Ohio Policy

For most of Ohio’s youngsters, school’s out for the summer. But for the girls and boys who have dropped out of school, school may be out for good, with devastating consequences.

In its annual “Diplomas Count” report, Education Week claims that around a million students drop out of school annually. Not surprisingly, these dropouts’ prospects are bleak: diminished earnings potential, greater likelihood of unemployment, and greater likelihood of incarceration. In addition to these jarring facts, EdWeek’s interactive graphic soberingly depicts the journey from “student” to “dropout,” and how dropping out has effects that linger for a lifetime.

The report also provides a handful of examples of states and localities, which have implemented dropout intervention and recovery programs. Ohio is one such state. Since 2011, the Buckeye State has encouraged, through state law, the growth of charter schools that serve mainly students who have either dropped out of school at one point, or are at-risk of dropping out. These “dropout recovery” charter schools, of which there were 76 in 2012-13, enroll approximately 12,500 students statewide.

In accordance with state law, the Ohio Department of Education approves “dropout recovery” charter schools, and under legislation passed last year (House Bill 555), these schools will be held accountable for student results through an alternative report card system, starting this year.

What do we know about Ohio’s dropout recovery schools? The following statistics are taken from the Ohio Department of Education’s 2011-12 data: 

1.)    School size varies. Some are relatively large...

In recent weeks, some from the anti-Common Core crowd have insinuated that Ohio’s state legislators, the state board of education, and state officials were somehow duped into adopting, or worse yet, covertly adopted the Common Core standards in math and English language arts. This would be a fair argument, if only it were the case.

To debunk this myth, one might want to consider the public forums that Fordham and our partners across the state have organized in recent years. At these public events, a bipartisan group of state and local leaders participated and spoke knowledgably to the issue of Ohio’s learning standards and the need for the higher Common Core academic standards. Feel free to dig into our video and blog archives (linked below), and consider the evidence for yourself:

  • World-Class Academic Standards for Ohio” was an event held on October 5, 2009 in Columbus. The conference was aimed, in part, at helping the State Board of Education complete its overhaul in K-12 academic standards by June 2010. (The State Board later unanimously approved the Common Core standards in math and English language arts at that time.)  The leaders who participated and their titles at the time included: Deb Delisle (state superintendent, Ohio Department of Education), Eric Fingerhut (chancellor, Ohio Board of Regents), Jim Mahoney (executive director, Battelle for Kids), Stephen Dyer (Ohio House of Representatives), and John Husted (Ohio Senate). The video of the event can be viewed here.

 

Two recent Dayton Daily News articles cast the spotlight on important education reform discussions. As a sponsor of eleven charter schools in Ohio, the Fordham team understands the importance of accountability. This article mentioned financial oversights in some of Ohio’s charter school laws and Terry Ryan, Fordham’s vice president of Ohio programs and policy, said Ohio needs to rewrite charter school law.

The second article focused on retaining Ohio’s graduates. While Ohio had previously experienced a brain drain and lost graduates to other states, a rebounding economy and job opportunities could keep graduates in the state. Ryan said while some larger cities have appeal to graduates, their primary concern is finding employment. Stay tuned for upcoming articles and discussions related to these evolving topics and share your thoughts below!

Ohio’s cities are rife with people pushing forward education reforms. As education leaders look outwards to new ways to improve education they are also beginning to turn inwards to see what components of the “education machine” are failing the system. In the wake of a very public data scandal, Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman spurred the creation of the Columbus Education Commission to hold discussions on how to improve the governance of Columbus City Schools and increase the supply of high-quality schools. Amid the discussions, the Commission brought in experts to discuss alternative forms of school leadership which would involve the mayor’s office appointing people to the board or having a hybrid elected and appointed board.

While complete mayoral control of the school board is not likely to come to Columbus, the discussion did open an important policy discussion— what are the impediments to the current structure of school boards in Ohio and how can we work to improve them? In a scathing review of local governance structure in the United States, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy Marc Tucker states that “it is our system of local control that, more than any other feature of our education system, stands between us and the prospect of matching the performance of the countries with the most successful education systems.”

School boards are a part of the issue in Ohio and elsewhere in the nation, and it is systemic problems that do not allow them...

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) school board will vote tomorrow night to approve the hiring of up to nine Teach For America (TFA) members. These new hires will begin teaching in fall 2013, and will be the first year in which TFA teachers are placed in CMSD classrooms. During the past school year, fifty TFA teachers were placed in Cleveland-area charter schools and another 34 TFA teachers taught in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. The past school year, 2012-13, was the first year TFA operated in Ohio.

This is more encouraging reform news for Cleveland, whose school system has and continues to struggle mightily. Within the past month, the Cleveland Teachers Union and the Board of Education agreed to a new teachers’ contract that, most significantly, stripped away the seniority- and college-credit-based salary schedule and replaced it with a “differentiated compensation” system that awards salary bumps mostly based on how a teacher performs on the state’s new teacher evaluation rating system. This change was required as part of Ohio's recently-enacted law, House Bill 525 (cf., Ohio Revised Code section 3311.78).

The new contract also changes lay-off rules so that performance is now the dominant criteria, rather than seniority, and also calls for 40 minutes of additional instructional time. Cleveland’s teachers will also receive a 4 percent raise in the first year of the contract and a $1,500 bonus when they enter the new compensation system.

Finally, a new 15-mill levy, passed last November, will inject roughly $85 million into the...

By July 1st, Ohio law will require public school districts (charter and district) to establish a teacher evaluation policy. The evaluation policy must conform to a framework that depends half on student growth on test scores and half on classroom observations.[1] Based on these measures, teachers will earn an overall rating: accomplished, proficient, developing, or ineffective.

In our recent survey of superintendents, Ohio’s teacher evaluation policy received mixed reviews. Nearly three out of four (73 percent) said that teacher evaluations would become accepted practice five years hence. And, 42 percent said that teacher evaluations would lead to “fundamental improvement” in the state’s K-12 school system. So, there’s modest optimism toward teacher evaluation.

But there’s undeniable angst about the policy details. Nearly all superintendents (93 percent) think that there will be lawsuits when personnel decisions are based on Ohio’s evaluation framework. And nearly all (86 percent) think that the classroom observation mandate will “put too much pressure on principals.” One superintendent said

“It will over-tax the principals and render them useless. They will need to spend so much time on evaluations, they will not have time for anything else.”

When one looks at the Ohio Department of Education’s website, one can see from whence this sentiment emerges. For example, the “teacher evaluation resource packet,” which operationalizes the classroom observation portion of the policy, clocks in at 22 pages. By simple extrapolation, this suggests a small mountain of paperwork for a principal who supervises 20 teachers.

Is there...

It’s no secret that Dayton’s economy has taken its lumps and presently limps along. The chart below reveals this all the more clearly, by looking at per capita income trends--one indicator of economic health--for Dayton and four other Ohio metro areas.

Chart: Widening income gap between Dayton and other Ohio areas – Per capita income by metropolitan statistical area, 1995 to 2011

SOURCE: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland  NOTE: The percent differences, author's calculation, compare Dayton and Cleveland's incomes and are shown relative Dayton’s income for 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2011 (the last year of available data).

It’s striking to see that in 1995, Dayton’s per capita income was roughly on par with Akron, Cincinnati, and Columbus. (Cleveland is noticeably ahead of this group in 1995.) But during the late 1990s and early 2000s, a growing gap begins to emerge as Columbus and Cincinnati race ahead, even catching up to Cleveland’s per capita income level. Meanwhile, Dayton grows at a snail’s pace in comparison. As a result, the gap between Dayton and its peer cities develops into a small chasm, so much so that by 2011, Dayton’s per capita income was some $3,000 below Akron, Columbus, and Cincinnati, and $5,000—or 13 percent—below Cleveland.  

Terry’s blog post earlier this week spotlighted the bold, citywide education reforms in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus. One city was conspicuously absent: Fordham’s hometown of Dayton. Its absence doesn’t portend well for the...

While there are still a couple of steps to go before it is law (everybody sing along), Ohio’s next biennial budget was voted out of the Senate Finance committee yesterday and heads now to the full Senate with nearly 1000 pages of amendments.

One of these amendments addresses an important provision which has not received much media attention, added in the House version of the budget: a change to the way students are counted in traditional and joint vocational school (JVS) districts. By now we have all heard from the Ohio Auditor of State about “count week” – that magical five days every October where districts pull out all the stops (Spirit Day! Pizza Day! Pajama Day!) to get as many of their kids as possible to show up to school…in order to maximize the money the state provides to districts based on average daily membership, or ADM. Doesn’t matter how many kids are there in November or March or May, districts receive the same amount of money throughout the year whether there are more or less students in the school than in “count week.”

The House version of the 2014-15 biennial budget calls for traditional and JVS districts to certify ADM during the first full school week of each month, and to receive funding based on those rolling counts. By calculating ADM in this way, it is almost certain that school attendance on a random day in March will generally be very different than on Spirit-Pizza-Pajama-Baby-Animal-Day in...

This week I am joining members of CEE-Trust for a conversation on some of the nation’s most promising city-based school reform efforts. CEE-Trust is a coalition of 33 reform organizations like MindTrust in Indianapolis, Mayor Karl Dean in Nashville, Charter School Partners in Minneapolis, New Schools for New Orleans, and the Rogers Family Foundation in Oakland. Fordham is a founding member, and this is one of my absolutely favorite groups to spend time with because the people involved are leading implementers and practitioners of school reform. They are all doers.

In years past I always left the CEE-Trust meetings wishing more were happening in Ohio’s cities. But, this year is different. Ohio’s big cities are rapidly becoming leaders in school reform. In fact, I’d argue there is no state with three major cities doing more than what is happening in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Consider the following.

CLEVELAND

In early 2012 Mayor Frank Jackson (who appoints the school board) unveiled his “Plan for Transforming Schools.” The Jackson Plan required changes to state law and in July 2012 Governor Kasich signed House Bill 525, which gave the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and its superintendent Eric Gordon new flexibilities to deal with the city’s long-suffering schools. Key elements of the plan included:

  • Keeping high-performing and specialized teachers during layoffs by making tenure and seniority only secondary factors in those personnel decisions.
  • Paying teachers on a “differentiated” salary schedule based on performance, special skills and duties, as opposed to years of
  • ...

In both our role as researchers and as a charter school authorizer we have come to appreciate over-and-over again the critical importance of school leaders in making schools great. Yet, there is no harder job than running a successful school building for high-poverty students; nor a more important job. We are fortunate that some of these leaders work in schools that Fordham sponsors and it is our privilege to tell a little bit of their stories and the impact they are having on students in Ohio.

Today’s Q&A is with Rick Bowman, the superintendent of Sciotoville Community School, located in rural Southern Ohio. Tragically, we recently learned that Quintin Howard, a 17-year-old senior at Sciotoville passed away in a single vehicle accident on May 25th. At a candlelight vigil for Mr. Howard, Bowman led a prayer and encouraged the community saying “This is a family. They’re not going to be alone. They’re going to have all of us, and we’re going to have each other to work together to get through this very difficult time.” This is a reminder that school leaders are not only a school’s chief executive and chief academic officer. Sometimes, they’re a community’s consoler-in-chief.

For additional context on Sciotoville, see our documentary The Tartans, which can be viewed here. This is the seventh of our seven-part series on school leadership. (Please see our past Q&As with Dr. Glenda Brown, Andy Boy, Dr. Judy Hennessey, Hannah Powell Tuney, Chad Webb, and T.J. Wallace.)...

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