Kudos for Ohio’s report cards

Ohio’s new school-building and district report cards got a big thumbs up from both parent reviewers and wonky researchers in a new study from the Education Commission of the States. In fact, Ohio was the recipient of the highest praise in the study which looked at accountability efforts in all fifty states. Reviews cited breadth of measures, ease of interpretation, and easy accessibility, among other things. And that position stands to improve with expanded data elements planned for roll out in 2015. Just one question remains: if this is so awesome, why did only the Dayton Daily News cover this prestigious result?

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The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, in partnership with SRI International, has released a new report on blended learning that seems to indicate that, despite its many fans and rapid growth, kinks remain to get resolved if it’s to be transformative. Many software and online programs were found to be inadequate, glitchy, and poorly aligned to schools’ pace and sequence of instruction; insufficient bandwidth and hardware problems abounded; personalization of content to individual students was a problem for children on both the low and high ends of the ability spectrum; and multiple streams of data confounded teachers as to students’ understanding of material. The Ohio Gadfly fears that “user errors” of the types reported here could consign online teaching and learning to the category of something else to occupy students while the teachers grade papers. That would be a terrible waste of a promising opportunity.

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Another year and another record number of applications for Ohio’s voucher programs. A recent blog from School Choice Ohio (SCO) reports that more than 32,000 students applied for the 2014–15 school year. The EdChoice Scholarship was again the most popular, drawing 21,437 applications, more than 4,000 over the same time last year. The numbers are expected to rise again when the second application window opens later this summer. Gadfly tips his cap to SCO for its yeoman efforts to make families aware of their education options, but he also wonders how many more families would be interested if school districts didn’t work so hard to hide their options.

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Ohio Gadfly is pleased to announce its latest staff addition. Jessica Poiner, a former high school English teacher, joined the Fordham Institute’s Ohio Policy team in Columbus after finishing up with her kiddos in Memphis. She brings invaluable insight, erudition beyond her years, and strong creative energy to our work. Look out, world!

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