Dan Honda / Contra Costa Times/Landov
This fall Ohio will lift a moratorium on the creation of new online schools, allowing up to five new online schools to open.
But a provision inserted into the House version of the state budget earlier this month could expand online education in Ohio even further.
Under the provision, Ohio’s existing online schools could each split into two schools and avoid the cap on the creation of new online schools.
The budget amendment only applies to existing online schools that serve at least grades one through eight. And it only allows them to split during the next two school years.
We asked the operators of Ohio’s largest online schools if they had lobbied for the change.
ECOT, which operates the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, and Connections Education, which operates Ohio Connections Academy, told us they had not lobbied for the amendment. A spokesperson for K12 Inc., which operates Ohio Virtual Academy, said Friday he did not immediately have information about any involvement by K12.
Officials at OHDELA, operated by White Hat Management, did not return our calls.
Ohio’s Online Schools
About 90 percent of Ohio e-school students attend one of seven statewide online charter schools.
|Electronic Classroom Of Tomorrow||12,304|
|Ohio Virtual Academy||11,527|
|Ohio Connections Academy||2,975|
|Alternative Education Academy||2,131|
|Buckeye OnLine School for Success||1,471|
|Virtual Community School Of Ohio||1,300|
|Treca Digital Academy||234|
Source: Ohio Department of Education
The idea of allowing online schools to separate their elementary and middle schools from their high schools has been floated before, said Bill Sims, head of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Many Ohio online charter schools have graduation rates of less than 50 percent. Sims said that’s because many high school students who enroll in online schools are months or years behind where they should be.
Sims said online schools’ state ratings for their elementary and middle schools shouldn’t be dragged down because of the way the state evaluates high schools.
“The goal there is not to castigate them as a poor-performing school, it’s to try to get those kids graduated and career-ready,” he said.