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State report cards should spur districts to spend ARP funds

[October 14, 2021] In light of the serious challenges faced by students and educators as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic through the 2020-2021 school year, the small drop in the performance index scores for Ohio’s public schools highlighted in the newly released state report cards should come as no surprise to anyone. However, even the Ohio Education Association (OEA) was shocked to see how much poorer Ohio’s charter schools fared over the same time when compared to their traditional public school counterparts.

The state report cards show Ohio’s public school districts saw about a 10% drop in their Performance Index (PI) scores from the 2018-19 schoolyear to the 2020-2021 one. Over that same period, charter schools in the state saw a 25% drop – a 2.5 times greater degree of loss. Breakthrough Schools, which are often touted by charter advocates as shining examples of success, saw the seven worst performance drops in the state, with PI scores plummeting 77 percent. The PI drop for KIPP, a charter school in Columbus, was 66% – more than double the decline seen in Columbus City Schools. The online charter school OHVA’s PI score fell 25%.

More troubling, the state report card data shows chronic absenteeism in Ohio charter schools jumped from 22 percent to 45 percent last year, while those rates increased from 7.5% to 17% in traditional public schools.

“Seeing that nearly half of charter school students were chronically absent in the last school year is completely unacceptable, and truly speaks to the effectiveness of those institutions in educating our children. And we don’t even have recent data on Ohio’s private schools to compare this with since they are not subject to any of the same accountability standards as public districts,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said.

“This should all serve as a serious wakeup call for proponents of the ongoing efforts explode the state’s charter and vouchers schemes and take critical public tax dollars from the 90 percent of Ohio’s kids who attend demonstrably better traditional public schools,” DiMauro added. “Last year, 606 out of 612 public school districts in the state lost funding to charters. Follies like the so-called “Backpack Bill” that was recently introduced in the Ohio House would make this situation exponentially worse.”

“Ohio’s public school students deserve every resource they need to succeed, especially considering the disrupted learning opportunities they’ve endured over the last year and a half. Thankfully, federal money has also been set aside expressly for that purpose, with hundreds of millions of dollars coming to Ohio’s schools through the American Rescue Plan package,” DiMauro said. “It is essential that school districts spend that money as soon as possible on the programs and services that will help bring students back up to their pre-pandemic performance levels. Our kids can’t afford to have districts stockpile that money for a rainy day; they need that support right now.”

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2021 Press Releases