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Published: Thursday, 9/13/2007

Efficiency of charter schools to be rated

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The head of the Ohio Council of Community Schools yesterday said she will conduct an in-depth analysis of each of its poor-performing charter schools.

"We are really going to target schools and we have decisions to make - do we leave them open [or] do we close them?" said Allison Perz, executive director of the Toledo agency that authorizes 50 charter schools in Ohio.

Ms. Perz said the group is undertaking the initiative to improve student performance after an academic summit held Monday. It focused on academic performance and developing targeted assistance and intervention strategies to boost academic performance at its lowest-performing charter schools across the state, Ms. Perz said.

Out of the 330 charter schools listed in the Ohio Department of Education's 2006-07 Local Report Cards released in August, 85 were 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.

Ms. Perz said the council will soon release details of its plan for the evaluations. She said it will involve a "full-scale analysis."

"The stakes have increased," Ms. Perz said. "As a result of the federal and state requirements increasing, it is our duty to understand what is happening in our poorest-performing schools and those schools where students are not making adequate yearly progress as outlined in [the federal No Child Left Behind Act]."

Some of the group's schools, including Ohio Connections Academy and Wildwood Environmental Academy in Toledo, have met state and federal re-quirements, Ms. Perz said.

"Others, like Eagle Academy and some of our HOPE Academies, we are gravely concerned about the lack of academic progress," she said.

Twelve of the council's 50 charter schools are in Lucas County.

Also yesterday, Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann filed suits in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court to close Colin Powell Leadership Academy and New Choices Community School, both in Dayton, for academic failures.

"We allege that the institutions have not met their fiduciary responsibilities under Ohio's charitable trust laws," said Leo Jennings, Mr. Dann's spokesman.

"They haven't met their charitable purpose, which is to educate children. They have continually failed, by any measure, to provide what could even be termed an adequate education."

Neither school is authorized by the Ohio Council of Community Schools.

Mr. Jennings said the attorney general would file similar suits against other charter schools in Ohio.

Todd Hanes, executive director for the office of community schools for the Ohio Department of Education, said the education department can close charter schools after they have ranked in academic emergency for three consecutive years, beginning with the 2005-06 year.

"We are looking to hold accountable community schools that fail for three years," Mr. Hanes said. "The first closures will occur in the May of 2009."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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