Charter Schools’ Value-Added in Ohio

On the 10th Period blog, an Education Policy Fellow at Innovation Ohio named Stephen Dyer wrote about charter schools’ versus traditional schools’ value-added. Click here to read the full blog post, and also to view Dyer’s illustrative graphs explaining the headline: that “Charter Value Added Grades [are] Not Much Better” than the value added grades of their comparable public schools.

First, it is important to note that the state of Ohio uses the Education Value-Added Assessment Systems (EVAAS) of interest in many prior posts on this blog. Second, it is important to note that there are flaws in all of these data, so consume these findings with a critical eye in that very few people agree that value-added data are yielding valid results, or rather results from which valid inferences can be drawn. Even if the self-reported “best” value-added system is being used in the state of Ohio, this does not mean that these results (even though they support public schools) are indeed accurate much less informative.

Let’s just suppose…particularly, because as Dyer stated, using VAM at a more macro level (i.e., district/school versus teacher level) “VAM holds more promise, is less swayed by demographics than raw test scores, and is better philosophically. Though it still needs a lot of work,” using VAM output at the macro level might be okay, largely again if used only for descriptive purposes. Because this is a school level analysis, other researchers would also be more inclined to agree.

While there are certainly some sampling issues in this analysis, as also acknowledged by Dyer in that charter schools in general have fewer students making some analyses (e.g., analyses of gifted students) impossible, Dyer’s main findings follow:

  • “Districts still get higher percentages of As and Bs on all the value added categories. Meanwhile, Charters get higher percentages of Ds and Fs than districts do.”
  • In one value added category (VAM among the lowest scoring 20% of students), charters got 1% more As than districts.
  • Otherwise, charters “fail at a significantly higher level in all these categories than the districts from which they receive their children and money.”
  • Overall, “Charters do a little bit better than their raw scores would indicate. But it’s still nothing to write home about.”

It is also important to note that “every Ohio school district lost money and children to Charter Schools last year (only Ohio’s tiny Lake Erie island districts did not).” If I was a parent in Ohio, I for one would pause before making such a decision given the above, even given the limitations. If I was a policymaker in Ohio? I’d really rethink this year’s budget given last year’s budget that came in at $914 million.