Charter Schools

Charter Schools



A charter school is created based on an idea of developing a school that includes teaching methods different from traditional public schools, to better benefit students. Whether charter schools will fulfill this potential depends on how charter schools are designed and implemented. Since the breadth and depth of charter schools within the nation are so varied, the information within this page specifically focuses on information regarding Ohio’s charter schools.




What is a Charter School?


A charter school is an independently run public school granted greater flexibility in its operations, in return for greater accountability for performance. The "charter" establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school's mission, program, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment.


Charter Schools FAQ Source:




1974: Ray Budde publishes the paper “Education by Charter” That initially gets no response from the public, but would eventually set the foundation for charter schools that we know today.


1988: Budde publication from 1974 republished and distributed widely.


1988: Albert Shanker proposes the idea of teachers setting up new autonomous schools under the name first created by Ray Budde: charter schools.


1991: The first law allowing the establishment of charter schools was passed in Minnesota


1992: First charter school opens in Minnesota.


1992: California passes charter school bill; Bill Clinton is supportive of charter schools in his campaign.


1993: Six additional states including Colorado, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, enact charter school legislation.


1997: First charter schools were authorized in Ohio.


1998: First charter school opens in Ohio.


2000: Minnesota receives Innovation in American Government Award for the chartering law, George W. Bush prominently includes chartering as part of his education platform and is elected president.


2008: Cleveland had the largest charter school enrollment in Ohio (12,674), followed by Columbus (9,259), Cincinnati (6,794) Toledo (6,428), and Dayton (6,252); Barack Obama and John McCain include charter schools in their campaign.


2009: With more than 4 billion in federal aid, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pressure states to ease limits on charter schools.


2010: All but 11 states have chartering laws.




Funding for Programs:




The chart below lists the differences in funding between charter schools and traditional public schools:




  • Charter schools are publicly funded, tuition-free schools.

  • Charter schools are freed from some of the rules and regulations that apply to other public schools, as long as they continue to produce certain results.

  • Funds are determined by the enrollment of the school.

  • Funding may not divert resources from traditional public schools.

  • Private schools are not allowed to convert to public charter schools, and private for-profit entities are not eligible to receive a charter.


  • Number of charter schools in Ohio: ~400

  • Number of enrolled students in Ohio charter schools: 95,000

  • Traditional public schools use a combination of state funds, local sources such as property taxes (and in some cases income taxes) and federal funds.

  • The amount of state funds that a district receives is based on a formula that takes into account the student enrollment and the property wealth of the district.


  • Number of traditional public schools in Ohio: 4,237

  • Number of enrolled students in Ohio traditional public schools:1,764,297



Assessment of Programs:



Charter schools face a lot of criticism about whether they have a higher, lower, or the same success rate as public schools. Most research has shown that charter schools, in Ohio, have the same performance levels as their public school counterparts. Charter schools have often been referred to as “flash and crash schools,” meaning that they are managed poorly and have a low teacher retention rate, however our research has shown that charter school performance is relatively comparable to Ohio’s traditional public schools.


Opinion on the Success of Ohio’s Charter Schools:


“Charter schools have been a source of conflict among Ohio’s educators and policymakers. Some champion charter schools as alternatives to struggling urban districts around the state and as an option for parents seeking schools that best suit their children. Others say charter schools siphon funding from local public school districts and do not offer students a better education.”



Ohio Charter School Performance Report for 2010-2011


This report provides detailed descriptions and graphics comparing the “success” of traditional public schools and public charter schools in the eight major urban districts in Ohio (Ohio 8): Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. We have highlighted some of the findings below.




Chart 1: shows that a greater percentage of charter schools than traditional district schools had Performance Index scores of 100 or better. The Performance Index score is a weighted average of a school’s student achievement in all tested subjects in grades, three through eight, with the most weight given to students who exceed state standards.



Chart 2: shows the percentages of Ohio 8 charter and traditional schools in terms of where they fall in “Value Added Growth” categories. “Value Added” is a measure of the growth students made in both reading and math over the course of one year, compared with how much progress the state expected of them.



Charts 11 & 12: show the percentages of Ohio 8 charter and traditional schools in those districts in each performance category. From best to worst, those performance categories are: excellent with distinction, excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch, and academic emergency. Note that more charter schools received the rating of “excellent with distinction,” even though charter schools also have more schools in “academic emergency.”



Ohio 8 Report Card Comparison:





  • Not private so there is no tuition

  • Provides families with alternative options to public schools in their area

  • All students can apply and be admitted to charter schools within their area

  • Tend to have smaller class sizes and smaller enrollment numbers

  • Some schools focus on particular disciplines such as science or math

  • Competition to maintain and gain academic success drives motivation and success in charter school because they always run the risk of being shut down


  • Some funding is pushed towards charter schools and taken away from public schools

  • Teachers are paid less than most public school districts

  • Compared to public schools, charter school have a higher staff turnover based on performance

  • Often funding and resources are not distributed appropriately

  • There is not a lot of evidence on charter school success as charter schools started in the 1990’s and are still a new idea

  • Most performance shows charter schools perform relatively on the same level as public schools

  • If more students apply than there are open spots, the admissions process becomes a random lottery

  • Often operated similar to businesses and business models as well as schools

  • Often charter schools limit their applications and enrollment based on targeted controls

  • Can often lead to less diversity based on target enrollment and the area






There are many different charter schools in Cleveland and some examples of charter school groups are:

  • Breakthrough Schools

    • K-8

    • Over 2600 students in 7 schools

    • Each school in this system is part of a different model that works uniquely with students

    • Each school offers a different learning environment and classroom setting

  • I Can Schools

    • Most schools are K-8, but some are K-12

    • 7 different schools

    • Prepare students for a college-prep level high school

    • Respect, Responsibility and Relentlessness

  • The Intergenerational Schools

    • 2 schools

    • K-6 and K-8

    • Goal is to create multi-generational learners and community members

  • Citizens Academy

    • 2 schools

    • Virtue-centered schooling and community involvement

    • Home visits before school year starts, extended school days,

  • The Prep Schools

    • 2 schools

    • K-8

    • Focus on preparation for college and making sure all students have academic success


Akron has a few charter schools and is considered one of the top 8 districts with urban schooling and some of these schools are:

  • I Can Schools

    • Most schools are K-8, but some are K-12

    • 7 different schools

    • Prepare students for a college-prep level high school

    • Respect, Responsibility and Relentlessness

  • Edge Academy

    • Hands-on learning through field trips, classroom experiments and community involvement

    • Team teaching

    • Students have strict dress codes, behavior plans and even restrictions on packed lunches

  • Next Frontier Academy

    • Agriculture based school

    • Participation in FFA, child nutrition and aquaponics

    • Free tutoring and Saturday classes

    • Entrepreneurship program and focuses on making students responsible for their own job searches

  • Imagine Schools

    • 2 Schools

    • Use fun, integrity, and justice as part of their mission statement

    • Bring parents and guardians into the school community to their full potential 


Cincinnati has many different charter schools and one specific school is highlighted later on. A few more examples are:

  • Alliance Academy

    • K-8

    • Free breakfast to all students and students may qualify for free/reduced lunch

    • Focus on school safety and individual attention/instruction

    • The curriculum and instruction also have a moral aspect involved

  • Carpe Diem

    • Grades 7-12

    • Blended learning model: online and classroom based instruction

    • Students are not “labeled” by their grade level, but the school focuses on students mastering individual subjects instead

  • STEAM Academy

    • Focus on STEM models of teaching, but also include Arts (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math)

  • King Academy Community School

    • Focus on an academic, moral, physical and aesthetic education

    • Free tutoring and Saturday learning
    • Focus on afterschool field trips and lab time


Columbus has many different charter schools and one will be highlight specifically as long with highlights from a few other charter schools:

  • KIPP Public Charter Schools

    • Grades 5-8

    • “Knowledge Is Power Program”

    • Focus on 5 pillars: choice and commitment, more time. power to lead, focus on results, high expectations

    • Goal to serve students that live in undereducated and disadvantaged communities

  • Graham Expeditionary Middle School

    • Small school and classroom setting

    • Individual needs for all students known by teachers

    • Focus on hands-on learning and exploration

    • Project based learning

  • Nexus Academy

    • Blended learning high school

    • Provides an environment similar to college

    • Heavy focus on using technology and always staying up to date on new advances

  • Focus Learning Academy

    • 3 schools that focus on students age 16-22

    • Online learning with some face to face meetings for the core subjects

    • Self-paced learning and students can choose their own course of study

  • Cornerstone Academy

    • K-8

    • Core and Paragon Curriculum

    • School is similar to a magnet school with a focus on arts and technology

    • Mosaica instruction design (8 pillar design): Student achievement, extended learning time, secure environment, professional development, community support, integrated technology, parent involvement, Paragon curriculum
  • Blended Learning: traditional teaching combined with individuality of online schools

  • Students will work towards the four paths that the school focuses on:

    • Trade schools

    • College

    • Employment right after high school (wage based)

    • Military

  • Teachers are encouraged to create individualized lesson plans based off of the school’s program, Accelerate It!

  • Junior and Senior year allow students to start internships and residencies in their career interests


Canton charter schools are similar to those in Cleveland and Akron, due to their close proximity in the state. Many schools that are in the Canton area, students in Cleveland and Akron sometimes attend.



Dayton is another urban area with charter schools similar to those in Cincinnati including:

  • Richard Allen Schools

    • Focus on 5 strategies: early education, high expectations, focused core curriculum with direct instruction, parent engagement, technological support

    • The students learn that failure is not an acceptable option

    • Four schools that serve different grade ranges between K-9

  • North Dayton School of Discover

    • K-8

    • School safety and individualized instruction are top priorities

    • Focus on moral and academic instruction

    • Free breakfast, longer school days and Saturday classes

  • STEAM Academy

  • DECA Prep School

    • K-6

    • Dayton Early College Academy

    • Students that are considered to be first generation college students

    • Age appropriate extracurricular activities, rigorous curriculum and design for students planning college later in life

  • Horizon Science Academy

    • Focus on science, technology and math

    • K-5

    • College prep curriculum and instruction

    • Teacher, student, community involvement 


  • Bennett Venture Academy

    • Moral and academic instruction

    • K-8

    • Safe and individualized needs are top priorities

  • Phoenix Academy

    • Educational environment that is for students needing “non-traditional” classroom instruction

    • Online learning to provide self-paced learning: students must be online 6 hours a day or 30 hours per week.

    • High school and a junior high

  • The Maritime Academy of Toledo

    • Grades 5-12

    • Weekly individualized plans for each student are created based on needs and where they are going next in the curriculum

    • Hands-on learning and classrooms are set up in stations

    • Nautical themes/courses: marine related themes integrated into all courses


Youngstown has many charter schools, which are similar to those discussed above and other neighboring cities, but a few examples are:

Summit Academy

  • Focus on students with ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum disorders and other related disorders for alternative learners

  • Therapeutic Service based school

    • Martial arts classes

    • Sensory integration, learning, and accommodations are the central focus for building classrooms

    • Most students have an IEP

    • Low student teacher ratio

    • Highly qualified teacher in each classroom as well as a teaching partner that is a paraprofessional

  • 27 schools throughout Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Columbus, Youngstown, Xenia, Warren, Toledo, Canton and Akron

  • Students all wear uniforms

  • Attend to students age 5-22

  • Curriculum based on social learning skills throughout use of Ohio’s New Learning Standards

Ohio Online Charter Schools:

How many students are enrolled in online charter schools?

- 34,555 students are currently enrolled in Ohio’s online charter schools

- All students enrolled in a charter school receive a computer and internet access to the school 

How are online charter schools funded?

- Online charter schools are funded on a per-pupil bases from the state, online charter schools receive $5,475 per student  

How many Online Charter schools are there?

- All online schools in Ohio are Charter schools

- there are currently 27 online charter schools in Ohio

- 12 online charter schools are open to students across the state, 15 online charter schools are based in specific school districts

How are students assessed?

- All students enrolled in online charter schools are required to take all standardized achievement tests including the Ohio Graduation Test and the Ohio Achievement Assessment.   

How do students enroll in online charter schools?

- If interested in an online charter schools the first step is for a family to contact the online school about enrollment.  No permission from the home school district is required.

- An e-school enrollment application must also be filled out, and can be found on the Ohio Department of Education’s website: 

Pros and Cons of Teaching at Online Charter Schools:

Pros:  There are many positives to teaching online.  Virtual instructors are able to work from wherever they choose, and are not required to relocate to the area or state where their school is stationed.  Because most online courses are taught asynchronously instructors are able to set their own hours while teaching an online course.  

Cons:  There are also several drawbacks that come with teaching at an online school.  Some online schools have a pre-made curriculum that instructors are forced to use, and this prevents online teachers from using materials that were previously successful in past courses.  Teaching online can also be very isolating, and many teachers prefer to work face to face with their peers and pupils.  

Ohio Online Charter Schools:  

Akron Digital Academy

Mahoning Unlimited Classroom

Alternative Education Academy (Statewide)

Marion City Digital Academy

Auglaize County Educational Academy

Massillon Digital Academy, Inc

Buckeye On-Line School for Success (Statewide)

Mosaica Online of Ohio             (Statewide)

Cardington Lincoln Local Digital Academy

Newark Digital Academy

Electronic Classroom Of Tomorrow                                    (Statewide)

Ohio Connections Academy, Inc (Statewide)

Fairborn Digital Academy

Ohio Virtual Academy                (Statewide)

Findlay Digital Academy

Provost Academy Ohio              (Statewide)

Goal Digital Academy

Quaker Digital Academy (Statewide)

Greater Ohio Virtual                  (Statewide)

Southwest Licking Digital Acad

Insight School of Ohio               (Statewide)

Treca Digital Academy               (Statewide)

Lakewood Digital Academy

Virtual Community School Of Ohio (Statewide)

Lorain High School Digital

West Central Learning Academy II



Dr. Brooks on Charter Schools:

Video put together by Corinne Hastings in which Dr. Brooks discusses advice for teachers who want to teach in or begin a charter school, by drawing on his personal experiences of starting Franklinton Preparatory Academy in Columbus, OH. 

Ohio Charter Schools Debate:


News report describing President Obama’s ideas for educational reform, including his policy for “no charter school limitations”












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