Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. The tone is a bit condescending, but we’ll take the media hit: StateImpact Ohio takes a look at Fordham’s Lacking Leaders report. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  2. Dispatch editors weigh in decidedly in favor of School Choice Ohio’s legal action against two school districts on the topic of public records. This legal action will be resolved soon with or without this support, but my favorite bit is on another related topic: “The more successful School Choice Ohio is in getting the word out [about voucher eligibility], the more students may leave public schools via vouchers. Public schools understandably want to avoid this, but they should fight against it by making their schools safer and more effective — not by scheming to prevent families from knowing about their options. Scheming in defiance of state law would be even worse.” Wow. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. We are still feeling the effects of the bitter winter weather in central Ohio. No, not by skiing in July, but by the aftereffects of legislation aimed at helping districts whose calendars were hard hit by the weather. Districts and charter schools can now count their instructional time in hours rather than in days. And with that in place, Columbus’ Catholic schools are busily shrinking their calendars for 2014-15, some by up to two weeks. Wonder if that will result in a lowering of tuition? (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. Vindy editors are first out of the gate with an editorial in support of their student journalists’ “investigation”
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Common Core watchers out there have probably heard this one before: All the teachers I know hate the Common Core.

There are undoubtedly some teachers who dislike the Common Core, but recent polls suggest that most teachers support the new standards. During my three years of teaching (completed a month ago), most of my colleagues and I liked the Common Core. One reason we supported the new standards was because they gave us more freedom. Detractors claim that standards tell teachers how to teach. But I taught Common Core after teaching Tennessee’s state standards, and while Common Core did give me expectations for what my students should know and be able to do by the end of the year (just like the previous standards did), it allowed me to decide what and how to teach.

Let’s consider, for example, the first literature standard for ninth graders (the grade I taught), which states, “Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.” Most would agree that using evidence to support the analysis of a text is crucial. Students ought to know how to cite evidence instead of simply writing about their opinions and feelings.

That’s all the standard says, though. Nothing more, nothing less.

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The standard didn’t tell me when in the year I should teach the skill. I could spend as much...

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Teach For America (TFA) is one of the nation’s largest alternative routes into the teaching profession. In the 2013–14 school year, there were 11,000 corps members reaching more than 750,000 students in high-need classrooms all around the country, including nearly 150 TFA members in the Cleveland and Cincinnati-Dayton areas. Yet even with TFA’s growing scale, its teachers are a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the country’s teaching force of approximately 3 million. This raises the question of how best to allocate these young, enthusiastic teachers. Should corps members be dispersed widely across a district’s schools, or should they be “clustered” into targeted schools? Would having a high density of TFA members in a few, high-need schools provide positive learning benefits even for students with non-TFA teachers (“spillover” effects)? This new study analyzes the impact of clustering TFA members in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), using district level data from 2008–09 to 2012–13. TFA altered its placement strategy in M-DCPS in 2009–10 and began to cluster members in a smaller number of turnaround schools. For example, among middle schools with a TFA member, 18 percent of the school’s teaching staff was, on average, TFA in 2012–13, compared to just 4 percent in 2008–09. The researchers, however, found that the higher density of TFA members in the targeted schools yielded no significant “spillover” benefits—as measured by test-score gains—for students with non-TFA teachers. That said, this study replicates the finding that TFA teachers, in math at least,...

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In recent years, Ohio’s businesses have lamented the challenge of hiring highly skilled employees. Surprisingly, this has occurred even as 7 percent of able-bodied Ohioans have been unemployed. Some have argued that the crux of the problem boils down to a mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills of job-seeking workers. A new study from Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings Institution sheds new light on the difficulty that employers face when hiring for jobs that require skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Using a database compiled by Burning Glass, a job-analytics company, the Rothwell examines 1.1 million job postings from 52,000 companies during the first quarter of 2013. The study approximates the relative demand for STEM vis-à-vis non-STEM jobs by comparing the duration of time that the job vacancies are posted. Hence, a job posted for an extended period of time is considered hard to fill (i.e., “in demand”).[1] As expected, Rothwell finds that STEM-related job postings were posted for longer periods than non-STEM jobs. STEM jobs were advertised, on average, for thirty-nine days, compared to thirty-three days for non-STEM jobs. The longer posting periods for STEM jobs were consistent across all education levels—from STEM jobs that required a minimum of a graduate-level degree to “blue-collar” STEM jobs that required less than a college degree. For Ohioans, the study also includes a useful interactive webpage that slices the data for the state’s six metropolitan areas (Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus,...

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The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice recently released results from its latest public-opinion survey. The national survey of 1,007 adults examined their views concerning the state of American education, with a particular focus on school choice, the Common Core, and standardized testing. The survey shows that most Americans—58 percent of those surveyed—tend to think that K–12 education has “gotten off on the wrong track.” Interestingly, those who are white, higher income, residents of rural areas, and older tended to express the least satisfaction with K–12 education. High percentages of respondents support various school-choice reforms. Big takeaways include the following: Charter schools and vouchers are supported broadly across racial, income, and political-party segments. Overall, 61 percent say they favor charter schools, while only 26 percent say they oppose them. Similarly, 63 percent say they support school vouchers, with only 33 percent opposing them. When it comes to accountability for test results, 62 percent of those surveyed say that teachers should be held accountable. But fewer respondents thought principals should be held accountable (50 percent), and just 40 percent thought state officials should be accountable. Finally, half of the respondents expressed support for the Common Core. What the public thinks matters—and in this new survey, the results pose an interesting (if unintended) question: If choice programs have so much public support, why are they so politically controversial?

Source: Paul DiPerna, 2014 Schooling In America Survey (Indianapolis, IN: The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, June 2014)....

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The Education Tax Policy Institute in Columbus released a new report that says the tax burden in Ohio has shifted significantly since the early 1990s, from businesses onto farmers and homeowners, to the detriment of school districts and local governments. Much hay is being made over this report by the usual suspects, including the alphabet soup of education groups (BASA, OASBO, and OSBA) who commissioned it. Here are a few examples of media coverage the report has garnered:

While this report is interesting and describes changes to the state’s property-tax policy over the years, it doesn’t offer much in the way of takeaways. The shift in the property-tax burden over time is likely borne of necessity, as Ohio works to ensure that its business-tax structure is competitive with that of other states. The implication, though, is that the shift has somehow harmed education funding. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be true, as...

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  1. Student journalists connected to the Beacon Journal are pushing hard on Horizon and Noble charter school board members. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  2. The big Dog himself seems not so pleased about a private school from the Akron-adjacent town of Green which is moving to a new and expanded campus in Springfield. Odd that he didn’t note that Chapel Hill has been a long-time taker of students on the EdChoice voucher program. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  3. Speaking of Springfield, here are some details on a Straight A grant-winning program in the district which is designed to give STEM academy students access to college courses from Ohio State remotely. (Springfield News-Sun)
  4. This story was supposed to be about immigration issues and their importance to Latinos in central Ohio. Instead, it turned into an education story, as it seems that Latinos in the area feel that education is their highest priority. I can’t help but sense a disconnect between the comments of Columbus City Schools’ first Latina school board member and the local mom who seems to be sacrificing quite a bit to put her daughter in a private school. Interesting. (Columbus Dispatch)
  5. Many Common Core haters can’t be bothered to even read the standards before attacking. But two teachers in Northwest Ohio have not only read all the standards, they’ve
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Inter-district open enrollment often flies under the radar in discussions about school choice. It may be that way because it has been around so long (established in 1989 and operating in its current form since 1998); perhaps because it is not universally available or because many of the most-desirable districts do not allow open enrollment; or perhaps because it is choice “within the family” (that is, the traditional district family). Despite its usual low-profile, two recent newspaper stories shined light on the topic of open enrollment, showing a disconnect between those administering this unsung school choice program and those who actually use it.

From a district’s point of view, open enrollment can easily devolve into “just business” – dollars in and dollars out to be accounted for year after year. Just check out this story from Hancock County in Northwest Ohio. Net financial “winners”—those districts that have more open-enrollee students coming in than leaving—seem to be fine with the system, as might be expected. But net financial “losers” are objecting more strenuously as the losses go on. Their objections, however, often have very little to do with why students are attending a school outside of their “home” district. In fact, most of the district officials quoted in this in-depth piece don’t even seem curious as to why large numbers of their residents are opting to go somewhere else when given the opportunity – even when seizing that “opportunity” requires jumping through several hoops.

When long application lines and even...

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  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is one of the pundits weighing in on the pros, cons, and caveats to automatic school closure laws. Nice. (EdWeek)
     
  2. Outgoing Reynoldsburg Schools Superintendent Steve Dackin will move up a rung to the community college world, taking on the post of Superintendent of School and Community Partnerships at Columbus State beginning in August. Congratulations! (ThisWeek News/Reynoldsburg News)
     
  3. Elyria Schools’ state of the district report goes old skool this year – scrapping the poorly-attended live show in favor of a printed newsletter delivered by snail mail. Hopefully more folks will check it out – the district’s financial status looks good, there is some fine praise for Common Core, and there’s even “OTES with an Elyria twist”. (Lorain County Chronicle-Telegram)
     
  4. A charter school in Dayton is fighting its sponsor’s attempt to dissolve the sponsorship contract between them. There are a number of items at issue, but the crux seems to be an uncompleted corrective action plan that calls for a high-level staff change the school doesn’t want to make. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  5. A plan is afoot to make West Chester – Cincinnati suburb and home of House Speaker John Boehner – into a major bioscience hub. Major players include the Butler Tech voc ed system and the West Chester-Liberty Chamber. Major biotech businesses are said to be interested as well. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
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  1. It took a little while, but the Enquirer finally noticed the Southwest Ohio winners of Straight A grants from the state. Quite a mixed bag among the winners: Common Core, reading proficiency, arts assessments, and technology access are all in there. Also of note: the journalist includes the number of students projected to be affected by each project, and there’s a district/online charter school collaboration in there that probably raised some eyebrows. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. Speaking of technology, Mansfield City Schools recently underwent a tech assessment which revealed a number of deficiencies (old equipment, lack of backup, lack of disaster recovery plan, etc.), many of which the Supe says are being addressed over the summer. But buried in this story appears to be the news that both the firm paid to do the assessment and the contractor being paid to fix some of the problems seem to be owned/run by the same person. Not sure if I’m reading it right or not, but if so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one soon. (Mansfield News-Sun)
     
  3. In somewhat happier (and clearer) technology news, a team from Newark Digital Academy was in Portland, Oregon last week, presenting at the NWEA conference on the ways that they use testing data to help their at-risk e-school students improve. Very nice. (Newark Advocate)
     
  4. Some nice insight here from the superintendent of Hilliard City Schools. A straightforward question about alternate pathways to third grade promotion opens up a discussion
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