Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. State supe Paolo DeMaria and veteran analyst Howard Fleeter were featured presenters at this week’s meeting of the House Speaker's Taskforce on Education and Poverty. Truth be told, I didn’t hate what they had to say, especially their focus on schools which are already showing success in closing achievement gaps for students living in poverty. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/28/17)
  2. Kudos to Jeremy Kelley for being the first journalist to look at teacher ratings as part of the recent report card data. Brickbats for the data, which seems somewhat unrealistic. (Dayton Daily News, 9/29/17)
  3. Dear ECOT, I have some questions about your expenditures under the line item ‘advertising’. Give me a call when you get a chance. Sincerely, Auditor Yost (…). P.S. – Please find enclosed several subpoenas and the phone number of the attorney general’s special counsel appointed to help me out on this. TTFN. Dave.” (Columbus Dispatch, 9/27/17) “Dear ECOT (and VCS, but that’s beside the point), still finding some big discrepancies in your attendance audit for last year. Because it wasn’t nearly as bad as the previous year, you may be pleased to find that the enclosed clawback invoice is a much more
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  1. I was remiss in not clipping this piece from the massive “CBus Next” education package in the Dispatch last week. It is about “the future of education” and talks a lot about technology – robots, combining science with art and history classes, virtual reality, etc. That well known advocate of MOOCs and online course choice Aaron Churchill is quoted within, which is important. But as a side not: don’t a couple of those schools featured in here sounds really cool? I really think so, but I could be biased. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/22/17)
  2. Speaking of online education, ECOT this week cleared the first hurdle toward its regeneration as a dropout recovery school as the Ohio Department of Educated accepted its report that the majority of its students are in need of a special program for at-risk students. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/26/17)
  3. And speaking of alternatives to the status quo, let’s not forget the original “opt out”: homeschooling, which is still a sizeable slice of the education pie here in Ohio. And it’s gotten more sophisticated too: with “homeschool cooperatives” evolving to provide unique experiences for students and families well beyond the kitchen table. Take a look
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You have no doubt seen numerous media stories regarding the recent release of school report card data in Ohio. As supporters of a robust accountability system, we urge you to pay attention to the stories and the ongoing discussion. The success of our public schools (charter and district) in doing the vital work with which they are entrusted must be assessed, reported, and analyzed. Schools which evidence success should be lauded, emulated, and expanded to reach as many students as possible. Schools which struggle in any area should be highlighted and helped to improve if possible.

None of these things can happen without robust data and clear-eyed analysis.

Fordham has worked for many years to be a source of unbiased analysis, research, and commentary on the state’s annual report card data. With Ohio’s most recent data release having occurred in mid-September, we have published the following:

  1. Two separate stories; a similar theme. That theme is the correlation between test scores and race/income as reflected in state report card data. First up, Aaron is quoted on that topic in the Dispatch. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/24/17) Next up, Chad is quoted on that topic at length on statewide public television. (State of Ohio, via Ideastream Public Media, 9/22/17) Well, now that we’re all agreed (thanks to the data that we have at hand), on with the solutions, right?
  2. We interrupt your regularly-scheduled report card data update to bring you this “news”: the Ohio Department of Education isn’t currently planning to change its process for verifying students’ “at-risk” status despite the fact that ECOT will soon be entering into said process. Chad is on hand to suggest that if this is a problem for folks (well duh), the legislature may want to consider inducing a change. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/23/17)
  3. Returning to report card-related pieces, editors in Youngstown this weekend opined upon the district’s still-dismal report card and how that may affect their support for the CEO. Ouch. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/24/17) You will note that despite their angst (perhaps understandable given that the CEO’s “latitude”
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Cris Gulacy-Worrel

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.

The recent request by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) to apply for Ohio’s Drop Out Prevention and Recovery (DOPR) designation has shined a spotlight on this unique type of alternative school and has created many misconceptions surrounding what they do, the students they serve, and how they serve them.

Those of us who have dedicated our careers to providing safe, inclusive, high-quality learning environments for our most challenged students think these misconceptions should be identified and exposed. DOPR is a status for which schools must apply and is outlined in state law. The designation has existed for many years. Only programs that meet the components set forth by law are approved by the Department of Education. DOPR schools must meet specified academic as well as financial objectives set by the Department. The designation is not a shelter for charter schools to utilize as a protection against public accountability for student performance, nor are drop out recovery waivers intended to be leveraged by schools not specializing in this specific student population. The designation is meant...

  1. More on state report cards to start the day. To wit: at least one state legislator is very very unhappy about state report cards, for reasons which are barely articulated in this piece. He’s got some support among the usual statewide public media interviewee pool. Fordham is namechecked in this piece as well, regarding charter school report card data. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 9/22/17) Fordham is namechecked at the very end of this piece as having supported a “solution” two years ago to what is apparently a longstanding “problem” regarding charter school sponsor payments. Why mention that now? That “problem” is now seen as one of a couple of “loopholes” which might “benefit” ECOT (pronounced “not stop them”) in its efforts to regenerate into a dropout recovery school. And you know how journalists hate loopholes. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/21/17)
  2. The Columbus Dispatch has been publishing a monthly series on “The Future” of our great city, looking at various areas of civic endeavor and looking at what’s next within those areas in some depth. They have reached the topic of education this month, and one of the voices talking about “what’s next” is United Schools Network CEO Andy Boy.
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A recent article in Education Week highlighted how an under-the-radar ESSA provision could spell trouble for states with multiple high school diplomas. The provision outlines the definition of a regular high school diploma, which must be used to calculate a state’s four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate. Specifically, the definition of a regular high school diploma is: “the standard high school diploma awarded to the preponderance of students in the State that is fully aligned with State standards.”

The trouble that several states are running into is with the phrase “the preponderance of students in the State.” Preponderance, by definition, means a majority. In the past, some states offering multiple diplomas have calculated their graduation rates by adding up the percentage of students who earn each of the different diplomas. Under ESSA, states will only be permitted to count one of those diplomas—a move that could significantly lower graduation rates.

According to the EdWeek article, the provision was intended to ensure that the diplomas states award are adequately preparing all students. “Advocates for lower-income and minority students, and those with disabilities, were key voices at the table when that section of the bill was being drafted,” EdWeek journalist...

  1. The folks at the Mansfield News Journal were curious as to how the district’s Malabar Middle School earned As on their progress grades (across the board, nice!) while still getting D and F grades in areas of achievement. Our own Aaron Churchill is anonymously quoted on the topic, but not in answering the question. The answer, it seems, is good old fashioned high expectations, strong curriculum, and hard work from teachers and students. Mystery solved. (Mansfield News Journal, 9/18/17)
  2. In case you missed it, the state board of education met this week with a packed agenda. Most of which I don’t care about. However, Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in regard to one item of interest: the removal of a requirement for charter schools to report “adverse media coverage” to the Ohio Department of Education. Probably a smart move since ODE personnel are likely big news readers anyway. They probably appreciate a good crossword puzzle as well. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/18/17) If indeed you had missed the fact that the board was meeting this week, it is because the first ever live broadcast of said meeting – initiated at the previous board meeting – did not occur
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Last week, the Ohio Department of Education released school grades for the 2016-17 school year. These report cards offer Buckeye families, community members, and taxpayers an important annual review of the performance of the state’s 3,000 plus schools and 600 districts.

For many years, we at Fordham have kept a close eye on the performance of Ohio’s charter schools. We typically gauge their performance by comparing their results to district schools in the state’s “Big Eight” cities. We do this because most brick-and-mortar charters in Ohio are located in these districts (e.g., Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton).

In 2015-16, my analysis found some promising signs that the charter sector may be modestly outperforming Big Eight district schools on the state’s value-added measure, an indicator of schools’ impact on pupil growth over time.

How about this year? Let’s compare the A-F ratings that the state gives to schools on the two key report card ratings—the performance index (explained below, under Figure 1) and overall value added.

The first chart indicates that both charter and Big Eight district schools receive low ratings on the performance index. Roughly nine in ten schools in each sector receive Ds or Fs, a pattern that is nearly...

  1. A little more on school report cards this morning if you can handle it. First up, Jeremy Kelley took a look at charter schools’ performance in the Dayton area as compared to each other and to local districts. Our own Aaron Churchill is there to help. Kudos to Jeremy for taking a comparative look at the Dayton Regional STEM School’s (pretty darn good) report card as well. (Dayton Daily News, 9/15/17) Speaking of Aaron, he is quoted a little more extensively in this updated Columbus public radio version of the Statehouse News Bureau story on report card data originally clipped on Friday. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 9/15/17)
  2. The PD’s Rich Exner today has a series of graphs comparing district report cards to median income for people living in those districts. “The wealthier a school district,” he writes, “the better the district tends to do.” But it does depend on what aspect of report card data is being compared. Pretty interesting stuff. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/18/17) Like the Dayton Daily News, above, the Dispatch was also interested in some report cards other than traditional districts. To wit: here’s a look at central Ohio’s career tech school report cards.
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