Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in a story about an important state Supreme Court case scheduled to begin tomorrow. The case addresses the issue of charter schools that hire for-profit management companies with public money and who then owns the assets of those schools should things go sour in the relationship. There is much more at stake in the decision however, which Chad was kindly allowed to point out. (Akron Beacon Journal). Chad gets a twofer out of this as the same story ran in the Youngstown Vindicator as well.
     
  2. Here, also, is a companion piece to the above story, running a few numbers on who owns the buildings in which Ohio charter schools operate. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  3. Editors in Cleveland opine on the need for charter school reform in Ohio…and offer a bit of advice to state senators on how not to do it. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. We mentioned last week about the report card analysis doing the rounds that shows a link between poverty and performance index scores for districts. Interestingly, one solution proposed in this story about that analysis is a fund analogous to Ohio’s Straight A Fund which would target interventions for low-income students. Legislative hearings on this topic are in the offing. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  5. One puzzling aspect of the Common Core hearings we’ve endured here in Ohio since last November is the notion that “no one knows who their State Board of Education representative is”, despite
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  1. The Truth in Numbers review of State Auditor candidate John Patrick Carney has been published in the PD. Fordham is name-checked in discussion of charter school quality in Ohio, and a link is made to last year’s Parsing Performance report by our own Aaron Churchill. The detail of the piece shows Patrick O’Donnell’s typical journalistic excellence and it was good to have him assess the (lack of) truth of this politician’s statements, but really the bottom line is that auditors don’t really have much say in education funding regardless of their political leanings. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. Patrick O’Donnell is clearly the hardest working education journalist out there these days. Here’s his look at another of the allegations against Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland: diagnostic testing allegedly used to determine admission. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. Crap. Late evening negotiations didn’t take. Reynoldsburg teachers are on the picket lines today; the first time since 1978. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. Editors in Toledo opine upon their own analysis of the district’s report card. They praise the district where they can, tout for the upcoming levy, and bash charters and vouchers. (Toledo Blade)
     
  5. We may have noted this before, but it bears repeating. Monroe Local Schools is to be formally released from fiscal emergency and thus oversight by the state next month. In just over two years expenditures are down by millions, a stabilization loan is almost fully repaid, and ODE says the district had shown “great improvement
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  1. Editors at the Vindy opined yesterday upon the need for immediate assistance from the state for the failing schools in the Youngstown area. They did not neglect the higher-achieving schools in the area, opining in praise of those schools and urging the constructive use of report card data to continue to improve. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  2. The BASA/OASBO folks have put out their analysis of Ohio’s report cards, and they conclude that performance index scores “closely followed” the percent of students in a district that are economically disadvantaged. (Newark Advocate)
     
  3. Editors in Akron have read the above report and have opined in sympathy with its conclusions. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  4. There’s a nicely-detailed look at the report cards of a number of charter schools in Springfield. Some interesting insights from the school leaders interviewed. (Springfield News Sun)
     
  5. Some excellent journalistic investigation in this piece by Patrick O’Donnell digging into the accusations against Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland. Specifically, allegations that the school “dumped” low-performing students before state testing in order to improve their results. Definitely worth a read. Having already been through this with Columbus City Schools and other districts around Ohio, both ODE and the education journalists should know what to look for…and what to do if they find it. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  6. The Lorain Academic Distress Commission has parsed the district’s report card and is discussing their take on it in the press. The takeaway: “bubble kids” are the answer
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  1. More report card analysis today. This time, charter schools in Cincinnati go under the journalistic microscope with the invaluable assistance of Fordham’s Aaron Churchill. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. An even greater level of detail is applied to the report cards of charters in the Dayton area, including an in-depth look at Fordham-sponsored Dayton Leadership Academy. The picture is bleak, but there are clear signs of improvement. Kudos to journalist Jeremy Kelley for his work. (Dayton Daily News) As a bonus, here’s a TV piece looking at DLA. (WHIO-TV). And as an Easter Egg, there’s a cameo from former Fordhamite Bianca Speranza in the DDN piece as well.
     
  3. More Horizon charter school have been added to the list of buildings under investigation by the Ohio Department of Education. One in Columbus (Columbus Dispatch), and one in Cincinnati. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  4. These additional investigations were announced the same day that parents, students, and staff members of Horizon Schools were rallying in front of ODE HQ - that is to say, across the street from Fordham Columbus HQ – and speaking before the State Board of Education in support of their schools. (WKSU-FM, Kent)
     
  5. Speaking of board meetings, the small item of 20 schools being eligible for parent-led reorganization in Columbus under Ohio’s “parent trigger” law was discussed at yesterday’s school board meeting. The Dispatch’s coverage focuses on the questions left unanswered after last night’s meeting but at least the highly-reasonable “let’s wait and see
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  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis appeared on WHIO Reports on Sunday, talking charter school accountability in Ohio with a pretty antagonistic bunch. Can’t cover much detail in 20 minutes, but he did pretty well. (WHIO-TV, Dayton)
     
  2. Speaking of Fordham’s hometown, the DDN took a look at the reports cards of Dayton-area school districts. Seems it was the best of times for some and the worst of times for others. report cards. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. The Beacon Journal has also taken a look at report cards of districts in their region. They work hard to explain the numbers and letters but pronounce the report cards “confusing” to parents, educators, and taxpayers. Sure glad the ABJ is there to help out. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  4. Apparently no such confusion exists when it comes to the report cards of charter schools in Summit County. The subtlety and detail of the above article is very much lacking in this piece. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  5. I held this story over from yesterday’s issue so it wouldn’t get lost in the Monday surge of pieces. Former Columbus Schools Superintendent Gene Harris is long gone, but her legacy lives on. Some years ago she volunteered her district to be a pilot for Ohio’s proposed “parent trigger” law. Fast-forward to 2014 and because of that law 20 school buildings in the district are eligible to be taken over, transformed, or converted into charters due to their poor performance on state report cards if
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  1. As we noted on Friday, report cards are out in Ohio for buildings and districts. Analysis of those report cards continued in the media over the weekend. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in Gongwer’s large-scale coverage, focusing on districts and what the results mean in Ohio’s largest cities. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. No one has dug much into charter schools’ grade cards just yet. That will come. But in the meantime, check out this editorial from the Dispatch, nailing the analysis of a number of long-standing flaws in Ohio charter school law and opining strongly for change. Now. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. I say “no one has dug much” into charter schools’ report card. Here is the first analysis out of the gate: Gongwer discussing the performance of Ohio’s dropout recovery schools. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  4. The PD wants to allay the potential fears of Clevelanders by fully explaining the grade for value-add on report cards this year. Especially, what a “C” grade means. To wit: "A C is perfectly acceptable," said Tom Gunlock, vice president of the state school board.  "That's one year's worth of growth.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. Lima City Schools took advantage of some options given districts in state law to tweak their teacher evaluation framework this year. Mostly it consists of a list of who WON’T get evaluated. (Lima News)
     
  6. There was some investigative journalism going on last week in the offices of the Big D, resulting in two big education pieces
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School report cards arrived today. The good news is that Ohio has a waiver from No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) “100 percent proficiency” mandate for 2013-14. Very few Ohio schools, I suspect, hit the 100 percent mark in math and reading in 2013-14. (A rough read of district and charter-school data, indicate that a couple high-achieving charters came close; for instance, in grades 3-8 Columbus Preparatory missed 100 percent proficiency in just fifth-grade reading. Menlo Park Academy, a charter for gifted students, came close too.)

A good first step to understanding state assessments is looking at student proficiency. Proficiency is a one-year snapshot of student performance, measured by state exams, not necessarily a clear indicator of the performance of their school per se. For a clearer understanding of the impact of a school on achievement, we’d want to look at student-growth measures, such as the state’s value-added data. (We’ll unpack the value-added results in more depth in the near future—so stay tuned.) But proficiency does give us a general sense of how students performed on state exams in 2013-14.

Statewide, around one-in-five students fell short of Ohio’s standard for proficiency, though there is some variation across grade and subject. (That variation could be a result of the mechanics behind the definition of "proficiency" across grades/subject, not necessairly a function of differences in actual achievement across grades.) Figure 1 shows the proficiency rates for grades 3-8 and 10 in math and reading. The chart displays the...

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  1. The K-12 education committee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission met yesterday. I am hopeful that what is reported here – basically whether the members wanted education in Ohio to be “controlled” by the legislature or the courts as a result of changes proposed – is not all that was discussed. Perhaps the rest of it was drowned out by the snores of the bored spectators. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. How did the Hope4Change Academy saga in Cincinnati—which you’ve heard a lot about here in Gadfly Bites—get so far? Here’s a bit more detail on the hows and whys from the perspective of ODE and the Portage County ESC. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  3. So, what’s the big deal about the PCESC trying to “reorganize and reopen” LEAD Academy as Hope4Change in Cincinnati? Well, aside from the bait and switch perpetrated on families there, there’s the small matter of a ton of money likely owed back to the state from the original iteration of the school. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  4. Lest you miss your daily fix of Common Core opinion, here’s a letter signed by 12 education school deans from universities across Ohio urging the state to keep Common Core. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  5. On a purely practical level, the PD has a number of suggestions for ways parents can engage with teachers throughout the school year in regard to in-class work, homework assignments, and student progress. It’s couched in terms of Common Core, but honestly it’s just “how to
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  1. I’m not exactly sure this qualifies as either real news (probably why it was on a Dispatch blog and not in print) or real clairvoyance, but Governor Kasich prognosticated on the content of the report cards to be issued tomorrow for Ohio’s urban school districts while on the stump this week. His prediction: not pretty. (Columbus Dispatch –Daily Briefing blog)
     
  2. I wasn’t going to clip this because I thought it wasn’t necessary to reiterate how many school districts are vocally and publicly supportive of Common Core in Ohio. But it looks like it might still be necessary after all. Another week of repeal hearings, anyone? (Newark Advocate)
     
  3. A proposal is being floated in suburban Beachwood that would consolidate three elementary schools into one building – the newest and largest of the three. The public pitch is around efficiency and good use of public dollars—enrollment trends are steady now, but how long have those buildings been underutilized?—but I suspect that everyone’s really just salivating over the flashy sports facilities proposed for one of the two closed schools. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. Remember that story from several weeks ago which indicated that the Norwalk school board had hired the “wrong person” for superintendent? Well, the fallout from this comedy of errors has continued unabated, with one school board member publicly questioning the manhood of another during heated discussion at a board meeting this week. I’m sure that all the students and administrators in the district are
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  1. The State Board of Ed met this week. What were they talking about? Among other things: fixing an “error” around new end-of-course tests for social studies classes, substitute assessments related to AP/IB students, and dropout recovery programs. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Why yes, there is a statewide race for Attorney General in Ohio going on. Why do you ask? Probably because the Democratic candidate was talking about education funding to a group of retired teachers this week. Gongwer’s coverage is probably closest to the intent of the challenger’s comments: equating the fight against drug abuse in schools with the fight against the "…‘system-wide debacle’ of charter schools”, both of which he says the incumbent is ignoring to the detriment of children. (Gongwer Ohio). The Dispatch sticks only to the charter school angle, getting wonkily down to a specific issue regarding an upcoming State Supreme Court case. (Columbus Dispatch). Interestingly, the Plain Dealer takes a totally different tack, noting that candidate Pepper decried the state education funding system as unconstitutional but also noting that as Attorney General he’d have to defend it should any challenges come up. Ain’t politics fun? (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. We’ve been following the Keystone Kops-like quest for paperwork in Mansfield that kept potentially dozens of kids from starting school on time after their charter school closed. (Three weeks in and at least 20 high school students are still not enrolled.) However, administrators may finally have realized that getting all those kids on
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