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Growth of Ohio Charter Schools Slows Following Rocky 2014

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The number of new charter schools opening in 2014 slowed down in Ohio, a state typically considered fertile ground—too fertile, according to some critics—for the public, but independently run schools.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that only 11 new schools opened last year, compared to more than 50 in 2013. In any given year, it's not unusual for 30 schools to open, the paper notes.

During that same period, 28 schools were closed down statewide, more than any other year since 2000.

The quality of Ohio's charters has also been been getting more scrutiny. A study released in December by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that Ohio charter school students on average learn less in a year than their district school peers.

It seems Ohio, which has had a relatively unfettered approach to charter school growth compared to other states, is starting to tack toward more regulation. Following the release of the CREDO study, the state's governor, Republican John Kasich, promised to revamp Ohio's charter law.

Sponsors, the groups that charter and oversee schools, are also coming under more scrutiny, reports The Columbus Dispatch:

"Starting this month, the Education Department also will begin using a new system to evaluate sponsors. Poorly performing sponsors—those who oversee chronically bad schools—now risk losing their right to sponsor charters. Officials say the evaluation system might discourage sponsors from taking great risks with new charters. The idea is that only charters with a real shot at successfully educating students will open."

Ohio's auditor, David Yost, also got involved and is currently investigating how some sponsors screen charter school applications as well as their relationships with both schools and school management companies.


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