Absentee Ballot Requests Roll In, And Digging Into The Data In Report Cards On Schools

Absentee ballots applications are being requested in big numbers this year, which is no surprise to experts who’ve been predicting high turnout in spite of the unpopularity of the two major party candidates for president. And a statue of Ohio native Thomas Edison has gone from the Statehouse to Capitol Hill.

The state’s annual report cards are brought bad news home to most of Ohio’s traditional public and charter schools. Sixty percent of schools received a D or F grade for achievement. Less than 15% an A or B grade.  State officials had said the standards have been raised, so the terrible grades weren’t unexpected and shouldn’t be read as failure of the Ohio educational system. But as Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, school administrators are slamming the state and the way leaders are measuring student learning.

There’s a ton of information in the report cards that goes beyond the letter grades, including economic data. And how students' economic backgrounds affects student performance is a key point of interest for three organizations that represent officials in traditional public schools. A report commissioned by the three groups shows, once again, that districts with high numbers of poor students do poorly, and those with fewer economically disadvantaged kids have better test scores. Dr. Howard Fleeter with the Ohio Education Policy Institute wrote the report.

While most traditional public schools didn’t do well on their report cards, Ohio’s charter schools did even worse. Of the state’s 279 charters, only five received an A on the test performance portion, and 270 other schools got an F in that section. 50 charters earned Fs in all categories. Neil Clark is a longtime Republican strategist and budget analyst, and also is a lobbyist and consultant for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the state’s largest online charter school. He says there’s a problem with the way the state measures and grades education – including the way it asks online charters to track attendance, which is the basis for ECOT’s ongoing legal battle with the state.

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