With recent revelations that one of Ohio’s largest online charter schools (or “E-Schools”) – the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) – was apparently paid for students who should have been dis-enrolled for chronic absence, it is important to examine how Ohio’s E-Schools are a significant drain on the state’s education dollar and account for many of the problems that plague Ohio’s poor-performing charter schools.
Four years ago, Innovation Ohio authored a look at Ohio’s E-Schools and found that the state was grossly overpaying these schools, while their operators provided huge campaign contributions to Ohio lawmakers. Since that time, while some E-Schools have seen slight performance improvements, the situation has gotten worse because now 10,000 more students attend and an additional $70 million are being spent on schools that, on average, graduate barely 35% of their students.
Our latest report, published on KnowYourCharter.com by the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project, shows emphatically that Ohio’s E-Schools are a significant contributor to Ohio’s overall poor charter school performance.
Several provisions in Senate Bill 148 – currently before the Ohio Senate – would address some of the most pressing accountability needs in the E-School sector. However, they do not address the most glaring need – the need to reform how the state pays for its E-Schools.