Ohio Gadfly Daily

Social Impact Bonds (SIB), also known as “pay for success” loans, are a novel form of financing social service interventions, including education initiatives. First piloted six years ago in the United Kingdom and now making their way to the U.S, SIBs aim to leverage private funding to start new programs or scale proven ones. Broadly speaking, the instrument works like this: Private lenders and philanthropists deliver dollars—the bond—to a nonprofit provider that, in turn, implements the intervention. A government agency pays back the bond principal with interest, but only if the program achieves pre-specified results.

In its ideal form, an SIB has the potential to be a triple win: Governments receive risk-free funding to test or expand social programs that could help them save money; investors reap a financial return if the program works; and providers gain access to new sources of funding. To ensure the deal will benefit all parties, due diligence occurs on the front end, including selecting a program provider, estimating government savings, and developing an evaluation method. 

To date, the discussion on SIBs has been largely conceptual, engaging both supporters and skeptics alike. But a fascinating new report written by MDRC President Gordon...

NOTE: There are no April Fools jokes in here. That ain’t my thing. You want jokes, try here.

  1. Ohio has long been known as a net producer of teachers: as in, producing more ed school grads than new teachers needed in a given year. It seems however, that the overall numbers have been dropping in recent years, and grads with certain in-demand specialties (think middle and high school math and science, foreign languages, and physical education) have already fallen below the level of need. Fordham friend Tom Lasley and other heavy hitters weigh in on options facing ed schools – and K-12 schools – in the Buckeye State. Pretty active and interesting comments section on this piece also. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/31/16)
     
  2. One school district which seems to be experiencing the aforementioned scarcity of high school math teachers is Youngstown City Schools, if increasingly vocal parents and community members are to be believed. Many changes are afoot in Youngstown, all the leaders currently in place seemingly resigned to soldiering on without an Academic Distress Commission for the foreseeable future. One thing that they say will not change is the Youngstown Early College School, the “shining star” of
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  1. Editors in Columbus opined this week in favor of a new bill that would prevent online schools from claiming credit for “education offered” vs. “education provided”. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/29/16) Editors in Youngstown opined similarly on the same topic. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/30/16)
     
  2. Editors in Youngstown were busy this week, also issuing a wide-ranging opinion piece describing and despairing of the state of affairs with regard to the new Academic Distress Commission. However, I’m not sure you can blame the Youngstown Board of Education too much for looking for more meetings/more pay these days. As noted in previous editions of Gadfly Bites, everyone currently serving in Youngstown probably expected to either be out of a job or on very different footing in that job by now. With the protracted wheel-spinning related to the new ADC – and the dissolution of the old ADC, who handed down the fewer-meetings edict – everyone still standing is likely being asked to do much more than they thought they were going to be doing at this point in time. Just sayin’ that inaction has its consequences. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/29/16).
     
  3. Lots of folks in the halls of power talking about the
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According to a recent report from the Education Trust, college completion rates for black students at four-year public institutions have increased. Of the 232 institutions that improved overall graduation rates from 2003 to 2013, nearly 70 percent increased graduation rates for black students. Almost half of these institutions (47 percent) also decreased gaps between black and white students. Unfortunately, that means that at 53 percent of institutions, the gains posted by black students failed to keep pace with those of white students, resulting in a wider college attainment gap. Even worse, nearly one-third of the institutions that improved overall student attainment exhibited graduation rates for black students that were actually flat or declining. The silver lining, however, is that there are institutions that can serve as a model for reversing these negative trends—and one of these exemplars is right here in Ohio.

At the Ohio State University in Columbus, graduation rates for black students are improving, and the gap between black and white graduation rates has decreased. Since 2003, Ohio State’s graduation rates for black students have improved by approximately thirty-one percentage points (from 41 percent in 2003 to over 72 percent in 2013), and the graduation...

“The Proper Perspective” is a discussion between Jamie Davies O’Leary, senior Ohio policy analyst for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Stephen Dyer, education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio. Interested in many of the same data points and research questions, they decided to share some of this exchange more publicly, helping both to illuminate trends in Ohio public education and formulate policy recommendations through their insights. This is the fourth edition of the series. The first can be found here, the second here, the third here.

New Ohio report cards show, to some extent, the effect of parents opting their children out of standardized testing. Jamie and Steve have both been writing about the implications of school and district report cards data and had an exchange about their concerns over testing opt-outs going forward.

Jamie:

I know that you were especially concerned about opt-outs in Northeast Ohio after hearing that Lorain would be hit hard. Indeed, that district was. I was surprised, and glad, that the...

  1. A little quiet today in terms of education news, but we’ll soldier on. No applications have yet been received for the permanent position of state superintendent here in Ohio, despite the efforts of a search firm. Deadline is April 8 and state board folks are confident that a slate of some kind will materialize by then. Columbus City Schools’ superintendent Dan Good does not want the job, which seems to be the actual point of this piece. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/27/16)
     
  2. Interim State Supe Dr. Lonny Rivera has said that he also doesn’t want the permanent job because he feels there is a lack of “civility” on the board. Harsh, especially since the dude might be an interim for a lot longer than he bargained for. But that perceived lack of civility is not unique to the state board. One elementary school aide in Gahanna-Jefferson City Schools is fighting a one-person crusade against incivility, improper fork usage, and Axe body spray via etiquette lessons. I could try to describe this for you in further detail, but I will instead direct you to the main image included
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  1. The most recent third grade reading scores across Ohio were released this week and the numbers got a lot of coverage across the state, including here in Central Ohio. It is reported that 89.5 percent of Columbus City Schools' third graders passed last year's test; not the worst in the county. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/24/16) In Northwest Ohio, Toledo City Schools had just shy of 72 percent of last year’s third graders pass the test, although with the allowed exemptions for special needs students and others, they say 95 percent of last year’s third graders were promoted to fourth grade. (Toledo Blade, 3/24/16) In Stark County, they are more interested in individuals than percentages, noting that 148 of last year’s third grade students in the county did not pass. (Canton Repository, 3/25/16) Note that the cut score for this year’s test rises again. That data has been promised in a more timely fashion.
     
  2. Free bachelors degrees from OSU will produce a raft of new preschool teachers in low-income Columbus neighborhoods. That’s the 50,000-foot view of this story from the D this week. Digging into the details yields some fine print and questions. The program is limited
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Back in 2008, the Ohio General Assembly mandated the creation of a “clearinghouse of interactive and other distance learning courses delivered by a computer-based method.” In 2013, the Ohio Department of Higher Education (then known as the Ohio Board of Regents) announced a “new online distance-learning web portal” that aimed to provide a “wealth of digital education tools, standards-based resources, curricula, texts, and Web-based courses.” Known as ilearnOhio, the clearinghouse offers standards-aligned, peer-reviewed digital media from multiple content providers, instructional support materials, assessment items, and professional development resources. Teachers can search for lessons and materials based on grade level, discipline, resource type, or Common Core standard. A recent piece in the Columbus Dispatch states that since July 1, more than 475,000 users have visited the site. The Dispatch also reports that Ohio State University—which operates the clearinghouse—estimated in a report last fall that approximately 82 percent of Ohio’s schools and districts have used the clearinghouse in some way, making it a “valuable component of the state’s educational infrastructure.”

So if the clearinghouse is a valuable tool for Ohio educators, why will it cease to exist this summer? The answer is a bit complicated. For...

  1. Just some quick hits on today’s clips. Regular service will return on Friday. I promise. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on one of two items in this piece on charter school news, glued together (almost) by the subject of e-schools. Chad is quoted in regard to a new report on charter school funding. Oranges and apples are referenced, but not necessarily in that order. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/22/16)
     
  2. A new national study identified schools across the country who have been successful and shrinking or closing the achievement gap between rich and poor students in their communities. In Columbus, that short list includes five charter schools, one of which is Fordham-sponsored Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main. We couldn’t be prouder of the great work of CCA’s staff, teachers, families, and students. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/23/16)
     
  3. No offence to Stephen Stohla, but I can only imagine he was figuring he would either be out of his current job or permanently into a very different version of this current job by now. Either way, due to the lack of clarity around the judicial definition of the word “teacher”, he is still in his temporary job as Interim Superintendent of Youngstown
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  1. Today’s clips are just catching up with news from late last week. The first charter school in Ohio with a unionized teaching force is one in the “I Can” network in Cleveland. I wonder if they’ll have to change the name? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/16/16)
     
  2. School districts across the state learned last week that it is too late for them to switch from online back to paper test administration for the imminent round of spring testing. You can check out coverage from the D (Columbus Dispatch, 3/17/16) and the PD (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/17/16). Someone somewhere is contemplating the paradox of folks simultaneously wanting to regress to 20th century test administration processes AND wanting to invent time travel at the same moment. But not me.
     
  3. Speaking of time travel, it seems like a double dose of the butterfly effect might be in action in Cincinnati. Stay with me here, because my interpretation of this story is slightly different than that of the Enquirer. It definitely starts at a different point in time – circa 2005, when Cincinnati City Schools decided to close up a century-old school building in the Clifton neighborhood. It was too rundown
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