Sponsors of local charter schools get strong ratings from state

Most of the sponsors that oversee Dayton-area charter schools received solid ratings from the Ohio Department of Education this month, including three that earned the highest rating of “exemplary.”

Sponsors are the agencies that launch new charter schools and, as well as providing school oversight and technical assistance. The state’s annual evaluation system measures the sponsors on three things — the academic performance of their schools, compliance with laws, and adherence to best practices.

2018 STORY: Most charter school sponsors rated effective

Three locally active sponsors were rated exemplary – the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, St. Aloysius Orphanage and the ESC of Lake Erie West.

Buckeye sponsors two of the three local Horizon Science Academy campuses among its 41 charter schools statewide. The ESC of Lake Erie West sponsors 29 schools in Ohio, including the other local Horizon campus and the three local NHA schools – Emerson Academy, Pathway School of Discovery and North Dayton School of Discovery.

St. Aloysius sponsors more than a half a dozen local schools among its 39 statewide – Richard Allen Prep, Richard Allen Academy, Klepinger Academy, Mound Street Academies, Life Skills Center of Dayton, Cliff Park in Springfield and Marshall in Middletown.

No locally active sponsors were among the four that received the lowest rating of poor. Fairborn City Schools (sponsor of Fairborn Digital Academy) and Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio (sponsor of City Day School and Miami Valley Academies) were both rated at the next-lowest level of ineffective.

SEPTEMBER: Local charter schools improve on report card

Any sponsor that receives an “ineffective” overall rating is subject to a quality improvement plan. Any sponsor that receives one “poor” rating or three consecutive “ineffective” ratings is subject to revocation of their sponsorship authority unless they win a state appeal.

This marked the second straight ineffective rating for Fairborn, and the first for Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio.

Locally active sponsors rated effective were the Fordham Foundation (DECA schools and Dayton Leadership Academy), ODE’s Office of School Sponsorship (Dayton Business Technology High School) and the Ohio Council of Community Schools (Dayton SMART Elementary, Montgomery Prep, the Ohio Connections and Ohio Virtual online schools, plus the Prep and Fitness Academies in Trotwood, Middletown and Springfield).

The tightening of charter school laws in Ohio the past few years has dramatically reduced the number of organizations that sponsor charter schools. That number has dropped from 65 to 26 in three years.

NOVEMBER: Limited results for Dayton schools’ attendance push

Chad Aldis, director of Ohio policy for the Fordham Institute (related to the Fordham Foundation that sponsors charter schools), said those sponsors who remain are those who have learned to execute the compliance steps the state requires.

“I think you’ve seen a gradual improvement from the sponsors that have shown a real strong commitment to sponsoring,” Aldis said. “And you see others who have found that the expectations that the state is putting on sponsors is simply a lot to do. For some, especially if they have very few schools, it’s not worth it. There is an administrative cost to it.”

Those sponsors that do earn consistently good marks are about to catch a break thanks to a change in state law. In a presentation to the state school board last week, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria said any sponsor rated exemplary or effective for three consecutive years will be evaluated by ODE every three years rather than annually.

That means the sponsors that oversee more than 80% of Ohio charter schools won’t go through an evaluation process the next two years. Locally, only Fairborn City Schools and Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio would have to go through the state evaluation process for 2019-20.

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