Ohio Turns to Old Rules to Evaluate Charter Schools

(Photo: Public Domain, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Public Domain, Creative Commons)

Despite a delay made to the new process for the evaluation of charter school sponsors in Ohio, the state department of education has announced plans to push through with the use of the evaluations next month by way of an older process it says is just as tough.

Last year, a crackdown on charter schools in the state required the implementation of new rules for the evaluation of charter school sponsors.  In order to be approved, the rules were sent to a panel of lawmakers, who then sent it back for review by a state agency that considers rules that may affect businesses.  It took months for the rules to reach the lawmakers again, which could cause a delay for the release of charter school sponsors ratings, scheduled for October 15.  As a result, state superintendent Paolo DeMaria said the department of education began to consider other options.

“We made a choice. It turns out the rule that is already in place gives us all the tools we need to have a rigorous and fully compliant sponsor evaluation process and we decided, ok – that’s what we’re going to do,” says DeMaria.

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review rejected the new rule, saying it could not be approved because it would have been retroactive to August 1.

The rule that had been considered by state lawmakers asked for evaluations to include a review of compliance standards for all the schools sponsored by each charter school authorizer.  Meanwhile, the previous rule requires the use of just 10% of the authorizer’s schools.  DeMaria believes the rule is still just as tough and will result in a fair rating, as compliance is only one-third of the evaluation criteria, writes Karen Kasler for IdeaStream.

“Let’s say a sponsor has 20 schools. We’re going to look at two of those schools. But we’re going to test every part of the compliance of those two schools. But then for all the schools, for all 20 schools, we’re also going to look at their academic performance and we’re going to look at whether that sponsor is engaged in quality practices with all of them,” says DeMaria.

The new rule will also require schools to show compliance for all of the 319 laws.  In order to score an “exemplary” rating, a school cannot miss more than two items.  Schools that miss more than four items will receive an “ineffective” rating and a score of zero.

DeMaria noted that all compliance data for sponsors will be made public, along with their ratings.  He added that sponsors who do not fully comply with the over 300 laws will be penalized by having their ratings drop.  These laws include things such as admission procedures, an updated school calendar, and policies that will ensure student information is kept confidential, writes Jim Siegel for The Columbus Dispatch.

The Department of Education noted that 65 out of the 67 charter sponsors in the state have already handed over the necessary data in order to show that all laws were being followed.

Plans continue at the department to work on a new rule for use in evaluations next year.