Ohio Gadfly Daily

In the fall of 1996, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) implemented a new accountability system that placed 20 percent of its schools on “probation.” Poor reading test scores made up the sole criterion for censure and those scarlet-lettered schools were plastered on the front page of both Chicago newspapers. A new study by Peter Rich and Jennifer Jennings of NYU takes a look at enrollment changes in these “probation schools,” both before and after the imposition of the new accountability system. The authors attempt to determine if the addition of new information (“this school is not performing up to par”) motivated more or different school change decisions among families.

1996 may seem like ancient history to education reformers, but the study illustrates the perennial power of information to motivate school choice decisions. In 1996, CPS had (and still does) an open enrollment policy that allows any family to choose any school in the district other than their assigned one, provided there is space available. Since the district provided no transportation to students either before or after the policy was imposed, that issue was moot. The number of schools and seats within the district also stayed the same. In other words,...

  1. Chad Aldis is quoted in this DDN piece posted late on Friday. It is about the currently-stalled charter law reform bill and how quickly various stakeholders think it will take for the bill to become un-stalled once legislators return to work later this month. Everyone seems optimistic, although everyone interviewed – including Chad – knows the bill could use some tweaks to make it even better. (Dayton Daily News, 9/18/15)
  2. Speaking of that currently-stalled bill, editors in Columbus opined yet again – as if on repeat – that Ohio needs charter law reform now. Luckily for weary readers, they at least have last week’s Ohio Supreme Court decision as a unique hook on which to hang their opinion piece. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/20/15) Ditto for editors in Akron. (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/20/15)
  3. If the ABJ editors sound a bit crankier than usual, it’s probably because of the two-day series they made out of the closing – months ago, before school started – of a charter school in the Akron area. (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/19/15). As with many charter school closings, it seems like it was overdue and that the
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  1. Let’s time travel back a couple of days where we find Fordham’s Chad Aldis quoted in a widely-distributed AP piece looking at what’s next for charter school accountability in the aftermath of this week’s state school board meeting and state Supreme Court decision. (Associated Press, 9/16/15)
  2. Moving in space but not in time, here’s a story from earlier this week in which local hipsters laud Fordham-sponsored UPrep Academy as a vital piece of the revitalization of the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus. (Columbus Alive, 9/16/15)
  3. Our own Aaron Churchill posted a blog on Ohio Gadfly Daily earlier this week looking at the state board’s decision to set PARCC-test cut scores for proficiency below the level of college and career readiness. That post seems to have been bigger on the inside than the outside because it has generated a lot more interest in media outlets than one might have expected. Case in point, this story on the same topic from the PD which quotes liberally from Aaron’s blog and reproduces one of his comparison charts. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/17/15)
  4. Speaking of the state board meeting, editors in Akron opined in frustration following its conclusion. Specifically,
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During the summer of 2012, Governor Kasich signed House Bill 525 into law. The bill, dubbed the Cleveland Plan, implemented aggressive reforms aimed at substantially improving academic performance in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). The plan focused on four strategies: growing the number of high-performing schools while closing and replacing failing schools; investing and phasing in educational reforms from pre-K to college and career; shifting authority and resources to individual schools; and creating the Cleveland Transformation Alliance (CTA), a nonprofit responsible for supporting implementation and holding schools accountable. Soon after the bill was passed, Cleveland voters approved a four-year, $15 million levy to support the plan.

Soon, the district will need to go back to the voters to renew the levy that passed in 2012. District leaders have been working hard to demonstrate enough progress on their goals to maintain community support, and they’re right that several promising signs of progress exist. But Cleveland has long been one of the worst-performing districts in the country, and incremental glimmers of progress may not cut it for families and taxpayers. One only needs to glance at the comments section of a Plain Dealer article...

  1. Before we get to the action from this week’s state board of education meeting, let’s take a look at a pretty important Ohio Supreme Court ruling in the case of Hope Academy Broadway Campus v. White Hat Management which came down yesterday morning. We’ve discussed this one before and you can find a concise summary here, but outside of the legal arena the story goes like this: charter school opponents think of it as a referendum on the fundamental structure of charter school sponsors/operators/boards while charter school supporters – and a majority of supreme court justices, it appears – think of it as fundamentally a case of contract law with a public-funding twist. The court’s decision swung toward the latter, ruling in favor of the management company. Our own Chad Aldis (J.D.) is quoted in two stories in regard to the contractual issues in the case. One from the ABJ (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/15/15) and one from Ohio public radio (WKSU-FM, Kent, 9/15/15). Here’s hoping the term “judicial gymnastics” doesn’t conjure up any weird images for you. And if you’re interested in coverage of the ruling without Chad or that term, you can check out Gongwer.
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NOTE: Chad Aldis addressed the Ohio Board of Education in Columbus this morning. These are his written remarks in full.

Thank you, President Gunlock and state board members, for giving me the opportunity to offer public comment today.

My name is Chad Aldis. I am the vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education-oriented nonprofit focused on research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C.

One of the major strands of our work involves support for school choice, and that’s why I’d like to talk with you this morning about charter schools. Before I begin, and in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to note that Fordham’s Dayton office currently sponsors eleven charter schools around the state.

We believe that charter schools can make a huge positive impact in the lives of kids, and in many places around the country, they already are. It has become increasingly clear that while Ohio has many outstanding charter schools, the state’s laws must be strengthened if our charter sector is going to match the success being realized elsewhere. This past year, to achieve that goal, we’ve sponsored two major...

At this week’s meeting of the state board of education, board members accepted Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recommendations on cut scores that will designate roughly 60–70 percent of Ohio students as proficient (based on the 2014–15 administration of PARCC). While this represents a decline of about fifteen percentage points from previous years’ proficiency rates, it isn’t the large adjustment needed to align with a “college-and-career-ready” definition of proficiency. In fact, this new policy will maintain, albeit in a less dramatic way than before, the “proficiency illusion”—the misleading practice of calling “proficient” a large number of students who aren’t on-track for success in college or career.

The table below displays the test data for several grades and subjects that were shared at the state board meeting. The second column displays the percentage of Ohio students expected to be proficient or above—in the “proficient,” “accelerated,” or “advanced” achievement levels. The third column shows the percentage of Ohio students in just the “accelerated” or “advanced” categories—pupils whose achievement, according to PARCC, matches college- and-career-ready expectations. The fourth column shows Ohio’s NAEP proficiency, the best domestic gauge of the fraction of students who are meeting rigorous academic benchmarks.

Under these...

  1. Chad is quoted in this piece looking at improvements in passage rates on reading tests for third graders in central Ohio school districts. Without exception, fewer third graders are being held back in reading in these districts due to poor scores on tests. Chad warns, however, of the possible downward creep of not only test quality but also scores regarded as passing. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/13/15)
  2. School funding in Ohio is complex and not well-understood by most folks. The last couple of weeks have seen analyses – along with resultant news coverage – of charter school funding by both opponents and supporters of charter schools. Neither side can agree on which way to look at it. Case in point, this guest commentary from a charter school supporter published this weekend in the Enquirer, from the weekend, responding to an article on the subject published last week. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/13/15)
  3. There’s a state board of education meeting today and tomorrow here in Columbus. Journalists across the state are hoping for some fireworks relating to the rescinded charter school sponsor ratings from earlier this year. They have been prepping this weekend. First up, the PD appears to have
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In a previous post, I explained course access and its potential to revolutionize school choice in Ohio. The best example of this is the Florida Virtual School (FLVS), which Brookings evaluated in 2014. But Ohio wouldn’t have to copy Florida’s entire model. Instead, it could create a unique one complementing its successful CTE and College Credit Plus programs. While there are plenty of ways to get to the mountaintop, here are a few ideas for how Ohio could establish a pilot program that—if it successfully meets the needs of students—could be grown into a statewide program.


FLVS was created as the nation’s first statewide, Internet-based public high school. Students can enroll full-time, but approximately 97 percent of students are part-time. Students who are enrolled at a traditional school (district, charter, or private) can sign up part-time for a course for a multitude of reasons: to make up course credit, to take a class not offered at their schools, or to accelerate their learning. Just imagine the possibilities for schools that want to incorporate mastery grading or competency-based education!

To provide Ohio students with similar options, policymakers in the Buckeye...

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill was among the panelists for a surprisingly-cordial discussion of charter schools in Ohio held in Dayton earlier this week. In discussion of the charter reform bill still pending in the legislature, Aaron said, “I think (the bill) tried not to impinge on charter schools’ autonomy and their ability to be flexible and nimble — some of those very benefits that we think are inherent in the charter school model.” Nice. (Dayton Daily News, others, 9/10/15)
  2. Speaking of that stalled charter reform bill, editors in Cleveland got their Google calendar alert and opined, again, urging the legislature to pass that bill as soon as they return from summer recess. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/9/15)
  3. Speaking of op-eds, here are two on the rescinded charter sponsor ratings (well, mainly just on the process of it) at the Ohio Department of Education. Editors in Columbus mainly just put their own sheen on the information made public so far but finally opine in favor of the state board of education keeping “a close eye” on the next round of sponsor ratings. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/11/15) Editors in Canton simply opine in favor of the state supe’s
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