Ohio Gadfly Daily

With any luck, the “Know Your Charter” website from Innovation Ohio (IO) and the Ohio Education Association (OEA) will go the way of Pets.com and Geocities.com. The new website’s stated aim is to increase the transparency around charter-school spending and academic results by comparing them to traditional public schools. While greater transparency is a worthwhile goal, it looks like Innovation Ohio—a liberal advocacy group founded by former Strickland administration officials—and the Ohio Education Association (OEA)—the state-level affiliate for the nation’s largest labor union—let political spin get in the way of presenting information in a meaningful way.

The website misinforms the public by failing to report essential information about public schools, calling into question how much the website actually helps anyone “know” anything. In particular, Innovation Ohio (IO) and the OEA make the following crucial omissions in reporting basic school information:

1.) They ignore district funding from local property taxes. You’ll notice that the IO-OEA website reports only state per-pupil revenue for districts and public-charter schools. But remember, school districts are funded jointly through state and local revenue sources.[1] By reporting only state revenue, they flagrantly disregard the fact that school districts raise, on average, roughly half their revenue through local taxes (mainly property). Meanwhile, charters, with only a few exceptions in Cleveland, do not receive a single penny of local revenue, which leads to funding inequity between district and charter schools. When local, state, and federal revenue sources are combined, recent research from...

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  1. Not much for the Gadfly to bite into today, so we’ll make the most of what we have. Starting with this very nice profile of Fordham-sponsored Village Prep :: Woodland Hills school in Cleveland. The story centers on the pervasive college-prep mentality in the school, down to the classroom doors all decorated with college logos/flags/mottos. "It's a literal and figurative door to college," says Head of School Chris O’Brien, and the students interviewed echo that mindset. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. There is very little mention above of the economic conditions of Village Prep students, but it is noted that many students come to the school behind in their learning and that the school works hard to bring their students up to grade level as quickly as possible. Editors in Columbus are thinking on similar lines as they opine on the quandary of raising the achievement levels of economically disadvantaged students when non-academic factors weigh so heavily against them. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. The website WalletHub has released a study ranking states based on the best opportunities for teachers. Among the 18 metrics used are median starting salary and teacher job openings per capita. Ohio ranked 8th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. This in itself is fascinating, but I would be remiss if I did not note that the Plain Dealer, from which I clipped this story, is the only major daily paper in Ohio whose website is still free and open to the
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  1. Gongwer Ohio discussed Aaron's Poised for Progress report on Friday, looking at new report card data from the perspective of the distribution of high-quality seats in Ohio's urban areas. OAPCS's report card analysis is covered as well. Nice! (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. How did the Big D get wind of the fact that Columbus City Schools is losing high schoolers to other districts and schools? Football. 8 teams were downgraded to smaller leagues based on student population. No matter. This fact spurred an investigation to find that most other Franklin County districts are losing high schoolers as well. No one has any idea why or even where specifically kids are going. Conjecture from our education professionals include competition from those pesky charter schools and the ease of public transit (?!) making changing schools easier. If only there was a study about this sort of thing though…. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. According to StateImpact, among those high schoolers who do find the right fit and stick it out, four-year graduation rates are improving among Ohio’s Urban 8 districts. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  4. This weekend’s talks between Reynoldsburg teachers and the district were unsuccessful and teachers are back on the picket line this morning. On the upside, sounds like Friday’s football game went off OK without any “spillover”…minus the loss to Pickerington Central that is. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  5. A number of districts in Stark County have tightened up their truancy policies this year – at least one of them citing
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  1. What could be worse than extended weeks of daily school transportation delays? Perhaps having your transportation up and functional for a couple of weeks, only to have it stopped with the explanation that you shouldn’t have had this bus service these last few weeks anyway. Oops. Our bad. For the love of Pete – please find another way to do this. (ThisWeek News/Bexley News)
     
  2. Cleveland’s Brent Larkin opines on the (lack of) substantive education discussion going on during the gubernatorial contest in Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. Speaking of the gubernatorial race, gubernatorial challenger Ed FitzGerald visited the picket line in Reynoldsburg yesterday. I will leave the question as to why a Clevelander visiting central Ohio was covered most fully in the Toledo paper up to others to answer. (Toledo Blade)
     
  4. Gubernatorial candidate FitzGerald only gets a brief passing mention in the Big D’s Reynoldsburg story today….probably because things have taken a turn for the bizarre there. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  5. Recall that there is a law on the books in Cleveland that parents must meet with their children’s teachers. There are no consequences, as you might imagine, but Year 1 numbers for parent visits were significantly higher than in previous years. It’s Year 2 now, and the fall parent meeting numbers are trending even higher than last year. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  6. We stay in Cleveland for our final Gadfly Bite today: The Sound of Ideas this week featured a formerly homeless
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  1. We noted busing woes in a few parts of the state at the beginning of the school year. Sadly, a shortage of drivers in the Cincinnati area is extending transportation woes for families in district, charter, and private schools far into the school year. Please can we think up a new way of doing this? (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. I’m tempted to comment on the use of the phrase “traditional charter school” here, but the story is just too good to mess up with snark. A charter school in the Toledo area is partnering with a center for children with autism to help transition students into a more typical classroom setting. Gregory, for one, seems to be doing very well so far. (WTVG-TV, Toledo)
     
  3. Pickerington Central High School’s band will not be performing at tomorrow night’s football game against Reynoldsburg. Apparently band parents were concerned about “spillover” from the ongoing teachers strike in Reynoldsburg and Pickerington pulled the plug on the performance. I don’t know what “spillover” is but the fact that every adult involved on all sides of this strike didn’t rush out to reassure, “Every visitor to our stadium will have a good time and be just fine, like always,” probably says all you need to know. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. Officials from North Olmsted and Bay Village schools are talking Common Core this week in their local paper; specifically, the current legislative assault against it. There’s a lot in here but this quote probably
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  1. Today’s scheduled Common Core repeal hearings were themselves “repealed”, so no live tweeting for Chad today. What do the bill sponsors propose for future hearings? Evenings with teachers in October. Could be interesting. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Speaking of Common Core, the director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education was speaking of Common Core at Bluffton University in Northwest Ohio yesterday. There were even math problems to do. Awesome! (Lima News)
     
  3. Sticking with some more out-of-the-way places in the state, the value of income-based vouchers are extolled in rural Ohio. (Logan Daily News)
     
  4. Back in the big city, the state Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in the case questioning who owns the assets of a charter school contracting with a for-profit management company. You can check out coverage from Gongwer Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and StateImpact Ohio. Is this a battleground over charter school accountability or just a question of contract law?
     
  5. Speaking of accountability, here’s the second in the Morning Journal’s series on “the new era of accountability” in Ohio’s schools. I don’t know if this is the point of the piece, but it seems that officials’ perception of their district’s performance on recent report cards guides their opinion on the usefulness of new standards and new tests coming down the pike. Districts who did as well as they wanted are already moving on to other things (arts, extracurriculars); districts who fared less well than they think
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  1. Here’s an interesting in-the-classroom look at teaching today, addressing issues of new Common Core-influenced standards and less-new 21st Century Learning techniques. Sounds like a lot of great work from teachers here. NOTE: This is the first in a series of stories looking at the reality of new accountability measures for Ohio students and their school districts so I’m sure we’ll feature more of these as the series continues. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal)
     
  2. Speaking of the “new era of accountability”, here’s a story from a couple of days ago where one official from a district in Licking County expresses shock and disappointment at his district’s report card and another admits to having “no idea” where “they” got those numbers. Anybody want to buy a house in Pataskala? (Newark Advocate)
     
  3. Luckily, officials in Cleveland Metropolitan School District are taking a different approach, taking time to read and understand where “they” (that’s the Ohio Department of Education for our friends in Licking County) came up with the information presented on state report cards (from the data provided by the districts, of course). The district’s official presentation on the data will occur at its annual State of the District event on September 30. The PD itself is also taking its time to digest and understand the data as well. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. Editors at the Dispatch seem to have made up their mind already on what the report cards mean here in Columbus. They opine today in
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Heated debate has erupted over changes to Ohio’s new standards, assessments, and accountability policies. Most significantly, the state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics has triggered efforts to roll back the new standards and the assessments associated with them. In addition to the Common Core, the state is undertaking other bold but controversial reforms, including the Third Grade Reading Guarantee—aimed at improving early literacy—and evaluations of teachers and principals that factor in student achievement.

These policy reforms reflect a shifting paradigm in K-12 education. For years, it was assumed that schools would provide an adequate education for all students. Since the early 2000s, prodded by federal law, states adopted policies whereby students have been required to meet “proficiency” benchmarks on state tests. This policy framework has moved the achievement needle forward: Disadvantaged students, for one, have demonstrated gains over the past decade on national assessments.

Yet the academic standards in Ohio and in many states across the nation remained too low, and student outcomes mediocre. The minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do failed to match the demands of colleges and employers. As a result, Ohio and other states are raising academic expectations: “adequacy” and “proficiency” in K-12 education is passé. In its place, a new paradigm aims to ready students for college and career.

None of these big reforms—from Common Core to new assessments to clearer accountability for schools and educators—are stress-free, without complication, or uncontentious. These...

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The 2013-14 school year marked the first year of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee (TGRG), a law that requires the retention of children not reading on grade level to be retained. This initiative was modeled after similar legislation in Florida and other states. The policy is also based on research that shows that students who can’t read on grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate than a child who reads proficiently. These numbers are even higher for children who live in poverty, particularly Black and Hispanic students.

In a TGRG document posted on its website, the Ohio Department of Education notes that approximately 24,000 students drop out of Ohio high schools each year. They go on to say that most of the students who drop out do not have the reading skills necessary for future success, and that the Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a way of ensuring support for struggling readers early in life.  At Fordham, we’ve long said that reading is important to long-term success, and research shows that third grade is a pivotal year. But with all this focus on third grade, we could be missing another pivotal year that’s just as deserving of our attention—ninth grade.

In the past few years, education researchers have begun to label ninth grade as the “make or break” year for students. Research shows that more students fail ninth grade than any other grade in high school, and a disproportionate number of students who are held...

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This year’s state report cards brought a new twist for some Columbus parents—a parent trigger. Parent triggers, made famous by several high profile efforts in California and a major motion picture, allow a majority of parents in (usually) low-performing schools to force changes to how that school operates. If this sounds to you like a recipe for controversy, you’re right. Even here at Fordham, Mike and Checker have taken different views on whether the pursuit of a parent trigger is worth the effort.

As for me, I’m a huge proponent of empowering parents. Giving dissatisfied parents at low-performing schools the opportunity to take control of their school does that. I’m not an ideologue though, and care most about whatever leads to better academic and life outcomes for kids. The question then is whether the parent trigger is a tool that should be used or even expanded in Ohio.

Just the facts

Ohio’s parent trigger law was passed as part of the state budget bill in 2011 (House Bill 153). It’s designated as a pilot program affecting only Columbus City schools that have been ranked in the bottom five percent of all schools in the state on the performance index for three consecutive years. Because it requires three years of data, 2014-15 is the first year that Columbus district schools could be affected by the trigger. There are twenty-one schools eligible this year—more information on the eligible schools is below.

Exercising the trigger requires a...

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