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Study Suggests Ohio "Rethink" Charter School Policy

October 15, 2009

CLEVELAND, Ohio - It might be time to rethink charter school policy in the Buckeye State. A new report from Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute, shows that kindergartners entering charter and magnet schools in the state's urban districts are better prepared in early literacy than children entering kindergarten in neighborhood schools. But after kindergarten, recent research shows, charter schools are not producing better results on state tests when compared to traditional public schools.

Report author Piet van Lier says something isn't working if charters are getting better-prepared students and producing equal or lower achievement.

"As the legislature looks at this, as other policymakers think about how best to improve the school system, we have to ask, 'How do we really make sure that our school system works for everybody and that everybody is getting the education they need to move ahead in life?'"

Van Lier says this evidence that charter schools have a head start in terms of student achievement should be taken into account as new policies, particularly those promoting charter expansion, are considered for Ohio. The first charter school opened in Ohio in 1997 and now the state has more than 300.

The study also underlines the importance of investing resources to strengthen public education systems. For example, van Lier says, effective pre-kindergarten education (pre-K) is shown to boost long-term achievement.

"In this case, the kindergarten assessment scores are boosted by good pre-K. That suggests the idea that a real benefit comes from putting out resources early and making sure all our kids are ready."

The entire study is available at www.policymattersohio.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH