Ohio Gadfly Daily

Getting academic standards right ??? specifying the knowledge and skills that teachers should teach and students should learn ??? is at the heart of just about everything that matters in K-12 education. Standards wield significant influence over what happens inside classrooms and high-quality academic standards that are the same across state lines offer the best shot at ensuring quality education for all American students, whether they live in Massachusetts, Oregon, or Ohio.

Ohio committed itself to embracing higher standards that cross state lines when it joined 45 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting the Common Core standards in math and English language arts (ELA) in June 2010. These standards, crafted by experts and practitioners convened by the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are more rigorous than Ohio's current ones. In Fordham's 2010 analysis of state academic standards, outside expert reviewers found that Ohio's ELA and math standards both earned an undistinguished C, while the Common Core standards in ELA and math are rated B+ and A ??? respectively.

The Common Core standards as promulgated appear deeper, more specific, and more cogent than most state academic standards, including Ohio's. They are well grounded in what students will need in order to be successful in college and in a career. In the language of current reform efforts, the K-12 common core standards will better ensure that students are college and career ready....


Yesterday, Jamie wrote about both the academic achievement and progress of students in Ohio's urban public schools.?? Today's analysis marries these two performance metrics together.

Ohio, like most states, issues data on both schools' annual achievement (a snapshot of performance) and academic growth over time. Ideally, schools will have high proportions of their students achieving at (or above) grade level and making measurable growth or progress in test scores over the course of the school year.

Chart 1 plots Ohio's Big 8 charter and district schools by both achievement and growth. Each square represents an elementary or middle school (high schools do not receive a value-added ??? growth -- score in Ohio). The upper-right section of the matrix is the ideal: high achievement and high growth. The vertical placement of each square represents a school's achievement; the higher a square, the higher the achievement. The horizontal location of each square represents a school's value-added category only (that is, a square on the left side of a box does not necessarily have lower value-added than one on the right; they are both in the same value added category).

Chart 1: Urban charter schools vs. Ohio 8 district schools, Performance Index growth in reading and math (2010-11)

Source: Ohio interactive local report card

Overall, it doesn't appear either type of school has the performance advantage.?? While charters have an...


With the help of our friends at Public Impact - who did the data analysis represented by the graphs below ? today we continue our series on Ohio school performance data with a look at student performance in Ohio's ?Big 8? districts (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown) and charter schools.

First let's look at raw achievement of students attending Ohio's Big 8 district schools, and bricks-and-mortar charters in the Big 8. (We'll look at e-school charter performance later in the series.) Achievement is measured by a ?Performance Index,? a weighted average of student achievement in all tested subjects in grades 3-8, and which ranges from 1-120 (100 is the state goal).

Chart 1 compares the distribution of PI scores of bricks-and-mortar charters in the Big 8 districts to the distribution for traditional schools in those districts. There are two things to look for in the chart below. First, the higher the point on the graph, the more schools with that PI score. Second, the further to the right the curve, the higher the PI score.

Not surprisingly, charter schools are overrepresented at both the upper and lower tails of the performance scale.? A greater percentage of charter schools than district schools have PI scores of 100 or better; 8.4 percent of charters are in this high-flying category compared to 5.6 percent of district schools.? Unfortunately, the same is true for schools with PI scores of 60 or below. While only 4 percent...

Ohio has been a national leader in using value-added measures of student academic growth. The current value-added system was piloted in 2007, and in August 2008 value-added was fully integrated into Ohio's academic accountability system. Value-added analysis, in the Buckeye state, uses complex calculations to report school-wide and district-wide student academic growth in reading and math, in grades four through eight.?? Schools and districts are assigned one of three ratings:

  1. Above expected growth ??? indicates that the students in a school or a district made greater progress than expected. These schools and districts are ???adding value.???
  2. Met expected growth ??? indicates that students made the amount of expected academic progress in one school year. Districts and schools in this category are still adding value, but not as much as those schools rated Above expected growth.
  3. Below expected growth ??? indicates that students in the school or district made less academic progress than the state expected.

Chart 1 shows the distribution of Ohio's public schools by overall value-added rating for the past three school years. Note the fluctuation in the percentage of schools making Above expected growth and Meeting expected growth during the last three academic years. In 2008-9, almost two-thirds of the schools in Ohio made above expected growth while in 2010-11 this number dropped to just about 1 and 4 schools. During this same period of time, the percentage of schools Meeting expected growth almost doubled from 27 percent to 59 percent. The percentage of schools Below...

Today the Ohio Department of Education releases troves of performance data about the state's public schools. Fordham once again provided quick-turnaround, city-by-city analyses of public school performance in the Buckeye state's eight major urban areas. You can read those reports here.

A few highlights about Ohio's biggest cities:

  • ??Cincinnati is Ohio's top-performing urban district and when you break down the data, the district's outstanding performance is clear. Forty-three percent of the district's students attend a school rated A or B by the state, and just four percent attend an F-rated school. Further, 88 percent of students in the Queen City attend a school that met or exceeded state value-added expectations.
  • Kudos to Cleveland's charter schools for the academic strides they are making. Three years ago, 42 percent of Cleveland charter students were in an F-rated school and just nine percent were in an A school. Today, the percentage in F schools has nearly dropped by half (to 21 percent) and the percentage in A schools has more than doubled (to 20 percent). Furthermore, six of that city's ten top-performing schools are charter schools.
  • In Columbus, just four percent of charter school students attend a school that didn't meet the state's value-added expectations (compared to 14 percent of district students and 21 percent of all ???Big 8??? public school students).

And as Jamie promised, we'll keep up the analysis through a two-week blog series in partnership with our friends at Public Impact....

The Ohio Department of Education released student achievement data for the 2010-11 school year earlier today, and the results for Dayton provide a picture of what's happening per school performance in Fordham's hometown.

The good news is that the public schools ??? both district and charter schools ??? posted academic gains in 2010-11. While just two years ago, no student in Dayton attended a public school that was rated Excellent or Excellent with Distinction, this past school year five percent of the city's students attended such a school. Further, in 2010-11, 55 percent of Dayton students attended a school rated Continuous Improvement (a C) or better, up from 36 percent in 2009-10. The percent of students in Academic Emergency (F) rated schools dropped from 36 percent in 2009-10 to just 15 percent in 2010-11. Furthermore, far fewer students in Dayton ??? in districts and charters ??? attended a D or F-rated school. And far more students in Dayton are meeting or exceeded ???expected growth??? than falling below it.??

What's driving this improvement? There seems to be at least four factors involved in these gains. First, the Dayton Public Schools' (DPS) academic reform (see here) plan is starting to bear fruit. District high school results are mostly improved from 2009-10, and two Dayton high schools ??? Stivers School for the Arts and the David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center ??? are in the top eight of all Dayton schools in terms of student performance.?? Further, the district-authorized...

Each year, the Fordham Ohio team does an analysis of urban school performance in August when statewide achievement data?are released. We've been doing this analysis for many years, reporting on the number of Ohio students in the Buckeye State's ?Big 8? districts (the largest eight urban districts) attending schools rated A-F, achieving various levels of expected growth (value-added), comparing this to students in charter schools statewide, and conducting city-by-city analyses that incorporate many different metrics.

With the help of our friends at Public Impact, we'll be doing it again this year and will be releasing various findings over the course of the next two to three weeks, so stay tuned.?

On tap this year are some new analyses, including: a comparison of performance and growth of charters by charter type (conversion v. start-up) and authorizer type (of which Ohio has many); a look at growth of schools over time (and exploring whether the recent changes to Ohio's value-added system impact how many schools end up meeting ?expected growth?); a look at performance and growth among high-poverty schools, and more.?

Stay tuned!

-Jamie Davies O'Leary


File this under pieces of news that confuse my emotions. Rev. Stanley Miller, executive director of the Cleveland NAACP, is leaving that post to take on an area charter school ? a very terrible one to be specific (Marcus Garvey Academy). I am equal parts inspired by this move (Rev. Miller is a 63-year old whose heart is undoubtedly in the right place) and cynical.

The school is rated F by the state. Its achievement results are lower than literally any Ohio school I recall looking up data for: across all tested and grades and subjects, 96.6 percent of students tested ?limited? in their knowledge ? the very lowest category one could achieve. Just over three percent of students scored ?basic?; none scored proficient or advanced. Is this for real?

Beyond shameful academic results, the school has been in the news constantly for poor bookkeeping ? to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Ohio's auditor temporarily halted funding to the school last April.

And this is the school Rev. Miller wants to take on. (By the way, it seems even more tragic than normal when these kinds of schools are named after prominent African American leaders. The irony is just painful.)

According to the Plain Dealer, he's not na?ve:

Miller said he knew what he was stepping into. ?They are a school that's had some difficulties. I've been asked to come over and help fix it,? he said. ?Just because there's problems,"


Education is and always has been profoundly shaped by demographics and economics. Ever since James Coleman's celebrated 1966 study showed that student achievement is strongly affected by nonschool factors, Americans have understood the manifold tribulations facing anyone bent on improving student achievement among our poorest children.

In Dayton, Fordham's hometown, there is no doubt that education reform efforts are entangled with brutal Rust Belt economics, poverty, job loss, fractured families, and the constant churning of children between schools. Recent news out of Dayton has not been good for children and families here.

First, the community has been on edge over the recent death of a young African-American male who died while in police custody. In speaking with community leaders who work closely with Dayton's families and neighborhoods it is clear that they have been working very hard to keep the tensions bubbling under the surface from blowing up in ways akin to what's been happening in London. There is much anger and misunderstanding in Dayton, and it is stoked by high unemployment, extreme poverty, and despair. A drive around town or a walk in some of the city's more beaten down neighborhoods make this all too clear.

Recent statistics reaffirm how needy the community is. The Columbus Dispatch reported this morning that 28 percent of Dayton families with children say they did not have enough money to buy food in the past year. The Dayton Business Journal reported yesterday that the ???Dayton-area ranked as the...

Yesterday Bellwether Education Partners released a scorecard that evaluated teacher effectiveness legislation in five different states. Given that Ohio's just-enacted biennial budget (which we did a post-op of here) forced some changes to teacher evaluation policy, we were disappointed to see Bellwether skip the Buckeye State.

The report rated Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee against specific metrics measuring the quality of the actual legislation passed (not the fidelity of implementation or progress made toward goals). Indiana received the highest rating (11.25 out of 13). Not that we needed validation, but this should reaffirm to Ohio lawmakers that our spring visit from Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett was a worthwhile one, and that the Hoosier State has some ideas worth borrowing. Illinois, which received loud praise for its unanimous/bipartisan passage of SB 7 earlier this year, rated lowest (6.5 out of 13). This isn't wholly unsurprising; we raised issue with Illinois' teacher reforms back in April:

A?quick?look at the bill raises several questions about its ability to improve teaching effectiveness when the time comes for actual implementation:?The bill requires locally-approved teacher evaluation plans in "good faith" consultation with unions serving on a joint committee with administrators, and sets a 90 day window after which all bets are off.?There's no hard requirement that 50 percent of evaluation be based on student achievement.?There's no hard deadline for developing a new plan.?Districts can request a waiver and it will be granted automatically if the state doesn't respond