For the first time, Ohio charter-school sponsors with poorly performing schools have been banned from taking on new charter schools. But the sponsors affected by this new ban work with relatively few of the state’s charter schools.
The Ohio Department of Education released a ranking of all Ohio charter school sponsors yesterday. At the top of the list: the Field Local school district, Bowling Green State University and the Dayton City school district. At the bottom: the Ridgedale school district, the Hardin County Educational Service Center and the Mansfield school district.
Those bottom three sponsors–plus six others–have been banned from authorizing new charter schools until the academic performance of their existing charter schools improve.
The bans are the result of a new provision in the current state budget that bans the bottom fifth of charter school sponsors from sponsoring additional schools.
A charter school sponsor’s main job is to provide technical administrative support, including doing things like verifying that the school complies with state health and safety laws and insurance requirements. A sponsor is also supposed to monitor its schools’ academic and financial performance. In return, the sponsor gets up to 3 percent of its charter schools’ state funding.
The sponsor role is different from the role of a charter school operator. Charter school operators, which include both for-profit and non-profit groups, manage schools’ day-to-day operations while sponsors are supposed to play more of an oversight role.
This ban is the first time charter-school sponsors have been barred from sponsoring additional schools for academic reasons. However, as applied this year, it only affects some of the state’s smallest charter school sponsors:
How the Rankings Were Calculated
- The Ohio Department of Education calculated a “composite performance index” for each charter-school sponsor.
- The performance index is a weighted average. That means that to calculate the composite performance index, the Department of Education multiples the percentage of students in all of the sponsor’s schools at each level (failing, passing and so on) by a number: 1 for the percentage passing, more for students doing better and fractions for students scoring at lower levels.
- Schools that specialize in helping students who had previously dropped out or those that serve students with disabilities are not including in ranking calculations.
All but two of the sponsors in the bottom fifth sponsor a single “regular” charter school, that is, a charter school that does NOT specialize in serving students who had previously dropped out or students with disabilities. Six of the sponsors in the bottom fifth are school districts; two are educational service centers. Educational Service Centers are run by elected boards of education and provide professional training and other services to local public schools.
See full list here.
If sponsors move out of the bottom fifth by this time next year, they can again sponsor additional charter schools.
(Coming next week from StateImpact Ohio: Does the growth of charter schools in Ohio mean that more students are getting better educations? What types of charter schools succeed? Which ones falter? Starting next week, StateImpact Ohio launches a series of in-depth reports on our state’s charter schools.)