Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Editors in Canton opine on Ohio's new teacher evaluation protocols…and the even newer tweaks made to them by the legislature. (Canton Repository)
     
  2. St. Paul Lutheran School in Union County has closed its doors after 122 years. It is not noted in this article that St. Paul took students on the EdChoice Scholarship for some years. Its closing leaves just two EdChoice-participating private schools in the county. Interestingly, both are Lutheran schools. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. Yesterday’s PD piece on whether or not there will be a “safe harbor” for teachers from evaluations based on PARCC exams apparently grew out of this longer and more in-depth interview with ODE’s data-guru Matt Cohen. In it, he answers questions about how value-add will be calculated when tests switch from OAA (RIP) to PARCC (OMG), among other intricacies. I was happy every time I read the phrase “in simple terms”. I can only imagine the level of detail Mr. Cohen was able and willing to provide! (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. In case you think being in charge of a state-mandated commission overseeing school districts in fiscal trouble is a glamorous business, this story will probably change your mind. There appears to be no shortage of people scrutinizing the custodial budget and operations in Mansfield schools at the moment. Looking at privatization didn’t yield the savings hoped for and now discussion turns to making in-house services more efficient, although as the Supe says: he’s “not sure how a more efficient custodian
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  1. It wasn’t on his Year One to-do list, but apparently it will be going forward. Columbus schools supe Dan Good says that future district budgets will be more than one page long and contain some details which are not currently provided. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. As I write this, teachers in Reynoldsburg are standing on some street corner actively protesting the new contract offer from the district. The piece doesn’t specify what they don’t like, but you can probably read the FAQ to get some ideas. (ThisWeek News/Reynoldsburg News)
     
  3. As the dust settles around the K-12 education portion of the MBR, certain provisions are getting a deeper look. That includes the fact that the legislature’s "safe harbor" provision relating to Common Core implementation likely won't extend to teachers, especially in districts like CMSD where teacher evaluation based on student test scores is already well-established. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. We’ve been following this story for a few months now, and it ends where all but the most die-hard folks thought it would: AB Graham Digital Academy, a charter school in the Springfield area, has failed to find a new sponsor and will not reopen in the fall. Remember this is the fairly successful online/in class academy for at-risk students sponsored by and largely run by Graham Local School district. The district decided to establish its own program and ended sponsorship. No new sponsors stepped up and ABGDA is done.  (Springfield News Sun)
     
  5. Immaculate Conception School in
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  1. A tale of two tests. Or three tests. Or four. Reporters in Zanesville checked in with local districts to get their take on whether the alternative assessments available to determine if third grade students can read well enough to move on to fourth grade are comparable or simply a lowering of the bar. Nice piece. (Zanesville Time Recorder)
     
  2. Even if the bar was lowered, nearly 12 percent of third graders in Ohio still have not scored high enough on any assessment to be promoted. In Columbus City Schools, they are focusing on numbers – specific individual children who have not yet passed – and teachers and administrators are hitting the streets this summer to meet families in their homes and make sure they know of the considerable resources available to them through the district. Despite the sports metaphor (“blitz” is, I think, related to American football and can often result in some violent tackling), this seems like a fantastic innovation for the district and is to be applauded mightily. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. As noted earlier this week, Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s immense facilities plan is at an important crossroads. The PD’s editorial board weighs in today on the state of the plan as it stands now and what they’d ideally like to see instead. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. The Toledo school board voted yesterday to place a “new money” levy on the November ballot - 5.8 mils above the current millage. Voters in that city have
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  1. So, yesterday we took a look at open enrollment in one part of Ohio from the perspective of the districts and seemed to conclude that it was “just business” – net “winner” districts are happy, net “losers” are not and it’s all about dollars. Well, today we catch up with another open enrollment story – one that focuses squarely on why students and parents participate in open enrollment and where the call of “it’s just business” did not fly. To refresh your memory: a “net winner” district in Northeast Ohio started feeling guilty about taking so much money from its neighbors and decided to trim the number of open enrollment seats it would fill in 2014-15 (I’m sure the green eye shades were out to work over those numbers), but as that number was well below the number of kids currently in the district from elsewhere, it seemed inevitable that they would have to kick some kids out. Despite assurances to the contrary, the district did just that, non-renewing nearly three dozen students who had been open enrolled and attending in the district for years. An extremely predictable stink arose and last week the school board was forced to retreat, reinstating all the kicked-out students who wanted to return, although honestly those parents and kids have got to wonder if they are really welcome there or if they are “just business”. (Willoughby News Herald)
  2. There’s not much play on this story outside of Columbus yet, but
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Students who cannot read early in life are barreling toward dropping out, adult illiteracy, and perhaps the welfare rolls. Someone has to intervene in these young lives—and the earlier, the better. Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee requires schools to take early action, including retaining youngsters who do not pass their standardized reading exam. This isn’t punitive, as some critics claim, or unnecessarily harmful to kids. Rather, such interventions could be the force that knocks these kids off the dreaded “school-to-prison pipeline.”

And they’re sorely needed, as witnessed by the recently released data revealing that more than 16,000 Buckeye third graders are in serious jeopardy of not entering fourth grade, as a result of failing their reading exams. Many of these children are from Ohio’s poorer areas (over one-quarter of them live in the “Big Eight” urban districts), but thousands more reside in middle-class communities. These youngsters did not earn the minimum score on their reading exam for either the Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 rounds of testing.[1] Now they have one last chance—if they want it—to take the state’s assessment this summer or to pass an alternative one.

The fact that 10 percent of Ohio’s third graders need heavy-duty summer remediation or will probably have to repeat third grade—and that hundreds more barely passed—should give us pause. Granted, many schools are struggling valiantly to help young readers, and hats off to Ohio’s educators for upping their attention on early literacy.

But...

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Greg Harris

In our last Ohio Gadfly, we analyzed recent changes to Ohio’s Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) and suggested ways it could be improved. This guest commentary by Greg Harris, Ohio State Director of StudentsFirst, emphasizes the critical importance of evaluations.

Ohio’s new Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) is a significant step forward in improving the quality of instruction for our K–12 students. For the first time, teachers will be evaluated, at least in part, on their impact on student learning gains. (Traditionally, teachers have been evaluated only through observation.) OTES also elevates the role of principals by having them play a more active role in observing and developing their teachers—hence, reconnecting them to classrooms and making teacher quality their priority. In creating such a process, Ohio has established a robust framework for identifying its strongest teachers, as well as spotting and improving the performance of its less effective teachers.

But with the sudden emergence and quick passage by the Senate of Senate Bill 229 in December 2013, OTES was unexpectedly put on trial only half way through its first year of implementation. The bill actually seemed reasonable at first glance. Its sponsors maintained that by exempting teachers rated in the top two categories (“Accomplished” or “Skilled”) from annual evaluation, schools could focus their energies on developing weaker teachers. The problem, however, is that under previous evaluation systems, the majority of Ohio teachers had been rated in the top two tiers. If this trend held true, SB 229...

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The recent repeal of the Common Core State Standards in Indiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma has given renewed the hopes of Ohio’s Common Core detractors. During the just-completed Mid Biennium Review (MBR) process, the legislature agreed to a number of compromises to address their concerns, but critics remain unsatisfied. This small but vocal minority is now agitating on behalf of a discharge petition for House Bill 237, which would repeal the state’s adoption of the Common Core.

A discharge petition is a little-used legislative tactic that, if the petition is signed by fifty House members, allows a bill that fails to get committee approval to move directly to the floor for consideration by the whole chamber. Supporters for HB 237 have, thanks to the leadership of Chairman Stebelton and other members, found little success in the Education Committee and have resorted to the discharge petition process.

It’s worth noting that even if the discharge petition is successful (i.e., if it gets fifty signatures and removes the bill from the Education Committee), HB 237 would still need to secure approval from the House, Senate, and governor to become law. Although these chances are slim, consider the potential consequences.

Consequence #1: If the Common Core standards are repealed, Ohio must find something to replace it. Shockingly, shortly after South Carolina chucked the Common Core, a state administrator admitted, “We don’t have time to do that [i.e., write new standards].” It seems like the Palmetto State will substitute...

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It’s a good-news-bad-news state of affairs for Ohio’s teacher-preparation programs. Let’s start with the good: the Buckeye State is the proud home to five of the nation’s best elementary and secondary programs, according to new rankings by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Ohio State’s graduate along with University of Dayton and Miami University’s undergraduate programs earned top-ten honors out of the 1,167 elementary-teacher programs that NCTQ examined. Meanwhile, among the 1,137 secondary-teacher programs, Miami University’s undergraduate and graduate programs earned top-ten recognition. On the other side of the coin, twenty Ohio programs—out of seventy-one in the state that NCTQ was able to rate—fell into the bottom half of NCTQ’s ratings. (Programs rated in the bottom half did not receive a numerical ranking.) Unfortunately, sixteen Ohio colleges refused to participate in the analysis. Caveat emptor: in Ohio, as elsewhere, we see that some programs provide a stellar training while others are mediocre or worse. Discerning employers—and college-goers—would be wise to consult this report when making their decisions.
 

SOURCE: Julie Greenberg, Kate Walsh, and Arthur McKee, 2014 Teacher Prep Review: A Review of the Nation’s Teacher Preparation Programs (Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Quality, June 2014).

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You’ve already read in the Ohio Education Gadfly what we think about the third-grade reading scores across Ohio. Around the state, journalists are trying to parse what’s worked and what hasn’t and what districts will do with the approximately 12 percent of third graders who are still at risk of being held back. Here’s a sampling of what the papers are saying:

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  1. Round 2 of Ohio’s Straight A Innovation Fund grants were awarded on Friday. You can check out a description of the final determination process here. (Gongwer Ohio) There were 37 projects awarded funding statewide and we'll be covering a number of them through the week I'm sure. First out of the gate is a list of Franklin County-specific winners, courtesy of the Big D. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. I think the headline pretty much says it all, but the story is entertaining nonetheless: “Anti-Charter Groups Crash Community School Info Session, Rail Against ECOT.” Yikes. It’s all-out war this summer in Ohio, methinks. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. In the above story, charter school opponents give lip-service to school quality being of issue to them, but it really is just about money – money following children from district schools to charters. Here is a more detailed version of that same issue around the topic of open enrollment in the Hancock County area. Bottom line: net financial “winner” districts are fine with the system; net financial “loser” districts are not. And it has very little to do with why the students are moving. In fact, most district officials don’t even seem to care why large numbers of their residents are opting to go somewhere else when given the chance – even when that “chance” requires waiting in very long lines. As the headline implies, it’s just business. Fascinating in-depth look. (Findlay Courier)
     
  4. Governor Kasich says that former NY schools chancellor Joel
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