Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Chad and Fordham are namechecked in an editorial from Cleveland, opining on the status of CMSD’s academic and organizational improvement efforts and what is still to be done. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. There is mention in that PD editorial of the district’s third grade reading results this year. Editors there, and in Columbus as well, raise concerns over the use of alternative tests to potentially boost passing rates. Honestly, it’s the editor’s final thought that resonates most with me: “Those strenuous efforts should be the new normal.” It’s more about the work ahead of those tests than the tests themselves. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. We told you a couple of months ago about a plan to outsource the placement of substitute teachers as needed this year in Dayton City Schools. Perhaps it was just a negotiating tactic – who knows anymore? – but that plan has been shelved in favor of retaining the services of local union substitutes. There are some caveats, some strict new service goals that must be met, and dental insurance is out the window, but I’m sure everyone is happy with the situation. Hmmm…. Where’s the emoticon for “dripping sarcasm”? (Dayton Daily News)
     
  4. Back in November during our first round of Common Core repeal hearings in Ohio, it was stated in testimony by CCSS opponents that “no one knows who their state school board member is”, despite the fact that every region of the state has to vote on one every four years.
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  1. Week One of hearings on the newest Common Core repeal bill in Ohio ended yesterday. Goodness me I’m tired. Here are some reactions to and coverage of Day Three. Just as hearings were starting yesterday, it was reported that the board of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District had voted the night before to support Common Core in Ohio and oppose HB597. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Coverage in Columbus focused on concerns about standards and testing opt-out provisions in the bill. (Columbus Dispatch) As noted in the Dispatch article, committee members heard the first non-proponent testimony yesterday, in the form of “interested party” testimony from StudentsFirst. This seemed to open the door to some testy commentary from members both on and off the record. (Gongwer Ohio) Finally, the folks at Gongwer were aware of the Common Core polling results showing decreasing support for “Common Core” and this piece discusses these results in the light of testimony given so far. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Fordham’s good friend Tom Lasley of Learn to Earn Dayton penned this commentary in support of Common Core. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. Yesterday, we told you that it seemed some encouraging news related to Reynoldsburg’s teacher contract negotiations was being kept on the down low, lost in the heated rhetoric and dramatic images being reported. This morning, I think I figured out why. Checking the Reynoldsburg News website at 9:00ish, I saw this headline: “Reynoldsburg board hires scab firm in case teachers strike”. It
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  1. Day Three of hearings on the newest Common Core repeal bill in Ohio has already begun. Here are some reactions to and coverage of Day Two, still with only proponent testimony on offer so far. Editors in Columbus opine once again in favor of Ohio’s New Learning Standards, citing Fordham and the mighty Jessica Poiner’s awesome “Ten things Common Core opponents don’t want you to know” piece. (Columbus Dispatch) Gongwer took the time yesterday to talk to the Chair of the House Education Committee, who has been through these wild hearings already and has been left out of this repeat performance, along with the Senate Education Committee Chair. (Gongwer Ohio) Gongwer also seems skeptical of the allegations made in testimony that teachers are afraid they’ll be fired if they speak out against Common Core. (Gongwer Ohio) Fears that intelligent design might be greenlighted in schools if Ohio’s New Learning Standards in science are replaced by the current repeal effort form the basis of two reports from big dailies (Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer) Finally, commentary from Cincinnati discusses the futility of continually moving the goalposts – a sports metaphor, I’m told – for teachers. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. In other news, Reynoldsburg City Schools’ board met yesterday and approved a contract with a “strike management firm”, just in case it comes to that. The crowd at the meeting was large and peacefully visible in support of teachers. However, if you dig down into this article,
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Hearings began this week for House Bill 597 (HB 597), the latest attempt to repeal Ohio’s New Learning Standards (which includes the Common Core in math and English language arts). The first of several days of proponent testimony began Monday. Sitting in on the hearings has offered me a chance to develop a better understanding of the opposition to the standards, and if it wasn’t clear to me before then it is now: These folks don’t want anything that even resembles the Common Core to be used in Ohio schools.

They could be in for a surprise then, because the language of HB 597 borrows, in some significant ways, from the Common Core. During testimony on the August 18 hearing, Rep. Andy Thompson explained that he wanted to avoid the “sleight of hand” he saw in Indiana, which infamously repealed Common Core only to replace it with standards that were remarkably similar. Judge for yourselves if Ohio’s lawmakers are proposing to break new ground in HB 597 or simply recycling.

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What House Bill 597 wants

What the Common

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  1. Day Two of hearings on the newest Common Core repeal bill in Ohio has already begun. I predict diminishing coverage, but Day One was of interest all over the state. Coverage from Cleveland focuses on literature and science (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Coverage from Columbus focuses on support for the Common Core, noting some inconsistencies in proponent testimony (Columbus Dispatch). Coverage from Cincinnati focuses on the testimony given (Cincinnati Enquirer). Coverage from public radio in Kent focuses on teachers and their views. (WKSU-Radio, Kent). And coverage from Dayton focuses on the local angle, where they find much support for the standards among educators. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  2. Back in the real world, school is starting up in Scioto County, and there is talk of some of the changes in procedure for schools across the state, especially attendance procedures and the change from instructional days to instructional hours. We’ve seen a few of these “back-to-school” pieces but this is one of the few that includes charter schools’ information as well. Especially good here, because the charter schools in question are sponsored by Fordham. Hope every student in Sciotoville has a great year! (Portsmouth Daily Times)
     
  3. A bit of a bumpy start to the year in Canal Winchester Schools yesterday – persistent mechanical issues kept a whopping 1/3 of their buses from passing inspection and therefore kept them off the road for the first day of school. Some quick borrowing of equipment from districts as
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David Figlio, a researcher at Northwestern University, recently released his seventh-annual evaluation of Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The study uses scholarship students’ results on national assessments, like the Stanford Achievement or Iowa Test of Basic Skills, to examine whether they are making year-to-year gains. (Elsewhere in this issue, I review the study in greater detail.) The Sunshine State’s program, which enrolls nearly 60,000 students, is akin to Ohio’s EdChoice and Cleveland scholarship (a.k.a., “voucher”) programs.

One of the study’s findings was particularly striking: Private schools in Florida, especially Catholic ones, appear to have a relatively larger impact on scholarship students’ reading scores than math. Across all schools, Figlio found that voucher students made a 0.1 percentile gain in reading but posted a loss of -0.7 percentiles in math. The overall math-reading difference may or may not be trivial—there is no test of statistical significance across the subject areas. But larger differences in reading-to-math gains appear when gains are disaggregated, for example, by religious affiliation:[1] Consider the large annual gain in reading for voucher students attending a Catholic school (1.98 percentiles) versus the slight loss in math (-0.25). True, the larger reading gains don’t hold across all school types—non-religious schools seem to make a fairly big difference in math—but it does seem like many of Florida’s private schools are having greater success boosting reading scores.[2]

Table 1: Average reading and math gains of Florida scholarship students by...

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There are three terms and phrases that I wish we could ban from the education sphere--terms that I feel are standing in the way of meaningful dialogue and the proper, productive focus of discussion.

1. “Our Kids”

Except in cases of “wards of the state,” children do not belong to school districts, charter schools, city governments, or state departments of education. Yet that term, “our kids,” can be found in quotes from school-district officials all over the media when discussing transportation, open enrollment, and school funding. “Our kids,” as used in these examples, is a language of possession and ownership, usually linked to money. It is at once patronizing and simplistic, reductive, and exclusive.

Even a benign use of “our kids” in this context is archaic and out of touch with reality; in fact, the ownership sentiment has been out of touch since open enrollment began in 1989, and the pace of change only accelerated from there. Today, nearly 120,000 children attend a charter school, and another 30,000 or so students attend a private school via a voucher. More than 70,000 students attend a school outside of their district of residence through interdistrict open enrollment. And countless others participate in intradistrict choice, early-college high school programs, and a burgeoning career-tech sector.

The “assigned” district feeder pattern that locks children into a predetermined sequence of schools that “owns” them and passes them along from building to building throughout their K–12 experience is virtually extinct. The sooner...

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At the cost of billions of taxpayer dollars, Ohio’s school districts employed 132,000 or so individuals who were not classified as teachers or administrators in 2010. Who are these people, what services do they provide, and do their efforts help students achieve? In this new report, my Fordham colleague Matthew Richmond  explores the “hidden half” of school personnel in Ohio and across the nation. The study documents a huge increase in non-teaching personnel over the last several decades—an increase that has received almost no attention, despite its sizeable implications on district budgets.

In 2010, non-teachers comprised half of the U.S. public-school workforce—up from 40 percent in 1970, and 30 percent in 1950. Taken together, their salaries and benefits total one quarter of all current K-12 education expenditure. The story in Ohio mirrors national trends: In 1986, Ohio had just 47 non-teaching staff for every 1,000 students. By 2010, that number rose to 75. When the study disaggregated the category of non-teaching personnel (a sort of catch-all classification of non-teachers, including administrators), the largest growth occurred in the teacher-aide category. From 1970 to 2010, this group swelled from 1.7 percent of the U.S. public-school workforce to 11.8 percent, an increase of more than 590 percent.

The study indicates that neither enrollment numbers nor increased federal regulation is able to explain much of the growth of non-teaching staff (especially post-1980). But has the increase in the number of students with disabilities contributed to the growth? The study’s analysis suggests that increased demand...

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Enacted in 2001 and now enrolling nearly 60,000 needy students, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) is the largest private-school choice program in the nation. Since March 2008, economist David Figlio has reported evaluation results on an annual basis. This report, his seventh and possibly last due to an unfortunate change in Florida law, documents his findings on the 2012-13 school year. The results: As in previous years, scholarship students who transfer from a public to private school tend to be lower-achieving and from poorer-performing schools. In other words, private schools aren’t “cherry-picking” students. Per test performance, Florida’s scholarship students kept pace with the progress of students, of all income levels, nationwide over the course of the year. On average, they made a 0.1 percentile gain in reading but lost -0.7 percentiles in math on nationally-normed assessments. The gain in reading and loss in math were not statistically different from zero, suggesting that scholarship students gained a year’s worth of learning. (A gain of zero is interpreted as a year’s worth of learning.) The average gains, however, camouflage some variability in gains across Florida’s private-schools. For example, in reading, scholarship students in 6 percent of private schools had sluggish average loss of less than -10 percentile points, while those in 4 percent of schools posted impressive gains of 10 points or more. Due to the recent switch in Florida’s public-school assessments, Figlio was unable to compare private-school to public-school gains. As Florida continues to ...

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This is a tricky story, but stay with me.

A 10-year-old charter school in the Cincinnati area ended up in court against the Ohio Department of Education back in July in an effort to find a sponsor (after being dropped) and to reopen as usual for the 2014-15 school year. The tussling ended in a court-ordered limbo, but the legal questions remained an active concern.

A July 29 piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer summarized the story to that point and quoted Fordham’s Vice President for Sponsorship and Dayton Initiatives Kathryn Mullen Upton laying out the legal issues under consideration: "(1) The accountability system and an authorizer's judgment about the quality of a school are meaningless; (2) if you're a school that is non-renewed by any authorizer, not just ODE, you can simply go to court and up your chances of finding a new sponsor; and (3) despite recent actions to try to improve school and authorizer quality, ODE in reality has scant enforcement ability/authority… In a nutshell, it's a huge step backward for Ohio."

The limbo dragged on with no resolution but on August 12 the school announced it would not reopen due to financial distress. This is probably the end of the VLT saga.

Two lawmakers seem to think the foregoing is a desperate cry for reform of charter school law in Ohio. Honestly, it seems that – absent the court-induced time drag – the process has actually worked just like it should. ...

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