Ohio 2016 State Policy Detail
STRONG POLICIES; TIME FOR BETTER PRACTICES
Ohio must focus on aggressively implementing its strong authorizer and school quality and accountability policies to ensure they translate into an improved charter sector.
- Refine and streamline authorizer evaluations. After appropriate questions on methodology led to the premature withdrawal of Ohio’s first sponsor ratings, the Department of Education completed its first comprehensive round of evaluations using a revised methodology. These ratings will make authorizing more transparent and trigger consequences for authorizers that do not meet expectations. However, the Department has received feedback that the evaluations measure too many things, diluting the value of the results and creating an onerous system for both the Department and the authorizers. Going forward, the Department should consider ways to streamline its rating methodology to better focus on key indicators of authorizer quality.
- Through practice, ensure authorizers are using the strong renewal standards afforded them by law. Ohio law contains multiple provisions concerning renewal; some constitute a strong renewal standard and some constitute a weak renewal standard. Legislation passed in 2015 contained provisions to reinforce the intent that authorizers will use a strong renewal standard. NACSA encourages the state to use guidance, the authorizer evaluation process, and other means to ensure a strong renewal standard is indeed being used.
- Renew focus on virtual charter school accountability. Oversight of virtual charter schools has drawn sharp attention this year. Recent reports by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (examining virtual education in Ohio) and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 50CAN, and NACSA (examining virtual education nationwide) were critical of virtual schools’ academic performance. The Ohio Auditor of State has called for funding virtual charter schools based on performance. These developments may impact policy going forward, but Ohio’s authorizers should use their existing powers under law to develop sound academic, financial, and operational goals for virtual charters, to hold virtual schools accountable for performance, and to close chronically failing virtual schools.
- Establish a statewide incentive for the replication of high-performing charter schools.