Sunday, December 23, 2001

Charter schools Q&A

        Q: How many charter schools are there in the United States?

A: 2,358 schools enroll about 576,000 students.

        Q: When did charter schools get started in Ohio?

A: The General Assembly enacted a law in 1997 to provide alternative educational choices in the big eight urban districts. That was expanded in 1999 to 21 urban districts and in 2000 to any school district labeled in “academic emergency” by the state. The first 15 charter schools opened in 1998. There are now 92 charter schools in the state, including 18 in Greater Cincinnati.

        Q: What makes charter schools different from traditional public schools?

        A: They are exempt from some regulations of traditional public schools. For example, students in Ohio charter schools don't have to have the same in-school instruction time as other public schools. In exchange, charter schools are required to be more accountable for students' success. The schools operate under a contract, and the contract is non-renewable if charter schools don't meet the terms. They do not operate under an elected school board but, rather, a board appointed by the founder.

        Q: Do charter school students take the Ohio proficiency tests?

        A: Yes. Charter schools receive their first state-issued report cards, which include proficiency test results, in the winter of their third year.

        Sources: The Center for Education Reform, Ohio Department of Education


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