Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. My old high school recently got a grant from the State Library of Ohio to purchase a total of 278 non-fiction literature books for its library. No word on which books might have made the list, but the aim is to “better align the library’s resources and materials with the new Ohio Learning Standards for English Language Arts and the ELA Literacy Criteria”. While hardly the most interesting education news of the week, it seems like s a good thing, and it allows me to say something nice about my high school. A rare and pleasant happenstance. (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 10/24/18)
  2. So what is the most interesting education news of the week? Heck if I know. Some elected board members in Youngstown and Lorain seem Supreme-ly happy about this news. Even Coach Tressel finds “beauty” in it. So maybe that’s it. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/25/18)
  3. Speaking of happiness, though, members and guests of the elected board of Akron City Schools actually broke out in cheers when their treasurer announced that nearly 500 fewer students living in district boundaries were attending charter schools compared to the year before. It is likely that these students are not attending Akron
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Martin Luther King III visits KIPP Columbus

KIPP Columbus students had a special guest last week. Martin Luther King III visited the school, read his children’s book (My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), and told stories. Judging by the student quotes in the Dispatch, it looks like he made quite an impact. Television coverage of the visit can be found here.

A big win for students and families: WA Supreme Court ruling

Washington’s Supreme Court ruled that charter public schools are constitutional, upholding their place in Washington’s public education system and ensuring that current and future charter school students will have access to a high-quality education. You can read the Washington State Charter Schools Association’s press statement here. For some background information on the lawsuit, El Centro de la Raza v. Washington State, see the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ release here.

How did MA’s charter schools become the best in the country?

On Wednesday, Education Next released a new podcast episode in which Marty West talks with Cara Stillings Candal, the author of a new book on charter schools in Massachusetts titled, The Fight for...

  1. Will Ohio’s report cards change in the near future? That is the ever-present question at the Dayton Daily News. The case for change is kind of sketchy here, if you ask me, but Fordham is namechecked within as part of the wide swath of folks supposedly aligned toward change. Somehow I don’t think our proposed changes match up with many others’. But I could be wrong, and I don’t write for a newspaper either, so what do I know? Another meeting of the workgroup tasked with making recommendations on same is today. (Dayton Daily News, 10/23/18)
  2. On the topic of graduation requirements in Ohio, the same dude who was last week attempting to shake down Columbus City Schools for more money is this week attempting to convince the state to extend the achievement-free graduation requirements gifted to the Class of 2018 to the next four graduating classes. To be fair, Columbus City Schools does seem to have more money than it has ability to graduate kids, so maybe dude is on to something. But this change affects everyone; not just your students members. (Gongwer Ohio, 10/23/18)
  3. The state supe visited tiny Tecumseh Local Schools in western
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  1. Dayton Daily News’ Jeremy Kelley is still interested in Ohio students’ showing on the ACT last year, as first reported last week. Our own Aaron Churchill is on hand to point out that test scores matter, no matter how you contextualize them. (Dayton Daily News, 10/18/18)
  2. Aaron is also quoted on this piece looking at the topic of school funding and how it relates to state report cards. He’s kind of far down in the mix, though, because a) he is not a politician or state policymaker, and b) his message of “It’s not just about plowing more money into the system” failed to resonate with the story being told. Wonder why? (Columbus Dispatch, 10/22/18)
  3. Y’all know how much I love me some Aaron Churchill. But when it comes to the nexus of education and Big Politics in Ohio, Chad Aldis is your go-to Fordhamite. On that point, Chad is among those interviewed in this piece discussing where Ohio’s gubernatorial candidates stand on the $10 Billion Question of education in the Buckeye State. (Dayton Daily News, 10/21/18) He is also quoted in this lengthy piece, speaking specifically about the charter school portion of that
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Editor’s Note: As Ohioans prepare to elect a new governor this November, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the fifth in our series, under the umbrella of empowering Ohio’s families. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Authorize the ODE to develop and oversee a statewide course-access program. To implement the program, a funding mechanism should be created to pay online course providers and develop accountability tools that verify student learning.

Background: Traditionally, families and students have chosen a single school that delivers the entire educational experience. Although this “bundled” approach works well for many, the courses offered at any one school may not match the needs of every student in attendance, particularly in the upper grades. For instance, national data show that only half of U.S. schools offer calculus and just three in five offer physics. Closer to home, 139 Ohio districts—primarily rural—report that none of their recent graduates participated in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)...


Although ardent school choice supporters often argue that having options is an end in itself, the more pragmatic among us recognize that important real-life factors must be considered when describing the health of an area’s school choice landscape. Improvements in information dissemination and simplification of enrollment processes are making a difference in many cities, but a continuing obstacle is transportation. Even the best possible school option might as well not exist if a family cannot reach it. New research from the Urban Institute tries to identify the calculus that families must make in their efforts to secure the best possible fit.

Researchers Patrick Denice and Betheny Gross use data from Denver Public Schools, a portfolio system that includes traditional district schools, independent but district-run innovation schools, and charter schools. All Denver students are guaranteed a spot in a specific school or cluster of schools, but are free to apply to schools of any type for which they are eligible and they do so via a centralized application. School assignments are generally determined by lottery. As befits a system with this much choice and a simplified single application system, more than 80 percent of Denver students in typical transition years...


In our recent writings at the Ohio Gadfly, we’ve expressed dismay—sometimes outrage—at the education goings-on in the Buckeye State. To be sure, there’s a lot to be concerned about: The State Board of Education has gone soft on graduation requirements, and policymakers are talking about dismantling transparent school ratings and replacing them with opaque “data dashboards” that display a blizzard of statistics only technocrats can comprehend. On top of this is the reality—reinforced once again by the 2017–18 state exam data—that many thousands of Ohio’s children remain academically off track.

But amid this glum picture, there are terrific accomplishments and initiatives well worth highlighting. Consider just four that recently caught my attention (and feel free to send along others).

Ohio’s Straight-A schools

Let’s first give credit where credit is due—to the cream of the crop in terms of earning top marks on school report cards. The table below shows five schools that received A’s on the overall rating—a composite of Ohio’s various components—and on five critical measures of achievement and growth on state assessments: the performance index (PI), overall value added (VA), and three subgroup value-added indicators that are based on growth results for gifted students,...



Are schools asking teachers to be superheros?

Eva Moskowitz recently argued that until we address the fundamental flaws in how we treat our educators, it will be difficult to make headway in improving outcomes for students on a broad scale. Moskowitz, leader of the high achieving Success Academy Charter School network, explains that we’re asking too much of our teachers. Her network and a number of others have moved toward a dramatically different approach to preparing, equipping, and supporting teachers.

Ohio charter school shares about facility challenges

The student population at Albert Einstein Academies of Ohio (AEA), a charter public school serving students in the Cleveland area, has grown significantly since it opened in 2012. This has brought significant challenges. Rebecca Woodson, the director of admissions and recruitment at the school, recently wrote about the financial and environmental hurdles that she and other charters face and explained her school’s process for planning to add a new campus.

NCSRC resource round-up

The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) just released a resource round-up, which highlights some of their top resources from past years and new resources to start the school year strong....


The City Connects program is an initiative of Boston College that works to address non-cognitive barriers to student success among elementary school pupils in Boston Public Schools (BPS), as well as charter and private school students in Boston and other nearby cities. It was piloted in six low-performing BPS elementary schools in 2001, assessing needs and providing access to services for students via a third party rather than through the schools themselves.

Those services can include academic tutoring, social-emotional development, health needs, and family supports. Full-time coordinators are embedded in the schools and monitor need, referrals, and successful use of these services, obviating the need for teachers to become de facto social workers and for school administrators to become service providers. A fuller description of the program can be found here. It is important to note, for purposes of this study, that City Connects is limited to elementary school.

Because of its genesis within Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, City Connects has been widely studied by the school’s researchers. The latest report looks at long-term effects of the program on combatting high school dropout. The students under study were part of the first five cohorts of kindergarteners...


COMPILER'S NOTE: Bites will be on vacation for a few days. Back on 10/22/18.

  1. “Many fewer Ohio students would have access to a variety of school options without his long-term advocacy.” So says our own Chad Aldis, noting the recent passing of Ohio charter/choice pioneer and stalwart David Brennan at age 87. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/15/18)
  2. Ohio’s War on Knowing Stuff continued apace this week as the state board of education's achievement and graduation requirements committee unanimously voted out their new plan for getting diplomas to kids in bulk. These include multiple pathways to a diploma which require no real proof of numeracy, literacy, or science knowledge. Next up, a full vote of the board. (Gongwer Ohio, 10/16/18) Meanwhile ACT scores for the Class of 2018 suck, apparently. “In Ohio,” Jeremy Kelly writes, “55 percent of Ohioans in the Class of 2018 met the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in English, while 43 percent did so in reading, 38 percent in math and 35 percent in science. About 25 percent met the benchmarks in all four subjects.” Part of these appalling numbers are due to the fact that Ohio required all students to take the ACT this
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