Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. As reported in Bites on Wednesday, a proposal has been put forward in the General Assembly that would make some important changes to the state-level governance structure of K-12 education, higher ed, and workforce development. Here is some additional coverage of the initial announcement. Chad Aldis is quoted in both of these pieces as being in favor of the proposal. The Dayton Daily News does not appear to share his sentiment. (Dayton Daily News, 2/14/18) Gongwer, as usual, is thorough and efficient in their even-handed coverage. (Gongwer Ohio, 2/14/18)
  2. Here is coverage of same from outlets who did not feel the need to include Chad. Wonder why? Most curious of all is this revised version of the original Dispatch piece which initially included Chad but now does not. How very odd. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/15/18) Next up, the Blade. Not fans of the proposal, if I am reading this correctly. (Toledo Blade, 2/14/18) The PD’s follow up piece reads like a potted history of proposals to change state level K-12 governance, pretty well ignoring all of the other changes in the proposal. I detect a less-than-enthusiastic response here. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/15/18) No maybe
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  1. The State Board of Education met this week and, among other things, members got an update on the graduation readiness of the Class of 2018. It seems that 77 percent of this year’s seniors are on track to graduate using the more difficult requirements which are going fully into effect this year. There are approximately five months left of the school year and, of course, lots of less rigorous diploma pathways for those remaining students to utilize thanks to the enormous sympathies of the board and the state legislature. There is no data yet on how many of the remaining students might utilize those other pathways. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/13/18). Speaking of the state board, a new bill previewed this morning would seriously curtail its authority, along with combining K-12, higher ed, and workforce development authorities of the state into one cabinet-level department. Czar-riffic! Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on the proposal in this first-out-of-the-gate piece from Patrick O’Donnell. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/14/18) Chad is also quoted in the D on the proposal, sure to garner lots of attention for the foreseeable future. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/14/18)
  2. Sticking with the state board for a moment: Board members
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Today, Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) announced that he’ll be introducing legislation to significantly change the way Ohio governs public schools. The proposal calls for the creation of the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement, which will focus on aligning Ohio’s education system to better prepare the workforce of tomorrow. The new agency will absorb the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and most of the responsibilities of both the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The leader of the Department of Learning and Achievement would be a cabinet-level official and appointed by the governor.

“While the most important part of education happens every day in classrooms across Ohio, state leaders bear the responsibility of providing support and clear guidance to assist school districts in implementing education law,” said Chad L. Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “By creating an agency under the direct oversight of the governor, the legislature would ensure that governors are unambiguously responsible—and accountable to the people—for executing Ohio education laws.”

The soon to be introduced legislation shifts the focus of the state board of education away from its current role, which is to create...

Jack Archer

NOTE: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.

On January 9, the State Board of Education again gave advocates of career and college readiness cause for dismay. With just one dissenting vote, the board adopted a resolution recommending that the legislature extend to the Classes of 2019 and 2020 the much-derided high school graduation alternatives established last year—also upon the board’s recommendation—for the Class of 2018.

It is difficult to add much to what’s already been said about the softened graduation requirements that the board would now extend to the following two graduating classes. In short, they permit an Ohio student to obtain a high school diploma without demonstrating the minimum academic competencies needed to be successful in post-secondary education and employment. These requirements are a big step back from the much more rigorous standards adopted by the legislature in 2009, which still provided appropriate flexibility for students who might wish to choose a different route to a diploma.

All this to avert a “graduation apocalypse” that never truly materialized. ODE data show that 77 percent of students...

Ohio’s State Board of Education recently voted in favor of recommending that the legislature extend softer graduation requirements to the classes of 2019 and 2020. Such a move would be seriously misguided, since these expectations don’t require students to demonstrate academic mastery or readiness for college or career. Instead, the board suggests that students receive diplomas when they complete various non-academic options, including meeting attendance requirements or accruing a certain number of volunteer or internship hours.

An argument could certainly be made that the state should stick with the graduation requirements currently enshrined in law, which permit students to graduate if they have: achieved a passing cumulative score on seven end-of-course exams, achieved a “remediation-free” ACT or SAT score, or completed career and technical education requirements that include earning an industry recognized credential. After all, more than three-fourths of students in the class of 2018 are on track to graduate, even with these rigorous expectations in place.

However, if the General Assembly decides to make a change, they should consider other options aside from the proposal from the state board. One possibility is the model recently adopted by Indiana, beginning with its class of 2023. In order...

      ACT I – Robots rising?

  1. A surprisingly-thorough and even handed account of how we got here and what’s at stake as the latest court date for ECOT-related matters looms. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/11/18)
  2. The recent switch to “robo-scoring” of the essay portion of Ohio’s ELA tests has not sat well with some school districts across the state who have noted scoring anomalies. The state’s effort to diagnose and address the issue is being hailed as “a responsible approach”. Yeah that’s high praise. I’m sure of it. What kind of effusiveness did you expect from testing and data nerds? (Columbus Dispatch, 2/10/18)


    ACT II – Creativity and Nature ascendent?

  3. Integrating arts into the entire curriculum in Mansfield City Schools is being hailed as the cure-all for every possible academic issue, including for the ill-defined “at-risk” students. With minimal evidence except for something about giraffes. That is what high praise sound like in the arts field. Personally,
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As teacher evaluation systems evolve around the nation—decreasing the importance of student growth scores in favor of more reliance on classroom observations—how best to support principals in observing and giving feedback on teacher performance will gain importance. While research may play a part in determining best practices going forward, a recent report from the Institute of Education Sciences is more of a cautionary tale than an exemplar.

The study involved 339 New Mexico principals who were scheduled to observe their teachers for the first of multiple times in the early part of the 2015-2016 school year. According to the state’s evaluation framework, principals are required to score teachers on a 22-item rubric after each observation and to hold a feedback conference within ten days of each observation. This was the first year of full implementation of the state’s new evaluation system, which ultimately assigned ratings to every teacher in the state based on classroom observations, student growth data, surveys, and other factors. This study explored whether providing a detailed checklist to principals could improve the quality of the post-observation conferences.

To carry out the experiment, the researchers randomly assigned half of the principals to a control group, while those...

  1. It has been said (mostly by me, probably) that there are only three seasons in Ohio – budget season, campaign season, and summer vacation. I invite all five of my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers (yes, it’s been a successful couple of months) to guess which one we’re in right now. The only clues I’m going to give you are the comments and accusations regarding the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission included in this piece. You have 30 seconds. (Youngstown Vindicator, 2/9/18)
  2. Speaking of districts operating under the aegis of Academic Distress Commissions, it turns out that Lorain CEO David Hardy wasn’t kidding when he suggested earlier this week that his academic turnaround plan could mean big changes at the Colossus of Lorain (a.k.a. the schmancy, not-as-new-as-it-once-was-but-still-shiny-enough, high school). To wit: the phase-in of a set of smaller, themed “academies” within the single building. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/8/18) You’d think that the development of academic pathways focusing on STEM, performing arts, early college access, and the like would be cause for celebration. But alas both the Morning Journal and the Chronicle report the biggest attention-getter in Hardy’s proposal was the possibility that “those kids” would be allowed
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Campaign season in Ohio is in full swing. With a gubernatorial election this year, there’s been ample media coverage related to who’s entering the race, who’s withdrawing, who’s getting endorsed by whom, and who has the most cash. What’s less clear is where each candidate stands on education. To some extent, one can assume candidate views based on past priorities (if they hold or have held office) or on party affiliation. But partisanship does not always predict policy positions, and education is odd that way—you can find pro-school choice Democrats in some communities and anti-school choice Republicans in others, for example.

It’s not unusual for candidates at this stage in the game (pre-primary) to keep their talking points broad and their websites vague. Even so, it’s a bit disappointing that so many of Ohio’s current gubernatorial candidates are so light on education details. Only three candidates (of eight total) noted specific education positions on their websites in a way that was easy for voters to find (see the table below). And while many have provided quotes on education to the media, much of it is overtly partisan (see “quotes” below). Voters shouldn’t have to comb all...

  1. I think this story is probably just as cute and benign as it comes across, but just for kicks I’m going to try to be needlessly provocative in clipping it. In the wake of the ECOT debacle/dumpster fire/implosion/horror show/disaster (circle one), a charitable foundation in rural Crawford County has announced a new college scholarship program that is—for the first time that anyone in this pastureland seemingly can recall—open to students who have attended an online school. OMG!/*Gasp!*/I am outraged!/WTF?! (circle one) Why this reckless encouragement of online charter school attendance by well-intentioned philanthropists who should clearly know better? The trustees of the foundation felt it important to offer their scholarship to online students as that option “becomes more popular” among families. Sorry to be the one to break the news to you, Rockefeller, but that option just got several-thousand-kids less popular virtually overnight. (Bucyrus Telegraph Forum, 2/6/18)
  2. Despite the actual provocative headline, there are very few clues in this preview of Lorain CEO David Hardy’s upcoming town hall meeting, in which he is to reveal some more nitty-gritty details of his plan to improve academic achievement in the district. But you can probably forgive the people of
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