Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Sad news from Cincinnati this week: due to a “declining pool of applicants” two Catholic girls schools will merge at the end of the 2017-18 school year, eliminating activity at the century-old Mother of Mercy school building. Is it just me or does it seem like we hear similar news every year about this time lately? (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/2/17)
  2. The board of the I Can charter schools network voted this week to hire a new operator for all of its schools in Ohio, citing the need for more efficient operations. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/3/17)
  3. We end the week with a look at the adult diploma program in Youngstown. In just one year of operation, 30 adults have completed long-delayed graduation requirements via the state’s 22+ Diploma program. Some, like the woman profiled here, are far above the age of 22. She, for one, has a new direction in life because of the program. Nice. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/2/17)
  1. The reach of Fordham’s Aaron Churchill is wide. Case in point: his guest commentary on the influence of union interests in the current LAUSD school board race. (LA School Report/The 74, 2/28/17)
  2. Speaking of union interests, the Rep reports in a glass-half-full kind of way that nearly all actions relating to the Louisville teachers union strike have been “concluded” in one way or another…except for that one grievance and that one court case still pending. Oh, and those three teachers still suspended for deleting files before heading to the picket lines. (Canton Repository, 2/26/17) Union reps, lawyers, and negotiators from districts around Stark County say that they are doing everything they can to avoid a repeat in their districts of the ugliness and division experienced before, during, and after the Louisville strike. (Canton Repository, 2/26/17) Unfortunately, that spirit appears not have wafted outside the county borders, as the current, deteriorating relationship between union and board in Brecksville-Broadview Heights bears a strong resemblance to that in Louisville. Hopefully the incoming mediator will do better here than he did – initially – in Louisville. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/28/17)
  3. Finally, we conclude this downer of a clips
  4. ...


Ohio’s current approach to school funding (K-12) has several strengths, including its ability to drive more state aid to disadvantaged districts and to add dollars for students with greater educational needs. But in a time when Ohio’s budget – like that of many other states – is stretched thin, policy makers need to ensure that every dollar is being well spent. As state lawmakers debate Ohio’s biennial budget, thoughtful analysis is more important than ever.

We invite you to attend the release event for Fordham’s latest research report, A Formula That Works. Conducted by national education policy experts at Bellwether Education Partners, this analysis is a deep dive into Ohio’s education funding policies and includes several recommendations for improvement. The study touches on questions such as: How


Ohio’s draft plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) came out earlier this month, and we at Fordham continue to analyze it and offer our thoughts. In a previous article, I argued that Ohio’s plans for improving low-performing schools were underwhelming. But there is an even more worrisome set of details worth pointing out and rectifying—namely that Ohio’s proposal will likely result in a vast number of schools and districts being labeled as failing and routed into a burdensome and ineffective corrective action process.

For starters, Ohio’s ESSA plan moves beyond what’s required by law when it comes to identifying “low-performing” schools. Federal law requires states to have at least two buckets for school improvement—comprehensive support and targeted support (or the equivalent of what Ohio is naming “priority” and “focus” schools, respectively). The law is direct in spelling out how states should place schools in either category (see Table 1).

Table 1: ESSA requirements

Now take a look at Ohio’s proposed criteria below.

Table 2: Ohio’s proposed implementation of ESSA’s requirements


  1. It was announced last week that Dayton City Schools will be initiating a new online school starting in the 2017-18 school year. It is meant to compete for students with online charter schools like ECOT, which, despite an endless barrage of bad press and legal actions has managed to attract more than 50 kids from Dayton schools so far this year, a district data wonk reported. But we’ll give board member Adil Baguirov the final word on this great new development. As he puts it, it is “long overdue to bring back these dollars.” Dollars. (Dayton Daily News, 2/26/17)
  2. If I’m reading this correctly, officials in Toledo City Schools seem very pessimistic regarding the ability of quite a large number of their high schools to pass upcoming tests related to their graduation. So much so that the district is revamping the school day schedules for an entire week and is planning to schlep more than 3,200 Chromebooks from elementary schools to high schools across the city and back again just to make sure high schoolers can retake the tests as many times as they need to in order to get high enough scores. Or am I misreading
  3. ...

Since the 1980s, there has been a significant increase in the average age at which women in industrialized nations have their first child. Advanced maternal age, medically defined as ages 35 and up, has in a number of studies shown negative association with infant health, and potentially, development in later life. However, data from three separate birth cohorts in the United Kingdom (1958, 1970, and 2001) indicated a marked increase in the cognitive ability of first-born children over time. At face value, this appears to be a disconnect: Shouldn’t the trend towards later child-bearing correlate to lower cognitive abilities among first-borns? A trio of researchers explored what was behind the unexpected results and recently published their results in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The three birth cohorts were studied separately for different longitudinal research projects and each included more than 16,000 randomly sampled children born in specific windows of time. Cognitive ability of the children was assessed at the ages of 10 or 11 using different tests of verbal cognition depending on the cohort. The researchers in the present study combined the data and standardized the three different test results to ensure the best comparability...

Under federal and state law, Ohio policy makers are responsible for gauging and reporting on the performance of its 3,000 public schools and 600 districts. To do this, Ohio has a report card system that assigns A-F grades based on a variety of performance indicators. While Ohio does not currently roll up these disparate component grades into a final “summative” rating, in 2017-18, the Buckeye State will join thirty-nine other states that do just that.

Why summative grades? They are intended to accomplish a number of purposes, including improving the transparency of complicated rating systems, helping families decide where to send their child to school, and guiding local decision making on which schools need the most help and which deserve recognition. With the importance placed upon these overall ratings, it is critical to examine the grading formula that Ohio policy makers will use to calculate schools’ final letter grades—specifically the weights assigned to each element of the school report card.

Current weights

Ohio law requires the State Board of Education to create the summative school rating formula within two key parameters: 1) it must include all six main components of the state report card; and 2) it must equally...

  1. At its sunset, the Lorain City Schools’ Academic Distress Commission was lionized by the school board at a special meeting this week. Nope. I don’t get it either. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/22/17)
  2. A new Spanish language immersion program is part of bevy of new options coming to Cincinnati City Schools’ students next year. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/22/17)
  3. It is difficult to tell by the way his piece is written whether Morning Journal reporter Kevin Martin actually went to the meeting in Avon earlier this week intended to solicit public input on Ohio’s proposed ESSA plan or whether he just got an overview of how it went from one if the organizers after the fact. Either way, Martin’s version (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/22/17) differs markedly from the version written up by confirmed eyewitness Patrick O’Donnell of the Plain Dealer. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/23/17) Kind of like the way that soda water is different from moonshine. Or gasoline.
  4. That was quick. We told you Wednesday that Youngstown Schools’ CIO John LaPlante was nominated for what appears to be the prestigious Illuminator of the Year award. Well, between now and then, he’s actually gone

It’s budget season in Ohio, and that means plenty of debates about school funding and other education policy issues. Buried deep in the legislative language is a short provision about teacher licensure that’s garnering a whole lot of pushback—as it should. Here’s the legislative language: “Beginning September 1, 2018, the state board of education’s rules for the renewal of educator licenses shall require each applicant for renewal of a license to complete an on-site work experience with a local business or chamber of commerce as a condition of renewal.”

In Ohio, teacher licenses are renewed every five years. Although the requirements vary depending on the license, renewal typically involves six semester hours of coursework related to classroom teaching or the area of a teacher’s licensure and 18 continuing education units. If this proposal becomes law, completing an externship at a local business will become part of the process.

The intentions behind this requirement are good: Governor Kasich is trying to actuate a recommendation made by his executive workforce board, which wants to “help business connect with schools, and to help teachers connect with strategies to prepare their students for careers.” This is a worthy...

In early February, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released the first draft of its state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Required by law to incorporate at least one “non-academic” indicator in its report card, Ohio chose two: student engagement as measured by chronic absenteeism and the Prepared for Success report-card component. In a previous piece, I explored the student engagement aspect; here, I tackle the Prepared for Success (PFS) component, which is designed to gauge how well prepared students are for what comes after high school.

The PFS component contains six measures that are combined to determine an A-F grade. They are divided into a “primary” and “bonus” category. Primary measures earn districts one point toward their composite score and include students who earn any of the following: