Ohio Gadfly Daily

  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)
Categories: 

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...

Categories: 

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...

Categories: 

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...

Categories: 

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...

Categories: 

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.

Categories: 

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
  5. ...
Categories: 
  1. There’s a certain tone in parts of this story that bothers me for some reason – the assumption that “poor kids can’t make it to college” – despite the fact that the story is actually about large numbers of kids who do make it to college with grit and determination and good strategies and helpful adults. And so I’ll focus on that last bit. I'm glad it's Friday. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  2. This is something of a non-story, really, but I shall attempt to summarize: an elementary school principal was moved out and an interim put in place last week in a suburban Cincinnati district. No real reasons were confirmed although it’s something to do with academic performance in the building. The timing of the move (just before OAA testing) drew parental response (hello Third Grade Reading Guarantee reference), but to me it’s the delving into district/building report cards by the reporter that make this interesting enough to cite. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  3. The Gordian Knot of bell schedules and transportation is being tackled in far suburban Cleveland at the moment. District officials say they will be able to extend the academic day and group learners of similar level – and they actually sound genuinely excited about the prospect for innovation and excellence – but they are under fire by some parents who think the new start time is too early for 4th
  4. ...
Categories: 

So, a price has to be paid when a bounty is received in Clipsville, apparently.

After yesterday’s bumper crop of clips, we’ve got very little at all to talk about today, and it’s all updates on old and barely interesting news from Columbus.
 

  1. A second report was released this week by the Auditor of State, noting that certain types of data scrubbing continued in Columbus high schools well after the first public airing of allegations and a public declaration by the then-Superintendent that it would stop. (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. Now that the number has been pretty well determined ($50 million) and the hardest item  has been pretty well decided (school closures), the Columbus Board of Education is starting to get a picture of what their needed budget cuts will really look like. (Columbus Dispatch)

P.S. – There’s a fascinating (as online comments sections go) “conversation” about charter schools below this piece online. Worth taking a look at....

Categories: 
  1. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has come out swinging in opposition to changes in charter school oversight passed by the Ohio House in the education MBR. He is particularly vexed by language addressing the Cleveland Plan’s efforts to promote successful charter schools in Cleveland while choking out those not successfully educating children. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  2. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel wades into the education world in a big way - touting his love for vocational education loud and clear - in the Wall Street Journal no less! (Wall Street Journal)
  3. Several papers in central Ohio are touting the new Innovation Generation initiative, intended to link local students to a community college/employment pipeline, generously funded by J.P. Morgan Chase. (Columbus Dispatch)
  4. Speaking of community college, the PD reports on new research that shows transfer students with associate degrees were 49 percent more likely than those who didn’t complete a two-year degree to complete a bachelor’s degree within four years. A link to the research study is available from the PD as well. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  5. Last stop in Cleveland today: an update on parent/teacher meeting numbers in the district so far this year. And they’re actually pretty good. Note that this is the first year such statistics are being tracked and reported…and that it’s actually the law in CLE for parents to
  6. ...
Categories: 

Pages