Ohio Policy

This week The New Teacher Project (TNTP) unveiled its Cincinnati-focused report on human capital reform. The report's recommendations for Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers (CFT) are similar (predictably so) to client reports for other districts, like Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Chicago. That's because problems related to teacher quality are ubiquitous in American urban education.

Read the Cincinnati findings as well as the defensive reaction of the CFT, and you'll swear you could be reading a narrative of any city's human capital challenges: late hiring timelines prevent districts from snagging the best teacher candidates; evaluating teachers once every five years is meaningless; single step salary structures aren't the best way to recruit and reward excellence. It's chocked full of a lot of common sense. But common sense doesn't always translate into political action and policy reform.

Where TNTP's client cities part ways is in their willingness to truly make "teacher effectiveness" the helm of the human capital ship, and to measure this with student performance data. (There are other ways that districts/states can improve teacher quality but whether they place "effectiveness" at the core of their human capital philosophy says volumes.)??

In Ohio, the budget bill raised the bar for teacher tenure to seven years (the highest in the country among tenure-granting states) and made it easier to dismiss the worst teachers. These changes are positive, but ultimately don't overhaul the way that teachers are evaluated. Without meaningful...

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Our friend Colleen Grady at State of Ohio Education blog points out legislation (Senate Bill 210) that would mandate physical activity in Ohio schools and track children's weight over the course of their academic careers. Schools would be required to screen students' body mass index (BMI) in grades K, 3, 5, and 9 and physical education requirements would be increased to a full unit.

Colleen rails against the proposal because it requires fitness data to be included in Ohio's rating system for schools and districts (yikes, as if it isn't complicated enough already). An article in the Marion Star points out the obvious burdens the law might impose on schools: hiring additional staff, tracking more indicators, and putting responsibity on them for "fixing society's ills" ("ill" is definitely the appropriate word, as a recent study estimates that more than half of Ohio's population will be obese by 2018).

Whether (and how) schools should play a role in students' physical wellness is a never-ending debate. There are myriad questions about privacy (would you want your BMI score on record?), paternalism, discrimination (at one Pennsylvania college, only students with a high BMI are required to take a fitness course) and fairness (seriously, do you know how inaccurate BMI scores are for athletes?). Not to mention the economics of adding requirements to already cash-strapped schools, and cramping their instructional time with non-academic mandates.

But alas, from this controversial...

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OhioFlypaper

The holiday season has arrived - and here at Fordham Ohio we're feeling pretty darn generous. ??We've decided to bestow upon you this week not one, but TWO Ohio Education Gadflies!

Hot on the heels of Monday's Special Edition, the regular Ohio Education Gadfly returns and you won't want to miss it!

This edition features a Q&A with Mark North, superintendent of Lebanon City Schools whose district is facing challenges from the unfunded mandates in H.B. 1. Jamie provides timely coverage of a report from The New Teacher Project that could have profound implications for improving teacher effectiveness in Cincinnati Public Schools. And be sure to check out a recap of Checker's recent keynote address at the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools Annual Conference. (You can find the full text here??and the Q&A session below.)

The Dayton Daily News asked today why the "big names" in education from the Dayton area weren't on the state's new "Ohio School Funding Advisory Council". The names referenced included Fordham's Terry Ryan.

Capital Matters overfloweth with timely coverage of the recent flood of education-related legislation. Among them are bills that address the Buckeye State's bid in Race to the Top, and the proposed changes to the Ohio school rating system and its all-day kindergarten mandate.

Rounding out the issue are several excellent short reviews and Flypaper's...

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OhioFlypaper

Fordham's annual charter school accountability report, "Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity," is now out! As many of you know, Fordham authorizes (called "sponsoring" in Ohio) six charter schools in Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Springfield. Each year we release a report outlining how Fordham-sponsored schools are doing, and contrasting them with charter schools statewide and schools within their home districts. The report also weighs in on timely political and legislative developments impacting charter schools in the Buckeye State. Highlights include:

  • - A recap on why Ohio charters faced such a tough year in 2008-09 (politically, legislatively, financially, you name it)
  • - A look at charter school growth since caps were placed on sponsors (unsurprisingly, fewer charter schools opened during 2007-09 than during 2005-07 period, and the sector as a whole is growing at a slower rate)
  • - A summary of the financial predicaments faced by charters in Ohio, including dwindling state and federal start-up dollars, and funding inequities between districts and charter schools that amount to charters receiving roughly $2000 less per pupil (see graph below)
  • - A brief narrative on Fordham's youngest charter schools, KIPP: Journey Academy and Columbus Collegiate Academy (a Building Excellent Schools affiliate)
  • - An academic snapshot of Fordham-sponsored schools, including the good (almost 70 percent of students in Fordham-sponsored schools achieved "above expected growth" on Ohio's value-added measure) and the bad (students in Fordham-sponsored schools still don't make the state proficiency goal of 75 percent in reading and math, similar to their district
  • ...
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As a charter school sponsor (authorizer), Fordham submits an accountability report to the Ohio Department of Education at the end of November each year. The report includes profiles of each Fordham-sponsored school, as well as graphics comparing the achievement data of our schools, their home districts, and statewide averages. You’ll also find pertinent information on Ohio charter school spending over the last decade, and in the introduction, a timely analysis of the political and legislative environment impacting Ohio charters in 2008-09 that explains why the title, “Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity,” is befitting.

One week from today shoppers across the nation will prepare for the madness known as Black Friday. Consumers will ready themselves for a labyrinth of lines, often queuing up at odd hours of the night to be among the first to stampede toward special bargains and giveaways. Such is the American way.

This week the Cincinnati Enquirer highlighted another unique American phenomenon involving long lines and midnight campers - parents lining up as far as two and a half days in advance in order to win their child a spot in one of the city's elite public magnet schools. The Enquirer writes:

"Despite attempts from Cincinnati Public Schools to discourage camping, parents once again formed a long queue outside Fairview Clifton German Language School - the earliest will wait for more than 2.5 days before submitting their applications.

The first parents arrived by about 10 a.m. Sunday morning, and the crowd quickly grew. By 5 p.m. Monday, about six dozen people stood in line and some were erecting tents on school property."

And

"In Clifton, Winton Hills parent Carmen Pitts had the No. 1 spot in line and on a list parents hope will be enforced Tuesday night. Her daughter is currently in preschool at Winton Hills Academy, a school in Academic Watch. Fairview is rated Excellent, one of just a few CPS schools to earn that rating.

??"To make sure that my...

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OhioFlypaper

The deadline for the first round of Race to the Top applications is just two months away.?? How does Ohio stack up???We??analyzed Ohio's current education policies and reform climate against the criteria of the recently released Race to the Top application.??

What did we discover? See here to find out.

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OhioFlypaper

Last week, Laura flagged a useful interactive map that grades states on their level of educational innovation in areas ranging from school finance to a state's reform environment. The map accompanies the recently released report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card of Educational Innovation. The second of its kind, this edition of Leaders and Laggards grades states not only according to how they are performing currently, but also on the basis of groundwork they are laying to address impending challenges and fuel innovation in the years to come.

For the most part, Ohio's results are disappointing. The Buckeye State scores a "C" and a "D" respectively in two staffing areas: "hiring and evaluation" and "removing ineffective teachers." (All the more disappointing when considering that Race to the Top's final priorities gives the most weight to great teaching and leadership.) Ohio ranks average ("C") in technology and school finance, and gets a "B" for its data, and having a solid pipeline to postsecondary education.

However, we are happy to report that despite Ohio's mixed results, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is highlighted as a group that contributes positively to the state's reform environment:

"There are few reliable state-by-state data on local education advocacy and research efforts-a reflection of the lack of overall commitment to this issue. As a result, we are...

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For the last month, we've been wondering whether Ohio would truly adopt the NGA/CCSSO Common Core State Standards , or whether the Ohio Department of Education would forge its own path in revising academic content standards so as to meet the June 2010 deadline. The issue was one of timing, as Common Core Standards won't be finalized until January, and this didn't give Ohio enough time to meet its June 2010 mandate.

Given that Fordham gave Ohio a "D+" in our last State of the State Standards report, and that we think the Common Core Standards are substantially better (see our latest report, "Stars by Which to Navigate"), the possibility of Ohio reneging on the Common Core Initiative was worrisome. Emmy wrote on Flypaper:

"What's the Buckeye State to do??? Should the state board of education risk non-compliance with state law and wait for the Common Core work to be finished??? Should state lawmakers revisit the law and extend the deadline for updating the standards??? Are other states in similar predicaments??? If so, what becomes of the Common Core Initiative?"

This week we got our answer, as state education officials announced that Ohio is fully committed to pursuing the Common Core Standards. According to the Columbus Dispatch:

"This decision means the department won't be releasing its own draft standards in English and math this month as planned, because most, and possibly all, of those updates will be scrapped."

...

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Eric Ulas

The latest issue of the Ohio Education Gadfly came out yesterday, and features an excellent piece by Terry on the stark decline in student enrollment in Fordham's hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

Over the last decade the Dayton Public Schools (DPS) have contracted by more than 10,000 students; seeing enrollment decline from 24,916 students in 2000 to 14,393 students in 2009. During this same period Dayton has become one of the country's leading charter school markets.

Over the years such numbers and ratings have triggered angst and anger among district officials and their supporters, and even some hostility toward charters. However, while charters have played a role in draining DPS of students, a significant amount of the attrition can be attributed to an exodus to suburbs, other states, and private schools, Terry argues.

As illustrated by the chart below, the combined enrollment of Dayton public and charter schools has slumped over the last decade. Charter school enrollment peaked in the 2006, but has continued to decline steadily thereafter.

Source: Ohio Department of Education interactive local report card

For more on the incredible shrinking Dayton, you can read Terry's full piece here .?? And be sure to check out the rest of the Ohio Education Gadfly -- we feature a guest editorial by Courter Shimeall, a Teach For America recruiter who is witnessing Ohio's brain drain firsthand; optimistic news that Ohio is planning to adopt ...

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