Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. New Ohio charter sponsor ratings were released this week. For the first time, there are sponsors rated at the highest level, which is good. The Dispatch is focusing on the bad – 10 sponsors rated “Poor”. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15/17) The Plain Dealer is focusing on some specific good news – a better rating for Cleveland Metropolitan School District this year. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/15/17) Not so for Cuyahoga Falls City School District, which this year was rated “Poor”. It seems that they will appeal that rating. (My NEOhio, 11/16/17) As you can see, most of the initial discussion is around school districts and ESCs as sponsors, which always seems weird to me, especially when there are some other issues about the weighting of the factors which go into the ratings which could stand some more discussion. Gongwer’s take is a pretty good overall look at the results over time and the issues still outstanding. (Gongwer Ohio, 11/15/17)
     
  2. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but the Ohio Senate put up its Christmas tree already this week. And under it was SB 8, a bill whose final hodgepodge version hammered out in conference committee was intended to
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Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Education released the second round of charter sponsor (a.k.a. authorizer) ratings. The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell was quick out of the gate in noticing overall improvements from last year’s ratings (“Cleveland and other charter school sponsors doing a better job, new ratings show”) highlighting the Cleveland district’s own improvement as well as a high-level look at the grades. The Dispatch took a more negative spin, “Sponsors of 10 Ohio charter schools receive ‘poor’ ratings from state,” emphasizing that nearly half of sponsors earned a rating of Poor or Ineffective.

Indeed, 21 of 45 sponsors were deemed ineffective or poor for 2016-17. Yet the Dispatch omits the fact that all but six of these low-rated sponsors (one career technical center, one non-profit, and four educational service centers) were traditional public school districts. The story also took pains to note that those earning effectives did so “despite poor achievement ratings for some or many of their schools.” This is true, but it overlooks the reality that high-poverty schools across the board (charter or district) have struggled and will continue to struggle on achievement metrics until the state makes student growth over time a bigger...

Since 2012, the Center for Education Reform (CER) has released an annual “parent power index,”—a scorecard for states as well as an interactive tool for parents “to discover whether their state affords them power over their child’s education—and if not, what they can do to get it.”

The index rates states along five categories: (private) school choice, charter schools, online learning, teacher quality, and transparency—and then provides an overall score. It also offers quick facts on statewide achievement (NAEP proficiency and ACT scores) and student enrollment. On the latest index, Ohio ranks eleventh in the nation and scores well above the national average in all but one of the five categories.

How Ohio performed on the 2017 Parent Power Index

The question CER seeks to answer is an incredibly important one: how much power do parents really have? Unfortunately, this particular index is only partially accurate. Let’s take a quick look at what it got right, where it went askew, and how this local Ohioan views parent power in the Buckeye state.

School choice

The index gave Ohio a C for...

  1. Want a good read? Check out this little nugget on the Fordham-sponsored United Schools Network of charters here in Columbus, including a look at their new School Performance Institute. Just ignore the snarky subhead of the piece. They couldn’t help themselves, I suppose. (Columbus Monthly, 11/14/17)
     
  2. Sticking with the theme of good news for a moment, Dayton City Schools’ report card improved ever so slightly this week after a fix of some erroneous data as processed by the Ohio Department of Education. (Dayton Daily News, 11/13/17) The aforementioned erroneous data had to do with one aspect of graduation rates. The ways in which students reach graduation have, as my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers are painfully aware, been a subject of much angst in various halls of state government for a year or more. Graduation pathways were front and center again during this week’s state board of education meeting. Specifically, three options were presented to the board by ODE regarding the current grad requirements, which includes a non-academic pathway which applies only to the Class of 2018. For now. (Dayton Daily News, 11/13/17) I have to apologize to all four of my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers for
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“Collective efficacy” is the sense among group members that they have the capability to organize and execute the actions required to achieve their most important goals. Researchers have, for twenty years, tested it as a key factor in explaining performance differences among groups attempting the same task in areas such as healthcare and manufacturing. The literature on collective efficacy in K–12 education is new and growing, spearheaded largely by Roger D. Goddard of The Ohio State University. A new report by a group of researchers led by Dr. Goddard seeks to unite quantitative and qualitative data on the subject.

The quantitative portion of the analysis was fairly straightforward, looking at the math achievement levels of 13,472 fourth- and fifth-grade students on a mandatory assessment given annually in one large district in Texas. Change between the two years of scores was the sole academic measure utilized and researchers looked at achievement gaps between different school buildings and between black and white students. A measure of collective efficacy was derived using a twelve-item survey, which was administered to 2,041 teachers. The survey rated teachers’ level of agreement on a scale of one to five with statements such as, “Teachers are here...

Youngstown City School’s CEO Krish Mohip recently announced significant changes to how his district will evaluate its teachers.

Under Mohip’s new system, 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation score will be based on classroom observations of instruction and 50 percent will be based on student growth. So far so good; on its face, this is identical to the state’s original evaluation framework. The difference between the two is how student growth is measured. Under the state’s system, value added scores and vendor assessments are supplemented, when needed based upon the subject and grade level taught, by locally determined measures. Mohip, on the other hand, plans to evaluate individual teachers based on the entire district’s progress using only one student growth measure—shared attribution.

For those who are unfamiliar, shared attribution is the practice of attributing value added scores—which are largely determined by ELA and math state tests in grades 4-8—to every teacher in a school or district, regardless of the subject or grade level a teacher teaches. For instance, since a sixth grade social studies teacher does not have a state test that produces value added results, her student growth score would be based on how her...

  1. We’re back after a little break on Friday, with a lot of central Ohio education news. Stay with me on this first one; it’s twisty. Twenty-some years ago, Columbus City Schools was embroiled in a lawsuit over the use of religious music—specifically Christian hymns and spirituals—used in its graduation ceremonies. To end the suit, the board agreed to implement a no-religious-music policy district wide. Well, somehow that policy disappeared from the district’s rulebook a couple of years back and its absence was noted last week. Some board members are trying to get it reinstated, some are wondering if it can be finessed, and still others are more concerned about how it disappeared in the first place and wondering whether the policy was violated while it was accidentally off the books. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/9/17) Some of the original parties to the 90s-era lawsuit are still around and are of course adamant that the no-religious-music policy be reinstated immediately. The ACLU is intrigued as well, and would additionally like to know how the policy got dropped in the first place. I think the word they’re looking for is “boilerplate”. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/10/17)
     
  2. The urban development guru at Columbus Underground
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In the last week, central Ohioans got an interesting look at how Columbus City Schools deals with its taxpayer-provided finances and assets, courtesy of two stories from the Columbus Dispatch.

First up, the district got some rare kudos following what is believed to be a hacking scare. The details are still unclear but it seems that direct deposit data for dozens of district employees were accessed and changed by an outside entity in an attempt to divert payroll money into prepaid debit cards. Scary stuff! And the district deserves props for safeguarding its employees by requiring that the first paycheck after a direct deposit change must be a hard copy one. But for that accounting control, many thousands of taxpayer dollars would have been lost.

I’m sure it was a pain for employees who count on the regularity and ease of a direct deposit, but it could have been far worse. Neither the district nor its employees lost a dime and the change was noticed as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, not every dime of Columbus City Schools’ funding is equally valued.

Another Dispatch report detailed how an effort by the district to sell a surplus school building to...

  1. Props to Columbus City Schools for this accounting control measure that likely saved the figurative bacon of dozens of district employees. Surprisingly. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/6/17) Why the surprise? For one thing, we heard two weeks ago that many data control measures are yet to be implemented around attendance data more than five years after the widespread tampering of that data was revealed. And then there’s this: a very casual attitude toward millions of dollars of taxpayer funded assets at the very top of the district hierarchy. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/7/17)
     
  2. Speaking of money, here is perhaps a clue as to why the Lorain Promise plan appears to be so light on academic goals: an archaic health trust system bleeding nearly a million dollars, a pay scale that appears to give more money to subordinates than to their superiors, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of “supplemental pay” for a small group of teachers with no explanation as to its purpose. All this comes from district CEO David Hardy’s presentation of the Lorain Promise to the Academic Distress Commission earlier this week. Yeah, he includes some scary academic data in there too, but he seems to be indicating
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For the first time in their lives, my twin daughters are attending separate schools. It was a hard decision made after a lot of research and soul searching. My wife and I think both schools are good ones, but I’d be lying if I said I was 100 percent confident. The national debate over whether and how parents can know best when it comes to school choice has me wondering if we’ve chosen well. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that we had full information and access to many options, but I know that’s not the same for every family. That should be the debate on parental choice. Perhaps the process that my family went through—and the differences between the schools we ultimately chose—can help shed light on the larger discussion.

The school that both girls attended through ninth grade last year is an odd one, to be sure, and not just because of its sixth-through-twelfth-grade orientation. As a standalone STEM school, it is more like a charter than a traditional school, but it has no sponsor or elected board; it is supported by a consortium of higher education, philanthropic, and district leaders. As...

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