Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. We’ve been talking a lot about PARCC test practice across Ohio, but it’s also actual OAA testing time as well – the last time the venerable OAAs will be given. So here we discuss the real future of testing in the state with a Cincy spin, focusing a lot on computers vs. pencils (hello 21st century!) and what a tougher test will mean for everyone. Is it just my imagination, or do some of the teachers and administrators interviewed sound wistful to you? (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  2. Today's story about city budgeting decisions in Toledo may seem pretty boring, but there are a couple of nuggets in here worth noting. First up, the effort to reduce funding for After-School All Stars, ostensibly because they are “carpetbaggers” from Columbus. This group apparently provides some pretty good services to a few Toledo district schools. If those programs close or reduce services, who will take their place? Maybe it’ll be a district-run Head Start program, the awarding of which we were supposed to find out sometime in April but which has not yet been announced. Secondly, the effort to reduce funding for the United North community group is a mystery to me because they’ll need all the support they can muster should that Head Start money not come through and Horizon Science Academy move forward with their own plans, which have been challenged at every turn by United North.
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  1. In case you missed it yesteday, Fordham's Aaron Churchill appeared on All Sides with Ann Fisher to debate the merits of standardized testing in Ohio. Seriously, it's more entertaining than that write-up makes it sound. And there's video! (WOSU-FM, Columbus)
  2. The editors in Wheeling, WV, opined recently on ODE’s moves to strengthen charter school oversight in Ohio. (Wheeling Intelligencer)
  3. CMSD has approved an August 13 start date for the 14-15 school year…with a few exceptions. Some of these appear based on previously-noted parental concerns over weather. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  4. Speaking of weather-sensitive issues: a columnist in Portsmouth has a lot to say about rained-out HS baseball and softball games and the plan in place to make them up. I kind of lost interest after the first paragraph, but I scanned the rest and the bottom line seems to be something about “a few more hot dogs sold”. Yeah, education! (Portsmouth Daily Times)
  5. Back in the real world, teacher candidates in the Youngstown area are getting the chance to test their chops – and their Common Core cred – in front of kids as the school year winds down for them both.(Youngstown Vindicator)
  6. The League of Women Voters in Bowling Green had a forum on the Common Core on Monday. One guy actually said nice things about the standards…and lived. (Bowling
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  1. I noted jokingly on Twitter on Friday that it was futile trying to understand EdChoice expansion by asking primarily opponents of vouchers. But I’m not so sure about this event: a panel on charter school accountability convened by a Democratic state senator could actually be interesting and enlightening. (Gongwer Ohio)
  2. Discussion of parents opting out of standardized testing is all the rage in Ohio, including at an anti-testing event in Sylvania earlier this week. (Toledo Blade)
  3. Cleveland appears to be undergoing an unexpected "brain gain" and everyone’s happy they are heading for the future. But why the Columbus hate? Can’t we all just get along? (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  4. A federal judge has ruled that Upper Arlington did not discriminate against a local Christian school when it utilized exclusive zoning to refuse the school’s request to relocate. Interesting in a number of respects. (Columbus Dispatch)
  5. As noted last week, Lorain schools will be undergoing their first review by ODE in the wake of the appointing of an Academic Distress Commission. The only other district in the state under an Academic Distress Commission is Youngstown. Youngstown’s ODE review begins next week. (Youngstown Vindicator)
  6. Apparently, once you have one district doing away with its standalone high school building, others will follow. North Olmstead is looking into
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  1. A small crop of clips today. But let’s start in Columbus, where City Council OK'd a cabinet-level education department AND $5 million for a pre-K initiative. Both were integral parts of the twin ballot issues regarding education that failed last November. (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. The Akron school board was told yesterday by the director of Student Support Services that district suspension data “clearly says that our culture is to suspend kids.” The ABJ investigated and concluded that “the image of heavy-handed student discipline is driven by roughly 200 repeat offenders, less than a tenth of a percent of all students, who have been suspended for more than 10 days.” (Akron Beacon Journal)
  3. OK. I applaud officials in Chillicothe who want to try and figure out why they are a “net loser” of students in the open enrollment game and – more importantly – how they can better compete to keep more residents' children from leaving. Successfully doing so will help students all ove rthe region. However, I think they perhaps are going about it the wrong way and are most definitely misinterpreting their problematic survey data. (Chillicothe Gazette)
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Almost a year has passed since the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published Teacher Quality Roadmap: Improving Policies and Practices in the Dayton Public Schools. The report, funded jointly by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Learn to Earn Dayton, analyzed teacher policies and related practices within the district, with the goal of to identifying short- and long-term improvements to policy and practice that could in turn increase the quality of the teaching force.

As Learn to Earn Executive Director Tom Lasley noted in June of 2013, when the report was released, teachers’ impact matters immensely, especially in a region and district that has seen significant population declines and has confronted (and continues to confront) economic challenges.

NCTQ framed its analysis and findings around five key areas: staffing, evaluations, tenure, compensation, and work schedules. Analysts met with teachers, principals, community leaders, and other stakeholders, and they reviewed district policies and state law. A slate of recommendations—some easier to tackle (e.g., maintain the current schedule of teacher observations under the new evaluation framework) and some harder (e.g., giving principals the authority to decide who works in their buildings)—resulted.

District superintendent Lori Ward and her colleagues got to work and, by December of 2013, accomplished several significant improvements. Among them, principals are no longer forced to accept transferred teachers to fill vacancies; rather, principals have the ability to select the most qualified candidate (including new hires).

Additionally, reductions in force, which in the past were based on seniority...

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A couple of years ago, Fordham held a contest to determine the most reformed state in the land. To almost no one’s surprise, Indiana—under the leadership of Governor Mitch Daniels and State Superintendent Tony Bennett—raced to victory. Indiana was held up as a model of education reform, and we encouraged other states to follow its path. Today, we again ask you to look to Indiana—but for precisely the opposite reason.

Hoosier State legislators, like those in Ohio, have come under increasing pressure from a small, vocal set of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) critics urging the state to repeal their adoption of the standards. Indiana acceded to their demands as Governor Mike Pence signed legislation on March 24 making Indiana the only state in the nation to formally withdraw its participation in the CCSS. And in what happened next, there are lessons to be learned for Ohio legislators who think there are political or educational benefits associated with exiting the CCSS.

First, states need to have standards in place, but good standards take time to develop. Indiana’s crash course in standards-writing over the past couple of months, aimed at having new standards in place this fall, has left almost everyone disappointed and frustrated. Critics of Indiana’s go-it-alone approach have suggested that the changes were nothing more than a rebranding of the CCSS. Educators, meanwhile, are also feeling the pressure: the Republic quoted Indiana State Teachers Association Vice President Keith Gambill as saying, “Any delay past that time...

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Former Ohio governor Jim Rhodes wrote in 1969, “Many of today’s social and economic ills result from a lack of employment among the able-bodied. The lack of employment stems directly from inadequate education and training.” Governor Rhodes continued, asserting that vocational-training programs for young women and men could help to meet the demands of a changing modern-day economy.

Fast-forward forty-five years: Ohio has changed substantially, but as did Governor Rhodes, the state’s policymakers are again hitching their wagons to vocational education. Retro is in, and that’s a good thing: vocational education—a.k.a. “career and technical education”—has the potential to open new pathways of success for many teenagers.

Little, however, is widely known about how Ohio organizes its vocational-education programs or how students in them fare. Cue the state’s new report cards, which include helpful information about the state’s vocational programs. The following looks at the report cards, yielding five takeaways regarding Ohio’s vocational options.

Point 1: CTPDs and JVSDs are not the same

Ohio has two key entities in the realm of vocational education: (1) Career and Technical Planning Districts (CTPDs) and (2) Joint Vocational School Districts (JVSDs, also called “career-tech centers”). CTPDs are an administrative entity, while JVSDs are direct vocational-education providers. Both CTPDs and JVSDs are comprised of member school districts; however, while all districts are part of a CTPD, not all districts are part of a JVSD.

Throughout Ohio, ninety-one CTPDs oversee vocational programs. CTPDs have at least one member school...

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Innovation Ohio’s broadside on charter schools—and, by extension, the parents who select them and the children who attend them—is outrageous. The report is not necessarily flawed because of their critique of charters, per se, but because of the Swiss-cheese analysis that supposedly bolsters its conclusions. The author of this report makes two analytical faux pas, and each are discussed in turn.

First, the report’s suggestion that most charter students land in a lower-performing school, relative to the district-run school they came from, is bunk because of the absence of analysis at the student level. When Community Research Partners, a Columbus-based research organization, analyzed student data from the Ohio Department of Education in a project supported by Fordham and ten other organizations, its analysts discovered that the majority of charter students transferred to a charter rated the same or better than the district school they came from. Of the charter students in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo—locations with relatively large concentrations of charters—39 percent went to a higher-rated charter school and 26 percent went to a charter school rated the same as the district school they had previously attended. (The students’ transfer data were taken from October 2009 to May 2011; at that time, the state issued school buildings an overall rating.) In the meantime, if we wanted to conduct an empirical evaluation of Ohio’s charter-school effectiveness relative to district schools, the richest analysis outside of a randomized experiment would be a student-to-student comparison, using achievement...

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In 2013, there were a shocking number of charter-school failures across Ohio, including seventeen in Columbus—most of them first-year startups. In response, the Ohio Department of Education required additional paperwork from six authorizers (often referred to as sponsors) looking to start new schools in the 2014–15 school year, hoping to zero in on weak structures and poor advance planning before startup funds were released and students began attending the schools. Last Friday, the department took an unprecedented step and issued a stern warning to three authorizers that they will be “shut down” if they proceed with plans to open six new community schools. The deficiencies identified had one similarity: connections or similarities to other charters that had ceased operation voluntarily or had been shut down. It’s a shame that this step was necessary, but the recent track record of Ohio’s authorizers suggests there was a need for additional scrutiny. We applaud this bold step and commend State Superintendent Richard Ross and his team for swift and decisive action.

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Some of you may have heard about this late on Friday as the Ohio Department of Education took an unprecedented step to warn three charter school sponsors in the state that if they open their proposed new startup schools in the fall, ODE will shut down those sponsors due to serious deficiencies identified in their new school requests.

  1. The ODE story was reported around the state over the weekend. This first clip notes the sponsors being warned AND notes Fordham’s own request for an expansion of the highly successful United Schools Network, aka Columbus Collegiate Academy. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  2. These next three clips are the same story, without naming Fordham or the other sponsors whose applications passed the additional scrutiny ODE subjected them to. The first is a brief notice from the Columbus Dispatch on Friday. The second is from the Dispatch on Saturday and delves more into the issues connected to the sponsors receiving the warning. The third is from StateImpact Ohio, which at least notes that there were sponsors reviewed positively, although they are not named.
  3. We noted this briefly a while back: the deadline for EdChoice applications has been extended this year. Karen Kasler tries to understand why…mainly by talking with opponents of vouchers. (WKSU-FM, Kent)
  4. I also noted last week that the
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