To the Editor:
As the superintendent of Ohio Connections Academy, a statewide online public charter school, which serves 4,800 students, I found the Education Week article “Virtual Charter Schools Fall Short on Four-Year Graduations” failed to give the complete picture of online schools (April 18, 2019).
Online schools have higher mobility rates and enroll a significantly higher number of credit-deficient high school transfer students than other schools.
An unintentional consequence of the federal adjusted graduation rate policy incentivizes schools to encourage credit-deficient students to move to other schools. This results in students getting passed around without being served.
OCA is held to the same state graduation standards as traditional schools, so when a student is significantly credit deficient, we advise them on what it will take to catch up and provide them with the support required to get them back on track.
Our graduation rate for students who arrive as freshmen and stay through their senior year has been between 92 and 95 percent. For the last three years, our federal adjusted graduation rate has been 70 percent. One hundred and eighty-eight of our 1,872 high school students are in our dual-enrollment college program. Forty-nine percent of our 2018-19 graduating class has been accepted to colleges, earning a collective $4.2 million in scholarships.
We look forward to working with federal and state policymakers to consider the issues caused by the federal adjusted graduation rate and to find solutions to these problems so that we can engage students who are at-risk of dropping out.
Ohio Connections Academy
A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2019 edition of Education Week as In Defense of Online Charters