Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Here is a nice look at a charter school in Canton, newly opened this school year, which focuses on students with special needs. For anyone who’s keeping count (besides me), that’s now two articles from shall we say “typical skeptics” reporting nice things about charters managed by Cambridge Education Group. (Canton Repository, 1/10/17) On the topic of students with special needs, the Warren County ESC has purchased a former church complex in Franklin, Ohio, in which to expand their Laura Farrell Learning Center. Looks like the aim of this program (not a school, despite the headline) is to expand the provision of services for students in need of extra help to flourish in traditional classroom settings. This is a good advance look at the program’s expansion plans. (Dayton Daily News, 1/11/17)
     
  2. Today is day three of a strike by Dayton RTA bus drivers and mechanics. We have told you repeatedly about the school district’s transportation woes, now the Gem City transit strike is affecting students who take RTA as an alternative. New talks are supposedly set for today. (Dayton Daily News, 1/10/17)
     
  3. Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers will recall that Ohio’s state board of education in
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  1. Columbus City Schools is looking to expand selective admissions in a number of its lottery schools. This effort comes complete with school fairs to help district families find the best fit for their students among the CCS offerings. Whatever you may think of the former move, the latter is most definitely a welcome development. More please! (Columbus Dispatch, 1/9/17)
     
  2. Speaking of school choice, here’s another look at open enrollment from the perspective of a group of districts in Northern Ohio who seem to swap students back and forth fairly regularly. As is typical with these stories, the folks interviewed seem to have a clear grasp on the dollars and cents involved with open borders but very little idea as to why students come or go from their districts (aside from the dry observation that “people always like to have a choice”). Seems to me that one of these is more important to the proper functioning of the program than the other. Just sayin’. (Fremont News-Messenger, 1/6/17)
     
  3. Columbus will likely need permission from the state board of education for the above-mentioned proposal to expand selective admissions. The new session of the board begins with its first meeting
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  1. Our own Chad Aldis was quoted this week on Ohio’s placement in EdWeek’s latest Quality Counts survey of states. At a glance, the Buckeye State’s middling rank was lackluster, but Chad’s more in-depth analysis helps put the data in context. Check out that analysis in Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 1/4/17) and in the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 1/5/17).
     
  2. Speaking of EdWeek, here’s a nicely-detailed piece on what various states are doing in terms of preparation for ESSA accountability plan implementation. Ohio’s recent “massive” effort at public input is noted with general positivity. (Education Week, 1/4/17)
     
  3. Youngstown City Schools has a new COO, having “poached” the superintendent of a nearby (i.e. - suburban, higher-performing) district for the job. It seems that Youngstown CEO Krish “Sheriff” Mohip has no problem finding high-level talent to fill the ranks of his deputies. Now, about that school board… (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/5/17)
     
  4. Finally, we have a curious little piece from the PD in which census data reveals the percentage of school-age children attending private vs. public schools in all of the cities in the state. The full chart is there, but the article focuses on Northeast Ohio. No mention is
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Today Education Week released its annual Quality Counts report card for states. Ohio earned a C with an overall score of 74.2, aligning the Buckeye State for the second year in a row with national U.S. average (also 74.2). Its ranking of 22nd is up one place from 2016; all of Ohio’s neighboring states earned a C or C-minus except for Pennsylvania, which earned a B.

Ohio’s individual sub-grades also remained unchanged from last year:

  • C-plus in Chance for Success—a measure that includes educational inputs and outputs across the life span such as family income, parent educational levels, preschool and kindergarten enrollment, fourth- and eighth-grade NAEP scores, and adult educational attainment.
  • C-minus in K-12 Achievement—looks at student performance on the NAEP, graduation rates and percent of students scoring 3 or above on AP exams, as well as gaps in proficiency between poor and non-poor students.
  • C in School Finance—a measure that includes state funding systems’ reliance on local property wealth as well as other measures of equity, per pupil expenditures, and share of taxable resources spent on education.

For the last several years in the Quality Counts report cards, Ohio’s subcategory scores largely stayed consistent despite several shifts in...

John Morris

NOTE: The State Board of Education of Ohio on December 13, 2016 debated whether to change graduation requirements for the Class of 2018 and beyond. Below are the written remarks of John Morris, given before the board.

Members of the Board,

Thank you for giving me a moment to offer testimony on behalf of the construction industry. Members of the industry sent me here to thank you for setting a new higher bar with the class of 2018 graduation requirements. We are excited that this board has supported maintaining high standards for graduating and earning a diploma in the State of Ohio. Members of the construction industry were very pleased when the phase out of the Ohio Graduation Test was announced in favor of multiple end-of-course exams and the opportunity for an industry credential to help a student graduate. We expect this new system to be an improvement over the current system that graduates many without the skills to succeed in college and continuously FAILS to introduce others to the hundreds of thousands of pathways to employment via industry credentials.

For many decades, industries such as construction and manufacturing enjoyed a steady stream of individuals coming directly from "vocational" schools...

  1. Looks like the new year is starting in Youngstown City Schools the same way the old one ended – with a battle of words between the school board and the CEO waged in the pages of the Vindy. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/3/17)
     
  2. Meanwhile, the new year means a new CEO-style Academic Distress Commission for Lorain City Schools. In fact, March 7 is the exact date. Here’s a very thorough look at the preparations already underway. If this story is accurate, the “Lorain Plan” feels a lot different than the “Youngstown Plan” to me. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 1/1/17)
     
  3. Editors in Toledo opined this week against a proposed zoning change that would, they say, “attack the autonomy” of charter schools in the Glass City. Yes. You read that right. (Toledo Blade, 1/2/17) In case you’re wondering what the zoning proposal is, you can check out the details here. You can also check out who is spearheading it and why and who thinks it’s a bad idea and why. (Toledo Blade, 12/25/16) Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers may remember that zoning and review mechanisms were used successfully in 2015 to scuttle a move by another charter school to
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In late 2016, we at the Ohio Gadfly asked for your predictions on the most important education issues of 2017. Here were your prognostications, along with—as you might expect from us at the Gadfly—commentary on how we hope these debates will unfold in the year to come.

Number 5: School accountability

It’s no surprise to see school accountability on our readers’ list of big issues for 2017. In the coming year, Ohio will submit a revised plan for accountability under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Fortunately, the law doesn’t require the Buckeye State to undertake a major overhaul of its accountability policies. Ohio can and should stay the course on its key policies (with minor adjustments; see number 2 below). For instance, policymakers should maintain the use of a performance index and student growth measures or value added; they should also preserve a transparent A-F grading system. As Ohio’s ESSA plan is reviewed and debated, policymakers must ensure that accountability policies uphold high expectations for all pupils and offer clear information on school quality.  

Number 4: E-schools

With over 30,000 Ohio pupils attending virtual charter schools, the Buckeye State has one of the largest e-school...

Following the lead of our D.C. colleagues, we totted up the most-read articles posted on Ohio Gadfly Daily in 2016.

The Top Five editorial posts are a microcosm of the issues we address regularly in an effort to advance educational excellence in a very real way here in the Buckeye State:

1. House Bill 420: Opting out of accountability by Jamie Davies O’Leary (published January 25)

At the height of the pushback against Common Core-aligned testing in Ohio, HB 420 was born. It would have allowed schools and districts to exempt from certain accountability measures those students whose parents opted them out of taking standardized tests. We cautioned against the inadvertent deterrent effect on testing participation and the erosion of the state’s accountability system.

2. How will ESSA change Ohio’s school report cards? by Jessica Poiner (published June 13)

Ohio’s accountability and report card system was reasonably robust before the advent of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), but as we discussed in detail back in June, the myriad new reporting requirements would engender a number of changes for the Buckeye State to be in compliance with ESSA. Our point-by-point analysis is a must-read for anyone who...

  1. Public radio’s Andy Chow published his year-end education wrap up yesterday. He wrote mainly about charter schools and resurrected an old quote from our own Chad Aldis in regard to the delayed award of federal Charter School Program grant funds. Thanks, Andy! (WVXU-FM, Cincinnati, 12/29/16)
     
  2. One of the few non-charter-specific items Andy mentioned in his wrap up was the potential change in Ohio’s new graduation requirements mooted near the end of the year. This issue was taken up by the state board of education in its last meeting of the year and was ultimately kicked down the road a bit further by the creation of a study group to look at the issue. In question is whether more stringent end-of-course exam requirements – in force for the Class of 2018 – will result in a “graduation rate apocalypse”. However, in the real world, we have the example of Shelby City Schools, a smallish district in North Central Ohio whose leaders are taking the new requirements seriously and are working hard to identify those students who may not reach the needed points – and putting plans and support in place to make sure they put in the work
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  1. We start with a curious little story from Dayton. It is ostensibly about the reaction of several Dayton-area colleges to a new report predicting a decline in the overall number of high school graduates produced by U.S. schools over the next 20 years (e.g. – erosion of their customer base). Most of the word count is dedicated to that reaction (in short: look for new college students elsewhere and work hard to attract those U.S. students who are around). However, the more interesting question – why there is expected to be such a precipitous decline – is unaddressed here. You, like me, will have to read the latest edition of Knocking on the College Door from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in order to answer that question. To be fair to the DDN, it was 30-some pages into said report before we even got an inkling of the reasons. Weird. (Dayton Daily News, 12/27/16)
     
  2. As we noted when those ratings first came out, school districts across the state fared particularly poorly on charter sponsor evaluations. One such district, Oregon City Schools in suburban Toledo, is formally appealing its rating in a bid to keep its
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