Ohio Gadfly Daily

Ohio has been included in lots of national rankings and scorecards lately. The latest comes from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, which ranks the Buckeye State at number twenty-three (out of forty-three states) for its charter school law. At first blush, twenty-third doesn’t seem like much to laud (after all, we just lamented Ohio’s fall to twenty-third in Education Week’sQuality Counts” ranking). But there’s more to Ohio’s modest slot than meets the eye.

For starters, Ohio improved five slots from last year. In fact, it was the third-most-improved state in terms of rankings, next to Oklahoma and Massachusetts. More important than its rise in the rankings (which could occur for a host of reasons, including other states’ charter climates getting worse) is the reason why. The report notes that Ohio’s improvement occurred because “it enacted legislation that improved its authorizer funding provisions and strengthened its charter monitoring processes.” They went further, praising other aspects of House Bill 2: “It is important to note that the legislation enacted in Ohio made a lot of other positive changes to the state’s law; it dealt with some specific challenges that have emerged...

In recent weeks, two national publications have assigned Ohio grades for its education policies and outcomes. The first, “Quality Counts,” came courtesy of Education Week. It revealed that Ohio’s grades have fallen from previous years, moving the state down in national rankings. The second was a group of report cards that rated states on their support for public higher education. These grades were furnished by the Young Invincibles (YI), a national organization that seeks to represent the millennial generation. At first glance, the reports don’t share much in common. Quality Counts examines K–12 education and, despite lower rankings, still grades Ohio as middle-of-the-pack. The Young Invincibles report, on the other hand, examines higher education and gives Ohio a giant red F.

Closer inspection reveals that the reports both examine the connection between education and money. “Quality Counts,” for example, points out rising poverty gaps on Ohio’s NAEP results. Ohio’s gaps between poor and non-poor kids aren’t just large, they’re getting larger—the opposite of the national trend. The YI report, meanwhile, focuses on the financial difficulty of attending college in Ohio. While Ohio has seen some of the smallest tuition hikes since...

  1. Back from a bit of a break and catching up. Chad was quoted in a piece over the weekend talking about the new charter sponsor evaluation protocols being put in place in Ohio. Some folks think the highest rating is unobtainable; some think that’s just fine if true. Others – like the online commenters – are expecting some “wiggle room” to emerge. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/17/16)
     
  2. Leroy Elementary in Riverside Schools in Northern Ohio is being studied for closure due to declining enrollment and deteriorating conditions, among other things. Parents were encouraged to attend this week’s special board meeting about the proposal. (Willoughby News-Herald, 1/16/16). They obliged, and largely disagreed with the proposal. (Willoughby News-Herald, 1/19/16)
     
  3. Speaking of small town schools, the Poland district near Youngstown is considering changes to its school calendar. They say they need to start the school year earlier in 2016-17 in order to have more prep time for PARCC testing. Do you want to tell them, or should I? (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/20/16)
     
  4. Speaking of Youngstown, we’re still waiting for more courtroom action on the definition of “teacher” – a decision which is holding up the entirety of the Youngstown
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  1. As noted earlier in the week, the first installment of school and district report card data was released yesterday. As Patrick O’Donnell tells us: The results released “reflect only graduation rates, how well kids do on college exams like the ACT and SAT and how well schools help kids that have trouble reading in the early grades.” Big stuff, yes, but new calculations and incomplete data make it difficult for analysts to really dig in. Case in point, perennial report analysts the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (ugh, not those guys again), whom Patrick points out will not be publishing their analysis until more information is out and it can be properly parsed. Don’t worry Aaron, we still love you. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/14/16)
     
  2. We all know that the world of education in Ohio loves change and so, as you can imagine, everyone is thrilled and delighted by yesterday’s data dump. I jest, of course. A quarter of the data is already under review at the request of districts who feel this or that measure is not accurate, many districts are throwing up their hands as to what any of the ratings mean, and other supes and spokespeople are
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  1. Democracy can be messy. Nowhere is that more apparent than in school boards around Ohio. Take Akron City Schools, for example. A majority of voters opted not to reelect an incumbent board member in November. A majority of sitting board members opted to bring him back at the first meeting of the new year to fill an empty seat. (Akron Beacon Journal, 1/11/16)
     
  2. Charter schools can be messy. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the case of Andre Tucker. He led three charter schools that opened and quickly folded back in 2013. Litigation over a number of issues has been ongoing ever since, with Tucker representing himself in his defense and in scattering lawsuits of his own all over Franklin County courts. It is with some thinly-veiled glee that the formerly-Big D (sued by Tucker for reporting on him) tells us Tucker was slapped by a judge this week as “vexatious litigator”. It is hoped by the reporters that this will shut down Tucker’s efforts for good. Now, about that stalled litigation in Youngstown… (Columbus Dispatch, 1/13/16)
     
  3. A small sliver of news on the Youngstown Plan litigation in this piece – a hearing is set
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“The Proper Perspective” is a discussion between Jamie Davies O’Leary, senior Ohio policy analyst for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Stephen Dyer, education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio. This joint effort was hatched one afternoon after Jamie and Steve had a lively back-and-forth over email about (what else?) charter school data. Interested in many of the same data points and research questions, they decided to share some of this exchange more publicly, helping both to illuminate trends in Ohio public education and formulate policy recommendations through their insights.

In some areas, they’ll find opportunities to coalesce, and even celebrate. In a state often divided vehemently on public education, there’s value in finding alignment with those you may have disagreed with previously.

In other areas, interpretation of the same facts is bound to diverge. That’s OK. We’ll strive for thoughtful dialogue—backed up with research and data—rather than ad hominem attacks or the same ideological shouting that has marked Ohio’s education reform debate for too long. Thanks for joining us and for listening—to both of us. We hope it will be both entertaining and enlightening.

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A decade...

As the days grew shorter and 2015 drew to a close, my colleagues gave you a recap of the big education stories that impacted the Buckeye State last year. With the new year upon us, it’s time to turn our gaze forward, polish the trusty crystal ball, and make some predictions about what will happen in the next twelve months.

But first, a few disclaimers. While I may possess some superhuman powers, it remains to be seen whether the power of prognostication is one of them. Check back in December to either gloat or pay homage to my soothsaying. Moreover, these are predictions, not necessarily what I want to happen. So keep calm and keep reading.

1. 2016 Elections mean not much of substance will actually happen

Election years always tend to tamp down the amount of legislation that winds its way through the General Assembly. This year, that tendency should be even more pronounced as Ohio’s own John Kasich battles for a spot on the Republican presidential ticket. This means no mid-biennium review bill and precious little action on education policy during 2016. It will likely be the quietest year...

Ohio has exemplary charter schools – beacons of quality that are helping students reach their full potential. Who are these high flyers and what can we learn from them? How can Ohio replicate, expand, and support great charters in every part of the state? Fordham partnered with Steve Farkas and Ann Duffett of the FDR Group to survey the leaders of these exemplary schools to capture their thoughts on charter policy, hear what makes their schools tick, and learn what we can do to make sure that good schools flourish and expand.

Quality in Adversity: Lessons from Ohio’s best charter schools will be released on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, in conjunction with this event. A fitting way to celebrate National School Choice Week!

PRESENTER

Ann Duffett, Ph.D., the FDR Group

PANELISTS

Andrew Boy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, United Schools Network

Hannah D. Powell, Executive Director, KIPP Columbus

David Taylor, Chief Academic Officer, Dayton Early College Academy

MODERATOR

Steve Farkas, the FDR Group

DATE/TIME

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Coffee and pastries will be available

Program begins at 8:30 am

Program concludes at 9:45 am

 

LOCATION:

Chase...

  1. The first pieces of Ohio’s state report cards – which will be incomplete anyway due to “safe harbor” requirements – are due this week, many months late thanks to the switch to PARCC tests last year. The remainder of what information we do get will arrive late in February. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/10/16)
     
  2. No news on the Youngstown Plan this weekend – the definition of “teacher” remains unsettled and therefore the entire Academic Distress Commission mechanism remains stalled.  But in Lorain City Schools, the only other Ohio district currently under the old-style Academic Distress Commission, they have a different conundrum around a definition. They know that they don’t want the “Youngstown Plan” to become the “Lorain Plan”, and they know that a clock is ticking on them to make that happen. But why exactly do they oppose the Youngstown Plan? Because the district supe defines the plan as the death knell for the public common school in Lorain (i.e. a problem for adults) and not as an effort to actually fix the schools there (i.e. a problem for kids). While the article is ostensibly about some efforts to avoid a new-style ADC in Lorain via business, community,
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Truancy has long been a problem in schools across the nation. Because of its myriad causes, the economic and educational cost, and unhelpfully harsh policies, it continues to be a broad and complicated problem. In Ohio, school officials have been trying to support chronically absent students for years. Unfortunately, despite good intentions and several attempts, the state’s attendance issues still haven’t been resolved—and much of that can be attributed to Ohio’s problematic legal provisions regarding truancy. Persistent difficulties in data collection and reporting keep the true size and nature of the problem unknowable, and an outdated punitive mentality makes designing productive solutions close to impossible.

For a closer look at the issue, consider the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). During the 2013–14 school year, Cleveland’s 89.1 percent attendance rate was the lowest of all Big 8 urban districts. That rate has been flat for quite a few years.[1] An 89 percent might not seem so bad—it would indicate a B grade on a test. But attendance percentages are different than grades; in a district the size of Cleveland, an 89 percent attendance rate means that thousands of kids...

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