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Published: 8/15/2007

Charters fare poorly in state report cards

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Nearly half of Ohio's failing schools are charter schools, according to state performance report cards released yesterday.

Locally, a number of charter schools received lower performance grades from the state.

Among the now-failing schools is Aurora Academy in East Toledo - Ohio's oldest operating charter school.

Out of the 330 charter schools listed in the Ohio Department of Education's 2006-07 Local Report cards yesterday, 85 are in academic emergency, 54 in academic watch, 80 in continuous improvement, 16 effective, and eight excellent. Eighty-seven charter schools did not get a rating.

Statewide, there were 182 schools, both traditional and charter, in academic emergency, said Mitchell Chester, senior associate superintendent of policy and accountability for the Ohio Department of Education.

Charter schools in Ohio now make up more than 46 percent of the state's failing schools. Mr. Chester said the law has teeth to hold poor-performing charter schools accountable.

"A charter school that can't get above a poor level of performance after three years [can] be shut down," he said.

Mr. Chester added: "Part of the debate is the mission of charter schools and the students that they serve."

Two Toledo charter schools were among the state's best.

Toledo School for the Arts retained its excellent designation, met 19 out of 21 possible state standards, and scored an impressive 100.8 performance index score on the 120-point scale.

M.O.D.E.L. Community School also retained its excellent designation, but director Mary Walters said all students at the school take an alternative assessment.

"These children all have autism and are not tested at the same level as typical children," Ms. Walters said.

"To be honest, it's really apples to oranges."

Allison Perz, executive director of the Toledo-based Council of Community Schools, said charter-school performance suffered because of low scores on new exams administered for the first time during 2006-07.

Children at traditional schools also performed poorly on those new tests - science and social studies, in both fifth and eighth grades - and school district ratings suffered.

"I don't think anybody in the charter-school movement is trying to shy away from high academic achievement, standards, and good quality for students," Ms. Perz said.

Last year, Aurora Academy was ranked excellent, even though it had one of the lowest composite of test scores among all schools in the city - charter or traditional - and only met one of the state's standards, attendance.

The school again met just one state standard, attendance, and scored a 64.3 performance index score.

This year, it was among the 85 statewide that was designated academic emergency, or F on a grade scale.

Alliance Academy of Toledo, a kindergarten through 12th-grade charter school with about 350 students, was among nine local charter schools placed in academic emergency.

However, five of the six Toledo charter schools run last school year by the company didn't perform well.

George A. Phillips Academy, Paul Laurence Dunbar Academy, and Toledo Accelerated Academy, which is now called Toledo Preparatory Academy, were each placed in academic emergency. Lake Erie Academy and Eagle Academy both got Ds.

Wildwood Environmental reached eight out of 19 standards and was rated in continuous improvement.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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