Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Never the best at timing, the Ohio Department of Education yesterday released data on just how many members of the Class of 2018 received a diploma and by which pathways those students arrived at a diploma. It is eye opening and important information…which would have been pretty important for legislators to have had prior to voting to extend lowered grad requirements beyond the Class of 2018. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/18) Keeping with today’s theme of a day late and a dollar short, the Ohio Department of Education – with the doubtlessly inestimable help of the Joint Education Oversight Committee – this week recommended definitions for some important terms related to online education. Especially to the accountability framework thereof. Terms such as “documentation of online learning,” “idle time,” “educational,” “noneducational,” “participation,” and “classroom”. While ODE was only following the law by trying to hammer out these definitions now, of course, it seems like these terms should have already had official definitions somewhere in the depths of the department. At least before the non-official “definitions” were used as a blunt policy instrument. But what can you do? (Gongwer Ohio, 12/11/18)
     
  2. I have complained previously within the Bites (sorry, gang, you
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  1. Chad is quoted in this editorial which laments the extension of softer graduation requirements for two years, but it is the editors’ own quote that really should be the highlight: “Any good parent will tell you, giving kids the easiest path possible does them a disservice in the long run.” Provided to you with no comments from me. (Marietta Times, 12/10/18) I will do the same for this commentary piece lamenting Fordham’s analysis of state report cards and attempting to dismantle its findings: “Why don’t we find out what parents of successful students do and what attributes the most successful students possess? Doesn’t that make more sense than studying schools, which we’ve already tried to no avail?” (Piqua Daily Call, 12/7/18)
     
  2. I have been getting the impression that school district officials across Ohio are either getting some bad messages from somewhere (organizations meant to help them with policy and legislation? Legislators themselves perhaps?) or are interpreting the messages they are hearing in some very tortured ways. A case in point is the disembodied “they” who have apparently been talking to the superintendent of Portsmouth City Schools about graduation requirements and school report cards. I hope you’re not
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  1. In case you missed it this week, the long-threatened extension of lowball, non-academic graduation requirements moved forward in the General Assembly. Ohio’s War on Knowing Stuff will continue for at least another two graduating classes. You can check out coverage in the following articles, all of which include fiery quotes from our own Chad Aldis. You know – the person who’s been publicly pointing out the folly of this effort for the last two years. Gongwer was first out of the gate, of course. (Gongwer Ohio, 12/5/18) Coverage of the grad requirements issue in the Dispatch also mentions some shenanigan-like business regarding the EdChoice Scholarship. Hadn’t even heard about that one in all the other hubbub, but it sounds like it turned out OK. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/5/18) Chad provides today’s title quote for the Bites in this coverage from public radio in Columbus. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 12/6/18) And DDN coverage is here. (Dayton Daily News, 12/6/18) Never too late to make an important point, our own Aaron Churchill published a letter to the editor in the Blade just this morning in which he explains—for the umpteenth time in this long, sad process—that the putative graduation rate
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2018 Schooling in America Survey

This week, Indianapolis-based EdChoice released their annual Schooling in America Survey, which measures public opinion and awareness on different K-12 education topics, including charter schools. The survey found that six out of 10 Americans (61 percent) say they support charter schools (while 29 percent say they are opposed). In addition, parents were more than twice as likely to say they were “very satisfied” with charter schools and private schools than district schools.

E-School funding panel

Ohio’s new E-school funding panel met last week, where they heard from national and state experts on how other states are funding online charter schools and potential ways for Ohio to move forward. Experts explained that while funding for virtual schools differs from state to state, it doesn’t appear that any state has figured out the single best way to fund them. You can access presentations and testimony from the meeting here.  

Charter School Funding: (More) Inequity in the City

The School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas has released a new report that compares the levels and sources of funding between traditional public schools and charter schools...

 
 

Ever since the supposed “graduation apocalypse” was first declared two years ago, we at Fordham have been vocal about the dangers of mischaracterizing Ohio’s graduation rates, passing permanent laws without data, and lowering expectations for students.

Of particular concern were the alternatives proffered by the State Board of Education and passed by the legislature for the Class of 2018. These softball alternatives allowed students to graduate based on things like attendance, capstone projects, and volunteer hours. Since the start of the school year, district officials have been calling for these alternatives to be extended to the classes of 2019 and 2020. This week, the Senate Education Committee buckled under pressure: House Bill 491 includes an amendment that, if passed by the full Senate and House (and ratified by Governor Kasich), would extend softened requirements to this year’s juniors and seniors.

As outspoken opponents of the watered-down requirements, we are disappointed that they may once again be used to award Ohio students a diploma. For twenty-five years—since 1994—Ohio students have had to demonstrate some level of objective academic competence to receive a diploma. Not now, nor for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, none of this was...

 
 

COLUMBUS (OH) – The Senate Education Committee today amended House Bill 491 to extend previously-relaxed graduation requirements for the class of 2018 to the classes of 2019 and 2020.

“Despite consistent feedback that too many Ohio high school graduates aren’t ready for credit bearing college courses and don’t possess the skills necessary to enter the workforce, the Senate is again rolling back what’s required to receive a high school diploma,” said Chad L. Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “The point of raising the bar in the first place was to help students be prepared when they leave high school. While adults in the education system will rejoice if this change becomes law, students taking an easier path and left without an industry credential or grade level math and English skills will be left to pay the ultimate price.”

Rather than earning a diploma by successfully passing end-of-course exams, achieving remediation-free scores on the ACT or SAT, or attaining an industry credential and demonstrating workforce skills, students in the class of 2019 would be able to graduate by completing tasks from a list which includes a 93 percent senior year attendance...

 
 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ohio Senate Education Committee is this week taking testimony on House Bill 491 which, as amended, would extend lowered, non-academic graduation requirements to the Classes of 2019 and 2020. Fordham’s Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy provided written testimony in opposition to those changes. That testimony is below.

Thank you, Chair Lehner, Vice Chair Huffman, Ranking Member Sykes, and Senate Education Committee members for the opportunity to provide written testimony on amendments potentially being offered on House Bill 491 related to softening the graduation requirements for future graduating classes.

In 2014, when the legislature adopted the current graduation requirements and raised the expectations for Ohio students to get a diploma, we applauded your resolve and commitment. It was a powerful acknowledgement that too few Ohio students were graduating high school with the skills necessary to be successful in college or to enter the workforce. Fully one third of Ohio students who did enter an Ohio college required remediation before taking credit-bearing courses. And we routinely heard reports of good paying jobs sitting vacant because young people didn’t have the skills that employers needed.

That’s why this body raised graduation requirements. Last year’s graduating class, the Class...

 
 
  1. Not much to say today in presenting these pieces. All are attempting to outline what is best for high school students from the perspective of folks in charge of doing just that. School leaders, politicians, business titans, and others. First up, the elected board of Toledo City Schools passed a resolution this week urging the legislature to extend softened graduation requirements for the Classes of 2019 and 2020 at least. A.K.A. The “right thing”, as they put it. (Toledo Blade, 12/5/18)
     
  2. Next up, business leaders in the Miami Valley say they are having trouble finding qualified workers to fill urgent needs. Their solution is to reach out to students and emphasize the need for soft skills such as “leadership, teamwork, communication, problem solving, work ethic, flexibility and adaptability, and interpersonal skills”. No test-taking ability is required, it seems, but there is also no discussion of ability to read and do math at a high school level either. You know: what those tests generally measure. (Dayton Daily News, 12/5/18)
     
  3. Hatred of tests is on full display here, as the leaders of Wickliffe City Schools in Northeast Ohio tell us bluntly. These guys have a new plan
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Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece that charged school district officials in various cities with attempting to stall the growth of school choice by refusing to sell vacant properties to charter schools, or to private schools that accept vouchers.

The paper didn’t mention any Ohio cities, but the story is regrettably similar here. In a 2016 survey of principals from high-performing Ohio charters, nearly half of respondents noted that local public school districts are generally uncooperative when it comes to making buildings and facilities available. Many leaders speculated that they were denied buildings specifically because they were viewed as competition. About 60 percent of them believed that enforcing the Ohio statute that requires traditional districts to offer unused buildings to charters would be a “very effective” way to improve the charter sector.

The state law they are referring to requires traditional districts to offer unused school facilities[1] for lease or sale to charter schools, college-preparatory boarding schools, and STEM schools—all schools of choice—before they are able to sell to anyone else. The provision is commonly known as “right of first refusal,” and Ohio’s version requires districts to offer...

 
 
  1. Fordham’s own Aaron Churchill had an op-ed in the Beacon-Journal over the weekend. What’s he talking about? Oh nothing much, really. Only about the large-scale failure of many Ohio schools to properly educate their students for future success, and how much worse that’s going to get if Ohio sticks with its plan to make diplomas into participation awards without any relevance to academic ability. (Akron Beacon Journal, 12/1/18)
     
  2. An interesting piece in the Toledo Blade this weekend goes from the premise that students in district schools appear to be doing “just as well” as students in local charter schools. Data is provided. This is a subtly different take on the topic of comparing schools than you normally see in the big city news outlets in Ohio (although the usual kudos for Toledo School of the Arts apply here of course). That subtlety was not lost on Toledo City Schools superintendent Romules Durant, and he responded to it as you might expect. Fascinating. (Toledo Blade, 12/1/18)
     
  3. Speaking of charter schools, the Communities in Schools program here in central Ohio, which provides support services for students with everything from food insecurity to college application completion, also serves
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