Additional Topics

LIVE AND DIE BY IMPLEMENTATION
So says Robert Pondiscio on the future of the Common Core in Vox’s implementation-over-politics article. "As a teacher, I never once took down the New York state standards to decide what to teach. You teach curriculum, you teach books, you teach subject matter, and then you teach it to the standards."

STICKLERS FOR COMMAS
If you’re going to invest $645,000 in a pre-K campaign, make sure to place commas in the correct places. Otherwise, we might have to make the Chicago Manual of Style required reading for three- and four-year-olds.

DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY
But they do know something about history standards—and they agree: AEI’s Rick Hess and Fordham’s Chester E. Finn, Jr. dispel outlandish myths on the AP U.S. History framework, but “[t]hat said, the framework has a full measure of shortcomings, starting with its inattention to America’s motivating ideals.”

HOMELESS STUDENTS
New data from the Department of Education shows that more public school students than ever before were homeless during the 2012-2013 school year. 1.3 million elementary and secondary school children reported lacking a permanent home, many of them living on their own or...

Heated debate has erupted over changes to Ohio’s new standards, assessments, and accountability policies. Most significantly, the state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics has triggered efforts to roll back the new standards and the assessments associated with them. In addition to the Common Core, the state is undertaking other bold but controversial reforms, including the Third Grade Reading Guarantee—aimed at improving early literacy—and evaluations of teachers and principals that factor in student achievement.

These policy reforms reflect a shifting paradigm in K-12 education. For years, it was assumed that schools would provide an adequate education for all students. Since the early 2000s, prodded by federal law, states adopted policies whereby students have been required to meet “proficiency” benchmarks on state tests. This policy framework has moved the achievement needle forward: Disadvantaged students, for one, have demonstrated gains over the past decade on national assessments.

Yet the academic standards in Ohio and in many states across the nation remained too low, and student outcomes mediocre. The minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do failed to match the demands of colleges and employers. As a result, Ohio and other states are raising academic expectations: “adequacy” and “proficiency” in K-12 education is passé. In its place, a new paradigm aims to ready students for college and career.

None of these big reforms—from Common Core to new assessments to clearer accountability for schools and educators—are stress-free, without complication, or uncontentious. These reforms demand more of schools and teachers; for example, under Ohio’s new learning standards, educators must have a deeper grasp of content and use richer instructional techniques. Parents will need a clearer understanding of why new learning standards are needed and how their school is progressing against them. Lawmakers will require patience and nerves of steel to hold the course.

In Poised for Progress: Analysis of Ohio’s School Report Cards 2013-14, we set aside the rancor and anxieties and take a wider-angle look at the performance of public schools and students, at the cusp of Ohio’s college-and-career-ready era. Stepping back, we observe too many students who do not meet national benchmarks for solid performance in reading and math—subjects crucial to success in college and beyond. For instance, just 39 percent of eighth-grade students reached proficiency on the reading portion of the nationally administered NAEP exams in 2013. Just 32 percent of Ohio’s graduates taking the ACT achieved a state-defined college “remediation free” score. It’s no surprise, then, that 40 percent of Ohio’s freshman who enter an in-state public college required some form of remediation in math or English.

When we examine state-assessment results from 2013-14, we discover literally thousands of students from the state’s neediest communities who struggle with basic literacy and numeracy skills. In Dayton, Fordham’s hometown, roughly half of its students fell short of Ohio’s (soft) definition of proficiency. The test results from other urban areas were just as disheartening.

Urban public schools face massive educational challenges, and only a handful of them show signs that they can lift achievement. Some of these schools operate within the traditional district system. Within the Big Eight school districts, we identify forty-eight high-quality schools, defined as those that receive solid state ratings in both performance index scores (student achievement) and value-added (student gains, measured over time). Meanwhile, many other high-quality schools are public charters: Encouragingly, we discovered thirty-three such charter schools located in the Big Eight urban areas. As you’ll see in this report, there’s a good mix of high-quality charter and district-run urban schools.

Unhappily, high-quality urban schools of any variety—district or charter—are not the norm. When we approximate the proportion of high-quality seats in Ohio’s cities (i.e., the proportion of students that attend high-quality schools), we see that only 15 percent or so of public-school seats are high-quality. In fact, the chart below shows that there is a far greater percentage of low-quality seats, either district or charter, than high-quality ones.

Chart: Percentage of high- and low-quality seats in public schools, district and charter, across the Ohio Big Eight urban areas for 2013-14

 

Note: The sum of high- and low-quality seats does not equal 100 percent; the medium-quality tier is not displayed.

These statistics paint an overall portrait of the public-school landscape of each urban area. It is not a pretty one—and surely unsatisfying for anyone who worries about educating disadvantaged children. In Ohio’s urban areas, it is safe to say that far more students languish in a low-quality public school than thrive in a high-quality one.

But what about charter schools? Are they contributing high-quality seats in these areas? In Cleveland and Columbus, the answer is reassuring, though not wholly satisfying: In Columbus, 32 percent of its charter students attended a high-quality school in 2013-14. In Cleveland, the figure is 28 percent. The charter-school sectors of Youngstown, Dayton, and Cincinnati offer a more-modest percentage of high-quality seats: Respectively, 22, 20, and 18 percent of their charter students attended a solid charter in those cities. Meanwhile, the charter schools in Akron, Toledo, and Canton provide few good charter-school options.

Despite the encouraging signs of growth in quality charter schools, particularly in Columbus and Cleveland, all of the Big Eight urban areas are plagued with low-quality charter schools. We approximate that Cincinnati had the highest percentage of low-quality charter-school seats (52 percent), while 34 percent of Cleveland’s charter-school seats were low-quality and Columbus stood at 23 percent.

Meantime, to those who defend the monopoly of the traditional public school district, rest assured, low-quality schools plague urban districts just as much—if not more—than these cities’ charter-school sectors. In Cleveland, 51 percent of district-school seats were low quality; and in Columbus, 33 percent. Even Cincinnati Public Schools—generally regarded as one of the healthier Big Eight districts—had 36 percent low-quality seats.

Poised for Progress shows that Ohio policymakers and educators have much hard work ahead of them. In the coming year, the Buckeye State will set a new baseline for achievement—one based on rigorous standards and assessments. There will be inevitable practical, technical, and political challenges associated with these changes. The assessments are unknown. The school-report cards remain unsettled. Proficiency rates will fall, providing a more sobering—but honest view of student achievement. Meantime, policymakers have to dramatically grow the number of high-quality seats in urban communities through whatever means possible—charter, district, or private-school choice. They also have the unpleasant task of pruning the number of seats available in low-quality schools of all types.

Ohio is poised for positive change. But many tough challenges lie ahead. It is incumbent on adults to buckle down and problem solve in the coming days. If responsible adults can do this, more Ohio students will enjoy a brighter future.

The 2013-14 school year marked the first year of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee (TGRG), a law that requires the retention of children not reading on grade level to be retained. This initiative was modeled after similar legislation in Florida and other states. The policy is also based on research that shows that students who can’t read on grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate than a child who reads proficiently. These numbers are even higher for children who live in poverty, particularly Black and Hispanic students.

In a TGRG document posted on its website, the Ohio Department of Education notes that approximately 24,000 students drop out of Ohio high schools each year. They go on to say that most of the students who drop out do not have the reading skills necessary for future success, and that the Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a way of ensuring support for struggling readers early in life.  At Fordham, we’ve long said that reading is important to long-term success, and research shows that third grade is a pivotal year. But with all this focus on third grade, we could be missing another pivotal year that’s just as deserving of our attention—ninth grade.

In the past few years, education researchers have begun to label ninth grade as the “make or break” year for students. Research shows that more students fail ninth grade than any other grade in high school, and a disproportionate number of students who are held back in ninth grade subsequently drop out. In addition, course performance and attendance during the first year of high school are powerful predictors of whether a student will go on to earn a diploma. A 2013 article in The Atlantic points to a third predictor of a student’s likelihood to drop out: behavior. Taken together, course performance, attendance, and behavior in ninth grade combine to form powerful indicators of whether a student will go on to graduate or drop out. This is particularly worrisome given that data show that while the ninth grade often has the highest enrollment rate in high schools, it also boasts the lowest grade point average, the most missed classes, the majority of failing grades, and more misbehavior referrals than any other high school grade level. Freshman year of high school represents a symbolic passage into near-adulthood, with teenagers much more likely to be impulsive and take risks. Thus ninth grade becomes a do-or-die year for Ohio students on their way to high school diplomas.

So, if ninth grade is critical, what’s a state to do? Instead of creating another statewide requirement like the Third Grade Reading Guarantee though, ninth grade represents a chance for Ohio’s districts to flex their innovative muscles in a way that targets their unique student population. For districts, it might be worthwhile to start looking into how other cities and states are handling the ninth grade dilemma.

Chicago Public Schools, for instance, has been focusing on the importance of ninth grade since 2007. A recent Ed Week article points to how the graduation rate in Chicago has risen from 47 percent in 1999 to 69 percent in 2014. The district predicts that the graduation rate for the class of 2018 will be 84 percent. Researchers claim that this increase, starting in 2011, is due largely to Chicago’s increased focus on keeping freshmen “on track.” A student is labeled as on track when he or she has at least five full-year credits and no more than one semester F in a core class by the end of his or her freshman year. Researchers note this can be more difficult for ninth graders than other students because freshmen often struggle with the increased freedom and responsibility of high school. To combat this, the district utilized real-time, easy-to-use data about attendance and grades to flag students who were in danger of falling behind the on track rate. Teachers then reached out to identify problems and potential solutions. The district also increased support from leadership and the time for collaboration among teacher teams, both of which allowed teachers to focus on individual student needs.

Another possible strategy is for districts to implement Ninth Grade Academies, which exist in various states, including Tennessee and North Carolina. Their purpose is to provide freshmen with additional resources and personalized support to ease the transition into high school and to keep students “on track” to graduate. There are several different models of ninth grade academies. Some exist within the framework of a typical high school, operating as a sort of school-within-a-school for ninth graders that minimizes the sometimes overwhelming nature of a comprehensive high school. These models may house all freshmen classes in one particular hallway, may assign freshmen to their own lunch period separate from upperclassmen, and can sometimes even assign a principal who only interacts with ninth graders and their families. Some academies, like those established in DC Public Schools in 2013, focus on grouping students with a staff that includes a core group of teachers, a social worker, a guidance counselor, and a data lead who reviews students data throughout the year and then determines which “team” is best for each student. Other academies match students with their own advisor, who is responsible for checking in one-on-one and building strong relationships with his/her assigned students. 

There are also career academies that focus on college prep curriculums with a career focus and collaborations with employers, community members, and higher education institutions.  

The “make or break” nature of ninth grade isn’t reserved only for students at risk of dropping out; even for those who go on to graduate, Ohio still faces a remediation rate of 40 percent. Furthermore, a close look at Ohio students taking the ACT shows that only 32 percent score high enough to be deemed college ready in all four academic areas. If Ohio districts want to boost their graduation rates and ACT scores while also lowering college remediation rates, taking a closer look at ninth grade and its important role in student success is a good place to start. While districts might certainly look to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee as an example of how to focus on a single critical year, retaining kinds in ninth grade should not be the goal. Retention is not the answer for struggling high school students, and could needlessly push “bubble” students toward dropping out

This year’s state report cards brought a new twist for some Columbus parents—a parent trigger. Parent triggers, made famous by several high profile efforts in California and a major motion picture, allow a majority of parents in (usually) low-performing schools to force changes to how that school operates. If this sounds to you like a recipe for controversy, you’re right. Even here at Fordham, Mike and Checker have taken different views on whether the pursuit of a parent trigger is worth the effort.

As for me, I’m a huge proponent of empowering parents. Giving dissatisfied parents at low-performing schools the opportunity to take control of their school does that. I’m not an ideologue though, and care most about whatever leads to better academic and life outcomes for kids. The question then is whether the parent trigger is a tool that should be used or even expanded in Ohio.

Just the facts

Ohio’s parent trigger law was passed as part of the state budget bill in 2011 (House Bill 153). It’s designated as a pilot program affecting only Columbus City schools that have been ranked in the bottom five percent of all schools in the state on the performance index for three consecutive years. Because it requires three years of data, 2014-15 is the first year that Columbus district schools could be affected by the trigger. There are twenty-one schools eligible this year—more information on the eligible schools is below.

Exercising the trigger requires a majority of parents whose children attend an eligible school to sign a petition requesting the school to be restructured and to submit it to the school district treasurer before December 31st. The treasurer has 30 days to validate the signatures and determine if the signature threshold (a majority of parents) was met.

 

There are five statutory options that parents can choose when going through the petition process. They are:

(1) Reopen the school as a charter school;

(2) Replace at least 70 percent of school personnel who are related to the school's poor academic performance;

(3) Contract with another school district, a nonprofit, or for-profit entity with a demonstrated record of effectiveness to operate the school;

(4) Turn operation of the school over to the department of education;

(5) Any other major restructuring of the school that makes fundamental reforms in the school's staffing or governance.

Controversy ensues and many questions remain

At last week’s school board meeting, Columbus board members took turns, before a standing-room-only, anti-trigger crowd, expressing their frustration with the parent trigger and the fact that the law applied only to their district. Board members also raised a number of important questions like how schools exercising the trigger would be funded, who owns the facilities, and whether district taxpayers would have to continue to pay on bonds for schools that were taken over. The Ohio Department of Education, who was briefing the board on the parent trigger, didn’t have answers to these critical and complicated questions. It will be a real challenge to figure out how the trigger works when and if it’s exercised. As it stands now, there’s sufficient vagueness (the trigger law has never been used in Ohio) and high-enough stakes that the only certainty is that a court and many lawyers will be involved.

Eligible schools

The performance index of the 21 Columbus schools to which the parent trigger could apply is very low; each of the schools receives either a D or F on that measure. That index, it’s worth noting, is the best measure to gauge absolute student achievement—or how much students know—in a school.

Under the state’s parent trigger law, that’s where the eligibility determination ends. Look more closely though at each school’s value-added measure. Value-added is the state’s attempt to measure the impact that a school is having on student learning by considering student progress from year to year. A grade of “C” means that a school’s students are generally meeting growth expectations. Similarly, a grade of “A” suggests that students are exceeding growth expectations. Of the 21 schools in Columbus eligible for the parent trigger: 8 received an “A” in value-add and another 5 schools received a “C.”

Building Name

School Type

Performance Index Score 2013-14

Letter Grade of Performance Index

Letter Grade of Overall Value-Added

Special Education Center

Ungraded

36.339

F

NR

Trevitt Elementary School

Elementary School

54.704

F

D

Beatty Park Elementary School

Elementary School

55

F

D

Columbus Scioto 6-12

High School

55.771

F

A

Livingston Elementary School

Elementary School

56.282

F

F

Windsor STEM Academy (K-6)

Elementary School

60.084

D

C

Leawood Elementary School

Elementary School

60.862

D

D

East Columbus Elementary School

Elementary School

60.933

D

C

Eastgate Elementary School

Elementary School

61.818

D

F

Cassady Alternative Elementary School

Elementary School

63.055

D

C

Mifflin Alternative Middle School

Middle School

63.26

D

F

Broadleigh Elementary School

Elementary School

64.689

D

A

Ohio Avenue Elementary School

Elementary School

65.131

D

A

Watkins Elementary School

Elementary School

65.459

D

F

Fairwood Alternative Elementary School

Elementary School

66.333

D

A

East Linden Elementary School

Elementary School

66.618

D

C

Champion Middle School

Middle School

66.825

D

A

Columbus Africentric Early College Elementary School

Elementary School

66.926

D

A

COLUMBUS GLOBAL ACADEMY

High School

68.182

D

A

Weinland Park Elementary School

Elementary School

68.414

D

C

Highland Elementary School

Elementary School

68.638

D

A

There’s nothing wrong with giving parents whose children attend a school with low absolute achievement levels additional education options. In fact, students at many of the schools have a variety of options available including another district school, a charter school, and even an EdChoice voucher that would enable them to attend a private school. However, careful consideration should be given to whether it makes sense to fundamentally restructure a school whose students are meeting or exceeding learning expectations.

Attitude shift

In the tension surrounding the issue at the Columbus School Board meeting, it would have been easy to miss the district’s report on the parent trigger issue. In that report, the district made it clear that it would aggressively communicate with parents to let them know what was happening with the schools subject to the trigger. In fact, Superintendent Dan Good met with building leaders from each affected school before the board meeting to prepare them for questions from parents. This bodes well for the district and should help it to better understand and address any concerns that parents might have. A proactive approach to communication is the right thing to do whether the school is eligible for the parent trigger or not. It will be critical though that the communications be less about selling the strengths of the various schools and more about listening to the thoughts, ideas, and concerns of Columbus parents.

***

The parent trigger gives parents a voice in how their school is run—and some potential leverage to bargain for big change. That is a real and positive benefit of the law; however, the structure of the law in Ohio makes me unenthusiastic about its ability to improve low-performing schools. It’s important that the Department of Education or the legislature (if needed) clear up some of the procedural aspects that the Columbus school board has identified. It’s also critical that schools making significant academic gains in the area of value-added aren’t forced into restructuring at a time when they’re already improving. All in all, if the experience in California is any indication (only three schools in the state have exercised the parent trigger), Columbus’ parent trigger is unlikely to affect many schools. It would be wise then for all involved to relax and adopt the now very much over-used mantra: keep calm and carry on. 

In many school districts, classroom observations make up as much as 75 percent of teachers’ evaluation scores, according to a new study published in Education Next. And these scores predict a teacher’s ability to raise student test scores the following year, as measured by value-added models. With that in mind, analysts did a deep-dive into the observation practices of four school districts. They found that score stability and the quality of the information gathered improved as the number of individual observations increased, and that evaluations by trained, independent, outside evaluators (instead of principals) were more predictive of the following year’s value-added gains. The report recommends that districts observe teachers at least two or three times annually, using an outside observer at least once. Moreover, the study draws attention to the latent bias against teachers with lower-achieving students or who teach in struggling schools. Although value-added models are careful to control for students’ backgrounds and achievement levels, there’s often no such adjustment for classroom observations. (Simply put, it can be much harder to teach a great lesson when the kids are below grade level or unruly.) Unchecked, this can push teachers to avoid assignments at more challenging schools where the need is greatest, widening the achievement gap. The authors suggest that states conduct statistical analyses to control for these variables. The implications of this study are particularly pertinent for Ohio; although the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) is now entering its second year of statewide implementation, many of the aforementioned suggestions aren’t a part of OTES. For example, Ohio does not require outside observations nor does it adjust for potential bias. Furthermore, legislative changes in June now allow districts to be flexible with the required number of evaluations. In other words, despite the predictive value of evaluations, Ohio school districts are permitted to evaluate effective teachers less frequently. If Ohio hopes to retain and improve its teaching force, addressing the potential flaws in its evaluation system is an important first step.

SOURCE: Grover J. Whitehurst, Matthew M. Chingos, and Katharine M. Lindquist, “Getting Classroom Observations Right,” Education Next (Winter 2015).

Andy Smarick, a partner in Bellwether Partners and a Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow at Fordham, dropped by Columbus last week to shake up the educational status quo, discussing his book The Urban School System of the Future.

The event, co-hosted by Fordham and School Choice Ohio, began with the premise that the century-old structure of the traditional school district is “broken” in large urban areas, leading to a long-standing cycle of poor performance for students and reform efforts that merely seek to “rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic” while retaining intact the flawed structure. In fact, Smarick argued that maintaining the district structure—and primacy—was often the starting point of many reforms. Charters were conceived as radical departures from the status quo—groups of teachers going off on their own to “reinvent schooling” outside the existing paradigm—but today are defined primarily in terms of how (and whether) they are better or worse than the district schools in their vicinity. Private school vouchers and tax-credit programs were born as “escape mechanisms” for families from failing district schools, without directly addressing the structural failings of the district that led to the need for escape in the first place.

Tens of thousands of students in Ohio, and many more nationwide have taken advantage of school choices and alternatives to traditional districts and yet very little reform of districts has actually happened despite the exodus occurring in every large city.

Smarick stressed the difference between the work of education and its “delivery systems,” using the evolution of technology as a metaphor. He sketched out a plan that would allow a diverse number of education delivery systems that would keep the focus on public education and on quality outcomes for students. The key, he said, is third-party accountability, which would set parameters for acceptable performance for all players and would be aggressive in supporting high performers to grow and expand while weeding out those not meeting high benchmarks for success.

While Smarick’s ideas sometimes sounded idealistic and even radical, he stressed that he was a conservative thinker and noted that many parts of the country have taken steps toward this type of urban schooling. Ohio, he pointed out, is much farther along than many states. Smarick urged his audience to actualize and accelerate efforts like those under way in Cleveland and those proposed for Columbus that put student success first and abandon old ways of delivering education, especially when they have proven to be ineffective.

Ohio’s school and district report cards were released last week, nearly a month later than originally scheduled due to inclement weather….back in February and March. No matter; they’re here now and every education stakeholder is poring over them. But to what purpose are these troves of data being put? 

Out of the gate, stories in the media focused on the “big picture” issues: urban districts (pretty bad, with some rays of hope) and dropout recovery schools (same, minus most of those rays of hope). A single grade for “overall performance” is still not being given this year but should be available in 2016. That left analysts digging through a variety of indicators at all levels. Performance index scores, value-added calculations (very confusing), graduation rates, and other factors were considered, either in isolation or in tandem, producing very different conclusions depending on how the measures were parsed or weighted by the investigators. It is tempting to say that certain foregone conclusions were bolstered by the ways in which data were considered or not considered, but perhaps it is more accurate to say that getting an analysis of such a wealth of information out the door quickly necessitates a narrowing of focus, for better or worse.

We’ve already seen some really excellent investigation of report card data this year, adding the journalist’s touch to what could just be cold recitation of numbers. We hope to see more stories making apples-to-apples comparisons between charter schools and individual district buildings and interviews with school leaders discussing specific report measures as districts and charter schools parse the numbers and tell their own stories.

In the end, all of this analysis and discussion comes down to the question of “are students getting a good education?” and report cards are meant to be used to make the case one way or another. Editors at the Youngstown Vindicator were quick to do just that, opining in praise of area districts whose numbers showed success, and begging for help from the state for area districts which were, again, seen to be failing their students.

The 2013-14 school year marked the first year of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee (TGRG), a law that requires the retention of children not reading on grade level to be retained. This initiative was modeled after similar legislation in Florida and other states. The policy is also based on research that shows that students who can’t read on grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate than a child who reads proficiently. These numbers are even higher for children who live in poverty, particularly Black and Hispanic students.

In a TGRG document posted on its website, the Ohio Department of Education notes that approximately 24,000 students drop out of Ohio high schools each year. They go on to say that most of the students who drop out do not have the reading skills necessary for future success, and that the Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a way of ensuring support for struggling readers early in life.  At Fordham, we’ve long said that reading is important to long-term success, and research shows that third grade is a pivotal year. But with all this focus on third grade, we could be missing another pivotal year that’s just as...

MONEY FOR NOTHING
Most Americans give poor marks to schools, but think their kids’ schools are pretty good. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Paul Peterson says the same is true on school spending.  Most of us suffer from “buyer's delight”the tendency to think we "got a deal even when an objective observer would conclude otherwise.”

ICYMI
If you didn’t tune in to the debate to end all debates—on the Common Core that is—you can download the podcast version of “Should We Embrace the Common Core?” Spoiler alert: Yes, we should.

ARNE RESPONDS TO BOBBY
“He had a couple of unsuccessful lawsuits,” notes Duncan in response to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s latest Common Core lawsuit against the federal government. Ouch.

FORDHAM IN THE NEWS
Fordham’s Dara Zeehandelaar talked charter schools, teachers unions, and why the two are more water-and-oil than peas-and-carrots with Education Week’s charters-and-choice expert, Arianna Prothero.

TO KEEP KAYA OR NOT TO KEEP KAYA
Jay Mathews of the Washington Post, despite many columns of tough criticism of the D.C. schools chancellor, calls for D.C. voters to support the mayoral candidate that backs Henderson. “If both candidates agree that...

  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in a story about an important state Supreme Court case scheduled to begin tomorrow. The case addresses the issue of charter schools that hire for-profit management companies with public money and who then owns the assets of those schools should things go sour in the relationship. There is much more at stake in the decision however, which Chad was kindly allowed to point out. (Akron Beacon Journal). Chad gets a twofer out of this as the same story ran in the Youngstown Vindicator as well.
     
  2. Here, also, is a companion piece to the above story, running a few numbers on who owns the buildings in which Ohio charter schools operate. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  3. Editors in Cleveland opine on the need for charter school reform in Ohio…and offer a bit of advice to state senators on how not to do it. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. We mentioned last week about the report card analysis doing the rounds that shows a link between poverty and performance index scores for districts. Interestingly, one solution proposed in this story about that analysis is a fund analogous to Ohio’s Straight A Fund which
  5. ...
  1. The Truth in Numbers review of State Auditor candidate John Patrick Carney has been published in the PD. Fordham is name-checked in discussion of charter school quality in Ohio, and a link is made to last year’s Parsing Performance report by our own Aaron Churchill. The detail of the piece shows Patrick O’Donnell’s typical journalistic excellence and it was good to have him assess the (lack of) truth of this politician’s statements, but really the bottom line is that auditors don’t really have much say in education funding regardless of their political leanings. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. Patrick O’Donnell is clearly the hardest working education journalist out there these days. Here’s his look at another of the allegations against Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland: diagnostic testing allegedly used to determine admission. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. Crap. Late evening negotiations didn’t take. Reynoldsburg teachers are on the picket lines today; the first time since 1978. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. Editors in Toledo opine upon their own analysis of the district’s report card. They praise the district where they can, tout for the upcoming levy, and bash charters and vouchers. (Toledo Blade)
     
  5. We may have noted this before,
  6. ...
  1. Editors at the Vindy opined yesterday upon the need for immediate assistance from the state for the failing schools in the Youngstown area. They did not neglect the higher-achieving schools in the area, opining in praise of those schools and urging the constructive use of report card data to continue to improve. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  2. The BASA/OASBO folks have put out their analysis of Ohio’s report cards, and they conclude that performance index scores “closely followed” the percent of students in a district that are economically disadvantaged. (Newark Advocate)
     
  3. Editors in Akron have read the above report and have opined in sympathy with its conclusions. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  4. There’s a nicely-detailed look at the report cards of a number of charter schools in Springfield. Some interesting insights from the school leaders interviewed. (Springfield News Sun)
     
  5. Some excellent journalistic investigation in this piece by Patrick O’Donnell digging into the accusations against Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland. Specifically, allegations that the school “dumped” low-performing students before state testing in order to improve their results. Definitely worth a read. Having already been through this with Columbus City Schools and other districts around Ohio, both ODE
  6. ...
Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D.

Over the last few years, there has been a growing awareness of the need to incorporate character development into school curricula, and various efforts to do so have received wide attention. Perhaps the best-known effort is the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, which has been implemented in close to 150 charter schools across the country.

KIPP is aimed at children and teenagers from low-income families. Its explicit goal is increasing college enrollment by combining an emphasis on factors proven to bolster academic success (high expectations, parental involvement, time spent on instruction) with a novel focus on developing seven character strengths—zest, grit, self-control, optimism, curiosity, gratitude, and social intelligence. These strengths are tracked on a “character growth card” and encouraged through classroom discussions and assignments that incorporate lessons about character into more conventional academic activities. Teachers also go out of their way to both model and praise displays of good character.

KIPP has a long record of impressive accomplishments that have garnered much media attention, including Paul Tough’s bestseller, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Students attending KIPP schools have higher rates...

Fuzz-free math

CCSS myths, noncognitive skills, Dana Goldstein, and gifted ed.

Amber's Research Minute

Does Gifted Education Work? For Which Students?, by David Card and Laura Giuliano, National Bureau of Economic Research (September 2014).

Common Core just had its best week in recent memory. The Intelligence Squared U.S. CCSS debate showcased strong arguments in favor of the standards, including from our own Mike Petrilli. William J. Bennett, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of education, made a conservative case for the standards in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.  And an ECS report showed that, despite all the fuss, forty-plus states are moving ahead with implementation (and critics have barely made a dent).

Harold Levy, former chancellor of the New York City public schools and the brand-new executive director of Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed over the weekend lamenting school officials’ misuse—or non-use—of school and student data. For example, we know that high-performing, low-income students are less likely to attend college than their wealthier peers. And small numbers of truant pupils miss about a month of school each year even in schools with high overall attendance rates. These data are imminently actionable—we could provide opportunities for acceleration or gifted classes for high-potential poor kids, for example—but only if educators choose to use them.

A group of New York State charter school supporters is suing the state...

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