Ohio Gadfly Daily

Last month, the Center for Research on Educational Options (CREDO) at Stanford University released a new analysis of the performance of charter management networks, entities that may be engaged to oversee the day-to-day operations of a charter school. (See here for a short review of the report.) As in past CREDO studies, the results showed wide variations in performance depending on several indicators: network type, state, demographics, years spent in charters by pupils, etc.

Despite dozens of analyses and myriad ways to parse the CREDO data, most of the buzz around this study has focused on the analysis of network type, by profit status. Here are four takeaways that venture beyond the flashy headlines.

1) The for-profit versus non-profit discussion needs lots of nuance. CREDO’s comparison of charters based on the profit status of their operators snatched many of the headlines. This was unsurprising, given the current political milieu and much larger rifts within the charter coalition, where “profit” seems to be playing proxy for other issues. Still, it’s simplistic at best and misleading at worst to say—as EdWeek did—“for-profit charter schools show poor academic growth.” In comparison to their nonprofit counterparts, schools overseen by...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis is one of several Ohio sources quoted in this national piece looking at the state’s second-draft ESSA plan: how and why it’s changed, what its reception at USDOE might be, and what it means for accountability back home. (The 74 Million, 7/24/17)
  2. Editors in Toledo today opined with some horror at the lowered graduation requirements for the Class of 2018. (Toledo Blade, 7/26/17) Wonder why they are just getting around to condemning this outrage today? Oh, it’s probably because of the city’s dismal standing in this new ranking of least-educated cities in America. Bet TPS’s graduation rate will go through the roof next year…yay. (Toledo Blade, 7/26/17)
  3. As expected, the Lorain Academic Distress Commission on Monday chose their CEO from among the five finalists presented to the public last week. He is David Hardy Jr., who comes to Lorain from St. Louis Public Schools. He will not be on the job right away as he closes up shop in Missouri but the 90-day clock is now ticking toward the deadline for his and the ADC’s new turnaround plan. Not to mention the start of school in a month. (Northern Ohio
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Not much education news to report on from the weekend. In fact, there’s very little in the following pieces that has to do with education. More about adult interests, as usual. How very sad.

  1. As if only hearing about this CEO lark for the very first time last week, lots of folks in Lorain decided to speak up about it over the weekend. The Lorain-area NAACP prez says she is very upset with the elected school board. After last week’s theatrics, I’m sure you can guess why. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 7/21/17) At last week’s emergency school board reorganization meeting, Lorain’s police chief felt compelled to speak out against the ADC and its CEO search process, citing the Colossus of Lorain (a.k.a. the schmancy new-ish high school building) and some unspecified football victories as proof positive that all was well in the district. In this piece, Chiefy adds that the barely-extant Lorain Alumni Association is another sign that all is well in Lorain City Schools. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 7/21/17). Like the good public servant that it wants to be, the Vindy offered up dueling guest editorials on the whole ADC/CEO search situation. The argument to stop
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The New Teacher Center (NTC) is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve student learning via supports for beginning teachers. In 2012, NTC got a federal i3 grant to launch a teacher induction model that provides professional development, research-based resources, and online formative assessment tools for beginning teachers, mentors, and school leaders.

The NTC model has two goals: to develop first- and second-year teachers into effective instructors and to boost their retention, particularly in schools that are hard-to-staff or serve high-poverty student populations. Toward these ends, NTC deploys full-time mentors who are carefully selected and receive 100+ hours of intensive training. New teachers meet with their mentors weekly for at least 3 hours per month and work through an NTC-created suite of research-based tools that include classroom observation cycles. Mentor coaching lasts for two years.   

SRI Education recently evaluated the NTC induction model by conducting randomized controlled trials in the Broward County and Chicago Public Schools. The evaluation used both quantitative and qualitative methods and considered two aspects in particular: program implementation fidelity and teacher and student outcomes. These effects were measured over a three-year period (2013-14 to 2015-16) for two cohorts of new teachers.


  1. We start to today with a clutch of stories from Lorain. The “realness” of the arrival of a CEO in the district seems to have caught up with the elected school board. In the wake of the “meet the candidates” night earlier this week, they have determined they are “not satisfied” with the search process. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 7/20/17) I'm not sure if it's the process so much as the outcome of that process, but here is what the board members say they are upset about. If you think any of this sounds familiar from the saga of the ADC in Youngstown, you would not be incorrect. Wonder if there’s a hotline? (Elyria Chronicle, 7/20/17) As you may have noticed in those earlier pieces, an emergency board meeting was called for last night following the determination of “dissatisfaction”. With no detailed agenda put forward ahead of time, we all had to wait with bated breath as to what action the board would take. So here it is: The board was reorganized so the outspoken VP (“Dissatisfactor in Chief”?) would become president, and he then changed out the board’s teacher rep sitting on the ADC. Scary. And then
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Ohio policy makers just dismantled the high school graduation requirements for the class of 2018. This retreat harks back to the days of social promotion and state-sanctioned low expectations and should prompt some soul-searching as to what exactly we think young people need to be prepared for life after high school.

I’m all for high standards that are taken seriously by all concerned and that have real-world consequences. The point, after all, is to boost achievement, cause more learning by more young people, cause diplomas to mean something, and ensure that many more of our future citizens will be up to the challenges ahead.

But it’s also possible to demand too much. Witness the Chicago Public Schools: in addition to meeting basic high school graduation requirements like earning 24 credit hours in core subject areas and completing additional obligations such as service learning and consumer education, a new proposal requires high school students in the Windy City to prove that they have a “post-graduation plan” that includes a job or acceptance into the military, college, or a trade program.

Ohio’s plan is akin to providing high school graduates with flotation devices. Who cares if they...

  1. While many folks in the education realm here in Ohio are congratulating themselves on lowering the state’s graduation standards for the Class of 2018, some are still questioning the wisdom of the action (our own Aaron Churchill included) and some are worried about unintended consequences and/or unforeseen problems on the horizon. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/18/17) Speaking of which, did you know that Ohio has added 49 more possible work credentials that high schoolers can earn? The new credentials – including veterinary assistantship and forklift operation – bring the statewide total to over 250, but not every school offers every possible option, of course. Interesting. (WBNS-TV, Columbus, 7/19/17)
  2. In other statewide education news, the Superintendent Paolo DeMaria appears to be supportive of a bill to expand and change Ohio’s voucher programs. Nice. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 7/14/17)  And the Straight A Innovation Fund, eliminated in the recently-passed state budget bill, will not disappear overnight. Ongoing projects funded last year will still get their final funding and will, hopefully, go as far as possible with that last drip from the faucet. The Ohio Department of Education will wind down oversight of the program in the next 12 months or
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  1. We start today with something of a broad overview of education in Ohio, courtesy of state supe Paolo DeMaria. The supe presented his vision at the City Club of Cleveland last week, stressing the need for strategic planning and broad goals rather than what he calls “random acts of policy development”. Wonder what he means by that? (Gongwer Ohio, 7/14/17)
  2. Here’s one of those “big picture” things which the supe’s planning efforts should probably take into account – the large scale baby bust in the United States. The impacts of a declining number of young people needing K-12 education services should probably drive decision making now for the future. And of course since this decline has been going on for a decade, it should probably have been taken into account somewhat sooner than now. But hindsight is 20/20, amiright? (Dayton Daily News, 7/16/17)
  3. And just for balance, here are some small picture things that should probably get some attention in whatever strategic planning is on the horizon for Ohio. Toledo Public Schools has the highest number of students classified as homeless in Ohio – approximately 2,700 students last school year, representing a 37 percent increase
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At the end of June, Governor John Kasich vetoed a provision in the state budget bill that would have changed school grading calculations for purposes of evaluating the performance of Ohio’s charter school sponsors. Keep in mind that sponsors—as they should be—are evaluated in part on the basis of how well the charter schools in their portfolios are doing on state report card metrics. At issue here was the weight that the Ohio Department of Education places on student growth—or value added—relative to other measures. The General Assembly, seemingly unhappy with the current, bureaucratically derived framework for sponsor evaluations, had wanted to increase the weight on student growth from 20 to 60 percent. That change would have applied to the “summative” (or “overall”) A-F grades of charter schools when applied to the evaluation of their sponsors.[1]  

Transitioning sponsors towards a growth-centered system was a positive move by the legislature, and it’s disappointing that the governor vetoed the provision. Growth measures consider individual students’ academic performance over time and gauge a school’s impact on student achievement. They differ from status measures, such as proficiency rates, which are “snapshots” of student performance at a point...

  1. As originally noted in Wednesday’s clips, here is more on this week’s Ohio Supreme Court rulings against the state’s largest online charter school. And I do mean “against”. It ain’t over yet, of course, but three rulings in two hours has got to be a tough blow to absorb. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/12/17)
  2. As also originally noted in Wednesday’s clips, here is more on the third grade reading test “controversy”, from a Cleveland perspective. Same “problem” here as in the other districts who begged (and I do mean “begged”) the state board of education to do something to help them out – expecting the alternative tests’ cut scores to be lower than they were and being horribly wrong. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/13/17)
  3. As noted in the clips a few months ago, Lorain is attempting to build an Alumni Club of high school graduates in the area. Here is more on the status of recruitment efforts. Last time, we noted that district and Catholic high school grads were being sought, but this time we learned that alumni can be from “any Lorain school.” Interestingly, the district’s elected board seems a bit standoffish with regard to the club
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