Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow
|Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow|
|3700 S HIGH ST STE 95
COLUMBUS OH 43207-9902
|Type||Charter / Community|
|School district||All of Ohio|
|Head of school||Rick Teeters, Superintendent|
|Accreditation||North Central Association/AdvanceEd|
614.492.8884 (Columbus area)
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) is a community/charter school based in Columbus, Ohio, United States. It is sponsored by the Lucas County Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West (ESCLEW) in Toledo, in accordance with chapter 3314 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Students perform their work either via computers which they already own, or which are supplied to them by the school. Work is performed online via secure intranet connections.
ECOT was founded in 2000 by William "Bill" Lager, under an agreement with the Lucas County Educational Service Center; and it is managed by his company, Altair Learning Management.
Under Ohio law, "community schools" are independent public schools that offer school choice to parents, students and teachers. They are accountable to the public by a contract with a sponsor, such as a school district, or the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). In ECOT's case, the school is accountable to ESCLEW and its publicly elected Board. Community schools cannot charge tuition and must follow all laws pertaining to health, public safety and civil rights.
Students are required to take state-mandated proficiency/achievement tests, and other examinations prescribed by law. Students are required to pass the Ohio Graduation Test to receive a diploma.
Students are expected to attend classes online for 25 hours per week during the school year, comparable to the time that students in "brick-and-mortar" schools are also expected to attend. Attendance need not adhere to traditional time conventions however; Affording flexibility to students and families not typically available in traditional educational settings. However, ECOT has been unable to demonstrate that the majority of students meet this requirement.
Elementary School K-3rd grades. Jr. High 4-6th grades. Middle School 7th & 8th grades. High school 9-12th grades.
Each school is supervised by its own principal, except in the high school, due to the number of students enrolled there are 4 principals.
The school's first graduation ceremonies were held in the Ohio State House. In later years, larger venues became necessary due to Public Occupancy Limits, and are presently being held at Jerome Schottenstein Center. ECOT typically has the largest graduating classes of any single schools in the United States. ECOT's Class of 2013 included more than 2,500 graduates.
While ECOT graduates the largest graduating high school class in the nation (2,371 students in 2016), more students drop out of ECOT or fail to finish high school within four years than at any other school in the country. In 2014, the graduation rate was under 39%. Lager said that is because many students arrived at the school behind, affected by poverty, special needs and mobility. But fewer students come from low income families than urban schools, and three-quarters are white. Without physical classrooms and with high pupil-to-teacher ratios, they cannot provide support in person. Guidance counselors carry caseloads of up to 500 students each, and the schoolwide pupil-teacher ratio is 30 to one.
An Ohio Republican state senator said, “When you take on a difficult student, you’re basically saying, ‘We feel that our model can help this child be successful. And if you can’t help them be successful, at some point you have to say your model isn’t working, and if your model is not working, perhaps public dollars shouldn’t be going to pay for it.”
Critics say that companies associated with Lager have been profitable from government funding, but have not delivered value. In fiscal year 2014, ECOT paid companies associated with Lager nearly $23 million, or 1/5 of its $115 million government revenue.
“The growth has been huge,” said Aaron Churchill, of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “There are clearly a lot of questions about the quality of the education they’re putting out. I’d be curious to know why parents are selecting it.”
ECOT spent almost $11 million on communications in 2014, which includes advertising. About half of ECOT’s revenue goes to employee salaries and benefits, compared with about 80% in traditional districts.
Critics say that ECOT owes its existence to its lavish campaign donations, mostly to Ohio Republicans. Lager, has spent at least $1.13 million on Ohio campaigns in the five years ending 2015.
- Rich, Motoko (19 May 2016). "Online School Enriches Affiliated Companies if Not Its Students". New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
- Popular ECOT poor performer. By Bill Bush and Jennifer Smith Richards, Columbus Dispatch, January 4, 2015.