Ohio Gadfly Daily

In politics as of late, there’s been a lot of talk about “going nuclear” in order to accomplish a goal. Ohio now has its own version of scorched earth policy in the form of House Bill 176, a wide-ranging education proposal that, if enacted, would do away with standards and accountability as we know it.

Many of its provisions—namely ditching Ohio’s Learning Standards for Massachusetts’ pre-2010 standards and ditching Ohio’s assessments for Iowa’s pre-2010 assessments—appeared in House Bill 212 back in 2015. That legislation did not move through the General Assembly, but one of its key proponents is at it again. Unfortunately, the new version is an even bigger nightmare than its predecessor.

In a separate piece, I’ll take a deeper look at why using Massachusetts standards and Iowa assessments are two steps in the wrong direction. But for now, let’s take a look at a few of the other changes HB 176 is trying to make and why they’re not in Ohio’s best interest.

Eliminating graduation requirements

Ohio has been abuzz with talk about graduation requirements and how to ensure that students are being held to high—but not ridiculously high—expectations. HB 176...

When news broke the other day that LeBron James was starting a school in his home town of Akron, some commentators assumed it was going to be a charter. That’s an understandable mistake, as celebrities and stars of all stripes have gotten in chartering in recent years, from Andre Agassi to P. Diddy to Pitbull and beyond. And why not, given that in most places, the charter model comes with huge advantages for philanthropists wanting to make a difference, among them the freedom from district red tape and teacher union contracts.

LeBron chose to create his school in partnership with the traditional public school district, as a non-charter—likely due to his long-standing relationship with Akron City Schools. There’s no way to know whether he considered the charter route. But if he had, he’d have discovered a challenging charter school terrain suffering from the double whammy of recovering from a long-held poor reputation and inhospitable policies for education entrepreneurs.

First of all, kudos to LeBron, whose efforts to help struggling youth and his partnerships in Akron are nothing new. You can read more about the school plans here, but the gist is that the...

  1. Chad Aldis’ dire warning of a “paper victory” for adults who wish to lower Ohio’s graduation requirements continues to reverberate in cigar smoke-filled editorial board rooms in the Buckeye State and beyond. Editors in Wheeling, West Virginia, opined in warning to their next door neighbor to keep graduation standards high. (The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, 4/16/17). And editors in Columbus reiterated their support for higher standards yesterday. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/18/17)
     
  2. Today, families in Youngstown get their first look at CEO Krish Mohip’s district reconfiguration plan. Citing feedback he received during numerous community input sessions, he believes that the return of “neighborhood schools” will increase parental involvement and will facilitate the equitable distribution of resources (technology, high-quality teachers, STEM courses, etc.) to all parts of town. More to come on this. (Youngstown Vindicator, 4/19/17)
     
  3. Speaking of feedback, the Perrysburg school board issued a formal “thanks for listening to us, Mr. Superintendent” to Paolo DeMaria, giving him kudos for hearing the cries of oppressed suburban school districts like theirs in regard to Ohio’s proposed ESSA plan. Perrysburgers are pleased with the delayed submission and fully expect every one of their demands to be incorporated into the final version
  4. ...

In a recent blog, we cast a critical eye on proposed changes in the budget bill to the College Credit Plus (CCP), a statewide program that provides qualified high school students with the opportunity to complete college coursework. The budget adds an additional eligibility constraint which requires prospective CCP students to be “remediation-free” on a specified assessment or close to remediation free and possessing a high grade point average or letter of reference.

We had concerns with the change because our analysis of current law suggested that only college ready students should be permitted to participate in the program. After all, the law already requires students to meet the college’s established standards for admission and course placement.

Feedback from our loyal Gadfly readers in the trenches suggests that, in reality, many students using CCP aren’t remediation free. While current law may have intended for college readiness to be a deciding factor in admission and course placement, the language is vague enough—especially with open-enrollment colleges—that some more muscle might be necessary to ensure students are qualified.

In previous posts , we’ve emphasized how important it is for the program to permit only college-ready students...

Can a student be so anxious that she can “psych herself out” when it comes to test performance? Can the perceived stakes be so high that no amount of test preparation could overcome the fear of failure? The interplay of the various components comprising these emotional patterns is the subject of a longitudinal study of college students undertaken by German researchers and published last month in the International Journal of Educational Research. Perhaps it’s not a one-to-one comparison, but given widespread concerns about test anxiety in the U.S. K-12 arena, perhaps this study offers some insight.

Researchers administered surveys to 92 students enrolled in a psychology course at the same university in Germany. These surveys were administered leading up to and after taking a required oral examination considered to be “one of the highest social evaluation stressors.” Surveys were administered again after students received their final grade for a total of three surveys. Their purpose was to gauge students’ academic self-efficacy (students’ beliefs regarding their ability to deal with high demands related to academic performance), their expected grade before the test, the relevance of success (how important it was to them to do well/pass), their received grade after the...

Of course you’re familiar with Fordham’s blogging and social media outlets. But did you know that Fordham staffers are regular guests on TV and radio programs across the state on important education issues?

Just recently:

  • Chad Aldis has appeared on In Focus Ohio, a new public affairs program on Spectrum Cable, supporting a bill which would expand and transform the state’s voucher program.
  • Chad was also a guest on The Sound of Ideas from IdeaStream Public Radio in Cleveland, urging Ohio to hold the line on new, more-rigorous graduation requirements.

These important issues will be at the forefront of debate in Ohio for months to come. We urge you to watch and listen as they are discussed in your part of the Buckeye State.

Note: This blog originally appeared in a slightly different form as a guest commentary in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

The State Board of Education recently advised the legislature to make changes to Ohio’s new and more rigorous graduation requirements amid concerns from school people about lower graduation rates. The board’s recommendations, based on a workgroup convened by the board, are out, and they’re deeply disquieting. Put into practice, they’d break the repeated promise of policy makers to raise expectations for Ohio’s 1.7 million students.

Currently, students in the class of 2018 and beyond have three paths to a diploma. They may: 1) achieve a passing cumulative score on seven end-of-course (EOC) exams in the four core subjects of math, English, social studies, and science; 2) achieve a “remediation-free” ACT or SAT score; or 3) complete career and technical education requirements that include earning an industry recognized credential. These are stronger than the state’s old graduation standards, which included the antiquated, middle-school level Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT) and are a key part of the Buckeye State’s robust effort to ensure that students leave high school ready to succeed in college or start a career.

Unfortunately, what the board suggests...

  1. Quite a bit of opining this weekend in regard to proposals which would lower the bar on Ohio’s new graduation requirements even before they are fully phased in. First up, editors in Akron opined in favor of holding the line on the tougher requirements. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/15/17) A teacher from suburban Cincinnati opined in favor of an interesting alternative to the proposed lower bar: keep it low if you want, but assess it at 8th grade and have kids “differentiate” from there (military track, job track, CTE track, college track, etc.), with the appropriate bar for completion set by the ultimate goal for each. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/15/17) Editors in Lima, however, opined in favor of holding the line, even more strongly than those in Akron. (Lima News, 4/15/17)
     
  2. The Colossus of Lorain (a.k.a. the district’s schmancy new high school) has a restaurant in it. It appears to be for training students in the culinary arts and seems to be open only to community members (i.e. – not a cafeteria for students). Wonder if those Lorain outcasts (a.k.a. the district’s dropout avoidance/recovery program) toiling away in the cramped and dingy former Catholic school far away
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A new report from the RAND Corporation examines trends across 27 counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia where fracking is a booming business. Nine of these counties are in Eastern Ohio, including Mahoning, Stark, Belmont, and several others. This is the second of five periodic reports that track workforce, economic, and educational trends (the previous one is available here).The reports are commissioned by the Appalachian Partnership Initiative, whose aim is “to build the pool of local workers for jobs in the energy and advanced manufacturing sectors” across the tristate region.

This paper uses Census Bureau statistics to highlight a few key workforce trends:

  • From 2000 to 2014, the working age-population (age 18-64) declined in 20 of the 27 counties across this region, including seven of the nine in Eastern Ohio.
  • Wages were strong for workers in the extraction industries, which include oil and gas along with mining. Across this region, the average wage for employees in this industry was $58,290, higher than the averages in other fields such as health care ($28,690) or manufacturing ($43,967).
  • Within the extraction industry, workers with higher-level education received higher wages: In 2015, college graduates (bachelor’s or above)
  • ...
  1. It has been a busy couple of days for our Chad Aldis. First up, he was quoted in this piece, trying to inject some reality into a discussion of the fiscal analysis of the proposed expansion of the EdChoice voucher program. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/13/17) And then he was a guest on this public radio program, discussing the proposed changes in Ohio’s graduation requirements. (Ideastream Public Media, Cleveland, 4/13/17)
     
  2. The first graduating class of the Columbus Cristo Rey High School this week celebrated their 100% college acceptance. Congratulations everyone! (Columbus Dispatch, 4/12/17)
     
  3. Speaking of private schools, the founders of the new-ish Bounty Collegium school in Sylvania have big plans expansion plans for their offbeat, out-of-the-box education model. Good luck! (Toledo Blade, 4/13/17)
     
  4. Loyal subscribers will be well aware that your humble clip compiler doesn’t typically comment on opinion pieces included in the Bites. But I think I am duty-bound to mention that this professor’s anti-voucher commentary includes a huge and fundamental factual error. See if you can spot it. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/13/17)
     
  5. Speaking of education professionals, here’s a profile of the main teacher appointed last week to the new Lorain
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