Monday, October 9, 2017

Ohio's School Districts Outperforming Charter Schools at Historically High Rate on Performance Index Score

Under Ohio law,  the state's performance index score is the primary determinant of whether a charter school will open in your community. The score is a weighted measure of student standardized test scores -- scores notoriously linked to student demographics.

The state's scores have dropped overall during the last several years as new tests and standards have forced schools and students to adjust their learning. However, what is clear from an examination of Ohio's historic performance index results is that Ohio's public school districts have been much better at adjusting to the changes than Ohio's charter schools.

In fact, the last two school years -- while representing the two lowest median performance index scores for school districts -- represent the two largest relative score differentials between districts and charters ever recorded.

What's that mean? It means that while Ohio's school districts have dropped, charters have dropped more, making the score disparity between the two larger than ever. The 2015-2016 school year saw districts outperform charters by nearly 50 percent. Last year, it was closer to 45 percent.

For several years, the gap had been narrowing -- especially after the state effectively removed the 90 worst performing charters from qualifying for the performance index score after the 2011-2012 school year.

However, while Ohio's school districts saw a quick, two-year 13 percent drop in performance index scores, charters saw a 27 percent drop during that period -- more than double the relative dip.

Again, the reason I'm harping on performance index scores, though I agree with my charter school advocate friends that the scores are too closely tied to demographics, is because performance index scores are the primary reason charter schools can open in school districts. If school districts score in the bottom 5 percent of districts on performance index, charters can come to town.

However, it is abundantly clear that in the vast majority of cases, those charters will produce performance index scores that are often far worse than the districts whose scores are so troubling to lawmakers they allow competition to ostensibly improve the community's educational options.

If performance index is the measure by which we are determining this need for district competition, what does it say that the alleged competitors score so much worse?

Suffice it to say I get why charter school advocates are now trying to move away from proficiency based accountability regimes. Call me cynical if you wish, but I wonder how much of this move by charter advocates is about the fact that charters overall just perform more poorly than their district competition?


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