Leading Charter Advocates Issue Call To Reform E-schools
Sen. Schiavoni's SB 298 would increase accountability for online schools

Columbus—Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) is pleased that today three of the leading national charter school advocacy groups joined the growing movement for higher standards for online public charter schools.  In a new report, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Association of Charter School Operators and the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now issued a call to action for state leaders to address the disturbingly low performance by online charter schools (or e-schools as they called in Ohio).

“E-schools in Ohio and across the nation have a track record of failure that can no longer be ignored,” said Senator Schiavoni. "The evidence is overwhelming that too many e-schools are failing to educate our children and wasting tax dollars. Even charter school advocacy groups now admit that higher standards and more accountability are needed. That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 298 to address the many shortcomings of Ohio’s publicly funded online charter schools.”

Here are key quotes from the report entitled “A Call to Action to Improve the Quality of Full-time Virtual Charter Public Schools”:

  • “The breadth of the underperformance by full-time virtual charter schools convinces us that states need to change the policy framework within which these schools can operate.”
  • “There is no reason why a full-time virtual charter school shouldn’t be able to meet all the academic standards that other schools meet.”
  • “It is apparent that too many state policy environments lack key accountability provisions needed for full-time virtual charter schools.”
  • “We urge state leaders and authorizers to address these problems head-on instead of turning a blind eye to them.”

Ohio has nearly 40,000 students enrolled in e-schools, with most ranked among the worst performing schools in the state.  In fact, ECOT, the state’s largest online school with 15,000 students, has one of the worst graduation rates in the nation.

In addition, three online schools in Ohio have been caught exaggerating attendance and overbilling taxpayers for students that were not taking classes.  One of the schools had to repay nearly $800,000. 

Among its provisions calling for higher standards, SB 298 would demand more accountability for e-schools by requiring them to report their attendance to the Ohio Department of Education on a monthly basis and have the accuracy of the data verified by a certified teacher.  The legislation has received four hearings in the Senate Finance committee, but has not been scheduled for a vote.

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