Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. In case you missed it, researchers from CREDO released their latest report on charter school performance in Ohio, supported with funding from Fordham. It is something of a dry affair, if you ask me, as was the event here in Columbus which was set to herald its release. But many of Ohio’s intrepid education journalists found the proper news within to excite themselves and, hopefully, their readers too. You can check out coverage in the Plain Dealer… (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/19/19) …Gongwer news… (Gongwer Ohio, 2/19/19) …and the Dispatch so far. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/19/19)
  2. Speaking of charters, a rare strike of charter school teachers took place yesterday in, you guessed it, Cleveland, the only place in Ohio (so far) where some charters have been unionized. The stated issue: there are not enough teachers in the school to properly handle the work load. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/18/19)
  3. In other news, while Mike DeWine may be new in the governor’s chair, he is an O.G. when it comes to the L.C. – local control. Hence the reason everyone was very excited to hear him go on the record as willing to look at Ohio’s HB
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A brand-new evaluation from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University offers promising signs that Ohio is on strong footing, especially with its brick-and-mortar charters. At the same time, the analysis reminds us of the hard work ahead to either harness or radically improve the online education model. CREDO examines state exam data from 2013-14 through 2016-17 to gauge the impact of charter schools on student achievement in reading and math.

More trouble in online schools

The bad news first. Previous studies have found that pupils in online charters lose significant ground in math and reading. Sad but true, this study showed the same thing, in spades. CREDO finds large negative impacts, especially in math where online charter students experience losses of 0.23 standard deviations (sd) compared to their “virtual twins” attending district schools—a result equivalent to falling behind almost a full school year. The impacts in reading were also negative, though smaller in size—roughly the same as losing forty-six days of learning in a 180-day school year.

These sizeable losses, in conjunction with the fact that online schools enroll almost a third of the entire charter sector, weigh down Ohio’s overall performance....


Today, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University released a new analysis of Ohio charter school performance. The rigorous study examines state math and reading results over multiple years through 2016-17 and compares very similar students attending charter and district schools, yielding careful evidence about the impact of charters on pupil achievement. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute provided funding support for this research.

“CREDO’s independent analysis reminds us that charter school performance can’t be painted in broad brush strokes,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at the Fordham Institute. “Black students make impressive gains—equivalent to several weeks of additional learning—when they attend charter schools. Unfortunately, online charter students continue to struggle tremendously.”

Key findings include:

  1. Statewide charter performance is mixed. Combining both brick-and-mortar and online schools, charter pupils make gains similar to their district counterparts in reading and fare modestly worse in math. The statewide data, however, are dragged down by the extremely poor results of online schools, which during this period enrolled about 30 percent of all Ohio charter students.
  2. Black charter students make significant gains compared to their peers attending district schools. On average, they receive the equivalent of 59
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  1. At least one district treasurer in Butler County finds the biennial state budget process “complicated and scary”. Mainly because the outcome is “unpredictable” for him. However, at least one district treasurer in Butler County finds the biennial state budget process something he has “come to enjoy”. Mainly because he gets to testify in the legislature about nerdy funding stuff. You know what’s really predictable? Conflicting newspaper comments from district treasurers during the biennial state budget process, from before it starts (You are Here) until well after it’s over. (Middletown Journal-News, 2/18/19). Editors in Toledo were on the same topic—surprise!—this weekend, opining in favor or something related to school funding. Or opining against something related to school funding. It’s a bit hard to tell, really. You are Here – in the land of the entirely predictable. (Toledo Blade, 2/16/19)
  2. Toledo City Schools, You are Here: Still at least a year and half away from a possible declaration of academic distress. Why at this point you are listening to the folks who have already sent their districts into that condition—wallowing in their still-myopic hindsight—while you have more than one full school year to actually teach students to a
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Authorized in 2005, Academic Distress Commissions (ADCs) are the state’s mechanism for intervening in low-performing school districts. Youngstown was the first district to come under the thumb of the state back in 2009, with Lorain added in 2013, and finally East Cleveland in 2018. Today, all three districts are under the supervision of an ADC—bodies comprising five members, three of whom are appointed by the state superintendent, one by the district school board, and one by the local mayor. Under state law, the ADCs hire a chief executive officer who is vested with managerial authority and charged with creating and implementing an improvement plan.

The rationale behind interventions like ADCs is fairly straightforward: Chronic underperformance isn’t acceptable, and states have an obligation to act when children are ill-served. But state interventions are also plenty controversial wherever they’ve been undertaken, with detractors largely decrying the loss or dilution of local governance. Ohio is no different, with ADCs sparking endless criticism, especially after 2015 legislation—supported by former Governor Kasich—that greatly strengthened this intervention model. Last year, a bill amendment was introduced to suspend ADCs, though the effort failed when Kasich threatened to veto...



National expert praises progress in Ohio charter sector

Greg Richmond, the chief executive officer of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch this week. Richmond notes that the “sun is setting on the ‘Wild, Wild West,’” a phrase that NACSA once used to refer to Ohio’s charter school sector. He explains that charter-schooling in Ohio is headed in the right direction, as Ohio has increased transparency, eliminated conflicts of interest, strengthened charter governing boards, and improved its oversight of sponsors.

New report from CREDO on Ohio charter school performance

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), the nation’s foremost independent evaluator of charter-school performance, will be in Columbus on February 19 to unveil a brand new analysis of Ohio's charter sector performance from 2013-14 through 2016-17. CREDO director Margaret (Macke) Raymond, Ph.D. and lead analyst Chunping Han will present their findings. You can register for the event, which will be held at the DoubleTree Suites Hotel in Columbus from 8:30 - 10:00 am, here.

How Opportunity Zones benefit charters

As a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, based on...


In the waning days of January, Chiefs for Change—a nonprofit, bipartisan network comprising state and district education chiefs, including Ohio’s own superintendent, Paolo DeMaria—issued a report containing a series of recommendations on how to improve career and technical education (CTE).

The report presents a compelling case for why stronger CTE programs are necessary, namely that the United States lags behind other leading countries when it comes to quality career preparation during high school. In places like Germany, Finland, and Switzerland, students in grades ten through twelve take a “substantial, coherent course of study focused on a particular career area comprising five to six credits or more.” In the United States, only 6 percent of students do the same.

International differences in education models aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But the lack of adequate career preparation in America has led to some troubling consequences. The U.S. Department of Labor reported a record-high 7.1 million job openings in October 2017, but they also reported approximately the same number of unemployed adults—an indication that the skills and preparation of job-seekers didn’t match the needs of employers. Data also show that there are shortages in middle-skill jobs that don’t...

  1. In case you haven’t been following it (and who can blame you with everything else going on here?), a battle royale has been raging in neighboring West Virginia. A battle over education reform the tenor of which, as I understand it, could make even a coal miner’s daughter blush. Ohio’s charter schools – and particularly a Fordham-sponsored school in Sciotoville, Ohio – got dragged into the discussion this week by a Charleston television station. I may be biased, but I feel that Sciotoville Community Schools Superintendent Rick Bowman really managed to get across what makes his educational model work for his students and how the charter school framework helps in this effort. Nice. (WVAH-TV, Charleston, WV, 2/15/19) In the end, the WVAH piece was too little, too late, it seems, as a scaled back version of the bill which (among other things) reduced charter schools to a two-building pilot program passed the West Virginia House yesterday. (WOWK-TV, Huntington, WV, 2/14/19)
  2. Enough about charter schools in the Mountain State. How are charters faring right here in the good old Buckeye State? The CEO of NACSA put pen to paper in a Dispatch op-ed this week in which
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In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, pundits and analysts were hyper-focused on rural communities. NPR wrote that voters there played a “big part” in the election, and The New York Times claimed that the election “highlighted a growing rural-urban split.” Many in the education sphere predicted that all this attention might convince policymakers to finally focus in on rural schools and their unique struggles.

Yet two years later, the majority of education debates continue to revolve around urban and suburban communities—at least in Ohio. That’s mostly a function of size. According to recent data, the Buckeye State has 229 rural school districts serving over 250,000 students—15 percent of the state’s student population. Urban districts comprise over 28 percent of the population, and suburban districts over 33 percent. Together, they make up the majority of the state’s students. It’s understandable that they would dominate policy discussions.

But even considering their small size, rural districts should get more attention than they do. More than half are considered high poverty, and almost half of their students are economically disadvantaged. In places with steep poverty rates, rural schools face many of the same issues as urban districts, including lower...

  1. The headline of this piece says that the new(ish) president of Lorain City Schools’ elected board “seeks help” from the new(ish) governor of Ohio. I will let you guess as to what kind of solid hizzoner – the nominal head of a district operating under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission – is looking for hizzotheroner – the actual buck-stopper-in-chief in this situation – to do him. In an additional twisty note, a blog post written by our own Jessica Poiner is quoted here. She is treated as a sort of DeWine-Whisperer. Rather than the journalist actually talking to hizzotheroner himself about the issue, that is. Which is weird. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/12/19) Meanwhile, in Youngstown City Schools – also operating under the aegis of an ADC – the elected board is spending some time honing a list of criteria it would like to have in a new district CEO. I don’t see “ability to make twisty ironic statements” in here anywhere, but the board members themselves surely have that trait down cold. Any more would probably just be confusing for folks. “Intestinal fortitude” also is not listed, but I figure that goes without saying in
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