Ohio Gadfly Daily

1. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks here at Fordham Ohio’s policy HQ. Yesterday, we held a public event to herald the release of the new report from Bellwether Education Partners, outlining 10 policy recommendations to improve the quality of Ohio’s charter school sector, something that is sorely needed. Here is a selection of coverage as it stands now. More will likely follow in the coming days:

2. Fordham, and the Bellwether report (and maybe a certain humble news clipper perhaps?), got the Big D’s Education Insider thinking about the legally-embattled...

  1. Bellwether Education Partners today released a new report detailing ten policy recommendations to help improve the quality of Ohio’s charter school sector. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece from the Big D. As partners in the report, we are hopeful for much more attention to the report in coming days and weeks. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. Fordham’s Aaron Churchill was busy on the airwaves yesterday, talking about Common Core on two radio shows. The second hasn’t been archived yet, but yesterday’s first appearance was on the Ron Ponder Show on WHBC in Canton, where Aaron appeared in between segments on standards and testing with the superintendent of Canton City Schools. You can hear the WHBC audio by clicking here. (WHBC-AM, Canton)
     
  3. Going back to the subject of charter schools for a second, here’s a story about a dream that refuses to die…even though it probably should. A Pittsburgh-area man is trying for the fifth time to launch a charter school in his Pennsylvania hometown. Why do we in Ohio care about this story? Don’t we have charter problems of our own going back many years? Yes, we do. And he was one of them, as founder of the two Talented Tenth charter schools in Columbus shut down last year by the Ohio Department of Education as “educational travesties”. Here’s hoping he gets skunked again in PA. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
     
  4. The PD published an opinion piece this morning on teacher compensation. Seems like the author
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  1. The folks at Gongwer covered CREDO’s latest report looking at the quality (or lack thereof) in charter schools in Ohio. Probably took them a week to get to it as they were exhausted after the marathon of lame duck legislating last week. Chad is quoted. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. The Ohio Department of Education submitted their budget request for the next biennium last week. Among other things, they have requested funding for another round of Straight-A Grants. Says the state superintendent: "The early successes and outcomes of this grant program require that we continue these efforts… Encouraging schools to pursue sustainable, innovative, local ideas will help transform and modernize Ohio's education system." Nice. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. It has been said that the real success of Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee will become apparent if and when last year’s “all-hands-on-deck” efforts to help students read on grade level is repeated as a matter of course in multiple years. Columbus City Schools appears to be confident they can do this, and they have even expanded their reading academy outreach to include math as well. Here’s hoping for excellent success in both areas for those families. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. One newly-elected state school board member met with her constituents last week….many of whom didn’t know she existed until then. Sigh. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. We told you some months ago about Toledo City Schools’ effort to oust a teacher using, for what most folks believe is the first time,
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  1. Marion journalist Michelle Rotuno-Johnson finished her week back in third grade, but seemed only to get into the nuts and bolts of Common Core implementation on the last day. You can check out all the entries from the week now. NOTE: She, like many others, seems a bit obsessed with the amount of tests being taken by her third grade buddies. But while she does note that MAPS testing is optional for schools, she should also have spelled out that the OAA/PARCC double-shot is a one-year-only consequence of the transition to PARCC. And that PARCC doesn’t count this time around. (Marion Star)
     
  2. I’m going to go out on a limb to predict that the four-district consolidated high school idea kicking around Geauga County at the moment will eventually go down the same path to neglectful oblivion as the two-district merger mooted earlier this year. But not until after some fireworks. (Willoughby News Herald)
     
  3. Former state school board member and current Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims took his Men of Color initiative into Dayton City Schools this week. 100 volunteers visited schools to help provide role models to high school students and to inspire young men toward future careers. Sounds fantastic, but don’t forget charter schools, guys.  (Dayton Daily News)
     
  4. Here is a story about just the kind of student that the Men of Color initiative is trying to inspire, but I think Corey Spears has already found some serious motivation within himself, after
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Yesterday at The City Club of Cleveland, Dr. Margaret (Macke) Raymond of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) presented her new findings on Ohio charter schools. The lunch crowd, consisting of more than 150 attendees, was perched at the edge of their seats as the results were unveiled. What they learned is that Cleveland charter schools are outperforming the district in math and reading—and they are making an especially large contribution to the learning growth of low-income black students. That was the good news for the local Cleveland crowd. But the less-positive news was that far too many schools in Cleveland (district or charter) still provide an unsatisfactory education for their students. The bottom-line message was that Cleveland (and the state as a whole) has to focus on creating and growing high-quality schools. To view the full presentation, please click on the video below.

For more news coverage on the release of CREDO’s new Ohio charter-school report, please read the stories in the Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer here and here, and NPR: Ideastream.

To download the report, click here; and, to read Fordham’s commentary on the findings, please click here....

  1. CREDO’s latest report looking at charter school quality (or lack thereof) in Ohio got a bit more play yesterday. Public radio in Northeast Ohio ran a piece on the report itself, including parts of an interview conducted at our Tuesday press conference in Columbus. (IdeaStream Public Media) Meanwhile, the PD covered yesterday’s City Club of Cleveland event in which CREDO’s Macke Raymond discussed her findings in depth, and they noted Fordham’s connection to the report. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) You can check out the full video of the event here.
     
  2. The 130th General Assembly is drawing to a close here in Ohio, with lots of backslapping and fond farewells…and a raft of lame duck legislation. The current legislative assault on Common Core in Ohio may have at last run out of time after a last-ditch effort to amend it to another bill was ruled “out of order” at the 11th hour yesterday. Stick a fork in repeal, it’s done...for now. (Newark Advocate)
     
  3. Back in the real world, here’s a great guest commentary piece from two longtime math teachers in Northeast Ohio opining on the topic of how Common Core could help solve what they call America’s “math phobia”. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. We’ve noted recently that Columbus City Schools’ board has done away with the “policy governance” model it has used for almost a decade and reinstated a more hands-on, committee-based model. A consultant’s recommendation for Youngstown City Schools’ board is the
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  1. In case you missed it, Stanford University’s CREDO Center released a new report looking at charter school quality (or lack thereof) in Ohio. We got some good initial coverage in major dailies around the state, despite a packed day of education-related stories, with more to come. Journalist Patrick O’Donnell joined us live in Columbus for the press conference, but he noted some outstanding performance by charter schools in Cleveland, and noted Fordham’s support of the research. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Chad is quoted in the Big D’s story, which focuses on the larger issues of charter quality statewide and what can be done to improve. (Columbus Dispatch) The Beacon Journal focuses on the bad news in the report and buries the good – as might have been expected – but the numbers say what they say. Aaron is quoted as well. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  2. As noted yesterday, the biggest source of competition for our report release was the State Board of Education’s discussion of and voting on the so-called “5 of 8 rule”. There was hours of testimony and discussion, some proposed amendments, and some heat, but in the end the board voted as we might have expected: 14-5 to remove the rule mandating staffing level of “specialist” instructions. There are still several bureaucratic hoops to jump through before all this is final, so expect some more fireworks in arcane rule-making bodies of the state of Ohio coming up. You can check out
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Charter schools are quickly becoming a defining feature of Ohio’s public-education landscape, educating over 120,000 children statewide. Also known as “community schools” in Ohio, charter schools have several distinctive characteristics: They are schools of choice, they operate independently of traditional districts (and some state regulation), and they are held contractually accountable for their results by a charter school authorizer.

The “theory of action” behind charters is fairly simple. Empower parents with choice, give schools greater freedom, and hold schools accountable to a contract—and higher student achievement, more innovation, and stronger parental engagement will follow.

But how does theory stack up against reality? Are Ohio charters actually producing better results than their district counterparts? One way to answer this question is by analyzing student achievement data, and since 1999, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has been the nation’s foremost independent evaluator of charter school performance. 

Today, CREDO published a report on the academic performance of Ohio charter schools. It found that Buckeye charters, taken as a whole, continue to produce mediocre results. With state test scores in math and reading from the 2007–08 to 2012–13 school years used as the outcome measure, the study found that, on average, Ohio charter students are falling behind their counterparts in district schools. Students lost, on average, fourteen days of learning in reading and forty-three days in math over the course of the school year.

For those who have followed the Fordham Institute’s commentary and research over the...

Sadly, a change recommended by the Ohio House Education Committee in House Bill 343 that would have eliminated the minimum teacher-salary schedule from state law was removed by the Rules Committee before the legislation reached the full house. The law entrenches the archaic principle that teacher pay should be based on seniority and degrees earned, and most districts’ collective-bargaining agreements still conform to the traditional salary schedule. For instance, each district in Montgomery County, except for one, had a seniority and degrees-earned salary schedule.[1]

There are several good reasons to do away with the traditional salary schedule.  These reasons include: (1) It wrongly assumes that longevity is related to productivity; (2) it falsely assumes that a masters’ degree correlates to productivity; (3) it does not reward teachers who are demonstrably more effective; and (4) it does not differentiate teacher pay based on the conditions of the wider labor market.

Given Ohio policymakers’ reticence to ditch the salary schedule, it’s worth discussing again (see here and here for prior commentary) why the rigid salary schedule shackles schools. In particular, I’d like to deal with the fourth reason mentioned above.

Most will agree that some teachers possess specialized knowledge that may be more valued in the external labor market (i.e., in non-teaching occupations). Consider Miss Jones, a high school math teacher: It is plausible that she could compete for a well-paying job at, say, Battelle. Assuming her school wants to...

The charter school sector in the United States encompasses forty-two states and the District of Columbia, with 6,400 charter schools serving 2.5 million students. More than 1,000 authorizing entities oversee these schools, working under state laws that (ideally) balance the twin goals of school autonomy and accountability for results. This report, produced by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), examines the quality of those laws. NACSA has identified eight policies that facilitate the development of effective charters, including performance management and replication, default closures, and authorizer sanctions. States are awarded points based on the strength of each of these policies in their charter school laws. Since each state has a unique charter-authorizing landscape, NACSA has divided the states into three groups based on their similarities and then ranked states within each group. The groups are: 1) district authorizing states, 2) states with many authorizers, and 3) states with few authorizers. Ohio—with its 70 authorizers—was placed in group two along with four other states (Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Michigan). NACSA awarded Ohio a score of 18/27, enough to tie for third in its group (along with Missouri). While Ohio earned top marks for its default closure policies and its (relatively new) authorizer sanctions, it received zero points for its charter-renewal standards. More specifically, current law allows “reasonable progress” to be sufficient evidence for an authorizer to renew a charter. This low standard is particularly worrisome given Ohio charter schools’ “documented history of poor performance.” The report also notes...

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