School choice in Ohio

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School choice refers to the educational alternatives available to parents who do not wish to send their children to the local district public school to which they are assigned. Public school choice options include open enrollment policies, magnet schools and charter schools. Other options include traditional school vouchers, scholarship tax credits, personal tax credits and deductions and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to receive public funds directly for educational expenses.[1][2]

School choice options in Ohio include: charter schools, voucher programs, intra-district and inter-district open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 11.26 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.

Educational choice options

See also: Number of schools by school type in the U.S.

Charter schools

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, there were 374 charter schools operating in Ohio in the 2012-13 academic year. During that time, charter schools enrolled 118,931 students.[3][4]

Charter school authorizers are, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the organizations "designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter schools." As of June 2014, the following organizations were listed by NACSA as charter school authorizers in Ohio:[5]

School vouchers

Ohio has five school voucher programs:

  1. Income-Based Scholarship Program: Under this program, income-qualified kindergarten students may be eligible for vouchers to attend private schools (so long as the students are not eligible for another voucher program in the state). Students in higher grade levels are scheduled to become eligible in future years (the program was launched in 2013). In the program's first year, eligibility and voucher amounts were determined as follows:[6]
  • Families with incomes of no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($47,100 for a family of four in 2013-14) were eligible for the maximum voucher amount ($4,250.00)
  • Families with incomes between 200 and 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($70,650 for a family of four) were eligible for a voucher worth $3,187.50
  • Families with incomes between 300 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($94,200 for a family of four) were eligible for a voucher worth $2,125.00
  1. Jon Petersen Special Needs Scholarship Program: Under this program, students with special needs who are enrolled in public schools may be eligible for vouchers to pay for private school tuition and other additional services. The number of vouchers available is capped at five percent of the total number of students with special needs statewide. Vouchers are worth the lesser of the following: fees or tuition charged by the alternative school, the amount of state aid provided to the public school district, or $20,000. To be eligible, children must be between the ages of five and 21 and must have an initial Individualized Education Plan from the public school district. There are no income limits.[7]
  2. Educational Choice Scholarship Program: Under this program, students attending low-performing schools may be eligible for vouchers to attend private schools. The maximum voucher amount is $4,250 for students in grades K through eight and $5,000 for students in grades nine through 12 (the voucher amount cannot exceed the actual cost of tuition and fees at the private school). For students whose household incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, the admitting private school must accept vouchers as full payment. The cap on available vouchers is 60,000. The program has no income limits.[8]
  3. Autism Scholarship Program: Under this program, students on the autism spectrum may be eligible for vouchers to pay for services from a private provider (including private school tuition). After students receive services, the family applies to the state for reimbursement of expenses. Reimbursement cannot exceed $20,000 per year. This program has no income limits.[9]
  4. Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program: Under this program, students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District may be eligible for vouchers to attend private schools or alternative public schools. The maximum voucher amounts are $4,250 for students in grades K through eight and $5,700 for students in grades nine through 12. Priority is given to students from households with incomes of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.[10]

Online learning

According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, Ohio has 23 fully virtual "eCommunity" schools (community schools in Ohio are the equivalent of charter schools). Of these, seven are statewide schools. The state-led online program is called iLearnOhio.[11]

In addition, there are some district-level online learning programs.[11]

Private schools

In the 2011-12 school year, 195,754 students, or 11.26 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 836 private schools. Ohio ranks 17th highest in the nation in private school attendance.[12]

Public school open enrollment

According to the Education Commission of the States, Ohio has three open enrollment policies:[13]

  1. Intra-district/mandatory policy, which allows "students in low-performing schools, as designated by the state, to attend a different school within their school district"
  2. Intra-district/mandatory policy
  3. Inter-district/voluntary policy

Intra-district policies provide for the transfer of students within a school district, while inter-district policies allow students to transfer between districts. Under mandatory open enrollment policies, school districts are required to participate. Under voluntary policies, school districts may choose whether to participate.[13]

Homeschooling

In Ohio in 2012-2013 an estimated 52,520 students, or 2.67 percent of the total student-aged population, were homeschooled.[14]

A summary of the state's laws relating to homeschooling can be accessed here.

Studies and reports

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

In 2014, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice published a description of and commentary on school choice options in the United States. Regarding the Educational Choice Scholarship Program, the foundation said, "Although a large number of children are eligible under EdChoice, it is extremely difficult to inform parents about their options. The fluid nature of public school rankings makes it hard for parents to be informed of their eligibility year over year. A simpler system, one that is universal or tied to income, would be simpler to administer for the state. School funding is another sore spot, as it is limited to 39 percent of the public school expenditures. This is a paltry sum of money for private schools, which must accept the amount as payment in full for the poorest children. Additionally, the schools must also test students and report those scores back to the state Department of Education, increasing regulatory and compliance costs for those schools. Ohio would be wise to simplify this voucher program and tie eligibility to something less prone to fluctuations."[15]

The full report can be accessed here.

School choice ballot measures

See also: School choice on the ballot and List of Ohio ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked no statewide ballot measures relating to school choice in Ohio.

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Ohio + Education + Choice"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Ohio School Choice News Feed

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See also

References

  1. National Conference of State Legislatures, "School Choice and Charters," accessed June 18, 2014
  2. Friedman Foundation for School Choice, "What is School Choice?" accessed June 18, 2014
  3. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Schools - Ohio," accessed June 23, 2014
  4. National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Students - Ohio," accessed June 23, 2014
  5. National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Ohio Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014
  6. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Ohio - Income-Based Scholarship Program," accessed June 23, 2014
  7. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Ohio - Jon Petersen Special Needs Scholarship Program," accessed June 23, 2014
  8. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Ohio - Educational Choice Scholarship Program," accessed June 23, 2014
  9. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice," "Ohio - Autism Scholarship Program," accessed June 23, 2014
  10. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "Ohio - Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program," accessed June 23, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, "Ohio," accessed June 23, 2014
  12. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Private School Universe Survey (PSS)", 2011-12 ; "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey, v.1a.," accessed May 12, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed June 23, 2014
  14. A2Z Home's Cool, "Number of Homeschoolers in the USA," updated February 2, 2014
  15. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, "The ABCs of School Choice - 2014 Edition," accessed June 18, 2014