Ohio Gadfly Daily

The digital revolution is sweeping across Ohio. This year, twenty-six e-schools, twelve of which serve students throughout the state, will educate 40,000 or so youngsters. Countless more students will learn in a “blended” classroom or take an online course at their brick-and-mortar school.

One emerging use of technology is to help secondary students recover credit.  At first glance, the flexibility of online learning seems to be tailor-made for students who, for whatever reason, are in dire need of credit recovery. But in her recent Education Next article, journalist Sarah Carr documents a few of the flies in the ointment when it comes to this nascent, computer-based approach to credit recovery.

First, the data and research about online credit-recovery are simply far “too incomplete.” According to an AIR analyst with whom Carr spoke, “Even basic questions are unanswered, like the size of the business [i.e., online learning providers] and the size of the need.” Second, she finds that there is practically no way to determine the quality of an online course provider. In fact, Carr described a New Orleans school where the principal ditched one provider because its courses failed to engage her students and the quizzes were mostly recycled until the student passed them. Lacking an external quality-control authority, the vetting of online courses remains the duty of local educators. Third, Carr provides a few examples of how credit-recovery can be misused and abused. She cites a New York City incident in which administrators pushed failing...

  1. Yeah, this senior class is going to be remembered all right: as being completely stupid. TP must be played out. (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. I was not going to include this at first as we’ve already covered the ODE sternly warns sponsors story a bit. But there is some new information in here that is interesting. To wit: at least one of the spanked sponsors has decided it will not open its proposed new schools as requested, mainly in order to protect the sponsorship of existing schools. (Dayton Daily News)
  3. Up to 53 staff members could be let go in CMSD (that’s teachers and other staff) at the end of the school year, out of an initial 68 identified as underperforming by building principals. Fascinating details to delve into here, but I do love a good quote, and for this story it’s this one: “At some point, if you’re not getting the job done, we shouldn’t continue to pay you to do it,” said CEO Eric Gordon. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  4. Speaking of teachers getting the job done, the PD’s Patrick O’Donnell checks in with legislators and others regarding the plan to have students grade their teachers as part of their evaluations beginning next year. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  5. It is not enough to just be a licensed social worker for employment in public schools in Ohio.
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  1. You’ve probably already seen Mighty Mike Petrilli's quote in the AP story on NAEP scores, but did you know it hit the front page here in Columbus? “Above the fold” still means something to this old feller! (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. This story is a mess, connecting and conflating a raft of pending education legislation in the Ohio General Assembly under the heading of “buried”. Common Core, charter school accountability, PARCC testing, and teacher evaluation are all name-checked. Try to make sense of it at your peril. (Daily Reporter)
  3. My sense around here is that good teachers don't fear the new PARCC exams, even if some of their students have some anxiety about the changes. To quote from this StateImpact piece: “I have very high expectations of all my students, and I don’t lower them,” says a teacher in Lorain City Schools who appears to get it.  “And I think our teaching needs to adapt to the test a little bit, and we need to change how we’re explaining things and our wording… And the kids will get there. It just won’t happen overnight.” Nice. (StateImpact Ohio)
  4. The Plain Dealer has a set of stories today regarding the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. It begins with what is, hands down, the best (in-depth, factual, balanced) FAQ about the TGRG that I have ever read. OMG! (PD)
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All anyone wants to talk about today is primary election results. Bo-ring. So there’s not much for me to report on today.

  1. This doesn’t have anything to do with any of the myriad school levy issues that rose (mostly) or fell across Ohio, but it does have to do with school funding…and my strange obsession this week with Middletown. The district’s treasurer projects a budget in the red by 2018. She blames three things for this: a continuing drop in property values in Middletown, rising retirement costs, and a continuing loss of students to charter schools. Which of these do you think the district has it in their power to actually address? P.S. – Anyone else disturbed by the description of funding for charter school students as “tuition”? Oy vey. (Middletown Journal-News)
  2. This is also about school finances, but is all together more bizarre. Apparently Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown was raising money in order to move from its 50-year home in the city out to the suburbs. Having missed the goal by quite a bit, the campaign was suspended and the plan to move will be scrapped for now and a new strategic plan will be put in place. I have two questions unanswered by this story: a) Do they think that people didn’t give in order to keep the historic school from moving? b) Will they give the money back now that the
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  1. It's more of the same investigation into "high-stakes testing" today in Middletown. As noted yesterday, quotes from the interview subjects do not fully support the thesis of the piece: that standardized testing is too stressful for students and has little value.Said one ODE data boffin, echoing several teachers featured in the story: “Each piece of data tells its own story.” Yes indeed. (Middletown Journal-News)
  2. We’ll file this one under Search Engine Irony. ODE has revised the 2010-11 district report cards for those districts found to have scrubbed attendance data. Hardest hit was tiny Northridge Local Schools in Montgomery County, whose district grade dropped from an A to a C for that year after data was de-scrubbed. The irony comes when you use the Dayton Daily News’ search feature to find this story by typing in “Northridge”. Today’s sad story came up sandwiched between two stories from 2011 where the superintendent responds to the initial A rating. Those “tears” and “chills” and “phones blowing up” definitely take on a new meaning now. (Dayton Daily News)
  3. If you want to see the revised report cards for all of those data-scrubbing districts, the Big D has them all for you. (Columbus Dispatch)
  4. Back in the real world, the Enquirer has a nice guest column opining upon the moral imperative for ending the high school dropout epidemic in
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  1. The final private school profiled in Fordham Ohio’s Pluck and Tenacity voucher school report from January – Eden Grove in Cincinnati – has been published by Education Next. (Education Next)
  2. So, we told you last week about ODE’s unprecedented action to send out stern letters to three charter school sponsors warning them not to open their proposed new schools next year for a variety of very good reasons…or else. Most charter advocates are down with this, the Columbus Dispatch editorial staff is down with this. Why, then, are charter critics NOT down with this? (Columbus Dispatch)
  3. Editors in Toledo are attempting to parse recent graduation rate numbers, editorializing themselves into something of a corner: “It’s a tricky proposition — declaring that minority students are largely responsible for the increase in graduation rates, but also acknowledging how far behind they continue to lag.” Indeed. (Toledo Blade)
  4. This story is supposed to be about all the stress brought to bear on kids at testing time in Ohio. There are quotes from psychologists and hospital people and concerned parents, but there are some really interesting nuggets here away from the beaten path. To name just a few: sports and testing are equated as end-of-year stressors, a mom with kids in both public and private schools talks about the difference in school culture around testing, and two savvy-sounding fifth graders
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  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)