Ohio Gadfly Daily

Ohio’s draft plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) came out earlier this month, and we at Fordham continue to analyze it and offer our thoughts. In a previous article, I argued that Ohio’s plans for improving low-performing schools were underwhelming. But there is an even more worrisome set of details worth pointing out and rectifying—namely that Ohio’s proposal will likely result in a vast number of schools and districts being labeled as failing and routed into a burdensome and ineffective corrective action process.

For starters, Ohio’s ESSA plan moves beyond what’s required by law when it comes to identifying “low-performing” schools. Federal law requires states to have at least two buckets for school improvement—comprehensive support and targeted support (or the equivalent of what Ohio is naming “priority” and “focus” schools, respectively). The law is direct in spelling out how states should place schools in either category (see Table 1).

Table 1: ESSA requirements

Now take a look at Ohio’s proposed criteria below.

Table 2: Ohio’s proposed implementation of ESSA’s requirements

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  1. It was announced last week that Dayton City Schools will be initiating a new online school starting in the 2017-18 school year. It is meant to compete for students with online charter schools like ECOT, which, despite an endless barrage of bad press and legal actions has managed to attract more than 50 kids from Dayton schools so far this year, a district data wonk reported. But we’ll give board member Adil Baguirov the final word on this great new development. As he puts it, it is “long overdue to bring back these dollars.” Dollars. (Dayton Daily News, 2/26/17)
     
  2. If I’m reading this correctly, officials in Toledo City Schools seem very pessimistic regarding the ability of quite a large number of their high schools to pass upcoming tests related to their graduation. So much so that the district is revamping the school day schedules for an entire week and is planning to schlep more than 3,200 Chromebooks from elementary schools to high schools across the city and back again just to make sure high schoolers can retake the tests as many times as they need to in order to get high enough scores. Or am I misreading
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Since the 1980s, there has been a significant increase in the average age at which women in industrialized nations have their first child. Advanced maternal age, medically defined as ages 35 and up, has in a number of studies shown negative association with infant health, and potentially, development in later life. However, data from three separate birth cohorts in the United Kingdom (1958, 1970, and 2001) indicated a marked increase in the cognitive ability of first-born children over time. At face value, this appears to be a disconnect: Shouldn’t the trend towards later child-bearing correlate to lower cognitive abilities among first-borns? A trio of researchers explored what was behind the unexpected results and recently published their results in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The three birth cohorts were studied separately for different longitudinal research projects and each included more than 16,000 randomly sampled children born in specific windows of time. Cognitive ability of the children was assessed at the ages of 10 or 11 using different tests of verbal cognition depending on the cohort. The researchers in the present study combined the data and standardized the three different test results to ensure the best comparability...

Under federal and state law, Ohio policy makers are responsible for gauging and reporting on the performance of its 3,000 public schools and 600 districts. To do this, Ohio has a report card system that assigns A-F grades based on a variety of performance indicators. While Ohio does not currently roll up these disparate component grades into a final “summative” rating, in 2017-18, the Buckeye State will join thirty-nine other states that do just that.

Why summative grades? They are intended to accomplish a number of purposes, including improving the transparency of complicated rating systems, helping families decide where to send their child to school, and guiding local decision making on which schools need the most help and which deserve recognition. With the importance placed upon these overall ratings, it is critical to examine the grading formula that Ohio policy makers will use to calculate schools’ final letter grades—specifically the weights assigned to each element of the school report card.

Current weights

Ohio law requires the State Board of Education to create the summative school rating formula within two key parameters: 1) it must include all six main components of the state report card; and 2) it must equally...

  1. At its sunset, the Lorain City Schools’ Academic Distress Commission was lionized by the school board at a special meeting this week. Nope. I don’t get it either. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/22/17)
     
  2. A new Spanish language immersion program is part of bevy of new options coming to Cincinnati City Schools’ students next year. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/22/17)
     
  3. It is difficult to tell by the way his piece is written whether Morning Journal reporter Kevin Martin actually went to the meeting in Avon earlier this week intended to solicit public input on Ohio’s proposed ESSA plan or whether he just got an overview of how it went from one if the organizers after the fact. Either way, Martin’s version (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/22/17) differs markedly from the version written up by confirmed eyewitness Patrick O’Donnell of the Plain Dealer. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/23/17) Kind of like the way that soda water is different from moonshine. Or gasoline.
     
  4. That was quick. We told you Wednesday that Youngstown Schools’ CIO John LaPlante was nominated for what appears to be the prestigious Illuminator of the Year award. Well, between now and then, he’s actually gone
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It’s budget season in Ohio, and that means plenty of debates about school funding and other education policy issues. Buried deep in the legislative language is a short provision about teacher licensure that’s garnering a whole lot of pushback—as it should. Here’s the legislative language: “Beginning September 1, 2018, the state board of education’s rules for the renewal of educator licenses shall require each applicant for renewal of a license to complete an on-site work experience with a local business or chamber of commerce as a condition of renewal.”

In Ohio, teacher licenses are renewed every five years. Although the requirements vary depending on the license, renewal typically involves six semester hours of coursework related to classroom teaching or the area of a teacher’s licensure and 18 continuing education units. If this proposal becomes law, completing an externship at a local business will become part of the process.

The intentions behind this requirement are good: Governor Kasich is trying to actuate a recommendation made by his executive workforce board, which wants to “help business connect with schools, and to help teachers connect with strategies to prepare their students for careers.” This is a worthy...

In early February, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released the first draft of its state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Required by law to incorporate at least one “non-academic” indicator in its report card, Ohio chose two: student engagement as measured by chronic absenteeism and the Prepared for Success report-card component. In a previous piece, I explored the student engagement aspect; here, I tackle the Prepared for Success (PFS) component, which is designed to gauge how well prepared students are for what comes after high school.

The PFS component contains six measures that are combined to determine an A-F grade. They are divided into a “primary” and “bonus” category. Primary measures earn districts one point toward their composite score and include students who earn any of the following:

  1. There is a new voucher bill on the horizon here in Ohio, looking to make some radical changes – some might say improvements – to the existing programs. First up with coverage was Patrick O’Donnell. In his initial summary of the impending proposal, he seems to focus on who might stand to benefit from the changes. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/17/17) In his second look, Patrick focuses more on proposed structural changes. Specifically, a provision that would allow families to save any of their unused K-12 voucher funds for college expenses. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/20/17) The view from Columbus was published yesterday. Although not written by a Dispatch staffer, it has more than a whiff of the typical skepticism. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/21/17) The view from the Statehouse was also published yesterday. In true Gongwer fashion, the reportage is calm and to-the-point. In fact, it is the only piece published thus far that uses the term “needs-based scholarship” (i.e. – what the new proposal mainly is). (Gongwer Ohio, 2/21/17)
     
  2. Meanwhile, as Ohio’s new graduation requirements inch ever closer to reality – study group recommendations notwithstanding – the state is gearing up to require (and to offer for
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  1. Mike Petrilli and Fordham are namechecked in this guest commentary about the role of the local chapter of The Exchange Club in boosting civics education in Dayton. Fascinating. (Dayton Daily News, 2/15/17)
     
  2. Your humble clips compiler will admit to knowing nothing at all about the ins and outs of what might be termed “protest culture.” Case in point: I was both surprised and baffled by both sides of the argument in this editorial from the Toledo Blade in which editors implore parents not to homeschool their kids as a means to “avoid dealing with” new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. That's a thing? (Toledo Blade, 2/16/17)
     
  3. We noted earlier this week that the state board of education heard from organized groups of district superintendents regarding flaws that they perceive in the state’s proposed new ESSA accountability plan. That theme continued yesterday as state supe Paolo DeMaria was questioned on same (and in a very similar manner) by legislators on the Joint Education Oversight Committee. (No, it’s pronounced “JAY-ock”.) (Gongwer Ohio, 2/16/17)
     
  4. Meanwhile, back in the real world, a veritable plethora of new security cameras was installed in Youngstown’s East High School this week.
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  1. The state board of education met this week and members heard testimony from a number of organized groups of superintendents on the state’s draft ESSA plan. Coverage was sparse. First up was a group of mostly-suburban districts from Northeast Ohio who said that the current version of the plan “ignores” public input and requested a rethink on certain items. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/13/17) What do they (and, by extension, “the public”) want instead? According to a whitepaper released along with their testimony, the they want fewer state tests, an end to A through F grades on state report cards, and changes to graduation requirements, among other things. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/14/17) Concurrently, a group of Akron-area superintendents opined upon the draft ESSA plan, with more (and more detailed) requests, including: keeping student subgroups at 30 (rather than the proposed drop to 15), not requiring the reporting of high school exam retakes for excused absences, and making wraparound services universal. (Akron Beacon Journal, 2/14/17)
     
  2. We have already noted that in his new biennial budget Governor Kasich has proposed requiring school boards to include 3 ex-officio members from the business community. As an extension of this new “business
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