Ohio Gadfly Daily

  • Up to fifty-three staff members could be let go in Cleveland Municipal School District (that’s teachers and other staff) at the end of the school year, out of an initial sixty-eight identified as underperforming by building principals. The details of the process are fascinating and instructive, but this is proof-positive that CEO Eric Gordon is serious about the reforms he championed in the district, including supporting his principals in weeding out bad performers.
  • Lorain City Schools was one of many districts around the Buckeye State to pilot the new PARCC exams last month. There were far fewer technological snags than most had predicted, and teachers in Lorain have no fear that they can teach their students all they need to meet and beat the higher expectations of the Common Core–aligned tests.
  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an excellent series of articles last week looking at the state-of-play in many suburban school districts with regard to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee: where they stood after the fall test, what results they expect from the impending spring test, and what they plan to do with the rest of the school year and into summer to make sure their third graders test proficient and move on to fourth grade. To show the diversity of the series, officials in the tiny Mayfield Schools say they expect no third graders to be held back when all is said and done; in contrast, officials in the inner-ring Cleveland Heights–University Heights Schools
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  1. Outgoing Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder seems to blame the Common Core for the defeat of an incumbent representative in last week’s primary, and he wants to do something about it:  “That sucker is a problem. I think we probably should have addressed it.” I'm kind of glad to know he’s talking about the Common Core and not something else!  (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. In a surprise to no one at all, delegates to the Ohio Education Association’s Spring Representative Assembly voted in favor of a resolution recommending a three-year “suspension on all high-stakes decisions” tied to new standardized tests in the state. (Columbus Dispatch)
  3. Gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald was also at the teachers’ Spring Wingding and spoke passionately against the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, standardized testing, the Common Core, and a few other things. To the surpise of no one at all. (Toledo Blade)
  4. One of those “high-stakes decisions” that the unions would like to suspend is teacher evaluation tied to their students’ test results – part of Ohio’s brand new teacher evaluation protocol. As we’ve noted before, there are ongoing legislative attempts to change the evaluation protocol even before it’s fully rolled out. Here’s some more on that, focusing a lot on the topic of students evaluating teachers. (Columbus Dispatch)
  5. Two pieces of news from last week – a report showing a diversity gap between students
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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...

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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...

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  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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