Ohio Gadfly Daily

In the midst of debates about whether school is the best place to combat the effects of poverty, several educational institutions have taken it upon themselves to integrate non-academic poverty-relief supports into their academic programs. According to a new report from the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, these schools offer unique on-the-ground efforts to support high-need students above and beyond the traditional academic model. They include KIPP, SEED schools, the Harlem Children's Zone, and community-based schools like those found in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS).

Each organization offers its own take on anti-poverty programming. KIPP focuses on extended school days and years, character education, and initiatives like KIPP Through College, which includes step-by-step assistance in the college admission process as well as after-school tutoring and counseling. These are services that other high-poverty schools struggle to offer. KIPP is also extending its services in specific locations; KIPP Houston, for instance, features a school-based health clinic called KIPP Care. The SEED schools, meanwhile, take efforts even further with a one-of-a-kind public boarding school model: Those enrolled live on campus five days a week, then head home for the weekend. Students, many of whom come from...

  1. In case you missed it, our own Chad Aldis had an op ed published in the Enquirer late on Wednesday. In it, he talked about the findings of our recent report on education deregulation in Ohio and urged the Buckeye State to “go big” on deregulation to spur innovation, excellence. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/17/15)
     
  2. Some folks were caught a bit flat-footed by the PD piece earlier in the week which asked some tough questions about the state’s new-ish charter sponsor rating system. Here is round 2. Chad is quoted extensively here, but his bottom line is clear and concise: "Making sure we have it right is pretty important." Very true. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/17/15)
     
  3. But the PD is not done yet. In Cleveland, charter schools can partner with the district and get some perks – including access to local funding – but only if those schools are “high quality”. The PD asserts that the district’s criteria for high quality are more rigorous than the state’s. Probably a different way of looking at it (school vs. sponsor), but interesting nonetheless. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/18/15)
     
  4. Pretty big bombshell late yesterday – state Board of Ed member
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A push by some charter advocates resulted in a last-minute amendment to House Bill 2 which may introduce the “California Similar Students Measures” (CSSM) into Ohio’s school-accountability system. This is an entirely unnecessary effort, and CSSM should not be implemented in the Buckeye State.

The California Charter Schools Association developed CSSM, a simple regression model that uses school-level data, to approximate a value-added student growth model. The reason: California does not have an official student growth measure. CCSM is an improvement over using only a school’s raw proficiency results to evaluate schools, and the organization deserves credit for implementing it in California. However, a CSSM-like analysis should only be used in the absence of a proper student growth measure—and as such, it has no place in Ohio.

Ohio legislators should read very carefully CCSA’s own caveat emptor (emphasis added):

While CCSA believes these metrics [CSSMs] are an improvement on the existing measures in law for charter renewal, longitudinally linked, individual student growth data is the ideal source for most appropriately assessing a school’s performance. Because the Similar Students Measure is calculated with aggregate school-level data, it is an approximation of value-added modeling. True value-added modeling requires individual student data connected to the schools...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis had a commentary piece published in the PD this morning, urging the General Assembly to stay the course on charter law reform. You’re so close, gang! And a tiny rap on the knuckles to the PD editorial board – on behalf of our awesome Dayton team – for use of the term “manage” in reference to their sponsorship work.  (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/17/15)
     
  2. The editorial board of the Dispatch have no trouble with the term “sponsor”, as evidenced by today’s opinion piece lauding Ohio’s newish sponsor rating process. Fordham is namechecked here as one of the sponsors rated “exemplary”. Dispatch defends exemplary sponsors. Link (Columbus Dispatch, 6/17/15)
     
  3. Well, strike me pink! The folks at the Think Twice project of the National Education Policy Center looked at Fordham Ohio’s recent “blockbuster” report on school closures and student achievement…and chose not to destroy it. In fact, even the caveats they put forward are ones discussed during our panel event upon release. All worthy of further research, as the Think Twice gang say. I can’t even words right now. (PR Web, 6/16/15) via Seattle PI and other outlets
     
  4. Speaking of Fordham’s reports
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Over the past year, Ohio legislators have been focusing on the state’s need to deregulate its education system. The Ohio Senate recently passed Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), legislation focused on deregulation and flexibility for high-performing districts. Governor Kasich has also brought up the subject. But what exactly does deregulation mean? How can the state and local districts deregulate without sacrificing accountability, and which areas are ready to be cut free from red tape?

To answer these questions, Fordham commissioned its newest publication, Getting Out of the Way: Education Flexibility to Boost Innovation and Improvement in Ohio. This report highlights the key issues policymakers need to consider when loosening the regulatory grip on public schools, and also offers several recommendations for local and state leaders.

One of the report’s authors, Education First’s Paolo DeMaria, presented the findings and recommendations at a breakfast event on June 11. DeMaria began his presentation by explaining why deregulation matters and why this is an ideal moment to pursue deregulation. (For news coverage of the event, see here and here.) After summarizing how some Ohio districts already utilize deregulation to innovate, DeMaria outlined his recommendations. (For more on the...

  1. Patrick O’Donnell tried to get to the bottom of just what the Ohio Department of Education’s new and evolving charter sponsor evaluation framework is – noting that two sponsors have been announced as “ineffective" and three have been announced as “exemplary” (including Fordham) using the framework so far. This is a well-done piece – a tour-de-force of journalism really – that gets at the heart of Ohio’s efforts to improve its charter school sector. And it draws some very stark differences between sponsor-based accountability and school-based accountability. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/14/15)
     
  2. Speaking of charter schools, late breaking news from Friday seems to indicate that White Hat Management is indeed selling off management of a group of its schools to a Virginia-based company. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/12/15)
     
  3. Staying in Akron for a moment, the Beacon Journal’s editorial page editor opined this weekend against caps and guarantees in school funding. He seems skeptical that any version of the new state budget gets it entirely right, but he’s sure that what we’ve got isn’t right. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/13/15)
     
  4. We end with another opinion piece, this one from Cincinnati, in which editors there opine in praise
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  1. Not to toot our own horn, but…TOOT! Fordham Ohio’s latest report, Getting Out of the Way: Education Flexibility to Boost Innovation and Improvement in Ohio, was released yesterday and we held a launch event in Columbus. Report and event generated some great response. Check out the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/11/15, plus other Gannett outlets) for quotes from Aaron Churchill and a response from something called the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition. Check out the (still, for now) Big D (Columbus Dispatch, 6/11/15) for a nice summary of some key points from the morning’s panel discussion and a response from the state teacher’s union that goes in something of an unexpected direction. That same line of thinking is followed by public media’s StateImpact (StateImpact Ohio, 6/11/15), who quote Aaron and then look to the State Senate for a response. The Dayton Daily News’ Jeremy Kelley made the early morning trek to Columbus for the event and produced a wide-ranging piece (Dayton Daily News, 6/11/15, plus a few other outlets in the publishing group) that covered a number of other issues besides teacher licensure and tenure. Thanks to the good folks at Education First, our intrepid panelists, and
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For decades, Ohio policymakers have piled regulations onto public schools. Up to a point, this top-down, input-driven approach made sense, back in an era when too many students weren’t receiving even a rudimentary education, and when we weren’t nearly as fussy about academic results.

But times have changed. We now realize that students need strong minds—not just strong backs—to compete for jobs in a competitive and knowledge-based economy. Rigorous academic expectations are the “coin of the realm” in contemporary education policy—but there is also now near-universal consensus that youngsters deserve schooling experiences tailored to their individual needs, gifts, and interests.

These powerful forces demand a radically different approach to public education—and especially to the old regulatory regime that ruled it. The state must demand that schools raise their academic performance to ready all Ohio students for success in college or career. (Currently, 40 percent of Ohio’s college-going freshmen require some form of remediation.) In return, educators should have the autonomy to design instruction aimed at achieving these ambitious goals and to customize their approaches to accord with their pupils’ needs, capabilities, and circumstances. This means that the compliance-based approach to public education must give way to more flexible arrangements.

Ohio...

  1. Fordham was namechecked in two stories noting that another charter sponsor has joined the “Exemplary Ranking” club…and that two have been named to the “Ineffective Ranking” club, the lowest possible rating. Check out coverage in the Big D (Columbus Dispatch, 6/10/15) and the Enquirer. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/10/15) Also noted nationally in Politico this morning, along with a quote from Chad. Nice.
     
  2. Speaking of charter schools, what’s up with management companies in Ohio? The Beacon Journal is still digging into Summit Academy Management. To wit: multiple breach-of-contract proceedings against teachers at their schools who quit to take jobs at other schools…mainly district schools. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/8/15) But I think the real story – which the ABJ will get to in due time, I’m sure – is this one: Akron-based journalist-fave White Hat Management is considering selling off operation of 12 of its K-8 academies to an out-of-state company. The PD’s story seems pretty tame given all the history (how did that story not get around to noting the potential new operator is also a for-profit company, for instance), but I’m sure that will change soon enough. Seems like this could get huge. More to
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The Ohio Senate recently passed Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), legislation focused on “deregulation,” and sent it on to the House. The bill would allow high-performing districts to be exempt from certain state regulations. Judging from the testimony presented, the most controversial provisions dealt with teacher licensure.

SB 3 gives high-performing school districts two pieces of flexibility around teacher licensure. First, it allows qualifying districts to choose not to require its teachers be licensed in the grade levels they teach (though the bill maintains that a teacher must hold a license in the subject area they teach). Second, it allows these high-performing districts to hire teachers who don't hold an educator license but are instead qualified based on experience. Senate President Faber has argued that these provisions expose students to high-quality teachers they might not encounter otherwise—a retired math professor who wants to teach high school students, for instance. Opponents object to allowing unlicensed teachers into classrooms because important skills like behavior management and writing lesson plans aren’t necessarily intuitive, and their absence could outweigh the benefit of content knowledge and experience. This debate raises some important questions: Does teacher licensure matter? And is there...

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