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Auditor Yost Calls on Legislature to Reform Virtual School Funding
Columbus – Auditor Dave Yost today called on the General Assembly to review how community schools using electronic learning are funded, suggesting reforms based on how much a child learns should play a key role in determining how a virtual school is paid.
“It’s time to resolve the weaknesses, by first working out what it means to achieve that result of an educated citizen,” the Auditor said. “I’m calling on the General Assembly to take this matter up when they return this fall, and to take action. They made many of the necessary reforms in House Bill 2, and I stand ready to help finish the job.”
Yost worked with legislative leaders in 2015 to pass charter school reforms, but said then that higher standards for electronic schools are necessary because it is difficult to measure whether students are adequately participating in instruction. He noted in both of his landmark charter school attendance audits that measuring engagement with students who are in a blended school environment or in virtual schools is extremely difficult given state law and policies at the Ohio Department of Education.
“Learning-based funding in virtual schools would mean schools get paid when they deliver a piece of education,” Yost said. “The unit could be as large as a year’s work or as little as an approved unit.”
As part of his call for reform, the auditor listed several guiding principles for performance based funding:
- First, each student’s path to that goal — becoming a literate, thinking citizen — may vary in speed and navigation. Our funding solution needs to take into account the differences among children and their backgrounds.
- Forget grading periods. “Assessment in the virtual environment can and should happen every day. Computers make it possible to monitor students’ progress in real time, and help them when they need it -- a model that is in place in Cincinnati’s Carpe Diem school.”
- Weighting of academic value by an external, objective third party.
Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, supported Yost’s call for additional reforms.
“I commend Auditor Yost for his leadership on the accountability and funding of our charter schools,” Faber said. “He’s absolutely right that we should be paying for outcomes and more specifically for a quality education.
“We expect our schools to successfully educate kids, and that’s what they should be paid to do,” the Senate leader said. “We’ve learned that basing our higher education funding formula on performance and course completion has resulted in improvements to both. The same philosophy should be applied to primary and secondary education as well. I look forward to continuing this discussion not only with the auditor but also with my legislative colleagues in the days ahead.”
Also throwing its support behind Yost’s call for additional reform was Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
“We commend Ohio State Auditor David Yost for recommending that Ohio change how it funds full-time virtual charter schools. His proposed move to a ‘learning-based’ funding model, aligned to the unique environments represented by the full-time virtual model, would help promote quality and accountability, and ensure the students of such schools are receiving the high-quality education they deserve,” Rees said.
“While recognizing that some full-time virtual charter schools are providing an effective and innovative education to students with specialized needs, the National Alliance believes that changing to a learning-based funding model is appropriate given the unique problems that have emerged among too many full-time virtual charter schools. We urge Ohio lawmakers to work with Auditor Yost and the state’s charter school community to design and implement learning-based funding for full-time virtual charter schools in a way that leads to improved results in these schools.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.
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