Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. In case you missed it, those previously-mentioned supplications to St. Plimpton – Patron Saint of Ink-Stained Wretches and Soother of Caffeine-Induced Ulcers – appear to have worked. It was announced this week that the Ohio Department of Education would delay submitting the state’s proposed ESSA accountability plan from April to September. This is in order to get yet more feedback on it, even though it appears that tons of feedback was gotten during its original development timeline. Perhaps there is a disconnect between the terms “being heard” and “getting our way”. I had toddlers like that once. Anywho, here is coverage of said delay announcement, with our own Chad Aldis quoted in both pieces. Apparently he’s the only person the followers of St. Plimpton could find who thought the delay a bad idea and was willing to go the record. Weird about that.  First out of the gate was Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 3/13/17), followed closely by the Dispatch. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/14/17)
  2. If like many in the Ohio education arena you prefer your news without the addition of Chad “wet blanket” Aldis, you can read about the delay of Ohio’s ESSA plan submission from the Blade (Toledo
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Back in 2014, the passage of House Bill 487 ushered in major changes to Ohio education policy, including new high school graduation requirements for 2018 and beyond. Among the new provisions was a requirement that all juniors take a college-admissions exam. Previously, only those students and families considering going to college forked over the money to take a test designed to measure college readiness. Starting this spring, however, Ohio joins several other states  in requiring 11th graders to take either the ACT or SAT (it’s up to districts to choose which one to administer). To offset the mandate’s expense, the state will pick up the tab on testing costs.

Despite recent calls for the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to reduce state testing, there’s been little pushback about requiring 11th graders to take a college admission exam, probably because the results won’t be a significant part of the state accountability system. It could also be because folks have bigger fish to fry when it comes to fighting the new graduation requirements. Regardless, the statewide administration requirement, which some students have already started taking, is good education policy. Here...

  1. We start today’s Bites with a bit of coverage of our latest report – A Formula That Works – and of last week’s release event. I get the impression that the reporter doesn’t buy in to the title of said report. Thanks for coming anyway. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/10/17)
  2. Editors in Youngstown appear to be no fans of Ohio’s voucher programs, taking a moment to inartfully cite our 2016 report on EdChoice as they opined against voucher expansion in the Buckeye State. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/11/17) Not to worry, though, Vindy editors are in good company on their inartfulness. Speaking of folks who appear to be no fans of vouchers, here is a no-duh story from the PD noting that religiously-affiliated private schools take the bulk of students with vouchers in Ohio. While the loaded terms and gotcha phrasing are somewhat annoying, if you’ve got a high tolerance for that sort of thing, the actual numbers cited are kind of interesting. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/12/17)
  3. Editors in Toledo opined this weekend against Ohio’s proposed ESSA plan as it stands and offered prayers to the Patron Saint of Ink-Stained Wretches that its submission would be delayed from
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  1. So there’s some reportage on the topic of school funding to report today. Just not the particular part of the topic I thought might get some coverage. First up, school districts and their associated associations testified this week on what they don’t like about Governor Kasich’s proposed education budget. Kudos to Jim Siegel on the empty piñata reference. Spot on. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/8/17) Anti-kudos the Enquirer for allowing reporters to grind axes in an opinion piece about the state education dollars that go to fund students and services at private schools masquerading as journalism. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/8/17) If only someone had this week released a rigorous research report that eschewed personal opinion and venom on the topic of school funding and instead hewed to a comprehensive, student-centric vision the ways that Ohio’s system could improve upon its already-pretty-good structure. If only…
  2. An interesting set of three stories on the ongoing tussle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state of Ohio. No, not a court case. This time, it’s an audit conducted by the State Auditor’s office (seems like forever since we mentioned that guy!). It’s a kind of timey-wimey thing in that the results of
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NOTE: The Joint Education Oversight Committee of the Ohio General Assembly is hearing testimony this week on Ohio's proposed ESSA accountability plan. Below is the written testimony that Chad Aldis gave before the committee today.

Thank you Chairman Cupp, and members of the Joint Education Oversight Committee, for giving me the opportunity to provide testimony today on the Ohio Department of Education’s proposed ESSA plan.

My name is Chad Aldis, and I am the Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Fordham Institute is an education-focused nonprofit that conducts research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C. Our Dayton office, through the affiliated Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, is also a charter school sponsor.

I’d like to first applaud the department for their hard work on this plan. ODE staff worked tirelessly to gather a massive amount of stakeholder feedback, and many of the recommendations that they heard throughout the state can be either seen as a part of this plan or are identified as areas meriting further study. I know you’ve listened to testimony from a...

Ohio’s Gap Closing report card component reports how students in certain subgroups perform on state tests and their schools’ graduation rates compared to the collective performance of all students in the state. The subgroups include racial/ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged pupils. Gap Closing is one of six major report card components and makes up 15 percent of a school district’s rating in Ohio’s current summative grading formula, set to officially begin in 2017-18.

Currently, Gap Closing compares subgroup proficiency on state assessments and graduation rates to a set, statewide standard—also known as an Annual Measureable Objective (AMO). These objectives rise gradually over time, heightening expectations for subgroup performance. When a school’s subgroup meets the AMO, the school receives the full allotment of points (“full credit”). When the subgroup fails to meet the objective, the school receives no credit—unless it makes improvements relative to the prior year. In such cases, the state awards partial credit. Those points are tallied across subgroups and divided by the points possible to compute a component grade reported on an A-F scale. In certain circumstances, schools’ Gap Closing letter grade could be demoted (e.g., A drops to a B).


School funding debates are as predictable as the seasons, and right on cue, the release of Governor John Kasich’s biennial budget has precipitated hand-wringing from various corners of Ohio. Why? Like many other states, Ohio’s budget is tightening and his plan would reduce the amount of state aid for dozens of districts that have been consistently losing student enrollment.

No public entity anywhere has ever been happy about receiving less money than the year before; every elected leader worth their salt is going to fight for more resources for their own constituents. The challenge ahead for thoughtful policy makers is to distinguish the typical bellyaching from legitimate and serious problems in Ohio’s school funding policies.

To help, we are pleased to present this analysis of Ohio’s school finance policies. It gets under the hood of the Buckeye State’s education funding formula and tax policies and seeks to understand how well they promote two essential values: Fairness and efficiency. Why these two? Consider:

  • Ohio must lift student achievement to meet the demands of colleges and employers—an especially urgent imperative for children from low-income backgrounds. According to last year’s state test results, proficiency rates for economically disadvantaged students fell a staggering 30
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  1. The Middletown newspaper today caught up with local-boy-made-good: J.D. Vance. (Middletown Journal-News, 3/8/17)
  2. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria visited a number of rural northwest Ohio school districts this week. He had some important things to say about the state’s current school funding scheme while doing so. Those comments may be even more important to some folks after 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning. Just sayin’. (Lima News, 3/7/17)
  3. On the complete opposite side of the state, the only candidate on the ballot for Lancaster mayor right now is a local high school student. Given the current mayoral turmoil in the little town I used to call home, dude’s got to be looking pretty good to a number of voters. (Lancaster Eagle Gazette, 3/8/17)
  4. Sticking with our semi-rural theme of the day, tiny Denison University in bucolic Granville, Ohio, has awarded full-tuition scholarships to 18 high-performing, low-income Columbus City Schools graduates. These are the first such scholarships awarded through a new partnership between Denison, the Columbus district, and the I Know I Can college-access organization. Its funding was seeded by two Denison alums with the hope that others will follow suit. Nice! P.S. – ANY dinner at
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  1. Interesting coverage of a convening in Dayton last week in which education stakeholders got together to discuss ways to close the racial achievement gap and to end implicit racial and cultural bias in area schools. (Dayton Daily News, 3/3/17)
  2. In the first of two pieces on the end of the old-style Academic Distress Commission in Lorain, several stakeholders – including commission members – talk about what went right and what didn’t during the ADC term. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 3/4/17). The second part, published today, takes a similar sad tone, but pay attention to the comments of Dr. Zelei, former commission member AND former supe. Kind of sounds like he’s secretly OK with a CEO-style distress commission. Or maybe it’s just me. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 3/5/17)
  1. Sad news from Cincinnati this week: due to a “declining pool of applicants” two Catholic girls schools will merge at the end of the 2017-18 school year, eliminating activity at the century-old Mother of Mercy school building. Is it just me or does it seem like we hear similar news every year about this time lately? (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/2/17)
  2. The board of the I Can charter schools network voted this week to hire a new operator for all of its schools in Ohio, citing the need for more efficient operations. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/3/17)
  3. We end the week with a look at the adult diploma program in Youngstown. In just one year of operation, 30 adults have completed long-delayed graduation requirements via the state’s 22+ Diploma program. Some, like the woman profiled here, are far above the age of 22. She, for one, has a new direction in life because of the program. Nice. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/2/17)