Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. The Dayton City Schools’ plan for improving educational outcomes for students (a.k.a. “avoiding state takeover”) is moving forward…starting with a shut down. Every school in the district will be closed for one day—spread out through October and November—so that all teachers can undergo training to solve what the supe says is a “lack [of] the quality instructional practices they need and want.” Should be a doddle, right? (Dayton Daily News, 9/22/18) Also in the DDN, the next edition of their Path Forward series. This time it is about job skills and retraining for today’s in-demand jobs. The only role for K-12 here, it seems, relates to career and technical education, a.k.a. CTE FYI. OK? (Dayton Daily News, 9/24/18)
  2. The exact same set of stories was in the Plain Dealer recently too. It went like this. East Cleveland City Schools, already staring down the barrel of the installation of an Academic Distress Commission to oversee the district, has sued the state of Ohio to “avoid state takeover”. The suit may not be heard until late November. Sigh. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/22/18) In the latest installment in the PD’s Pathways to Prosperity series, the topic is—you guessed it—CTE.
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NOTE: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.

Postsecondary enrollment marks a critical transition point for students after they graduate high school.  It’s important that students enroll in some form of postsecondary education opportunity beyond high school—whether that be college, advanced training, or the military. This is particularly true for low-income students and other underrepresented populations. Unfortunately, a 25-percentage-point difference exists between high- and low-poverty schools (52 percent and 77 percent, respectively) when it comes to enrolling in college in the first fall after high school graduation.

In Ohio, students have a variety of options that can help them transition from high school to college. Most people have heard of College Credit Plus (CCP), but the lesser known early college high schools (ECHS) provide an important pathway to college—particularly for low-income students.

In fact, according to the Ohio Department of Education, ECHS programs must prioritize:

  • Students who are underrepresented in regard to completing post-secondary education
  • Students who are economically disadvantaged, as defined by the Ohio Department of Education
  • Students whose parents did not earn a college degree

ECHS provide mostly low-income...


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 second in our series, under the umbrella of ensuring seamless transitions to college or career. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: State agencies should connect, or allow a research university to connect, students’ K–12 and higher-education records with workforce data, such as wages, career fields, or unemployment records. This proposal may not require legislation but would require state leadership to coordinate between agencies and ensure a secure IT system that protects sensitive personal information. With an integrated information system, the state could then begin reporting (though not necessarily use for formal accountability purposes) workforce outcomes by high school or college and university.

Background: For more than a decade, Ohio has reported extensive data on K–12 student outcomes on its school report cards and in publicly accessible databases. These data systems are integral to transparently reporting proficiency and growth on...


K–12 education in America is making greater and greater use of digital resources. Schools are using them for ease (group collaboration via Google Docs), expense (electronic textbooks and curricular materials are cheap and easily distributed), and convenience (group chats and electronic grade reporting make necessary communication quick and uniform). Additionally, the workplaces into which graduates will emerge run on digital devices—even in more traditional fields such as medicine and manufacturing.

It is easy for those of us old enough to have memories of yesterday’s analogue world to minimize this evolution. We adapted to email easily enough and were quick to trade our pagers for flip phones, after all. But the more that non-electronic alternatives bow out and the more our world is run by digital natives, we ignore inequitable access to technology at the peril of our young people. A new brief from ACT, Inc. shines some interesting light on the status of technology access among today’s students.

A group of ACT researchers surveyed a random sample of 7,233 American students who took the ACT as part of its national administration in April 2017. Students were asked a series of questions about the availability and use of electronics at...

  1. Quick show of hands: How many of you are as tired of talking about graduation requirements as I am? Luckily for Ohio’s students, Chad’s hand is placed firmly on the table. He is quoted here on the topic of keeping strong graduation requirements in place in Ohio. He is literally the only one. Again. What on earth is happening here? (Dayton Daily News, 9/20/18)
  2. Folks in Dayton—schools, businesses, the city—are said here to be in “lockstep” in their desire to raise Dayton City Schools from the achievement basement. There are not a lot of details here yet, but Godspeed, y’all. (Dayton Daily News, 9/20/18)
  3. There was a lot going on at the State Auditor’s office this week, it seems. If this piece is accurate, the auditor’s presentation on the history (and potential future) of his Ohio Performance Team was part nag, part brag, and part theater. I love it! What I don’t love is the possibility that 93 percent of school districts might be spending more than they take in within the next five years. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/19/18)
  4. The new Columbus City Schools supe—unanimously chosen by the board yesterday—is a familiar face. Kudos
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Ohio school report cards released

The Ohio Department of Education last week released much-anticipated school and district report cards. For the first time in six years, report cards included an overall grade. Here is an analysis of Ohio’s Urban 8 cities, comparing charter performance to that of district schools across several measures. While the data are dispiriting overall, some bright spots emerge especially among charter schools. Additionally, the Dayton Daily News provided an analysis of area charter school report cards. Kudos to several high performing charter schools in the Miami Valley.


Federal education funding for FY 2019 moves forward; includes boost for CSP

Last week, U.S. House and Senate members reached agreement on the education portion of a FY 2019 spending bill. Among other important features, the bill would provide $440 million for the Charter School Program (CSP), the highest-ever funding level in the program’s history. A good summary of the CSP and other provisions comes from EdWeek. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate; the House currently faces a September 30 deadline to vote. In a timely release, the National Charter School Resource Center is out with a new...


As part of the XQ Institute’s continued efforts to reinvent American high schools to better align with the modern world, it recently released High School and the Future of Work, a guide for state policymakers that outlines how they can encourage meaningful change in their states.

The bulk of the guide is devoted to outlining specific recommendations for encouraging innovation. These recommendations fall into three major categories: empowering local communities, making diplomas meaningful, and getting teachers the tools they need. Although Ohio has already implemented a few of the recommended strategies, there are others that policymakers have not yet advocated for but should. Let’s take a look.

Empowering local communities

In order for real innovation to occur, policymakers can’t just foist changes onto local schools. Reform must either be led by local communities or done in collaboration with them. That’s why XQ recommends that states use pilot programs to test out innovative new approaches in schools that are ready and willing to participate. In Ohio, one such example is the competency-based education pilot, which was created as part of a previous state budget. Five sites were chosen to implement the pilot for three academic years,...

  1. The state board of education met this week, and two big topics were on the front burner. First up: graduation requirements. Board members are said here to be considering a “menu of options” for changes to those requirements. Seems to me that it’s a menu like this that got Taco Bell voted Best Mexican restaurant in America. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted within, seeming to have that same queasy feeling. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/18/18) Speaking of same, Jeremy Kelley has used a testy Twitter exchange as the basis of his piece looking at the difference between Fordham’s position on graduation requirements and State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria’s position. Classy. (Dayton Daily News, 9/19/18) Seems that the General Assembly may have a couple of objections to the menu items on offer as well. Maybe if it comes down to a chalupa or nothing, though… (Gongwer Ohio, 9/18/18) The other big topic was state report cards. Board members aired their various complaints this week. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/17/18)
  2. As we noted on Monday, schools and districts seem to have a limited set of responses to their report cards. Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon – in his
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Setting a high standard and then backing away from it the way Ohio policymakers have done repeatedly over the last few years is not wise governance. It leaves schools and students in a constant state of flux, makes it difficult for schools and parents to evaluate progress, and communicates a lack of faith in the state’s students, teachers, and schools.

The development of a strategic plan for education offered policymakers a clear opportunity to get something right after years of getting it wrong—a chance to propose rigorous and data-driven academic goals and then actually stick to them. Unfortunately, that opportunity passed by unseized. Rather than propose an ambitious goal, the plan does the opposite. It proposes something so vague and easily achievable that policymakers won’t need to back down because schools and students won’t have any trouble achieving it. Take a look:

Ohio will increase annually the percentage of its high school graduates who, one year after graduation, are:

  • Enrolled and succeeding in a post-high school learning experience, including an adult career-technical education program, an apprenticeship and/or a two-year or four-year college program;
  • Serving in a military branch;
  • ...

Last Thursday, Ohio released annual school report cards that offer parents and communities an objective review of the academic performance of its roughly 600 districts and 3,500 public schools. Much of the focus has understandably been on the “bottom line,” as this year’s reports included for the first time overall A through F grades that combine the many separate elements of the report card, much like GPAs do for students. In cities like Dayton and Columbus, the bottom-line F’s assigned to their school systems naturally made for depressing headlines.

Nobody should ignore or excuse the district-level results, as they speak volumes about the leadership and governance of those school systems—and about the often-challenging demographics of the children who fill them. But it’s also important to dive deeper and look at campus-level data. After all, children attend schools where education is actually delivered. It’s doubly important in Ohio’s major cities, as children have many school options—including public charters and district-operated schools—that vary widely in their report-card ratings. These differences are important for families to see and understand, as they should influence parents’ decisions about where to enroll their children. They’re also critical for civic and philanthropic leaders wishing to...