate barely 30% on average.
-- On proficiencies, only on 5th Grade Math and 8th Grade Science do the state's 3,223 traditional public schools, on average, score below a 70% proficient level. The average proficiency on all 24 tests for them is 81% proficient. Charter Schools score above 70% proficient in exactly 2 of the 24 tested subjects (they score exactly 70% on one).The average proficiency rate in a Charter School is 60.9%. If one looks at school districts, it's even worse for Charters. The average proficiency rate in an Ohio school district is 85% while only in 4 of the 24 subjects does the average School District have a proficiency rate below 80%.
-- Even the much-maligned Big 8 Urban districts (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown) more than hold their own with Charter Schools, and in many ways outperform their counterparts. The average Big 8 building has 88% of its kids economically disadvantaged, while 79% of Charter Schools do. Yet the Big 8 buildings' average proficiency rate is 61.6% compared with the 60.7% Charter School average. In addition, on the performance index score, the average Big 8 building has a higher performance index score than the average Charter. Again, proficiencies are linked almost perfectly with poverty, as demonstrated here and here. So if the Big 8 is able to outperform Charters, even though the Big 8 has significantly higher poverty rates, what does that tell you?
-- Charters generally outperform Big 8 buildings in Grade 3-8, though only by an average disparity of 3.8%. In High School, the Big 8 blows Charters away by nearly double that at 6.4%. And graduation rates? Again, not close. Big 8 buildings graduate kids at an average rate of 69% over 5-years (not great either, by the way). Charters, again, are about 33%.
Brick and mortar Charters were allowed to open in more than the traditional Big 8 Urban districts in the last budget bill, so these numbers will get even worse for Charter Schools, I would imagine, though I have to more closely examine that.
Once again, kids in the Big 8 school districts lose nearly 12% of their state revenue thanks to the way Charter Schools are funded in this state. Yet despite that, and their greater economically disadvantaged population, the Big 8 are able to mostly outperform Charters.
Charters did do better on the overall, grade-like rating than they have in the past. Only 40% rated D or F on the report card, compared with nearly 50% a few years ago, thanks in no small measure to tighter closure standards instituted in House Bill 1. In addition, 10% of Charters rated A or A+, which is much higher than previous years. For the first time, the largest report card rating (or mode) for Charters was not an F or D; it was a C. Still not great, but better.
Oh, until you look at traditional schools. Only 8.4% of traditional school buildings rate D or F on the report card, while 58% rate A or A+. Nearly 44% of traditional schools rate an A -- the largest category (or mode) for traditional schools.
As for the Big 8, Charters do better than the Big 8 on the A-F scale; however, all school districts lose kids and revenue to Charter Schools. So is it fair to compare the two's performance anymore? Especially given that schools like Boardman -- an excellent rated district -- loses about $1.5 million a year to Charters?
Again, Charters cannot take kids and money from all districts, then demand their overall performance be compared with the traditional districts whose test scores are traditionally lowest.
Only 2.3% of school districts rate D or F on the report card, while 63% rate A or A+. Perhaps that more than anything explains why Charters want to get kids and money from every district, but not be compared with them.
The bottom line is this: after 15 years and nearly $6 billion spent on Charter Schools, is this really the best we can do? Doing utterly worse than the average pubic school while failing to outperform urban districts despite the urban districts having more economically disadvantaged kids and on average, 12% less state revenue per pupil because of the Charter School funding system?
Would that $6 billion have been better spent reducing the need for property taxes? Smaller classes? Tutors? Health care for kids? Richer curriculum?
I think after 15 years, Charter Schools get to stop being called an experiment and get to be called the status quo. And what these data show is that (outside of a few noteworthy exceptions) the status quo ain't working. Especially to the tune of $771 million, which was their cost last school year.
And especially when the funding system leaves every kid in Ohio that isn't in a Charter School with an average of 6.5% less state revenue than they otherwise should have.