Ohio Gadfly Daily

Nominally, private schools (or “chartered nonpublic schools,” as they are known in the Ohio Revised Code) operate with a minimal amount of state oversight. Practically, however, there is a long history of state involvement with them. In exchange for added oversight, private schools receive transportation services for students (or parents can receive payment in lieu of transportation) through the district in which they are located; they can also seek state reimbursement, also passing through the district, for costs like textbook purchasing and school administration. Since Ohio began voucher programs in 1996, the bond has become even stronger.

On June 30, 2015, Governor John Kasich signed into law the new biennial budget (House Bill 64), which included a number of provisions impacting private schools. Here is a review of the most significant provisions.

Auxiliary Services (AS) and Administrative Cost Reimbursement (ACR)

As boring as their names may sound, these budget line items are the primary mechanism by which the state and private schools interact. Chartered nonpublic schools can request and receive reimbursements for textbooks, diagnostic/therapeutic/remedial personnel services, and “educational equipment” through the AS process. Transportation services provided to private school students are also funded via the AS...

  1. The California “similar students” measure of achievement – as proposed for charter schools in the currently-stalled House Bill 2 – gets another bashing in the media. Our own Aaron Churchill is quoted here, in favor of sticking with value added measures. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/25/15)
     
  2. Like it or not, Ohio is living in a “post-5-of-8 world”. The state board of education earlier this year removed a decades-old support staffing requirement for districts. Instead of mandating specific numbers of librarians, art and music teachers, and counselors based on student population, districts can now decide their staffing needs on their own. It’s probably a bit too soon to tell for sure, but the media says that either the sky is already falling (librarians are going the way of the printed book, says the Columbus Dispatch, 7/27/15)….or it’s not (art and music teachers seem safe…for now, says the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum, 7/26/15).
     
  3. As you all may know, Ohio’s Straight A Fund survived the state budget process, but at a level much reduced from the last biennium. The governing board of the fund – designed to reward educational innovation – was last week mulling how best to proceed and get
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  1. The state legislature is largely adjourned for the summer, but that’s not stopping folks who are interested in the issue of charter schools from reporting and opining about legislation left on the table. You can read about the opining below, but here are two pieces of journalism to start with. First up is a look at what is called the California "Similar Students" measure of school performance, essentially a replacement for value-added measures, which is proposed in the currently-stalled House Bill 2. The piece links to Ohio Gadfly Daily posts by our own Aaron Churchill and guest blogger Vladimir Kogan of Ohio State University, both denouncing the proposed switch. Kogan calls the California Model “the poor-man’s value-added.” Yowch. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/22/15)  But the PD’s Patrick O’Donnell is a true journalist and wants to hear every side of the story. A companion piece to the above digs deep into the who and the why of the California “Similar Students” model push in Ohio. The model, supporters say, adjusts school evaluations based on percentages of students with disabilities, economic disadvantages, limited English proficiency, and students in their current school for less than one year. It is, they say, a
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It feels like we’ve been talking about charter sponsor evaluations and the Youngstown Plan for so long that there hasn’t been room to report on much else. Today, we leave both of those elephants back in their rooms and look at what else is happening in education news…at least in the northern part of Ohio:

  1. What’s a school district to do when it surveys the community and gets double the number of expected responses? Ask for even more. That is the situation in Orange City Schools in Pepper Pike, Ohio. While they were pleased with the large response, they felt that a broader segment of the community was not represented, specifically families of color, senior citizens, and private school families who many never have even stepped foot into an Orange district school. And they are going all out to engage those folks because “a healthy school system contributes to a healthy community”. For everyone. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/21/15)
  2. Here’s another interesting story about school districts with shrinking enrollment numbers. It seems to be
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  1. Following last week’s firestorm over its charter school sponsor review process, ODE on Friday rescinded all previously-announced sponsor rankings, including the “exemplary” rating earned by Fordham. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/17/15) This turn of events was also covered by the Beacon Journal, and included a quote from a blog post by our own Aaron Churchill on a different but related subject. To call the ABJ story “wide-ranging” would be an understatement. (Akron Beacon Journal, 7/17/15)
     
  2. The fallout continued over the weekend as the leader of the school choice section of ODE resigned in the wake of the controversy over the sponsor review process. Coverage of the resignation was widespread and included the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/19/15), the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 7/20/15), and various other outlets via the Associated Press (Columbus Dispatch via AP, 7/19/15)
     
  3. Even before the resignation was announced, the editorializing had begun. First up, editors in Akron opined in favor of immediate investigation of ODE, preferably by the state auditor (I know) in regard to the sponsor review process. (Akron Beacon Journal, 7/18/15). Same goes for editors in Cleveland, although they went ahead and updated their opinion in light
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  1. As we told you already, the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school sponsor review process came under fire in the State Board of Education earlier this week. The piling on has begun, but obviously when State Auditor Dave Yost (I know!) weighs in, folks listen. Fordham’s VP for Sponsorship Kathryn Mullen Upton is quoted in the Dispatch’s piece, stressing once again the importance of proper sponsor reviews: “ ‘We’ve got a real quality issue with charter schools in Ohio,’ she said. And sponsors play a role in that… ‘They’re the ones that can let a bad school go on indefinitely.’” Well said. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/15/15)
     
  2. Additional coverage of the sponsor review brouhaha can be found in various outlets via the Associated Press (AP, 7/16/15), the Beacon Journal (Akron Beacon Journal, 7/16/15), and the Plain Dealer. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/16/15)
     
  3. The Dispatch also touches on the charter sponsor review situation while opining – again – in favor of swift charter law reform. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/17/15)
     
  4. I’m not sure whether this qualifies as irony or satire, but teachers at three charter schools in Youngstown voted to unionize this week. Yep. That should take
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  1. In case you missed it, Fordham was namechecked in an op-ed on charter law reform wherein editors lament lack of legislative action on same. (Findlay Courier, 7/14/15)
     
  2. We promised you an update on Monday’s community meeting on the Youngstown Plan, and here it is, courtesy of the Vindy. There’s too much here for me to comment on in this forum, but this is, I think, a must-read article – and a must-follow debate – for anyone who cares about urban education reform. (Youngstown Vindicator, 7/14/15)
     
  3. The State Board of Education was talking about the Youngstown Plan this week also. Approximately the same dichotomy of views seen in the Vindy piece above is seen here as well, although perhaps more predictable a split on the board than in the community. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/14/15). The State Board of Ed is also on the same page as editors in Findlay, going so far as to pass a resolution urging the legislature to pass charter law reform as soon as possible. As the old paraphrase goes: victory has many parents, failure is an orphan. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/14/15)
     
  4. The State Board of Ed also did some digging into
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The Ohio Education Research Center (OERC) recently reported the teacher evaluation results from 2013–14, the first year of widespread implementation of the state’s new evaluation policy. The report should serve as an early warning sign while also raising a host of thorny questions about how those evaluations are being conducted in the field.

The study’s main finding is that the overwhelming majority of Ohio teachers received high ratings. In fact, a remarkable 90 percent of teachers were rated “skilled” or “accomplished”—the two highest ratings. By contrast, a mere 1 percent of Buckeye teachers were rated “ineffective”—the lowest of the four possible ratings. These results are implausible; teaching is like other occupations, and worker productivity should vary widely. Yet Ohio’s teacher evaluation system shows little variation between teachers. It’s also evident that the evaluation is quite lenient on teacher performance. But there’s more. Let’s take a look at a few other data points reported by OERC that merit discussion.

1.   Most teachers are not part of the value-added system

Given the controversy around value added in teacher evaluation, it may surprise you that most Buckeye teachers don’t receive an evaluation based on value-added results. (Value added refers...

Over the last twenty years, Ohio has transformed its vocational schools of yesteryear—saddled with limited programs, narrowly focused tracks, and low expectations—into a constellation of nearly three hundred career and technical education (CTE) locations that embed rigorous academics within a curriculum defined by real-world experience. (For more on Ohio’s CTE programs, see here.) According to a new report from Achieve, these transformations have put the Buckeye State on the cutting edge in CTE.

What sets Ohio apart from other states offering CTE is its commitment to high expectations. This principle was perfectly encapsulated in 2006, when the legislature was debating whether career-technical planning districts (which handle the administrative duties of CTE programs) should be held to the same standards as traditional schools. Many CTE leaders were determined that their students should be held to the same rigorous expectations as other students. Fast forward to the 2014 mid-biennial review legislation, and their determination finally became reality: Ohio now has three pathways to graduation, one of which is designed for CTE students. This pathway requires that any CTE graduate must earn “a state-approved, industry-recognized credential or a state license for practice in a vocation and achieve a score that...

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill was quoted in two stories about urban education this weekend. First up, the ABJ is talking about a new nationwide online rating system for schools which, they say, attempts to “correct” for the effects of poverty in existing ranking processes. Aaron points out that while an overall single grade for a school is helpful for parents looking for information, if the components of that grade don’t include value-added data (which the new site doesn’t), then it’s not a fully accurate measure. (Akron Beacon Journal, 7/12/15) Second is a look at the state of play in Fordham’s hometown of Dayton. The story is wide-ranging and Aaron is brought in to talk about how the so-called “Youngstown Plan” might take root in Dayton should it tip into academic distress status. But Aaron, as usual, digs a little deeper. “I think raising the academic standards in terms of Common Core, as well as the new science and social studies standards,” he says, “raises expectations for kids who have had low expectations for years.” Nice. (Dayton Daily News, 7/12/15)
     
  2. Speaking of Common Core (takes you back, doesn’t it?), editors in Toledo see the legislative prohibition on Ohio’s
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