Gadfly Bites 7/12/17 - "There would not be many politicians or educators who would be able to pass these tests…” Discuss.

  1. Now here is a confluence of articles that I would call inexplicable. First up, the state board of ed met earlier in this week and seemed eager to talk about Ohio’s CEO-style Academic Distress Commissions. That is, about how much they all seem to loathe them. Seriously? None of you see any positives at all? (Gongwer Ohio, 7/10/17) Meanwhile, a gubernatorial candidate from the party which is not in charge of almost all of state government – that is, a gubernatorial candidate who introduced legislation to end CEO-style ADCs – spoke in Youngstown this week to what one can only assume is a receptive audience, and apparently didn’t mention ADCs at all. I would say that “up is down” but at this point I think that phrase has lost all meaning. (Business Journal Daily, 7/11/17)
  2. And what’s going on the only two Ohio school districts currently under the aegis of CEO-style Academic Distress Commissions? In Lorain, a Meet the CEO Candidates Night has been scheduled for next week. No news on which or even how many candidates will be there, although I can think of one who will be there early. Maybe even setting up the chairs. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 7/11/17) The folks in Youngstown are, of course, much further down the path of the CEO/ADC paradigm. And you know what that means: protracted legal challenges! The elected board this week discussed (at a meeting for which they were paid) a resolution affirming their belief in the illegality of the whole ADC kit and caboodle. Because, they say, they need to have such a resolution on the books to bolster their ongoing legal case against ADCs. In the end, they decided to table the resolution so that district lawyers could look it over before finalizing it. (Youngstown Vindicator, 7/12/17)
  3. Up-to-the-minute news: Ohio’s largest online charter school lost another round in court today and repayment of $60 million or so in state funds will begin tomorrow. No, not by Bitcoin, but by deduction from current state payments to them. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/12/17)
  4. In case you missed it, the current version of the state budget bill (unless the Senate does something to change it) eliminates two state tests for the upcoming school year. Additionally, the meritless diploma option is now the law of the land for next year’s seniors. Clark County district supes – along with the chair of the Senate Education Committee and the state supe – are just hunky dory with all that. (Springfield News Sun, 7/11/17) But reporter Jeremy Kelley is a man of the people and took to social media to see what John Q. and Jane Public (and all the little Publics) had to say about these changes. Please ignore the spelling and grammar (and logic) errors. To concern yourself with them will only detract from your reading experience. (Dayton Daily News, 7/11/17)
  5. In a case of fortuitous timing, the first overview of the results of last year’s statewide tests became available this week. As one might expect, there’s good news and bad news. The Dispatch decided to report mainly on the bad news that is high school math scores. And since the honorable gentleman from Dayton has got us interested in what Jane Q. Public thinks about such things, I give you this snippet from the top online comment: “This is not shocking to those of us who teach in the classroom with students. There would not be many politicians or educators who would be able to pass these tests…”. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/11/17) Ironically, one of the tests eliminated for next year showed some of the strongest gains. But I digress. The Plain Dealer provided a more optimistic – or at least a more nuanced – version of the preliminary results. Oddly, the PD’s comments section for this piece is not worth commenting on. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/10/17) Perhaps a little surprisingly, the state board of education voted this week to increase the cut scores on the state’s third grade reading test. But not without some spirited discussion. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/11/17). However, it seems that while Ohio has been slowly and incrementally raising its cut score, so-called “alternative tests” from which districts can choose to re test their third grades have been really cranking up theirs. So much so that officials in three large urban districts begged the state board to do something about it (and I mean begged; there were “torn hearts” and there may have been tears). In the end, no action was taken and luckily Pragmatic Paolo was on hand to put it in perspective: “He said none of the affected students score well enough to be "proficient" in reading - they're just having trouble meeting lower targets as the state raises the bar over time toward proficiency - so they could all benefit from extra reading help.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/11/17)
  6. We end today back in the real world. First, Walnut Hills High School is a highly-rated gem of a program in Cincinnati Public Schools – an exam school with impressive outcomes and a regular place on lists of top high schools in the country (you know what I’m talking about). But the Enquirer wanted to know who attended this fine institution and so published this demographic breakdown of the student body, comparing it tellingly to the overall population of CPS. There are even graphs! (Cincinnati Enquirer 7/11/17) Finally, tiny Perkins Local Schools (not far from Robert Putman’s Port Clinton in extreme northern Ohio) is now out of fiscal caution status after a year of state oversight. What was the magic combination of fiscal legerdemain that resulted in this pecuniary miracle? Successfully passing a new money levy after 11 previous failures. Wait, that’s it? Well, I guess this really is the real world. (Sandusky Register, 7/7/17)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,