Ohio Gadfly Daily

  • The EdChoice Scholarship Program received a record number of applications this year: over 20,800 students applied during the window, which closed on May 9, up more than 4,000 from last year.
  • The food-service chief of Lima City Schools testified before Congress last week on how well the Community Eligibility Provision is working for families in Lima. Said Ms. Woodruff, “It’s going well. The parents appreciate it, the students are participating and it’s a good fit.”
  • There is a puzzling gap in Ohio between the number of students identified as gifted and the number of gifted students actually being served. A journalist in the Zanesville area tried to demystify the numbers by digging deep into some local schools. The conclusion of her interview subjects is that the state “mandates we test for giftedness, but they don’t fund it.”
  • Piloting of the new PARCC tests are continuing up to the end of the school year in Ohio. Few problems have been reported, and it seems that kids in particular really like the online nature of the testing.
Categories: 

A great deal of hand-wringing has occurred in recent years concerning the United States’ poor academic performance relative to other nations. The anxiety is no doubt justified, as students from countries like South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong are beating the pants off American pupils on international exams. It’s not just the East Asian countries: even the Swiss, Canucks, and Aussies are cleaning our clocks. But what about Ohio’s students? How does its achievement look in comparison to other industrialized nations? Like most states, not well, according to this new PEPG/Education Next study. To determine how states rank compared to the rest of the world, researchers link 2012 PISA results—international exams administered in thirty-four OECD countries including the U.S.—and state-level NAEP results for eighth graders in 2011. The researchers discovered that Ohio’s students fall well short of the world’s highest performers. When examining math results, Ohio’s proficiency rate (39 percent) falls 15 to 25 percentage points below the highest-achieving nations. (Korea, the worldwide leader in math, was at 65 percent proficiency; Japan was at 59 percent; Massachusetts, the U.S. leader, was at 51 percent). In fact, Ohio’s proficiency rate places us somewhere between Norway’s and Portugal’s achievement rates in this grade and subject. Moreover, Ohio’s weak international performance isn’t just a matter of our students having lower family resources relative to other nations. For example, among students whose parents had a high level of education, Ohio’s math proficiency rate (50 percent) still fell twenty points below the international...

Categories: 

Last week, School Choice Ohio sued two Ohio school districts for their failure to comply with a public-records request. The organization is seeking directory information for students eligible for the EdChoice Scholarship Program from the Cincinnati and Springfield Public Schools. Actions to enforce public-records requests are rarely exciting, but the outcome of SCO’s effort could have important ramifications for tens of thousands of students and their families across the state.

Despite being a national leader in providing private-school choice options to students—Ohio has five separate voucher programs—there isn’t an established mechanism for informing families eligible for the EdChoice Scholarship program (Ohio’s largest voucher initiative) about their eligibility. The law doesn’t require school districts or the Ohio Department of Education to perform this vital function.

Enter School Choice Ohio (SCO), a Columbus-based nonprofit organization, which has worked tirelessly since the beginning of the EdChoice program to conduct outreach to families across the Buckeye State who are eligible to send their child to a private school via a voucher. SCO typically sends postcards and makes phone calls letting families know that their children may be eligible, giving them a toll-free number to call for an information packet and answering any questions families may have about eligibility and the private-school options in their area.

This is critical work, as the EdChoice Scholarship is designed to provide students in Ohio’s very lowest-performing schools the option to attend a private school.

To conduct this outreach, SCO makes a public-records request for directory information...

Categories: 

Last week, the Ohio Senate passed House Bill 487, also known as the Education Mid Biennium Review (MBR) with overwhelming support (by a vote of twenty-seven to five). The MBR contains a wide variety of education-policy changes, including some modifications that affect Ohio’s academic content standards and assessments.

Ohio’s current learning standards, adopted in 2010 by the State Board of Education, include standards for students in grades K–12 in English language arts, math, science, and social studies. When the standards were adopted four years ago, there was public input but little fanfare or controversy. That changed about a year ago, when critics began focusing on the math and English language arts standards, a.k.a. the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

As opposition to the CCSS heated up all over the country (the standards were adopted by forty-five states), the focal point in Ohio was House Bill 237, which proposed repealing CCSS completely. The bill, sponsored by Representative Andy Thompson, received two hearings in the House Education Committee, with the last hearing in November 2013 drawing more than 500 people to the Statehouse.

The Senate’s changes in the MBR address some of the chief concerns raised at the November bill hearing. The key proposed changes are described below.

  • Reinforce local control: The bill introduces statutory language designating school-district boards as the sole authority in determining and selecting textbooks, instructional materials, and academic curriculum. It also requires local school boards to establish a parental advisory committee to review
  • ...
Categories: 

1. Lots of talk about dropout rates this weekend - in Ohio and in Akron specifically in a series published in the Beacon Journal:
● We start with a piece about charter schools’ dropout rates in the state, which the journalist says are making the overall number look particularly bad. Well, specifically dropout recovery schools…Well, specifically dropout recovery schools run by White Hat Management. This piece was also reprinted by the Dispatch this morning.
● Next up, a quick run through the numbers comparing Akron to Ohio's other urban districts…and LifeSkills Centers statewide and district-run dropout programs.
● Finally, an in-depth piece about a dropout recovery charter school that used to be part of the White Hat family, now on its own.

2. There was also a locally-written story in Columbus about dropouts this weekend as well, but the numbers previously reported by Columbus City Schools now appear to have been fictitious, caught up in the data manipulation we’re all tired of hearing about. (Columbus Dispatch)

3. In other news, Governor Kasich has made an appointment to the state board of education, filling one of two remaining seats. (Columbus Dispatch)

4. Speculation on the existence of “corporatization” runs through this story about business taking renewed interest in education in Ohio, but it seems like a pretty benevolent to me: "There's...

Categories: 

Like the Cleveland Browns on a Sunday afternoon, the Ohio General Assembly is fumbling about with the state’s value-added system. One month ago, I described two bizarre provisions related to value-added (VAM) that the House tucked into the state’s mid-biennium budget bill (House Bill 487). The Senate has since struck down one of the House’s bad provisions—and kudos for that—but, regrettably, has blundered on the second one.

To recap briefly, the House proposals would have (1) excluded certain students from schools’ value-added computations and (2) changed the computation of value-added estimates—the state’s measure of a school’s impact on student growth—from a three-year to a one-year calculation.

I argued then that the House’s student-exclusion provision would water-down accountability, and that reverting to the one-year estimates would increase the uncertainty around schools’ value-added results.

The Senate has struck down the House’s exclusion provision. Good. But it has failed to rectify the matter of the one-versus-three-year computation. In fact, it has made things worse.

Here’s the Senate’s amendment:

In determining the value-added progress dimension score, the department shall use either up to three years of value-added data as available or value-added data from the most recent school year available, whichever results in a higher score for the district or building.

Now, under the Senate proposal, schools would receive a rating based on whichever VAM estimate is higher—either the one-year or the three-year computation. (Naturally, schools that just recently opened would not have three years of data; hence, the “as available” and “up to” clauses.)

Huh?...

Categories: 
  • Two new bills were introduced in the Ohio House yesterday, with the intent of changing charter school accountability. Here is a good but wonky piece talking about that legislation (Gongwer Ohio).
  • Several weeks ago, we reported that the Lorain County ESC conducted a survey of registered voters in the county on education issues. They touted the results at the time as a clear indication that state legislators were out of touch with voters on education issues and vowed to take action in their county. Before we get to the punchline today, let me note that there are over 202,600 voters in the county and that the ESC’s survey was returned by approximately 620 voters. If this month’s primary election’s turnout was “abysmal” at 14.75 percent, how much more abysmal is a survey return of this size? Anywho, the “action” part of the ESC’s master plan seems to be cranking up just as school is ending for the year. A panel discussion took place earlier this week with a group of superintendents from districts in Lorain County. Here are three takes on that event:
  1. We’ll start with the tiny Chronicle-Telegram, which notes that Innovation Ohio’s Steve Dyer was participating and cheering the supes on, but there’s tons of unsubstantiated talk about Common Core and charter school funding in here that I can’t tell if it comes from the speakers or the journalist or a combination of
  2. ...
Categories: 
  1. There’s a governor’s race going on in Ohio; the candidates’ stances on education are far apart. In Akron yesterday, Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald spoke only briefly on education. You can see the full text of the ABJ coverage at the link, but here's what Mr. FitzGerald was reported to have said about charters: "He said he is not opposed to charter schools and thinks they can be an ‘important option for some kids.’ He said, though, that he thinks charter schools should be treated the same as public schools. “I disagree with the way charter schools are funded at the expense of public schools and the fact they are exempted from the same requirements and oversight,” he said.  (Akron Beacon Journal)
  2. Lorain City Schools is forecasting a big deficit for next year. Primary reasons given: open enrollment and vouchers, $5 million in property tax delinquencies, and “glitches” in the state funding formula. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal)
  3. There’s an open enrollment flap in West Geauga Schools as well, in which currently open enrolled students who reside in other districts are being denied renewal for next year due to a new cap imposed on the number of students being accepted. If only someone could have predicted such a thing! Yeah, I did. 72 days ago according to Twitter. West G had better make it right, although I wonder now whether those families will feel welcome at all, even if
  4. ...
Categories: 
Categories: 
  • School Choice Ohio has initiated legal action against Springfield and Cincinnati schools for denying them student directory information requested under Ohio public records law, while they were regularly providing that same information to other nonprofits. Fascinating to see where this will go. (Springfield News Sun)
  • I’m not going to tell you what the topic of this story from Cincinnati actually is. I’m just going to give you the opening paragraph and see if you can guess before looking. Good luck. “The Common Core education standards may suck the oxygen out of the room when it comes to education conversations, but the factor that makes the most difference for a kid is and always has been his teacher.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Kinda fascinating look at a small, well-off Cleveland suburb tussling over what they want in a new district superintendent. Well, I say “they” when I really mean the 12 people who showed up to air their opinions. (West Life)
  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald hates high-stakes tests, a fact articulated by Mr. FitzGerald this week along with some of his other education policy positions. Wonder how he feels about high-stakes elections at the moment? (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Know what editors at the Dispatch hate? FitzGerald’s opposition to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. (Columbus Dispatch)
  • I have heard
  • ...
Categories: 

Pages