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It wasn’t that long ago when you could go from one end of your K–12 education to the other without even laying eyes a student with a disability. “In the early 1970s, these youths were marginalized both in school and in life, with only one-fifth of children with disabilities even enrolled in public schools,” notes Education Week, whose tenth annual Diplomas Count report focuses this year on students with disabilities. Today, nearly six million such students are enrolled in U.S. public schools, with the vast majority studying alongside non-disabled peers. They are “coming of age at a time when they, like all high school students, are increasingly expected to perform to high academic standards and to prepare for further education or training and a productive role in the workplace,” the authors observe.

How are they doing? Eighty-one percent of our public high schools students can now expect to march across stage and be handed a diploma within four years; that’s both a historic high and the headline finding of Diplomas Count 2015. However, the graduation rate among students with disabilities is 62 percent—a figure that masks wild (and somewhat suspicious) variations from state to state: from a low of 23...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis had a commentary piece published in the PD this morning, urging the General Assembly to stay the course on charter law reform. You’re so close, gang! And a tiny rap on the knuckles to the PD editorial board – on behalf of our awesome Dayton team – for use of the term “manage” in reference to their sponsorship work.  (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/17/15)
  2. The editorial board of the Dispatch have no trouble with the term “sponsor”, as evidenced by today’s opinion piece lauding Ohio’s newish sponsor rating process. Fordham is namechecked here as one of the sponsors rated “exemplary”. Dispatch defends exemplary sponsors. Link (Columbus Dispatch, 6/17/15)
  3. Well, strike me pink! The folks at the Think Twice project of the National Education Policy Center looked at Fordham Ohio’s recent “blockbuster” report on school closures and student achievement…and chose not to destroy it. In fact, even the caveats they put forward are ones discussed during our panel event upon release. All worthy of further research, as the Think Twice gang say. I can’t even words right now. (PR Web, 6/16/15) via Seattle PI and other outlets
  4. Speaking of Fordham’s reports
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  1. Patrick O’Donnell tried to get to the bottom of just what the Ohio Department of Education’s new and evolving charter sponsor evaluation framework is – noting that two sponsors have been announced as “ineffective" and three have been announced as “exemplary” (including Fordham) using the framework so far. This is a well-done piece – a tour-de-force of journalism really – that gets at the heart of Ohio’s efforts to improve its charter school sector. And it draws some very stark differences between sponsor-based accountability and school-based accountability. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/14/15)
  2. Speaking of charter schools, late breaking news from Friday seems to indicate that White Hat Management is indeed selling off management of a group of its schools to a Virginia-based company. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/12/15)
  3. Staying in Akron for a moment, the Beacon Journal’s editorial page editor opined this weekend against caps and guarantees in school funding. He seems skeptical that any version of the new state budget gets it entirely right, but he’s sure that what we’ve got isn’t right. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/13/15)
  4. We end with another opinion piece, this one from Cincinnati, in which editors there opine in praise
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Jeb Bush announced today that he's running for presidentsurprising few and becoming an instant frontrunner. He's the eleventh republican to enter the race, and he’s also the subject of the ninth installment of the Eduwatch 2016 series chronicling presidential candidates’ stances on education issues.

Out of all the people who are running or may run for president, Bush is probably the most reform-minded. He was elected governor of Florida in 1999, and during his eight years in office, he focused heavily on public education—instituting, among other things, tougher standards, a voucher program, and corporate tax scholarships for low-income students. In 2008, a year after he left office, he founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education, an influential education reform nonprofit that works on standards and accountability, school choice, college and career readiness, and a number of other issues. The son and brother of former U.S. presidents has said...

  1. Not to toot our own horn, but…TOOT! Fordham Ohio’s latest report, Getting Out of the Way: Education Flexibility to Boost Innovation and Improvement in Ohio, was released yesterday and we held a launch event in Columbus. Report and event generated some great response. Check out the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/11/15, plus other Gannett outlets) for quotes from Aaron Churchill and a response from something called the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition. Check out the (still, for now) Big D (Columbus Dispatch, 6/11/15) for a nice summary of some key points from the morning’s panel discussion and a response from the state teacher’s union that goes in something of an unexpected direction. That same line of thinking is followed by public media’s StateImpact (StateImpact Ohio, 6/11/15), who quote Aaron and then look to the State Senate for a response. The Dayton Daily News’ Jeremy Kelley made the early morning trek to Columbus for the event and produced a wide-ranging piece (Dayton Daily News, 6/11/15, plus a few other outlets in the publishing group) that covered a number of other issues besides teacher licensure and tenure. Thanks to the good folks at Education First, our intrepid panelists, and
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In this research brief, Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania and David Scott Yeager of the University of Texas compare three measures of students’ non-cognitive skills: student surveys (in which students self-report on their non-cognitive skills), teacher surveys (in which the teacher provides his or her assessment of a student’s skills), and so-called “performance tasks” (such as the famous "marshmallow test"). After comparing these measures, the authors discuss their suitability for various purposes, including individual diagnosis, improved practice, program evaluation, and accountability.

According to the authors, each measure has advantages and disadvantages. For example, although student and teacher surveys are cheap and reliable, they suffer from “reference bias,” which occurs when individuals or groups use different frames of reference in making a judgment. Consequently, schools that are best at promoting non-cognitive skills may score lowest on a survey measuring such skills.

Unlike surveys, performance tasks don’t rely on the subjective judgments of students or teachers. Yet they too have drawbacks. To be a valid measure of a non-cognitive skill, a performance task must be administered under carefully controlled conditions, which may be difficult to achieve at some schools. They are also expensive and time-consuming, with a single task taking...

  1. Fordham was namechecked in two stories noting that another charter sponsor has joined the “Exemplary Ranking” club…and that two have been named to the “Ineffective Ranking” club, the lowest possible rating. Check out coverage in the Big D (Columbus Dispatch, 6/10/15) and the Enquirer. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/10/15) Also noted nationally in Politico this morning, along with a quote from Chad. Nice.
  2. Speaking of charter schools, what’s up with management companies in Ohio? The Beacon Journal is still digging into Summit Academy Management. To wit: multiple breach-of-contract proceedings against teachers at their schools who quit to take jobs at other schools…mainly district schools. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/8/15) But I think the real story – which the ABJ will get to in due time, I’m sure – is this one: Akron-based journalist-fave White Hat Management is considering selling off operation of 12 of its K-8 academies to an out-of-state company. The PD’s story seems pretty tame given all the history (how did that story not get around to noting the potential new operator is also a for-profit company, for instance), but I’m sure that will change soon enough. Seems like this could get huge. More to
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  1. Editors in Canton opined this weekend against poor-performing charter schools and for charter law reform, then lamented that proposed reforms didn’t come soon enough to spare the kids in a local charter threatened with closure from a poor education in their building. (Canton Repository, 6/7/15)
  2. Meanwhile, in Trotwood-Madison City Schools, a report issued by the Ohio Department of Education tried to get to the bottom of several years of “F” grades received by the district in a number of areas, including academic achievement. The report was step one in a process that could end up with Trotwood-Madison under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission…or not. Stern stuff, right? Well, fear not parents of Trotwood. The district supe is resolute: “…[W]e’re going to close those achievement gaps. You’re going to see improvement in Trotwood-Madison City Schools.” Carrying on the theme from the Canton piece, above, I hope someone will publicly lament that these promised changes – when they come – didn’t come soon enough to spare the kids in Trotwood from whatever was going on there before that led to all those “F” grades. Just sayin’. (Dayton Daily News, 6/5/15)
  3. Continuing the theme of retroactive regret,
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  1. In case you missed it on Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Education sent letters to four charter schools it sponsors informing them of their intent to close the schools for, among other things, poor academic performance. There’s a lot to this story that actually goes back a couple of years, but the bottom line is that this is exactly how sponsors should handle such situations. Kudos to ODE for making the tough decisions required in the best interests of students. For a boring version of the story perhaps a bit too light on details, check out the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 6/4/15). For an interesting in-depth version of the story – three of the schools are in Cleveland after all – with lots of links to explain the history, check out the PD. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/3/15). And for a predictably unique version, you can check out the ABJ. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/4/15)
  2. And since those initial stories ran, the schools on the chopping block in Cleveland responded to the press. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/4/15) So did the school in Canton. (Canton Repository, 6/4/15) Expect more on this situation next week.
  3. Hannah Sparling has
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Classroom discipline is, let’s face facts, a fraught subject. It frequently occurs at the uncomfortable vector between schooling and race, where seemingly all useful reform conversations end up turning poisonous and accusatory. If you argue in favor of curbing suspensions and expulsions for black students, you’re privileging the rights of reprobates over the studious kids trying to learn in an unruly environment. Advance a case for stricter measures, however, and you’ll find “disparate impacts” and the “school-to-prison pipeline” hung around your neck. Few areas of education discourse are more in need of illuminating research.

This new study, conducted by Stanford researchers specializing in the investigation of implicit psychological bias, provides exactly that. Through the use of two separate experiments, it exposes a tendency in K–12 teachers (predominantly white females in the middle of their careers, but including members of both sexes and multiple races) to detect patterns of misbehavior in black students more so than white. In the first experiment, the authors provided participants with disciplinary records for students with either stereotypical white or black names, each detailing two episodes of petty insubordination. They then asked the teachers to describe how “troubled” they felt (a composite measure indicating their degree...