Ohio Gadfly Daily

One of the big Ohio education stories of 2016 was the growing popularity of College Credit Plus (CCP), a program that provides students three ways to earn college credit from public or participating private colleges: by taking a course on a university campus; at the student’s high school where it’s taught by a credentialed teacher; or online. Many students and families have found that the program saves them time and money and provides valuable experience. For families with gifted or advanced students, it is a chance for acceleration even as early as seventh grade; for students in high-poverty rural and urban areas, it may be the only way to take high-level courses in basic subjects, let alone electives.

Before registering, students in grades 7-12 must be admitted to the college based on their readiness in each subject they plan to take a class in—a decision made by each higher education institution and determined by GPA, end-of-course (EOC) exam scores, and other available data. Once admitted, students can register for any course the school offers, except for those that are considered remedial or religious. (The latter restriction is presumably intended to keep church and...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis was busy yesterday. Here he is reminding us of the subtle irony of district-sponsored online charter schools looking for an exemption to the rule that other online schools – like Ohio’s largest such school – must currently follow regarding attendance audit findings and potential return of funds to the state. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/6/16) Here he is lamenting the impending closure of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools after 10 years of work on behalf of charters statewide. (Gongwer Ohio, 12/6/16) And here is saying lovely things about RaShaun Holliman, who started Monday as the new head of the Office of Community Schools at the Ohio Department of Education. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/6/16)
  2. Speaking of ODE – the department informed Parma City Schools late last week that the district’s proposed fiscal recovery plan had been accepted. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/5/16)
  3. And speaking of accepted plans – the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission this week approved a revised version of CEO Krish Mohip’s turnaround plan. Additions from the original submission include updating the student code of conduct, educating students on appropriate school behavior, providing high-quality professional development to all staff
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  1. What are the chances that the ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state department of education regarding their recent attendance audit will be solved via legislation in the current lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly? The D says they are slim. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/5/16)
  2. An informal study shows that more than 70 percent of Ohio school district faced shrinking student populations in the last ten years. Here’s an interesting look at how some Lorain County districts coped, facilities-wise. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 12/3/16) And here’s a follow up looking at two suburban districts in Lorain County, both of which experienced strong increases in student enrollment over the last few years. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 12/4/16)
  3. I had never heard the story of how the founder of Columbus Africentric School ended up here in our fair city before. It’s pretty interesting. And he’s still here 50 years later and looking very much forward to the opening of the brand new and super-spiffy Africentric School building scheduled for early January. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/5/16)
  4. While not strictly education-focused, this interview with Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance is, I think, very
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  1. Editors in Youngstown yesterday opined in praise of the Youngstown Plan and expressed hope for Lorain as it embarks on its own version of the plan. (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/1/16) It’s not technically part of the Youngstown Plan, but I’m sure the district will be happy to reap any goodwill and academic benefits that accrue from its recent expansion to all-day, full-week preschool. (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/2/16)
  2. It appears that Austintown Schools is poised to make changes to its open enrollment policy soon, due mainly to financial considerations. (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/1/16)
  3. Speaking of district finances, it appears that the proposed layoffs of classroom paraprofessionals in Dayton Schools are on hold until at least the summer. (Dayton Daily News, 12/1/16)
  4. Recall that teachers in Louisville Local Schools went back to work on Wednesday after a 16-day strike. They did so without approving a new contract and they are still working without one today. A vote is scheduled next week on a fact-finder’s report – intended as the basis for a new agreement – which has already been rejected by the rank-and-file twice. The Rep’s piece from yesterday does not seem filled with confidence for an
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  1. We start with an update on a few stories we’ve been following. First up, here is a more detailed look at the State Auditor’s (yeah, him again) report on the plusses and minuses of interdistrict open enrollment. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/28/16) The PD digs a little deeper into the recent court ruling in the ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state department of education. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/29/16) Finally, the Louisville (Ohio) teachers union voted on Monday to end their strike. Classes in the district were cancelled yesterday to help ease their return. (Canton Repository, 11/28/16)  If all has gone as planned, Louisville’s teachers are back in their classrooms this morning. However, it does not seem from yesterday’s Canton Rep update like everything has been ironed out nor an agreement signed with the district just yet. We’ll keep an eye on all three of these stories. (Canton Repository, 11/29/16)
  2. A guest commentator in the Enquirer yesterday opined in favor of the state’s higher graduation standard. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/29/16)
  3. "The Ohio Department of Education finds that any proposal to incorporate 'similar students' [measure for school ratings] into Ohio's accountability system is
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  1. In case you missed it last week, Betsy DeVos was chosen as the next U.S. Education Secretary. Public media in Cleveland got hold of our own Mike Petrilli to discuss the choice and what it might mean for Ohio. (IdeaStream Public Media, Cleveland, 11/24/16)
  2. Also in the ICYMI category, the ongoing kerfuffle between the state’s largest online school and the state department of education last week took a courtroom-related turn in favor of the state just before Thanksgiving. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/23/16)
  3. The Vindy today issued a reminder that Lorain City Schools will soon be heading down the path of the new-style Academic Distress Commission, same as Youngstown City Schools. Everyone interviewed seems far more optimistic than I might have expected, especially the president of Lorain’s school board. Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip may actually be too rosy in describing what’s happening in his neck of the woods, but who am I to judge? (Youngstown Vindicator, 11/28/16)
  4. He’s still not back on the education beat, remember, but let’s not quibble about semantics in this time of giving thanks. Doug Livingston today tells us about a recent report from the State Auditor (!) showing (among other things)
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It would be an understatement to say that the 2015–16 school year was one of transition. Indeed, over the past twelve months, we lived through the implementation of the third state assessment in three years, the rollout of Ohio’s revised sponsor evaluation, and the introduction of a new state superintendent at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Change is reverberating throughout the system, and change is hard. As Charles Kettering once said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”

Charles Kettering was right. Lest we lose sight of the endgame, it is important to remember that the developments of the last twelve months have their roots in policy decisions designed to improve Ohio’s academic standards overall and its charter school sector—one that many viewed as rife with poorly performing schools and controlled by special interests—in particular.

Toward that end, in 2015–16 Ohio implemented assessments developed by the ODE and American Institutes of Research (AIR). AIR is the third assessment administered in Ohio’s public schools in three years and follows administration of the Ohio Achievement Assessments in 2013–14 and the politically charged and ultimately doomed PARCC tests in 2014–15. At the same time, the...

  1. A member of the state board of education member tendered his resignation this week because he and his family are moving out of state. He’s got a few things to get off his chest on the way out. You can read all about them in Gongwer (Gongwer, 11/21/16) and the Dispatch. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/22/16)
  2. The Parma school board is fully staffed again. Should be able to turn to that fiscal recovery plan soon. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/17/16)
  3. Some fireworks of the usual variety at the Youngstown school board meeting this week. (WKBN-TV, Youngstown, 11/22/16) But when the smoke cleared, at least one thing was different – district CEO Krish Mohip wasn’t invited into the board’s executive session and not all board members attended Mohip’s briefing afterward. Sounds like it may go on like that for the foreseeable future after a prolonged kerfuffle over agenda-setting. (Youngstown Vindicator, 11/23/16).
  4. Contract talks have been occurring between the Louisville school board and teachers union this week. Both sides say they’re close to an agreement to end the weeks-long strike, but one sticky issue remains: the inclusion of a no-retaliation clause. (Canton Repository, 11/22/16)

As another year ends, we want you to tell us what you think were the most important Ohio education stories in 2016 and what you predict will be the top story next year.

This is the easiest task you’ll be asked to do today. It’s only two questions and should only take a minute to complete. You can preview the questions below. When you’re ready to take the survey, click here or on the image below.

Just like the voting booth, whatever you submit will be confidential. Of course, if you want to write and tell us why, we may even feature your piece on our blog.  

Thanks for your participation.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has put the future of teacher evaluations firmly in the hands of states. Ohio is now in full control of deciding how to develop and best implement its nascent system.

It should come as no surprise to folks in the Buckeye State that the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) has significant room for improvement. Since its inception in 2009, approximately 90 percent of Ohio teachers have been rated in the top two categories and labeled “skilled” or “accomplished.” Unfortunately, there isn’t significant evidence that the system has impacted the quality of Ohio’s teacher workforce, perhaps because there is no statewide law that permits administrators to dismiss teachers based solely on evaluation ratings. Meanwhile, OTES also doesn’t appear to be delivering on the promise to aid teachers in improving their practice.

A quick glance at the ODE-provided template for the professional growth plan, which is used by all teachers except those who are rated ineffective or have below-average student growth, offers a clue as to why practice may not be improving. It is a one-page, fill-in-the-blank sheet. The performance evaluation rubric by which teachers’ observation ratings are determined...