Ohio Gadfly Daily

There’s not a ton of stories today, but those few clips are pure gold:

  1. Let’s start with a sad and silly follow up to yesterday’s clip about the Youngstown Schools’ superintendent’s annual evaluation. Turns out that the copies of the evaluation given to reporters and the public omitted the written notation from the Supe that “I don’t agree with the evaluation”. Who knows how the intrepid journalist figured this out but when it was confirmed, she and others were quick to call public records foul. My favorite bits include: board members disagreeing about who did the copying, the description of the copier follies whoever it was encountered in trying to make the thing work (“We were all pressing print.”), and best of all is the fact that the evaluation form itself is for the “Younstown” City Schools. No wonder the Supe disagreed! (Younstown Vindicator)
     
  2. Let’s keep to the theme of the ridiculous for a minute and talk about the “Freshman Fresh Start” doctrine which is in force in Cleveland Metropolitan School District for the first time in 2014-15. This allows 8th graders with poor grades to regain eligibility for high school sports and other extracurriculars. Some genius in the comments estimates that the new rules mean a student with a .85 GPA will now be eligible for HS sports. The idea, says CEO Eric Gordon, is for students just entering high school to “have a chance to
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  1. A little-noticed provision in the recently-passed education MBR bill allows up to 10 school districts or other entities to obtain waivers from parts of Ohio’s accountability system (testing, teacher evaluation, etc.) if they are members of the Ohio Innovation Lab Network. The waivers, requiring alternative assessments/accountability to be approved by ODE, will likely be written in 2014-15 with implementation for those whose waivers are approved beginning in 2015-16. The list of ILN members thus far (i.e. – eligible for waiver consideration) is a mixed bag of high-flyers, known innovators, and question marks. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. The K-12 education subcommittee of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Committee meets again today. Expect some more thoroughly efficient fireworks. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. Homeschoolers, by definition, have opted out of the traditional education system as far as their states will allow. In Ohio, it’s pretty hands-off, so surely the Common Core shouldn’t bother homeschooling families that much. Well, the Midwest Homeschoolers Convention is going on in Cincinnati this week, and Common Core is apparently a big topic, at least to this one mom who was interviewed. Why? The impending alignment of college entrance exams – which even homeschoolers need to think about – to the standards. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  4. Youngstown City Schools’ superintendent had his annual evaluation recently, and the results are pretty much right down the middle – 3 out of 5, or Satisfactory. Good on teamwork, needs improvement in communication, etc. But interestingly the article is mostly taken up
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  1. We’ve told you a number of times about the student journalists being used by the Beacon Journal and the Vindicator to attack charter schools from all angles, including the lovely Jacob Myers who came at us a couple months back by phone leading off with, “Are there any good charter schools in Ohio?” Well, once we ascertained what he was really interested in, Aaron gave him a ton of great information and lo and behold Jake actually wrote about what he learned. I think these two pieces from the student journalists’ blog are a couple of months old, but worth sharing anyway for the heavy use they make of Aaron’s Parsing Performance report card analysis from last fall. Plus it’s a slow news day. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  2. Sandusky schools have taken over management of a two-year-old online alternative program targeted to students ages 14 to 22 who “don't fit the mold of a traditional classroom education.” Students in the program can also participate in traditional extracurriculars within Sandusky schools. Previously, the local ESC managed the program – open to students from any district – but now Sandusky will do the work and collect the open enrollment funding directly. Summer school starts July 21. (Sandusky Register)
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  1. The tone is a bit condescending, but we’ll take the media hit: StateImpact Ohio takes a look at Fordham’s Lacking Leaders report. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  2. Dispatch editors weigh in decidedly in favor of School Choice Ohio’s legal action against two school districts on the topic of public records. This legal action will be resolved soon with or without this support, but my favorite bit is on another related topic: “The more successful School Choice Ohio is in getting the word out [about voucher eligibility], the more students may leave public schools via vouchers. Public schools understandably want to avoid this, but they should fight against it by making their schools safer and more effective — not by scheming to prevent families from knowing about their options. Scheming in defiance of state law would be even worse.” Wow. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. We are still feeling the effects of the bitter winter weather in central Ohio. No, not by skiing in July, but by the aftereffects of legislation aimed at helping districts whose calendars were hard hit by the weather. Districts and charter schools can now count their instructional time in hours rather than in days. And with that in place, Columbus’ Catholic schools are busily shrinking their calendars for 2014-15, some by up to two weeks. Wonder if that will result in a lowering of tuition? (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. Vindy editors are first out of the gate with an editorial in support of their student journalists’ “investigation”
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Common Core watchers out there have probably heard this one before: All the teachers I know hate the Common Core.

There are undoubtedly some teachers who dislike the Common Core, but recent polls suggest that most teachers support the new standards. During my three years of teaching (completed a month ago), most of my colleagues and I liked the Common Core. One reason we supported the new standards was because they gave us more freedom. Detractors claim that standards tell teachers how to teach. But I taught Common Core after teaching Tennessee’s state standards, and while Common Core did give me expectations for what my students should know and be able to do by the end of the year (just like the previous standards did), it allowed me to decide what and how to teach.

Let’s consider, for example, the first literature standard for ninth graders (the grade I taught), which states, “Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.” Most would agree that using evidence to support the analysis of a text is crucial. Students ought to know how to cite evidence instead of simply writing about their opinions and feelings.

That’s all the standard says, though. Nothing more, nothing less.

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The standard didn’t tell me when in the year I should teach the skill. I could spend as much...

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Teach For America (TFA) is one of the nation’s largest alternative routes into the teaching profession. In the 2013–14 school year, there were 11,000 corps members reaching more than 750,000 students in high-need classrooms all around the country, including nearly 150 TFA members in the Cleveland and Cincinnati-Dayton areas. Yet even with TFA’s growing scale, its teachers are a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the country’s teaching force of approximately 3 million. This raises the question of how best to allocate these young, enthusiastic teachers. Should corps members be dispersed widely across a district’s schools, or should they be “clustered” into targeted schools? Would having a high density of TFA members in a few, high-need schools provide positive learning benefits even for students with non-TFA teachers (“spillover” effects)? This new study analyzes the impact of clustering TFA members in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), using district level data from 2008–09 to 2012–13. TFA altered its placement strategy in M-DCPS in 2009–10 and began to cluster members in a smaller number of turnaround schools. For example, among middle schools with a TFA member, 18 percent of the school’s teaching staff was, on average, TFA in 2012–13, compared to just 4 percent in 2008–09. The researchers, however, found that the higher density of TFA members in the targeted schools yielded no significant “spillover” benefits—as measured by test-score gains—for students with non-TFA teachers. That said, this study replicates the finding that TFA teachers, in math at least,...

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In recent years, Ohio’s businesses have lamented the challenge of hiring highly skilled employees. Surprisingly, this has occurred even as 7 percent of able-bodied Ohioans have been unemployed. Some have argued that the crux of the problem boils down to a mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills of job-seeking workers. A new study from Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings Institution sheds new light on the difficulty that employers face when hiring for jobs that require skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Using a database compiled by Burning Glass, a job-analytics company, the Rothwell examines 1.1 million job postings from 52,000 companies during the first quarter of 2013. The study approximates the relative demand for STEM vis-à-vis non-STEM jobs by comparing the duration of time that the job vacancies are posted. Hence, a job posted for an extended period of time is considered hard to fill (i.e., “in demand”).[1] As expected, Rothwell finds that STEM-related job postings were posted for longer periods than non-STEM jobs. STEM jobs were advertised, on average, for thirty-nine days, compared to thirty-three days for non-STEM jobs. The longer posting periods for STEM jobs were consistent across all education levels—from STEM jobs that required a minimum of a graduate-level degree to “blue-collar” STEM jobs that required less than a college degree. For Ohioans, the study also includes a useful interactive webpage that slices the data for the state’s six metropolitan areas (Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus,...

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The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice recently released results from its latest public-opinion survey. The national survey of 1,007 adults examined their views concerning the state of American education, with a particular focus on school choice, the Common Core, and standardized testing. The survey shows that most Americans—58 percent of those surveyed—tend to think that K–12 education has “gotten off on the wrong track.” Interestingly, those who are white, higher income, residents of rural areas, and older tended to express the least satisfaction with K–12 education. High percentages of respondents support various school-choice reforms. Big takeaways include the following: Charter schools and vouchers are supported broadly across racial, income, and political-party segments. Overall, 61 percent say they favor charter schools, while only 26 percent say they oppose them. Similarly, 63 percent say they support school vouchers, with only 33 percent opposing them. When it comes to accountability for test results, 62 percent of those surveyed say that teachers should be held accountable. But fewer respondents thought principals should be held accountable (50 percent), and just 40 percent thought state officials should be accountable. Finally, half of the respondents expressed support for the Common Core. What the public thinks matters—and in this new survey, the results pose an interesting (if unintended) question: If choice programs have so much public support, why are they so politically controversial?

Source: Paul DiPerna, 2014 Schooling In America Survey (Indianapolis, IN: The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, June 2014)....

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The Education Tax Policy Institute in Columbus released a new report that says the tax burden in Ohio has shifted significantly since the early 1990s, from businesses onto farmers and homeowners, to the detriment of school districts and local governments. Much hay is being made over this report by the usual suspects, including the alphabet soup of education groups (BASA, OASBO, and OSBA) who commissioned it. Here are a few examples of media coverage the report has garnered:

While this report is interesting and describes changes to the state’s property-tax policy over the years, it doesn’t offer much in the way of takeaways. The shift in the property-tax burden over time is likely borne of necessity, as Ohio works to ensure that its business-tax structure is competitive with that of other states. The implication, though, is that the shift has somehow harmed education funding. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be true, as...

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  1. Student journalists connected to the Beacon Journal are pushing hard on Horizon and Noble charter school board members. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  2. The big Dog himself seems not so pleased about a private school from the Akron-adjacent town of Green which is moving to a new and expanded campus in Springfield. Odd that he didn’t note that Chapel Hill has been a long-time taker of students on the EdChoice voucher program. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  3. Speaking of Springfield, here are some details on a Straight A grant-winning program in the district which is designed to give STEM academy students access to college courses from Ohio State remotely. (Springfield News-Sun)
  4. This story was supposed to be about immigration issues and their importance to Latinos in central Ohio. Instead, it turned into an education story, as it seems that Latinos in the area feel that education is their highest priority. I can’t help but sense a disconnect between the comments of Columbus City Schools’ first Latina school board member and the local mom who seems to be sacrificing quite a bit to put her daughter in a private school. Interesting. (Columbus Dispatch)
  5. Many Common Core haters can’t be bothered to even read the standards before attacking. But two teachers in Northwest Ohio have not only read all the standards, they’ve
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