To the Editor:
I write in response to the Digital Education blog post about the New York University and RAND Corp. study on online education in Ohio (“Online Charter Students in Ohio Perform Far Worse Than Peers, Study Finds,” Feb. 16, 2017).
While we at the Ohio Connections Academy support the need for research to determine what works best for students, we are disappointed by studies that fail to recognize areas of success.
The education outcomes reported in the study focus on student-achievement assessments and the Ohio Graduation Test, or OGT, from 2009 to 2013. During that time, the Ohio Department of Education rated our academy “excellent” for the 2009-10 school year, and “effective” for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. We met state averages or indicators for the OGT for school years 2011-12 and 2012-13.
More recently, during the 2014-15 school year, there were some bright spots in Ohio Connections Academy’s report card. The academy’s K-3 literacy score was a B, and it met state proficiency reading averages in the 4th through 8th grades. The academy also met state standards for most OGTs, and received an A in each broad category measuring student progress.
As policymakers and opinion leaders seek to bring accountability to online schools, they first should understand how these schools work. This is why we invite legislators and reporters to visit our learning centers to see how our students are engaged and how their progress is monitored as they work through the curriculum.
As discussions continue about making online education more accountable, I would argue that lawmakers are also accountable for maintaining school choice in Ohio. This choice should include online education, if for no other reason than this is the only option that works for some families. That choice should not be taken away from parents just because some schools fail or some measures obscure the accomplishments of students who are doing well. That’s true of traditional schools, too.
We should all be focused on doing a more thoughtful job of measuring results, so we all can be truly accountable.
Ohio Connections Academy
A version of this article appeared in the April 05, 2017 edition of Education Week as Online Education Is Only Option That Works for Some Families