Additional Topics

“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. 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. This is the second edition of the series. The first can be found here.

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Ohio’s K–3 literacy scores: Is the third-grade reading guarantee living up to its promise?

The first round of school report card data came out in January (expect the second batch February 25), shedding light on (among other things) how schools are doing in K–3 literacy. (Note that ninety-six schools have appealed their K–3 literacy grades, and data is under review for another seven schools, so take all of this with a cairn of salt.)

This year’s report cards are the first to include a letter grade for K–3 literacy, a metric that measures the improvement that schools and districts have made in moving...

  1. Another notice for last week’s Quality in Adversity report. The good folks at Gongwer have taken a pretty thorough look at our latest report. Thanks guys; appreciate you zeroing in the important issues. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/29/16)
     
  2. Our own Aaron Churchill is colorfully quoted in this teaser piece on the topic of charter school funding. The stunt of districts “billing” the state for funding “lost” for students who leave for charters is getting attention from media now, so you know it’s a real thing. The real story is behind the pay wall at DDN (including a reference to the Quality in Adversity report findings); you get zilch in the way of details from the teaser. (Dayton Daily News, 1/31/16)
     
  3. Parsing of the limited school report card data continues in the Ohio media. Aaron is quoted in this piece looking at Central Ohio charters vs. districts. Aaron’s comments are good, but seem to mean bubkis to the argument being made. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/1/16)
     
  4. A new study from Case Western Reserve University indicates that “attending preschool helps make children in Cleveland about 20 percent more ready for kindergarten,” and that “Cleveland kids have a 29 percent
  5. ...
  1. Quality in Adversity coverage, Round 2, includes some brief national notices on top of Ohio-based reportage:
     
  1. In other Ohio education survey news, nearly half (48 percent) of Ohio voters with children in K-12 public schools think that students do not have enough time to eat lunch at school. (PR Newswire, 1/28/16)
     
  2. And speaking of asking questions, someone is asking the right one in suburban Cincinnati: Are the local schools keeping people from moving to Hamilton? This question was asked of realtors and they said it is among the top two
  3. ...

One of the big themes in the Star Wars series is the battle between technology and tradition: the Empire with its Death Star, Imperial Starfleet, and other modern marvels versus the Jedi with their ascetic lifestyles and primitive Force.

famous scene in Episode IV captures it perfectly:

Admiral Motti: This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it! 

Darth Vader: Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. 

Admiral Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fort... 

(Vader makes a pinching motion; Motti starts choking.) 

Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Han Solo, condescending to the lightsaber-wielding Luke, later scoffs, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” 

The gist is that the advocates of modernity...

The standard argument holds that improving education will improve the nation’s economy. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research not only affirms this argument but also demonstrates just how big the economic effects of school improvement could be.

From the start, it’s clear that this paper differs from its predecessors. Previous studies examined human capital and its effect on states’ economic development by measuring school attainment (high school graduation). This study points out that attainment is an imperfect yardstick—it incorrectly assumes that increased levels of schooling automatically suggest increased levels of knowledge and skills. A better way to determine the relationship between education and economic value is to measure a different outcome: achievement. Since “no direct measures of cognitive skills for the labor force” exist, the authors craft their own. They start by constructing an average test score for each state using NAEP, then adjust the test scores for different types of migration (interstate and international among them) in order to offset the high mobility of our population.

Hanushek, who has published multiple studies linking economic activity with enhanced educational output, offers several scenarios in his latest report. If every state improved to the level of...

  1. In case you missed it, Fordham Ohio’s latest report – Quality in Adversity: Lessons from Ohio’s best charter schools – was released today. Some preliminary media coverage has already taken place (huge thanks to all the outlets for that) and we expect more to follow in the next day or two. Check out the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 1/27/16), the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/27/16), and the Associated Press (Salem News, via AP, 1/27/16) You can also read the full report here….after you’ve finished your Bites.
     
  2. I’ve been avoiding clipping the various iterations of this next story because it’s really just a lame PR exercise. But when public media calls, you have to answer. Various small school districts around the state have been incited to send “invoices” to the Ohio Department of Education requesting payment for all of the dubloons “deducted” from their vaulted treasure caves over the years to pay for students who were educated outside their crenellated walls in charter schools. Our own Chad Aldis discusses the “theatrical” nature of this stunt with public radio’s Andy Chow. Now, who do district parents see about getting a refund for those college remediation classes they needed?
  3. ...
  1. When I first looked at this story on the front page of the Dispatch this morning, I thought it was indicating a high success rate for Franklin County school districts in teaching English Language Learners. Turns out that “top” simply means quantity of ELL kids – quite an influx here, from all over the world – not quality of teaching or success rates. Neither of those topics is covered in this piece, but here’s hoping that’s part two of the story coming up soon. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/25/16)
     
  2. Not much else to report from the weekend, so we’re left with some commentary to celebrate the first day of National School Choice Week. First up, a Southwest Ohio teacher opining on why the state slipped from 5th to 23rd in the most recent Quality Counts report. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/24/16)
     
  3. Lastly, Canton-area commentator Charita Goshay opines on how much she dislikes charter schools. Hint: quite a lot. (Canton Repository, 1/24/16)

It’s often argued that improving education will improve the nation’s economy. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research not only affirms this argument but also demonstrates just how big the economic effects of school improvement could be.

From the start, it’s clear that this paper differs from its predecessors. Previous studies examined human capital and its effect on states’ economic development by measuring school attainment (high school graduation). This one points out that attainment is an imperfect yardstick—it incorrectly assumes that increased levels of schooling automatically suggest increased levels of knowledge and skills. A better way to determine the relationship between education and economic value is to measure a different outcome: achievement. Since “no direct measures of cognitive skills for the labor force” exist, the authors craft their own. They start by constructing an average test score for each state using NAEP, then adjust the test scores for different types of migration (interstate and international among them) in order to offset the high mobility of the American population.

Hanushek, who has published multiple studies linking economic activity with enhanced educational output, offers several scenarios in his latest report. If every state improved to the level of...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this very brief look at the new NAPCS state rankings. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/20/16)
     
  2. A new report from the Ohio Department of Higher Education says that fewer college freshmen needed remedial courses in 2014 than need them in 2013. Props are being given to Ohio colleges for efforts to commonly define the core skills students need to have and be able to do in order to be considered “remediation free”. (Is that code? Perhaps for “lowering the bar?”) They are also being given props for their use of “co-requisite remediation”, in which students enroll in college-level courses instead of remedial classes and receive academic support to help them succeed. You can check out coverage in the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 1/20/16) and the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/21/16)
     
  3. Count on the good folks at the Harvard Graduate School of Economics to kill whatever buzz the above-referenced remediation news may have generated. A new report from them suggests that the college admissions process needs to be “reshaped” in order to stop the escalation of what they call “achievement pressure.” Now THAT is definitely code. Probably for “less emphasis on
  4. ...

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...

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