Eye on Education


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Dropout Recovery Schools


Dropout recovery schools serve students ages 16-21 who are at least one academic year behind their peers or endured a crisis that prevents them from staying in their traditional home school. Students are required to pass the Ohio Graduation Test, although they do not have to meet Ohio’s graduation requirements.  And the school must create an individual career plan for each student that lays out how a student will enter a two-year degree or apprenticeship program, or get some sort of industry certification.

How many exist?

The majority of dropout recovery schools are community or charter schools. In the 2013-2014 school year, some 85 dropout recovery charter schools were open around the state.  More than 13,000 students were enrolled in the 2012-2013 school year according to data from the Ohio Department of Education. At their peak, these schools enrolled over 15,000 students in 2011, according to a report from the Thomas Fordham Institute.

John Charlton, a spokesperson for ODE, says there are about 12 alternative education programs housed within school districts that have a waiver to operate dropout recovery prevention programs.  The waiver gives students in those programs some flexibility regarding their graduation requirements.

Ohio Department of Education data analyzed by Stephen Dyer—a fellow at the left leaning think tank Innovation Ohio—shows $105 million in school district funds were transferred to dropout recovery schools in the 2012-2013 school year—the latest year for which data are available.

How are they held accountable?

As of 2013, dropout recovery schools now have their own state report cards.  The following criteria are measured:

  • Graduation rate: the percent of students who started 9th grade together who graduate within four, five, six, seven or eight years)
  • High school test passage: the percent of students who passed the required state high school tests
  • Gap closing: how well the school narrows the gap in math and reading scores, as well as graduation rates for several subgroups including Black and Latino students

How well are they performing?

An analysis of report card data by Innovation Ohio shows overall, 22 percent of students graduate within four years, 26 percent within five years, and 22 percent within six years.

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