Fordham gives its advice to Governor-elect Kasich and the incoming leaders of the Ohio House and Senate as it relates to the future of K-12 education policy in the Buckeye State. To move Ohio forward in education, while spending less, we outline seven policy recommendations. 1) Strengthen results-based accountability for schools and those who work in them. 2) Replace the so-called “Evidence-Based Model” of school funding with a rational allocation of available resources in ways that empower families, schools, and districts to get the most bang for these bucks. 3) Invest in high-yield programs and activities while pursuing smart savings. 4) Improve teacher quality, reform teacher compensation, and reduce barriers to entering the profession. 5) Expand access to quality schools of choice of every kind. 6) Turn around or close persistently low-performing schools. 7) Develop modern, versatile instructional-delivery systems that both improve and go beyond traditional schools.

In this volume, a diverse group of experts—scholars, educators, journalists, and entrepreneurs—offer wisdom and advice on how schools and districts can cut costs, eliminate inefficient spending, and better manage their funds in order to free up resources to drive school reform.

Edited by Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, and Eric Osberg of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Stretching the School Dollar (Harvard Education Press, 2010) proposes immediate, short-term cost cutting solutions as well as long-term, structural changes that will improve the efficiency of the entire system. The book serves as a valuable guide in an era where every dollar matters.

Buy the book from Harvard Education Press

This study from the Fordham Institute tackles a key question: Which of thirty major U.S. cities have cultivated a healthy environment for school reform to flourish (and which have not)? Nine reform-friendly locales surged to the front: New Orleans, Washington D.C., New York City, Denver, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth. Trailing far behind were San Jose, San Diego, Albany, Philadelphia, Gary, and Detroit. Read on to learn more.

Press release


City Profiles:

Albany, NY Columbus, OH Gary, IN Milwaukee, WI San Antonio, TX
Austin, TX

We announced a few weeks ago in Gadfly that the National Council on Teacher Quality had opened up the second year of their bi-annual research competition. The contest specifically looks for research that uses NCTQ's TR3 database, which chronicles the collective bargaining agreements of the nation's largest districts, though using TR3 is not a prerequisite.

Good news: NCTQ has extended their proposal deadline to June 10 (originally June 1). This is a really neat competition--the papers from 2009 were fascinating and original. Plus, there's a good amount of award money involved and the chance to have your research appraised by a panel of top thinkers and policy makers in ed policy. (The 2009 panel included Eric Hanushek, Michael Podgursky, and Jane Hannaway, for example.) Find more information and apply here.

--Stafford Palmieri...

As many of my colleagues explained, there were lots of reasons for Crist to back Florida's teacher evaluation bill. Unfortunately Crist doesn't read Flypaper--or head the very pleas of his own legislature, which passed the bill in both houses. He announced about an hour ago that he plans to veto the bill and you can read his reasoning in this letter posted on Facebook.

--Stafford Palmieri

I've long shared the core principles of the Education Equality Project, above all the conviction that great schools and teachers??can and should be expected to do a lot to equalize educational opportunity and results in the United States--this in contrast to the defeatist??"Broader Bolder" assertion that schools can't do much until society sends them an improved model of child and family. I'm also a longtime admirer of most of EEP's leaders. But I didn't sign on myself until today. Because a terrific weekend op ed on teacher effectiveness, besides hitting the mark substantively, indicated that the estimable Michael Lomax has replaced the unspeakable Al Sharpton as a co-chairman of EEP (along with Joel Klein and Janet Murguia). This morning I confirmed that happy news and instantly added my name to the list of signatories. Bravo for the Education Equality Project, both for having its policy precepts and tenets in proper order and for having cleaned up its own house.

--Chester E. Finn, Jr.

Hurrah for the Education Policy Council??of Florida's House of Representatives for endorsing the bold teacher-reforms of pending bill HB 7189,??now headed for the House floor tomorrow or Thursday. This pathbreaking legislation--twinned with an identical measure already approved by the State Senate--has many moving parts but three of its provisions are noteworthy. It would, in effect, abolish tenure in Florida's public schools. It would base teacher evaluations at least 50 percent on student performance. And it would create a statewide "merit pay" plan for uncommonly effective teachers. [quote]

These are precisely the kinds of far-reaching reforms that my colleagues and I called for four years ago when the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, based at Stanford's Hoover Institution, evaluated Florida's Jeb Bush-era policy changes. (You can read our entire document here and the teacher-specific chapters by??distinguished political scientist Terry Moe and??acclaimed economist Eric Hanushek.)

Here is what our Task Force--including Paul Peterson, Paul Hill, Diane Ravitch, Caroline Hoxby, John Chubb, Williamson Evers, E.D. Hirsch, and Herbert Walberg, as well as Moe, Hanushek and myself--said should happen regarding??teachers and teaching in the Sunshine State:...

The schools that serve Ohio’s poor, urban and minority youngsters overwhelmingly fall short when it comes to academic performance. But there are a small handful of schools that buck these bleak trends and show serious achievement for disadvantaged youngsters from depressed inner-city communities.

This study profiles eight of these high-performing outlier schools and distills their successes, in hopes that state policymakers and educators can learn from them and create the conditions necessary for more schools like them.

To study the schools, Fordham commissioned two reseachers, Theodore J. Wallace and Quentin Suffren, who spent 16 days and hundreds of hours in eight schools in five cities to observe what makes them successful.

See the news release here. View the PowerPoint, an overview of findings and policy recommendations that we shared with state lawmakers at a Statehouse news conference on May 25, here.

Profiles of the eight Needles schools

Citizens' Academy (video)

College Hill Fundamental Academy (video)


The National Council on Teacher Quality recently reviewed the 16 Race to the Top finalist states' ???great teachers and leaders??? application sections. NCTQ rightly pointed out one significant reform Ohio has going for it in this area ??? last summer the governor and legislature moved teacher tenure decisions until after a teacher's seventh year on the job (instead of after the third).

But in reading the rest of NCTQ's Ohio blurb, I can't help but notice how many verbs are in the future tense. The Buckeye State's ???yellow??? rating from NCTQ (???proceed with caution???/stoplight metaphor) seems too generous unless it's a flashing yellow and you're turning right onto a crowded 70 mph highway while driving a Smart Car.

NCTQ reports (italics and parenthetical comment mine):

The state adopted a new licensure system in 2009, which it promises will be calibrated with its performance-based evaluation system (which doesn't exist yet). Ohio??? also plans to revamp its guidelines to districts regarding how tenure decisions are made. Ohio also says it intends its new four-step licensing system to provide the foundation for new teacher compensation statewide.

And the kicker, the...

Brookings' Brown Center on Education Policy just released a proposal for ???America's Teacher Corps,??? a federally funded program that would recognize highly effective teachers in Title I schools, award them a salary bonus ($10,000), and give them a ???portable credential??? transferrable from state to state so as to encourage the best teachers to flow to the highest-need schools. Perhaps most important, ATC would encourage states and districts to develop metrics to identify highly effective teachers in the first place. (All exciting stuff.)

The authors of the paper are spot-on in pointing out the rationale for such a program. There are general problems with the profession not recruiting the best and brightest, being plagued with high turnover, inequitable distribution of talent, etc. The ATC would minimize credentialing barriers. Ohio needs this desperately, as it doesn't always grant reciprocity for out-of-state teachers ??? i.e. making Teach For America alums jump through certification hoops regardless of prior classroom experience/performance.

Stephen Sawchuk at Teacher Beat has a good write-up about it. He also expresses concern over a few ???potential pitfalls,??? among them the fact that a program like ATC would rely on districts having valid and reliable teacher evaluation systems....