Ohio Gadfly Daily

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...

  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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  1. Unless I missed something, the last (I mean it!) EdChoice Scholarship application deadline finally occurred last Friday. So it is fitting that we learn today that School Choice Ohio’s legal action against Cincinnati and Springfield school districts to get them to provide requested directory information has been 50 percent successful. To wit: a settlement has been reached in mediation with Cincinnati Schools – details to be revealed later. Mediation efforts with Springfield were unsuccessful and so that case will continue in the courts. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Late yesterday, a 10-day strike notice was filed by teachers in Reynoldsburg. There’s the brink, folks. Let’s try not to go over it. No one wants to relive 1978 again. No one. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. Gov. Kasich was cornered by the Big D’s editorial board and asked about the prospects for Common Core repeal in Ohio. The full story is worth a read – just to get to know how Kasich answers questions – but here’s the gist: “Until somebody can show me we’re eroding local control, I see no reason to do anything. And I don’t think they’re (the House) going to do anything, to tell you the truth,” Kasich said. “In my judgment, it isn’t going to get to me, and if it does, it isn’t going to look anything like it is." (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. Out with the old… We told you some weeks ago about the brouhaha over the Kings school district’s interim superintendent – including
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  1. Editors in Youngstown seem to have reached their limit with ongoing by-the-book efforts to fix the academic ills of the district. They opined this weekend that “the word dysfunction has become synonymous” with the district, said the state “can no longer sit back and let the status quo prevail”, and urged the state to “not wait for community consensus” and act now to restructure the district to benefit children who are “suffering”. Wow. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  2. Speaking of weekend editorials, editors in Toledo decried the “circus” of Common Core repeal hearings and urged Governor Kasich to stop the wheel spinning by declaring that he would veto any such repeal bill should it reach his desk. (Toledo Blade)
     
  3. Speaking of last week’s hearings, public radio reporter Andy Chow wanted to get clarification of a potentially incendiary comment made by the sponsor of the repeal bill about the number of “intelligent people” who have or have not testified on certain aspects of the Common Core. To wit: how about hearing testimony on a standard-by-standard basis with pros and cons from “intelligent people” on each side? I’m sure it would be an endless and unwieldy process – and Chad’s fingers would likely fall off in the live-tweet attempt – but I wonder if we’d manage to actually get to the bottom of actual concerns about the actual standards that way? (WKSU-FM, Kent)
     
  4. It’s back to the bargaining table for teachers and administrators in Reynoldsburg – hopefully with
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  1. Say you’re someone who wants to open a charter school in Cincinnati, but say that your sponsor was warned in no uncertain terms by the Ohio Department of Education that your school was not allowed to open for a number of, say, very good reasons. What do you do? The folks at Hope4Change took what we’ll call a “counterintuitive” approach.  (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. Week Three of Common Core hearings was short and sweet compared to previous iterations. I am sorry that I missed this editorial from Cleveland opining in exasperation at the “circus-like” nature of the hearings to that point, but honestly nothing about that description changed yesterday and it’s still a valid comment. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) A revised and amended version of HB597 was debuted yesterday. Gongwer’s coverage focuses on details of all the changes, and takes time to predict more committee hearings in the future. (Gongwer Ohio) Public radio’s Andy Chow discusses the changes in the bill made yesterday but notes that no further hearings or next steps were announced. (WKSU-FM, Kent) As it has done for the last two weeks, covering in the PD remained focused on the issue of ID in the bill – specifically, new language that the sponsor says will address concerns of those who oppose Intelligent Design being taught in schools. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) The change in language related to creationism also gets top billing in the Big D’s coverage, but I would draw your attention to
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  1. College Board Senior Advisor and Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow at Fordham Kathleen Porter-Magee talks to the Plain Dealer about the replacement for Ohio’s New Learning Standards as proposed in HB597. Sounds like an inevitable mess should the bill pass. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. Week Three of testimony on the aforementioned HB597 begins – and maybe ends? – today in the House Rules Committee. Editors in Canton opine again against the bill, calling the campaign against the Common Core in Ohio “misguided”. (Canton Repository)
     
  3. Something else that editors in Canton are supportive of: teacher evaluation. (Canton Repository)
     
  4. Yesterday, we told you of registration problems for dozens of students in Mansfield, an untold number of whom are still sitting at home days after school started. There was a veiled intimation in that piece that a closed charter school was to blame. Today, the veil is off and without evidence or numbers the district blames the charter – which closed back in June – for failing to send complete records. While I am sympathetic to the work that is created by incomplete records, a couple of questions come to mind: 1. How many of these students had their records given to the charter school from the district in the first place? 2. Why is it apparently considered “going the extra mile” to create temporary schedules for such students to get them out of their houses and into school? 3. Why doesn’t the district have a “new
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  1. Back-to-school time is usually one of hope and possibility, but registration problems in Mansfield schools are causing dozens of students to simply sit and wait to start and parents and guardians to worry about lost time. The implication is that parents/grandparents haven’t done what is required in a timely fashion to register their mobile students – closed charter schools, other districts, etc. – but I can only imagine that the finger-pointing from the district is counter-productive. Suggestion to administrators: start school a day early next year for new kids only. (Mansfield News Journal)
     
  2. Kelli Young takes a look at the history of Stark County’s school districts and their boundaries, and gives us a fascinating piece about the way decisions from decades ago affect student assignments, taxes, transportation decisions, and governance across municipal and county lines today. There is little appetite among the Stark County ESC board to further consolidate, it seems, but Young at least asks the questions that many Stark County parents are asking. (Canton Repository)
     
  3. I missed this editorial from Akron over the weekend. Here it is. But seriously, how many more ways can folks opine in favor of Common Core? I assume we’ll find out this week. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  4. A Summit County charter school has been pro-active in creating an assessment and reporting mechanism for teachers and parents of students entering Kindergarten throughout the county this year. There are high hopes that such information will help ease the transition
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Marc Schare

Marc Schare is the Vice President of the Worthington City Schools Board of Education (in suburban Columbus), now serving his ninth year.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Marc Schare testified before the Ohio House of Representatives’ Rules and Reference Committee on August 26, 2014, opposing House Bill 597 which would repeal Ohio’s New Learning Standards. The following is from his written testimony before the committee.

We in Worthington are confused by this legislation. Perplexed really. Baffled might be the right word.

You see, the State told us back in 2009 that our “Excellent” rankings didn’t mean much anymore because Ohio’s academic content standards and cut scores were too low and that too many kids statewide were having to take high school all over again once they got to college. Fair enough, so Ohio responsibly adopted new academic content standards and recommended that we develop a curriculum based on those standards. For the next three years, teams of teachers representing over 20% of our total teaching staff met in small groups to re-write Worthington’s local curriculum. It was an enormous undertaking. The teams would methodically, standard by standard, define learning targets, compile lists of resources, determine best practices and associated professional development on a subject by subject, grade by grade basis. The result of this effort according to preliminary reports from ODE is that Worthington students using our new curriculum performed at their highest level in years.

While all this was going on, our Information Technology department was preparing to implement the...

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