Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Marion journalist Michelle Rotuno-Johnson finished her week back in third grade, but seemed only to get into the nuts and bolts of Common Core implementation on the last day. You can check out all the entries from the week now. NOTE: She, like many others, seems a bit obsessed with the amount of tests being taken by her third grade buddies. But while she does note that MAPS testing is optional for schools, she should also have spelled out that the OAA/PARCC double-shot is a one-year-only consequence of the transition to PARCC. And that PARCC doesn’t count this time around. (Marion Star)
     
  2. I’m going to go out on a limb to predict that the four-district consolidated high school idea kicking around Geauga County at the moment will eventually go down the same path to neglectful oblivion as the two-district merger mooted earlier this year. But not until after some fireworks. (Willoughby News Herald)
     
  3. Former state school board member and current Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims took his Men of Color initiative into Dayton City Schools this week. 100 volunteers visited schools to help provide role models to high school students and to inspire young men toward future careers. Sounds fantastic, but don’t forget charter schools, guys.  (Dayton Daily News)
     
  4. Here is a story about just the kind of student that the Men of Color initiative is trying to inspire, but I think Corey Spears has already found some serious motivation within himself, after
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Yesterday at The City Club of Cleveland, Dr. Margaret (Macke) Raymond of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) presented her new findings on Ohio charter schools. The lunch crowd, consisting of more than 150 attendees, was perched at the edge of their seats as the results were unveiled. What they learned is that Cleveland charter schools are outperforming the district in math and reading—and they are making an especially large contribution to the learning growth of low-income black students. That was the good news for the local Cleveland crowd. But the less-positive news was that far too many schools in Cleveland (district or charter) still provide an unsatisfactory education for their students. The bottom-line message was that Cleveland (and the state as a whole) has to focus on creating and growing high-quality schools. To view the full presentation, please click on the video below.

For more news coverage on the release of CREDO’s new Ohio charter-school report, please read the stories in the Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer here and here, and NPR: Ideastream.

To download the report, click here; and, to read Fordham’s commentary on the findings, please click here....

  1. CREDO’s latest report looking at charter school quality (or lack thereof) in Ohio got a bit more play yesterday. Public radio in Northeast Ohio ran a piece on the report itself, including parts of an interview conducted at our Tuesday press conference in Columbus. (IdeaStream Public Media) Meanwhile, the PD covered yesterday’s City Club of Cleveland event in which CREDO’s Macke Raymond discussed her findings in depth, and they noted Fordham’s connection to the report. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) You can check out the full video of the event here.
     
  2. The 130th General Assembly is drawing to a close here in Ohio, with lots of backslapping and fond farewells…and a raft of lame duck legislation. The current legislative assault on Common Core in Ohio may have at last run out of time after a last-ditch effort to amend it to another bill was ruled “out of order” at the 11th hour yesterday. Stick a fork in repeal, it’s done...for now. (Newark Advocate)
     
  3. Back in the real world, here’s a great guest commentary piece from two longtime math teachers in Northeast Ohio opining on the topic of how Common Core could help solve what they call America’s “math phobia”. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. We’ve noted recently that Columbus City Schools’ board has done away with the “policy governance” model it has used for almost a decade and reinstated a more hands-on, committee-based model. A consultant’s recommendation for Youngstown City Schools’ board is the
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  1. In case you missed it, Stanford University’s CREDO Center released a new report looking at charter school quality (or lack thereof) in Ohio. We got some good initial coverage in major dailies around the state, despite a packed day of education-related stories, with more to come. Journalist Patrick O’Donnell joined us live in Columbus for the press conference, but he noted some outstanding performance by charter schools in Cleveland, and noted Fordham’s support of the research. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Chad is quoted in the Big D’s story, which focuses on the larger issues of charter quality statewide and what can be done to improve. (Columbus Dispatch) The Beacon Journal focuses on the bad news in the report and buries the good – as might have been expected – but the numbers say what they say. Aaron is quoted as well. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  2. As noted yesterday, the biggest source of competition for our report release was the State Board of Education’s discussion of and voting on the so-called “5 of 8 rule”. There was hours of testimony and discussion, some proposed amendments, and some heat, but in the end the board voted as we might have expected: 14-5 to remove the rule mandating staffing level of “specialist” instructions. There are still several bureaucratic hoops to jump through before all this is final, so expect some more fireworks in arcane rule-making bodies of the state of Ohio coming up. You can check out
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Charter schools are quickly becoming a defining feature of Ohio’s public-education landscape, educating over 120,000 children statewide. Also known as “community schools” in Ohio, charter schools have several distinctive characteristics: They are schools of choice, they operate independently of traditional districts (and some state regulation), and they are held contractually accountable for their results by a charter school authorizer.

The “theory of action” behind charters is fairly simple. Empower parents with choice, give schools greater freedom, and hold schools accountable to a contract—and higher student achievement, more innovation, and stronger parental engagement will follow.

But how does theory stack up against reality? Are Ohio charters actually producing better results than their district counterparts? One way to answer this question is by analyzing student achievement data, and since 1999, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) has been the nation’s foremost independent evaluator of charter school performance. 

Today, CREDO published a report on the academic performance of Ohio charter schools. It found that Buckeye charters, taken as a whole, continue to produce mediocre results. With state test scores in math and reading from the 2007–08 to 2012–13 school years used as the outcome measure, the study found that, on average, Ohio charter students are falling behind their counterparts in district schools. Students lost, on average, fourteen days of learning in reading and forty-three days in math over the course of the school year.

For those who have followed the Fordham Institute’s commentary and research over the...

Sadly, a change recommended by the Ohio House Education Committee in House Bill 343 that would have eliminated the minimum teacher-salary schedule from state law was removed by the Rules Committee before the legislation reached the full house. The law entrenches the archaic principle that teacher pay should be based on seniority and degrees earned, and most districts’ collective-bargaining agreements still conform to the traditional salary schedule. For instance, each district in Montgomery County, except for one, had a seniority and degrees-earned salary schedule.[1]

There are several good reasons to do away with the traditional salary schedule.  These reasons include: (1) It wrongly assumes that longevity is related to productivity; (2) it falsely assumes that a masters’ degree correlates to productivity; (3) it does not reward teachers who are demonstrably more effective; and (4) it does not differentiate teacher pay based on the conditions of the wider labor market.

Given Ohio policymakers’ reticence to ditch the salary schedule, it’s worth discussing again (see here and here for prior commentary) why the rigid salary schedule shackles schools. In particular, I’d like to deal with the fourth reason mentioned above.

Most will agree that some teachers possess specialized knowledge that may be more valued in the external labor market (i.e., in non-teaching occupations). Consider Miss Jones, a high school math teacher: It is plausible that she could compete for a well-paying job at, say, Battelle. Assuming her school wants to...

The charter school sector in the United States encompasses forty-two states and the District of Columbia, with 6,400 charter schools serving 2.5 million students. More than 1,000 authorizing entities oversee these schools, working under state laws that (ideally) balance the twin goals of school autonomy and accountability for results. This report, produced by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), examines the quality of those laws. NACSA has identified eight policies that facilitate the development of effective charters, including performance management and replication, default closures, and authorizer sanctions. States are awarded points based on the strength of each of these policies in their charter school laws. Since each state has a unique charter-authorizing landscape, NACSA has divided the states into three groups based on their similarities and then ranked states within each group. The groups are: 1) district authorizing states, 2) states with many authorizers, and 3) states with few authorizers. Ohio—with its 70 authorizers—was placed in group two along with four other states (Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Michigan). NACSA awarded Ohio a score of 18/27, enough to tie for third in its group (along with Missouri). While Ohio earned top marks for its default closure policies and its (relatively new) authorizer sanctions, it received zero points for its charter-renewal standards. More specifically, current law allows “reasonable progress” to be sufficient evidence for an authorizer to renew a charter. This low standard is particularly worrisome given Ohio charter schools’ “documented history of poor performance.” The report also notes...

Cheers to Springfield’s Global Impact STEM Academy, an early college high school which draws students from nearly a dozen districts in its region. The school is prepping to move into a new, larger facility next school year, and is looking to recruit around one hundred new students to help fill it. This is another example of an education option that doesn’t have to divide a community. Instead, all districts with kids in the school can be proud of their students earning college credits while being challenged with a strong STEM curriculum.

Jeers to seemingly unquenchable bias in education reporting.  What do you call a charter school that manages to tick every box in the “wow” column (inner-city location, focus on special-needs students, strong arts program, dazzling tech component, on-target for enrollment, leader with solid school-district credibility, fiscally sound, sponsored by the state, managed by a local nonprofit)? If you’re not biased against charter schools, you call it awesome. If you are, then you call it a product of “divine intervention,” reducing to insignificance the hard work of the dozens of dedicated professionals who created and run it every day.

Cheers to Sciotoville Community School senior Taylor Appling, one of six Scioto County winners of the Honda/OSU Partnership Math Medal Award. Fordham sponsors SCS, and so we applaud Taylor, his teachers, and his school administrators.

Jeers to the persistence of an archaic school transportation model in Ohio. Amid reports of continuing bus driver shortages in Dayton City...

It’s a busy day here at Fordham Columbus, so Gadfly Bites will be brief today. Expect a bumper issue tomorrow, in which we ourselves hope to feature prominently.

  1. The other big news of the day is the fact that the state Board of Education is likely going to vote on the so-called “5 of 8” rule. Yesterday saw some testimony and discussion, which focused on a revised version of the rule which will be submitted to Ohio’s rule-review body if approved by the board today. Here is coverage from the Columbus Dispatch, the Cincinnati Enquirer (which includes what I think is the first hashtag in a headline I’ve ever clipped, in case you’re wondering what’s driving this debate), and the Cleveland Plain Dealer (which includes the text of a resolution passed by Cleveland City Council of all people, urging more time for public input on the issue). Crazy times in Ohio indeed.
     
  2. As if the above pieces (and the others statewide) weren’t enough, editors in Cleveland decided to opine on the “5 of 8” rule as well, urging the board to leave it as is for the sake of poor school districts across the state. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. In other news, a local reporter in Marion has decided to take a look at Common Core implementation from an unusual angle for an adult: a desk in a third-grade classroom. That’s right, she’s gone “back to school” to see what an elementary classroom
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  1. How complicated is school funding in Ohio? According to the legal arguments in this state Supreme Court case pitting a group of local taxpayers vs. their Cincinnati-area school district, very complicated. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. How complicated is verifying student data in Ohio? According to the conflicting responses to a fairly simple question about superintendent sign-offs across the state, very complicated. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. Speaking of school funding, last week there was a flurry of stories about a new study (of oddly mysterious provenance) which showed that students in rural areas around the state had less access to AP classes than their urban and suburban counterparts. This was attributed mainly to funding disparities between rich and poor local tax bases. The Vindicator takes on the same study today (with even less detail about where it comes from), but focuses straight-up on the DeRolph rulings of two decades ago and that good old “thorough and efficient” bugbear. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  4. CRPE last week released the results of a survey of “public school choice” parents in a number of cities, including Cleveland. The PD took up the story and focused on affect: more of the surveyed parents in Cleveland believe their schools are getting worse than believe they are improving. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. The Beacon Journal also took a look at CRPE’s report and noted, with their usual doggedness, that 83 percent of the Cleveland parents surveyed sent their children to charter schools. Now, it makes sense in
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