Ohio Gadfly Daily

Most American public school teachers are paid according to salary schedules that take into account their years of experience and degrees earned. This compensation approach has been criticized because it doesn’t anchor teacher pay to instructional effectiveness or other factors that merit consideration (e.g., specializing in harder-to-staff fields or working in higher-need schools). Instead, teacher pay depends on factors that research suggests are not closely tied to student achievement. Now a new study by Michael Hansen and Diana Quintero of the Brookings Institution takes a different look at teacher salary schedules, this time through the lens of equitable pay and patterns of school funding.

In terms of wage distribution, the analysts find that public school teacher pay is more equitable relative to other occupations. Using the Theil Index—a measure of equity—they find that teacher pay is more evenly distributed than for doctors or lawyers and just slightly more equitable than for nurses or social workers. This is not surprising, as salary schedules tend to fit teacher pay within a relatively narrow range; for instance, salaries for Columbus educators range from about $40,000 to $90,000. Within the teaching profession, the pay differences are explained mainly...

  1. In the wake of ECOT’s assertion that it will have to close its doors in January if the clawback of funds by the state continues as planned, the Dispatch wondered what might happen to said clawback if those metaphorical doors – and the funding spigot – did indeed close. Not to worry, says Auditor of State Dave Yost (…), Attorney General Mike DeWine is on deck to squeeze blood from whatever stones are readily to hand. No word on how credit for this putative “win-win” would be apportioned as yet. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/6/17)
  2. Speaking of dropout recovery schools (were we?), here’s some better news on the report card front from one such school. Findlay Digital Academy, sponsored by Findlay City Schools, met or exceeded standards for its students at risk of dropping out. School officials are proud of their numbers and are open to sharing their recipe for success, as they do here. (Findlay Courier, 10/9/17)
  3. Mansfield City Schools is fairly typical in facing a chronic bus driver shortage for the second year running. Training time, licensure costs, private and charter school transportation, and weird scheduling are all part of the negative alchemy that works
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School choice is becoming more and more common across the country, creating more and more stories of student and family success. The Foundation for Excellence in Education wants to hear as many success stories as possible and has launched a contest to find them.

The Choices in Education Video Competition begins soon and is seeking video submissions from students, parents, or alumni of existing school choice programs (public school choice, charter, magnet, private school, virtual learning, or homeschool) and even from students and families who want more choice in their state. The best part: the winners will be chosen based not on the quality of the video, but on the sincerity and passion of the story told.

Three Grand Prize Winners will each receive a $15,000 cash prize, one People’s Choice Winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize, and three Finalists will each receive a $5,000 cash prize.

So what are you waiting for? The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2017.

You can find more information and submission information by clicking here.

Good luck! 

When it comes to gauging the performance of Ohio’s public charter schools, unfair comparisons and generalizations are all too common. Apples-to-oranges comparisons between individual schools and entire districts, as well as casual disregard for charter schools’ high percentages of children in poverty (while contrasting their performance with wealthier children), are inaccurate forms of analysis at best. At worst, they’re intentionally disingenuous. But unless you’re a wonk at heart, these data offenses probably aren’t on your radar.

There’s another refrain from charter critics that disturbs me—not as a data analyst or researcher, but as a parent. It’s the implication that if you’ve moved your child to a school that performs lower on report card measures than the district school to which you are zoned, that choice isn’t a very good one.

I see this critique often from charter critic Stephen Dyer as well as from bloggers, teachers unions, and other choice opponents. Dyer frequently asserts that lower-performing charter schools “drain” public resources from higher-performing ones. You can see this logic at work in specific complaints or in sweeping statements appearing in just about every Innovation Ohio brief, like:

…half of all state money sent to charters goes...

  1. Not much to report today; which is probably fine. The hour-long panel discussion of Lorain’s journey into (and hopefully out of) Academic Distress recorded last week finally aired yesterday on Cleveland public radio’s Sound of Ideas program. Worth a listen. (WCPN-FM, Cleveland, 10/5/17) Meanwhile, Lorain CEO David Hardy is hiring a firm to perform a review of the district’s expenditures – the “culture of our spending,” as he puts it. (Elyria Chronicle, 10/6/17)
  2. Speaking of money, officials at ECOT said mere hours ago that the school’s cash balance will go from plus $17 million to negative $302,000 as early as January and that the school would be forced to close its doors unless the state Supreme Court halts the clawback of funds currently underway due to the results of the school’s attendance audits for the past couple of years. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/6/17)
  3. And since we’ve invested so much in the topic today, let’s conclude by talking about money. Outside of episodes of The Simpsons, interest in nuclear power is waning. As a result, one nuclear plant in Northwest Ohio has been downgraded in value by the Ohio Department of Taxation. The school district in
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By expanding access to options including charters, choice advocates hope that more students will reap the benefits of attending high-performing schools. But do all families have charter options in their area? In this study, researchers chart the Ohio landscape and seek to answer two questions: First, where are charter schools located with respect to the poverty and racial demographics of their community? Second, do low-income families have equal access to charter schools?

To answer these questions, researchers Andrew Saultz of the University of Miami and Christopher Yaluma of the Ohio State University (and a Fordham research intern this past summer) collected data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Ohio Department of Education. These data were then used to conduct analyses on the geographic locations of brick-and-mortar charters and the characteristics of their surrounding communities. For the purposes of this study, a family is said to have access to a charter school if they live within a five-mile radius of one.

Unsurprising for those who are familiar with Ohio, the majority of charters are located in large cities like the Big 8 (e.g., Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton). This is almost certainly due to Ohio...

  1. Another outcome of the report card data this year is that three school districts are another step closer to falling into Academic Distress classification due to two years of bad grades. Two of these are near Cleveland, so Patrick O’Donnell took a look at what – if anything – those districts are doing to improve. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/3/17) Speaking of report card data, here is something of a curio. A Blade commentator is both blasting the state report card mechanism and aggressively touting the awesomeness of the Maritime Academy charter school. The problem: some mistaken reporting by the school leader led to a poor outcome on some aspect of the report card (unclear what it is exactly). While I, like the Blade, welcome any opportunity to big up the unique and interesting Maritime Academy, surely the report card issue will be fixed at some point and does little in the short term to harm the sterling reputation the school enjoys among both charter advocates and folks who would normally want to shut down any charter school. (Toledo Blade, 10/2/17)
  2. Back in the real world, the issue of fees charged to some students for use of
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Dr. Geno Thomas

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.

Lowellville Local Schools in Mahoning County, Ohio, where I am superintendent, has participated in Ohio’s open enrollment program for almost 20 years. Our district enrolls about 600 students annually, about 54 percent of whom attend from outside Lowellville’s district borders through Ohio’s open enrollment option. The program’s impact on our schools and students has been overwhelmingly positive, yet there has been some skepticism about open enrollment across the state. Most of these criticisms seem territorial at heart or seem to stem from a philosophical opposition to choice. Folks might ask, “Why should taxpayers have to pay for students who live outside their district?” or they may wonder about capacity issues, overcrowding, or transportation issues when serving kids outside of their bounds.

But there are other aspects of the program worth knowing about—real benefits for students, families, educators, and communities when districts opt to allow students via open enrollment.

1)      Greater course offerings. In Lowellville, given the manner in which...

On September 15, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) submitted its ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education. Ohio’s current accountability system meets most of the stipulations of the new federal law. As a result, Ohio’s federal plan doesn’t make that many changes to state practice.

But there is one under-the-radar ESSA provision that could have a significant impact on Ohio. ESSA explicitly says that when calculating four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, states can only use the percentage of students who earn a regular high school diploma. This diploma is defined as “the standard high school diploma awarded to the preponderance of students in the State that is fully aligned with State standards.” While there’s nothing stopping states from awarding multiple diplomas, the four-year graduation rate that they report to the feds can only be based on a single diploma—whichever one the majority of students earn.

This could have implications for how the state handles graduation for students with special needs, who represent about 15 percent of Ohio students. In a recent presentation to the State Board, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) put it this way:


  1. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: the reach of Aaron Churchill knows no geographic bounds. Here he is commenting on standardized testing in a Pennsylvania news outlet. It appears from this piece that there is no one in all of the Keystone State who supports standardized testing—which is weird—and so the reporter had to go looking far afield for someone to “bless the tests”, as we say around here. But maybe it’s just that no one like that was in the reporter’s contact list. Thank heaven for Aaron’s misspent Pennsylvania youth. (Morning Call, Allentown, PA, 9/30/17)
  2. Speaking of lone voices, data analyst Howard Fleeter appears to be alone in his assessment that Ohio’s school report card data is valuable. At least that’s how it appears in this round up of opinion on report cards from a group of state office holders as compiled by Gongwer. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/29/17) Oddly enough, the PD has a similar story with a similar tone—albeit with a few less voices in it. This is coverage of a community event held in Shaker Heights last week in which some legislators and state board members talked about report cards. (Cleveland
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