Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. We’re back! And there’s a lot to cover. So let’s get to it: There are apparently some “relentless attacks” going on out there somewhere. They are, apparently, an effort to “pin” some current statewide office candidates with “blame” for something related to the demise of ECOT. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is in here as well, trying to inject some reality to the discussion, but I fear it is too late. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/1/18)
  2. Chad also features in this piece covering the ongoing discussion of Ohio’s graduation requirements. Chad is on record as supporting academically-rigorous requirements. This story is about pretty much the opposite if you ask me. (Dayton Daily News, 9/4/18)
  3. Editors in Columbus opined late last week on the topic of the state’s newly unveiled education master plan, calling for balance. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/30/18)
  4. Speaking of the state’s newly unveiled education master plan, the brains behind that plan—State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria—was visiting schools in far northern Fremont, Ohio, yesterday. There are a number of interesting points in here – including praise for a new “learning lab” that “mimics online schools like ECOT” and how important “enrollment numbers” are to rural districts. (Fremont News
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National and Ohio charter school management structures

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) released their annual report, National Charter School Management Overview, which includes updated statistics on the management structure for every charter school in the country. In 2016-17, Ohio had 365 charter schools; 46 percent of those charters were operated independently, 26 percent were part of a Charter Management Organization (not-for-profit), and 28 percent were part of an Education Management Organization (for-profit).

What do Perkins Act changes mean for charter schools?

On August 1, President Trump signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which renews the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The bill (passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate) authorizes more than $1 billion for states to use towards secondary and post-secondary training. NAPCS’s Senior Policy Advisor, Christy Wolfe, explains what this means for charter schools here.

A New Orleans charter school is graduating students who go straight to $20/hour jobs

Rooted, a charter public high school in New Orleans, has only been open for one year. And it’s already challenging traditional notions of what high school might look...


Across the nation, urban public charter schools are posting impressive student achievement gains. Under pressure to achieve similar results, many traditional public districts have chosen to follow in charter schools’ footsteps and grant some of their schools more autonomy. These hybrid schools are still operated and supported by district officials but are permitted to opt out of certain district policies and practices in staffing, learning models, curriculum, budgeting, school calendar and schedule, and professional development.

But does giving traditional public schools more autonomy actually raise student achievement? A new report from the Progressive Policy Institute answers this question by analyzing state standardized test scores in four districts that operate autonomous schools: Boston, Memphis, Denver, and Los Angeles. The authors control for race and ethnicity, language proficiency, socio-economic status, and special education status.

The data show that a positive relationship exists between school autonomy and student achievement. Students at some autonomous schools in Boston and Los Angeles were more likely to be proficient than their counterparts in traditional public schools, but independent charters outperformed all autonomous school models in Boston, Los Angeles, and Denver.

Memphis was the only exception. In 2010, the state of Tennessee created the Achievement School District...

  1. In case you didn’t know it, the brilliance of Fordham’s Chad Aldis knows no bounds. Earlier this week, he was in Indianapolis to give expert testimony regarding online schools to the Indiana Board of Education. Aldis unleashed! (Chalkbeat Indiana, 8/28/18)
  2. Missed this on Monday: an important commentary piece connected to Round Two of the Path Forward series in the Dayton Daily News. The author is a business owner who offers a radical suggestion to jump start big picture solutions, especially for minority students: countywide schools. (Dayton Daily News, 8/26/18)
  3. It’s been super hot here in central Ohio this week. So much so that Columbus City Schools have sent kids home in the afternoons. That fact did not deter the school bus-powered tour conducted yesterday by State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria as he unleashed his new five-year strategic plan for education upon Ohioans. Mother Nature’s was the only heat he seemed likely to encounter because the plan was rapturously received. See today’s title for a preview. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/28/18)
  4. That invite-only “community meeting” of parents in the Madison Local school district took place yesterday. It went down about how you think. But honestly, reading a
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  1. Round two of the Dayton Daily News series The Path Forward dropped over the weekend, another huge set of articles trying to get to the heart of why Dayton City Schools’ academic success rate is so poor and how to turn that around. I got an uncomfortable sense while reading this intro that some folks see the looming threat of an Academic Distress designation for the district—and everything that goes along with it—as the primary motivating factor for taking action to improve just now. You would think that someone would have suggested that the years of kids being moved up from grade to grade without having been taught to read at grade level might play some part in the current desire to change the status quo. But maybe that’s just me. (Dayton Daily News, 8/26/18) As noted, this series is huge. So I won’t be summarizing every one in detail. But every word is worth a look. The theme of the series is that the visible “achievement gap”—the fact that data shows lots and lots of kids perform poorly year after year vs. some other kids—is more accurately an “opportunity gap” between those children. With that in mind, here
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  1. Members of the elected board of Lorain City Schools got some hard numbers this week on budget and student enrollment. Both seem pretty good, so why do they all sound so miserable in this piece? (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 8/22/18) And why are those board members still obsessed with pointless personnel issues that have already been settled? The world may never know. (Elyria Chronicle, 8/23/18)
  2. Feel free to call me a successful sports prognosticator if you wish: As I predicted a couple of weeks ago, the Ohio Supreme Court has become involved in the legal action surrounding “competitive balance”. You will recall that the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) created the competitive balance formula to, among other things, address the growing number of students eligible to play varsity sports while not actually attending their team’s school (i.e. – homeschoolers, STEM and charter school students, etc.). The initial court case we discussed previously – brought by a number of Catholic high schools unhappy with the new division breakdowns – ended with a blanket moratorium on competitive balance pending a full hearing by the lower court. OHSAA, fearing that the entire structure of varsity football (and possibly
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2018 EdNext Poll shows increased support for charter schools

A new poll from Education Next (EdNext) found growing support for charter schools, particularly amongst Republicans. Forty-four percent of respondents supported the expansion of charter schools (up from thirty-nine percent last year) and thirty-five percent were in opposition. EdNext found consistent support across a variety of groups including fifty-seven percent of Republicans, forty-nine percent of Hispanics, and forty-six percent of African Americans. You can find the National Alliance for Public Charter School’s reaction to the news here.

DeWine Files Lawsuit to Recover Public Funds Related to ECOT

On Tuesday, Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit to recover public funds disbursed by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). The lawsuit alleges violations of fiduciary duty and seeks to hold the school’s founder and school officers personally liable. Because of the nature of the allegations, all Ohio charters should keep an eye on the suit’s proceedings. More information about the lawsuit can be found on the attorney general's website.

New report examines why independent charters outperform district-operated autonomous schools

The Reinventing America's Schools Project at the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) released a ...


In 2014, the Wallace Foundation launched a four-year, $24-million-dollar program called the Principal Supervisor Initiative (PSI). It was designed to help six urban districts transition from roles for principal supervisors that focused on administration, operations, and compliance to roles that focused on developing and supporting principals’ instructional leadership skills—which in turn could improve teacher instruction and student achievement.

The participating districts were Baltimore Public Schools, Broward County Public Schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Des Moines Public Schools, Long Beach Unified School District, and Minneapolis Public Schools.

In July, the foundation published the first of three reports documenting implementation efforts and the effects of PSI. It examines efforts to implement PSI’s five core components from August 2014 through the spring of 2017 and is based on surveys of supervisors and principals, artifacts like job descriptions and training agendas, and data from semi-structured interviews with central office personnel, supervisors, and principals.   

The first component involved revising the job description of a principal supervisor to focus on supporting instructional leadership rather than compliance. Three districts—Baltimore, Broward, and Cleveland—had already begun significant revisions to the supervisor role prior to their involvement with PSI. The remaining districts started their revisions in conjunction with PSI. All...

  1. As a sort of follow up to Monday’s story about lowered remediation rates among Ohio’s colleges over the last few years, here is a somewhat more dour look at dual credit programs. You know – those efforts to allow students to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school. It’s a national story – and a very long one at that – but it includes several references to Ohio’s College Credit Plus program and it includes several quotes from Fordham’s own Checker Finn, a man who knows a thing or two about unintended consequences. (Hechinger Report, 8/17/18)
  2. Elsewhere on the continuum of pre-post-secondary options, here’s a look at the Mobile Manufacturing Crew. It is an effort led by the Licking County Job and Family Services to bring manufacturing internships—and new knowledge about manufacturing careers—directly to teenagers. Nice. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/20/18)
  3. Sticking around in central Ohio for a moment, I thought that the task force currently in operation was supposed to be making recommendations to the Columbus City Schools’ board on their own regarding underutilized facilities. Perhaps I was wrong, because this week the district administration—led by interim supe John Stanford—provided THEIR potential plans to
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In Ohio, debate over high school graduation requirements has raged for over a year. At various points, policymakers have requested to know more about the graduation policies in other states. It’s worth noting, then, that the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) recently announced a proposal to change minimum graduation requirements for students entering high school in the fall of 2019—and their proposal shares some similarities with Ohio’s hotly debated rules.

Our southern neighbor’s current high school graduation requirements are pretty traditional: Students must complete at least twenty-two credit hours, with a certain number of credit hours required in specific subject areas. Although there is testing—students are required to take the ACT and a writing assessment, and last year was the first year that newly designed and teacher-developed end-of-course assessments were field-tested for algebra II, biology, and English II courses[1]—results are only used for the state’s accountability system or, in the case of field-testing, for data-gathering purposes. The vast majority of Kentucky students take their classes, amass their credits, and earn their diplomas.

Under KDE’s recently proposed system, that would change. According to a ...