Ohio Gadfly Daily

One of the hallmarks of school accountability is the identification of and intervention in persistently low-preforming schools. Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools were required to make adequate yearly progress (AYP); if they fell short, they were subject to a set of escalating consequences. Much of the backlash against NCLB was a result of these consequences being imposed from afar with little flexibility. So when Congress geared up for reauthorization, it wasn’t surprising that the new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), shifted the responsibility of identification and intervention to the states.

Last week, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released an overview of its proposed ESSA state plan. This isn’t the entire plan—the full draft will be released for public comment in early February. In future posts, we’ll do some deep dive analyses of the key areas and potential impacts of the full draft. But in the meantime, there’s plenty in the overview to explore—including how the Buckeye State plans to identify its lowest-performing schools.

ESSA requires states to identify at least two categories of schools: comprehensive support schools (which include the lowest-performing schools in the state) and targeted support schools (which...

Parents make choices about their child’s schooling based on a variety of factors: location, safety, convenience, academics, extracurriculars, support services, and more. Many families choose their school by moving to the neighborhood of their preference, thus exercising “choice” when making homeownership decisions. It’s important to recognize that not all families have the same luxury. In fact, many don’t. For the most part, parents living in poverty can’t just up and move themselves to a neighborhood with higher-performing, better-programmed, safer schools. Yet their children deserve high-quality educational opportunities, too, in schools that work for them based on their unique learning styles, interests, and needs.

If we believe that parents of all income levels and backgrounds deserve the same choices we exercise for ourselves and our own children, then Ohio’s high-performing charter schools deserve our unwavering support. The 21,000+ events held across the nation last week for National School Choice Week demonstrate the pressing need—and support for—quality school options. Columbus Collegiate Academy (Dana Avenue campus), one of the city’s highest-performing middle schools, helps its eighth graders achieve math and science proficiency at a rate that’s more than double what the district achieves. Meanwhile, its eighth-grade reading proficiency rate is thirty-seven...

  1. A new report from Learn to Earn Dayton showed some sobering data regarding the achievement gap for black students in Montgomery County’s district schools, especially boys. At an event unveiling the report, interventions in early education; raising of expectations in classrooms; and accessible, high-quality after-school programming were all put forward as parts of an overall solution going forward. (Dayton Daily News, 1/27/17)
  2. FutureReady Columbus appears to be interested in the same sorts of things in Columbus as Learn to Earn is in Dayton. Here is a primer on how the organization came to be and where it is heading in the near future. Interesting compare/contrast with Learn to Earn’s plans could be made, if one was inclined to make such comparisons. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/30/17)
  3. Ditto for Lorain City Schools, where wraparound services are in the limelight. I’ll let the new director of student and family outreach explain it to you: “Our main battle, I find, is the battle between home culture and school culture. Meaning, we do all these things we can for the student here at school, but then they go home and face whatever they’re facing. So it’s a constant battle for the
  4. ...
  1. Kinda quiet in education news today. A decision has been made in Austintown schools on the fate of inter-district open enrollment, a hot-button issue as loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers will recall. The good news is that no students currently open enrolled in Austintown and who want to return will be barred from doing so. The bad news is that there will be no new students in grades 9 through 12 allowed to open enroll next year and that OE in the lower grades will be greatly restricted. There’s a lot of interesting nuggets in this concise story. Hope someone will do a proper bit of research on OE in the near future. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/26/17)
  2. What’s the collective noun for a group of hard-bitten newspaper editors? A “column”, perhaps? (If that’s not it, it should. TM Gadfly Bites.) A column of PD editors today weighed in on the topic of Education Secretary-Designate Betsy DeVos and the unpaid fines assessed by Ohio on the organization she once led. Color me surprised. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/27/17)

The American Federation for Children (AFC) recently released its third annual poll on school choice. The national poll surveyed just over 1,000 likely November 2018 voters early this January via phone calls.

To determine general support and opposition, AFC posed the following question: “Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs.” By and large, the findings indicate broad support for school choice—68 percent of those surveyed support school choice compared to 28 percent who oppose it. These numbers are similar to AFC results from previous years: 69 and 70 percent of likely voters who expressed support for school choice in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

In addition to overall percentages, AFC broke out the survey numbers by specific demographic groups. Seventy-five percent of Latinos and 72 percent of African Americans support school choice compared to 65 percent of Whites. In terms of political affiliation, 84 percent of Republicans support school choice (up slightly from 80 percent in 2016), compared to 55 percent of...

  1. A commentary written by Elyria teacher and education activist Matt Jablonski – on the topic of Ohio’s putative “graduation rate apocalypse” – cites a 2014 blog by our own Aaron Churchill while opining. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/24/17)
  2. The current Academic Distress Commission in Lorain is sunsetting, with the new CEO-version getting underway in early March. Last week, Lorain school board members participated in a final assessment of the outgoing ADC (specifically, how well the district is following their approved academic recovery plan) with a panel of reviewers. Hint: not very well, as far as outcomes are concerned. Comments from all the interview subjects in this piece are tiresomely cagey and unnecessarily gloomy. Let us hope that all of this will be swept out when the “Lorain Plan” finally dawns. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 1/23/17)
  3. Speculation is running rampant around the Statehouse on the topic of education funding in the upcoming biennial budget. To wit: this piece from Monday speculating on the likelihood of direct funding for charter schools. Some of the voices quoted on this topic are more credible than others. Just sayin’. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/23/17) Yesterday, Governor Kasich added some fuel to the
  4. ...
  1. There was some further coverage of our HB 2 implementation report On the Right Track over the weekend. First up, Columbus-based public television station WOSU-TV included discussion of the report in its weekend public affairs roundup show. Video is here; discussion of the report starts at the 21:47 mark. (WOSU-TV, Columbus, 1/20/17) Editors in Akron opined favorably on the report and seemed “heartened” by its findings. What more could a think tank ask? (Akron Beacon Journal, 1/23/17)
  2. The Dayton Daily news this weekend featured a brief interview with new state board member Charlotte McGuire. (Dayton Daily News, 1/22/17)
  3. Here’s a nice piece on the students from Toledo Early College HS who recently competed in the Poetry Out Loud contest. Next year, let’s hope some boys participate. (Toledo Blade, 1/21/17)
  1. Coverage of Fordham’s HB 2 implementation report On the Right Track continued over the last couple of days. Check out journalistic coverage from the Associated Press (AP, via Toledo Blade, 1/18/17), Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 1/18/17), and statewide public media (Statehouse News Bureau, 1/18/17). Fordham’s report serves as an additional talking point in this editorial from the D opining on the need to keep up the pressure on poor-performing charter schools. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/19/17)
  2. The Youngstown branch of the NAACP this week gave its own grade card to district CEO Krish Mohip at the six-month mark of his tenure. You can read the details for yourself but it seems a pretty good showing if you ask me. More telling, I think, are the comments of NAACP officials when asked if they’ll be grading the district school board along the same criteria. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/19/17) Also telling: Mohip’s response to said report card. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/19/17)
  3. The Louisville school board this week started the process to fire 3 of 10 teachers suspended in the aftermath of the recent strike. They are accused of deleting computer files necessary for the running of their classes
  4. ...

On the college football field, Ohio and Michigan are bitter rivals. But in the charter school world they share something in common: Both states’ charter sectors have been saddled with the unflattering label of the “wild west.” Recently, this characterization—generally meant to describe a state without proper accountability policies—has been used in critiques of Michigan native and charter supporter, Betsy DeVos, president-elect Trump’s appointee for secretary of education.

What’s clear is that this label and accompanying narrative are hard to shed, even though both states have significantly strengthened their charter laws. On these Gadfly pages, Daniel Quisenberry has described how Michigan is improving its charter sector. In a Fordham report released today, we show how Ohio’s era of stagecoaches and saloons is starting to give way to a more modernized charter sector.

In On the Right Track, we examine the early implementation of recently enacted charter reforms in our home state of Ohio. Bottom line: The Buckeye State’s reforms are being implemented with rigor and fidelity, bringing promising changes to one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most notorious charter sectors.

In autumn 2015, Governor John Kasich and Ohio legislators passed a landmark, bipartisan...

  1. Today, Fordham released its latest report – On the Right Track: Ohio’s charter reforms one year into implementation. First out of the gate with coverage of our HB 2 report is Jim Siegel at the D. Thanks! (Columbus Dispatch, 1/18/17)
  2. On the day when our HB 2 implementation is released, it is fitting that we get to note that our own Aaron Churchill and Chad Aldis were recently quoted in the Dispatch regarding the exceptionally low number of new charter schools opened in the state in 2016. What could have caused it, do you think? (Columbus Dispatch, 1/14/17)
  3. Some news outlets are just catching up to the recent Quality Counts report, in which Ohio had a mediocre showing. You can read Chad’s request for a nuanced look at the data in this brief piece from the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/17/17) and in this longer piece from the DDN. (Dayton Daily News, 1/17/17)
  4. Two stories bearing the words “Common Core” in their headlines hit the PD late last week. First up, a look at how Ohio’s Learning Standards for ELA and math do and don’t resemble CCSS and how both may change further
  5. ...