Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill continues to be the go-to explainer of Ohio’s school and district report cards for media outlets across the state. Here he is on the radio early this morning in Columbus. (WTVN-AM, Columbus, 2/29/16) Here he is over the weekend in print in Dayton, where report card data looks particularly gloomy. (Dayton Daily News, 2/27/16) And here he is in print in Northern Ohio, where the mixed-bag of results has folks scratching their heads a bit. I am just glad, as always, that Aaron is there to explain. (Norwalk Reflector, 2/27/16)
     
  2. “You can’t have a computer plumb a house” is the theme of this piece looking at career tech education in Columbus City Schools through the lens of a new report from KidsOhio. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/29/16)
     
  3. You learn something new every day in this job. Today, it’s “overload pay”. That is, bonus pay for teachers whose classrooms are “oversize”. This story is about Cincinnati Public Schools, but reporter Hannah Sparling says other districts have this in their teacher contracts as well. How many? How much? No one keeps track of this statewide, but someone probably should. Cincy’s overload pay expenditures
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  1. In case you missed it yesterday, full report card data for Ohio schools and districts were released. Our own Aaron Churchill was front and center in major media coverage, as he usually is for these things. Aaron’s main point was that, while generally lower for everyone, the scores better reflect how students and their schools actually performed last school year. The Dispatch put that notion at the very top of their coverage, although the print headline (front page, above the fold) conveys that thought better than the online one. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/26/16). Aaron is farther down in the quote mix in this piece, likely reflective of the high-profile folks who came out swinging against the data even before the report cards were available, let alone analyzed. (Gongwer Ohio, 2/25/16) In Fordham’s home city of Dayton, things look pretty bleak. The district is the bottom of the heap statewide and folks there are taking it hard. Kudos, however, to West Carrollton supe Rusty Clifford for this quote clearly stating his opinion on the state’s value added measure: “It’s a lark. It’s a joke. It’s phooey data… “We don’t look at it, we don’t use it. … You’ve heard
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Today, the ratings bubble burst for Ohio’s schools and districts. With rising standards associated with the state’s New Learning Standards and next-generation assessments now fully in place, as expected, student proficiency rates fell throughout Ohio. Correspondingly, school ratings declined as well. This much-needed reset of academic expectations will better ensure that parents and the public have an honest gauge of how students and schools are performing.

Still, state policymakers have work ahead to guarantee that parents and the public gain the clearest possible picture of students’ college and career readiness. Based on 2014-15 test results, roughly 55 and 70 percent of Ohio students were deemed “proficient” depending on the grade and subject. While these proficiency rates are indeed a more accurate gauge of achievement than in previous years—when Ohio regularly labeled more than 80 percent of students as proficient—the number of students meeting rigorous academic benchmarks continues to be overstated.

When utilizing a more demanding standard for achievement, state testing data indicate that between 30 and 45 percent of students statewide are on track for college and career success. These achievement rates—the percentage of students reaching Ohio’s advanced and accelerated levels—better match the Ohio’s proficiency results on NAEP, the best...

  1. The dust is currently settling on SB 3, the education bill we reminded you of earlier this week, which was potentially being amended in some not-so-good ways. Well, that didn’t happen in the House Education Committee, but the media didn’t let it go. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on some of those not-so-good amendment proposals in both this piece of journalism from the PD… (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/23/16)…and in this op-ed from the Dispatch. Editors there opined in agreement with Chad on this one. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/23/16) The same is to be said of editors in Youngstown, although they didn’t quote Chad to help make their point. (Youngstown Vindicator, 2/22/16)
     
  2. No, Youngstown Academic Distress Commission, you may not meet yet. Not until that definition of “teacher” is well and truly settled. What? No. You should have thought of that before you sat down. Next “expedited” court date: April 7. (Youngstown Vindicator, 2/24/16) One of the arguments used in court to continue stonewalling the new ADC is that kids in the district are “achieving academically” and that the school district “is not in immediate doom”. So the courts should allow this definition of teacher thing
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“The Proper Perspective” is a discussion between Jamie Davies O’Leary, senior Ohio policy analyst for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Stephen Dyer, education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio. Interested in many of the same data points and research questions, they decided to share some of this exchange more publicly, helping both to illuminate trends in Ohio public education and formulate policy recommendations through their insights. This is the third edition of the series. The first can be found here, the second here.

Ohio won a $71 million federal Charter School Program (CSP) grant last fall, but after backlash about the original grant application (which described Ohio as a beacon of charter oversight and overstated the performance of the charter sector), the U.S. Department of Education put a hold on the money. Ohio’s latest response to the feds was on January 29. Jamie and Steve have both been writing on the topic recently and...

The challenges facing rural school districts have much in common with those facing many urban districts: lots of students living in poverty, low college-attainment rates among parents, high and growing numbers of ELL students, and difficulty attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals. Add the sprawling and isolated geography, weak tax base, and iffy broadband access that plague many rural districts, and we have a daunting set of barriers to the goal of students leaving high school fully ready for their next step in life. As Paul Hill put it recently, if America neglects its rural schools, nobody wins.

Fortunately, according to a new report from Battelle for Kids and Education Northwest, America’s rural schools are not standing idly by. The report looks at the work of rural education collaboratives (RECs), which have been formed across the country in an effort to respond to these very challenges. While there seems to be no handy list—nor a single definition—of such organizations, the authors know what they’re not looking for: top-down collaborations, which they eschew in favor of “informal and organic collaborative structures that are more peer-to-peer and network based.” The metrics they use to identify...

In September, Ohio was awarded a federal Charter School Program (CSP) grant, winning the largest slice of the pie among eight winning states ($71 million). Soon after, following on the heels of last summer’s charter school sponsor evaluation scandal at the Ohio Department of Education, there was significant backlash and a hold placed on the funds. Concerns stemmed from the fact that the grant application described Ohio as a “beacon of charter oversight” (before the state passed landmark legislation in October promising to make that a reality) and overstated the performance of its charter sector.

As part of the effort to salvage the grant, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) submitted revised data on charter school performance. Applying a more rigorous definition of failure[1] yielded fifty-seven low-performing schools, in contrast to the six listed in Ohio’s initial application last July.[2] Given these discrepancies, it’s appropriate that the feds are conducting their due diligence in asking ODE to update its application and demonstrate that it can manage the funds effectively. Meanwhile, those of us observing the ongoing debate from the sidelines should hope...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece discussing potential amendments to an education bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly. Amendments which many knowledgeable folks fear would weaken new charter school accountability rules which have only been in effect for three weeks. Could be a moot point for the moment, though, as that particular bill has since been removed from this week’s House Education Committee agenda. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/19/16)
     
  2. One bill that’s still on the committee’s agenda is HB 401. We told you two weeks ago about this one: it would require private schools in Ohio to publicly disclose certain pieces of information – like cashflow, enrollment, and background check policies – in an easy-to-access fashion for the general public. Its impetus was, you’ll recall, the so-called “goat rodeo” currently required to access such info. The Enquirer published a guest commentary from a parent VERY well-versed in school choice who expressed support for the bill. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/21/16)
     
  3. Grade point averages are a big deal for many schools, parents, and students, especially in terms of college application reviews. Admit it, dear readers, you still remember what yours was. In that spirit, The D took
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Fordham’s latest blockbuster report digs deep into three new, multi-state tests (ACT Aspire, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced) and one best-in-class state assessment, Massachusetts’ state exam (MCAS), to answer policymakers’ most pressing questions about the next-generation tests: Do these tests reflect strong college- and career-ready content? Are they of rigorous quality? Broadly, what are their strengths and areas for improvement?

Over the last two years, principal investigators Nancy Doorey and Morgan Polikoff led a team of nearly forty reviewers to find answers to those questions. Here’s a quick sampling of the findings:

  • Overall, PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments had the strongest matches to college- and career-ready standards, as defined by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
  • ACT Aspire and MCAS both did well regarding the quality of their items and the depth of knowledge they assessed.
  • Still, panelists found that ACT Aspire and MCAS did not adequately assess—or may not assess at all—some of the priority content reflected in the Common Core standards in both ELA/Literacy and mathematics.

As might be expected, the report has garnered national interest. Check out coverage from The 74 MillionU.S. News, and Education Week just for a start.

Or better...

A recent study from the National Center on Education and the Economy examines teacher professional learning in four systems: British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore. These places have two key similarities: They are considered high-performers as measured by student achievement on international comparison tests, and they view teacher professional learning as central to the job of educating students.

In particular, each system is built around what’s called an “improvement cycle,” which directly ties to student learning. The cycle follows three steps: First, assessing students’ current learning levels; second, developing teaching practices that help students get to the next stage of learning; and third, evaluating the impact of the new practices on student learning and refining them.

The authors of the report are careful to note that the improvement cycle doesn’t work in isolation—it requires strong links between leadership roles, resource allocation, and the focus of evaluation and accountability measures. To make the cycle work and to create a culture of continuous and meaningful growth, schools must organize improvement around effective professional learning, create distinct roles for the people who lead professional development, advance teacher expertise, share responsibility between teachers and administrators for professional growth, and build collaborative learning...

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