National Spotlight Reinforces Need For Online School Reform
"...publicly funded online schools like ECOT have become the new dropout factories."

COLUMBUS – Today, a troubling New York Times article shed new light on the gravity of the problems at Ohio’s largest e-schools. Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Cathy Johnson – former President of the Ohio School Boards Association and current President of the South-Western City School Board – responded to these revelations with a call for the immediate passage of Senate Bill 298, Leader Schiavoni’s e-school reform bill.

“If students aren’t logging in, they aren’t learning, and they aren’t going to graduate,” said Senator Schiavoni. “High dropout rates are directly linked to problems with attendance. My bill addresses the heart of these issues. S.B. 298’s passage would be a significant step toward correcting the shocking failure of many e-schools to educate our students.”

The New York Times article scrutinizes the finances and graduation rates of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which is the largest online charter school in Ohio. The Times notes that “more students drop out of ECOT or fail to finish high school within 4 years than at any other school in the country," and that "for every 100 students who graduate on time, 80 do not." Based on this number, over 6,500 or almost 45% of Ohio’s 15,000 ECOT students will either drop out or fail to finish high school in four years.

“It is deeply disturbing to know that the students we lose each year to ECOT have such a high likelihood of never receiving their diploma,” said Ms. Johnson. “As a longtime educator and current school board president, I am appalled that ECOT takes taxpayer dollars while failing to give thousands of students even a basic education. It is time that e-schools follow the same rigorous standards of accountability and transparency as traditional schools. Legislators must take action today.” 

This school year alone, South-Western City Schools will lose over 400 students and $3 million in funding to ECOT. South-Western is Ohio’s ninth largest school district.

In addition to strengthening attendance data collection and reporting, S.B. 298 would trigger earlier interventions when students do not log into class. It would also require parent-teacher conferences if a student’s academic performance declines, and would require turnover (mobility) rates to be listed on each e-school’s report card.


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