Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Editors in Toledo opined on the subject of state report card results, looking to outside analyses of those results to bolster their point. Fordham’s first-blush mini-analysis of the report card data from last week is one of those outside sources. Just wait gang, there’s more where that came from! (Toledo Blade, 3/9/16)
  2. The Blade must have written its editorial a few days ago, because there is no mention of the other shoe. That is, the growing hubbub over a “huge disparity” in value-added results for schools who took PARCC tests online vs. those who took PARCC tests via pencil and paper. We brought you the PD version of the story on Monday. Here it is from the D. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/8/16)
  3. The above-referenced failure of Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips was front and center at this week’s state board of education meeting. You can read coverage of this specific issue in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/8/16) and the AP (Dayton Daily News, via AP, 3/7/16). In other state board of ed news, far less interesting other stuff was discussed. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/7/16)
  4. At the other end of the wire,
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Management sage Peter Drucker once said, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” In recent years, policy makers have turned the page on Ohio’s old, outdated standards and accountability framework. The task now is to replace it with something that, if implemented correctly, will better prepare Buckeye students for the expectations of college and the rigors of a knowledge- and skills-driven workforce.

While the state’s former policies did establish a basic accountability framework aligned to standards, a reset was badly needed. Perhaps the most egregious problem was the manner in which the state publicly reported achievement. State officials routinely claimed that more than 80 percent of Ohio students were academically “proficient,” leaving most parents and taxpayers with a feel-good impression of the public school system.

The inconvenient truth, however, was that hundreds of thousands of pupils were struggling to master rigorous academic content. Alarmingly, the Ohio Board of Regents regularly reports that 30–40 percent of college freshman need remedial coursework in English or math. Results from the ACT reveal that fewer than half of all graduates meet college-ready benchmarks in all of the assessment’s content areas. Finally, outcomes from the “nation’s report card”—the National Assessment...

The White House has selected Columbus, along with nine other cities, as a focus site for two newly launched campaigns to address and eliminate chronic student absenteeism. The first is the My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors Initiative, the “first-ever effort to scale an evidence-based, data-driven mentor model to reach and support the highest-risk students.” The program will connect over one million students across the ten cities with trained mentors, including coaches, administrative staff, teachers, security guards, AmeriCorps members, tutors, and others. The second initiative is a multi-million-dollar parent engagement campaign through the Ad Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the Mott Foundation, to “elevate the conversation about the devastating impact of chronic absenteeism.” The initiative will target K–8 parents through a campaign website with downloadable resources, billboards, and Public Service Announcements on bus shelters and in doctors’ offices and schools. Chronic absenteeism—missing more than 10 percent of a school year—is a strong predictor of low performance and eventual dropping out. Research shows that when at-risk students have caring adults in their lives, their likelihood of dropping out decreases. We’re pleased to see the campaigns’ selection of Columbus, a city whose district has the second-lowest attendance...

  1. In a leftover from late last week, our own Chad Aldis was talking to public media about the challenges facing e-schools in developing a system to take attendance and how he believes it can be done. Which is good, because they have to. (Statehouse News Bureau, others via public media, 3/4/16)
  2. Speaking of e-schools in Ohio, the D gave us tons more dirt on Provost Academy, an online school which – it was announced last week – was ordered to pay back something like 80% of the state funding it had received due to attendance discrepancy (see above for more on that “taking attendance” conundrum). And by “dirt”, I mean texts of emails and audio-recorded meetings. Ugh. Didn’t I see this on “The Good Wife”? (Columbus Dispatch, 3/6/16) Today, editors in Columbus put it all together for us re: the importance of not watering down e-school attendance tracking and reporting requirements. Helpful. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/7/16)
  3. In other news, Dayton City Schools is pushing back a bit on a couple of dings (yes, that is the technical term) in its most recent state audit. (Dayton Daily News, 3/6/16) Meanwhile, staffers from the Ohio Department
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  1. Our own Aaron Churchill pushed a Kardashian off the front page of the 74 Million’s blog yesterday, talking about the “dismal democracy” that often is the local elected school board in Ohio. (The 74 Million education blog, 3/2/16)
  2. Our own Chad Aldis had no measurable influence over the Kardashian kabal while talking about some of the dismal demagoguery that attends charter school issues in Ohio. (Politico Pro Education Report, 3/2/16)
  3. Keeping up with the theme, editors in Nordonia Hills (no, I don’t either) opined against the “slimy influences” of “scoundrels” trying to undermine or even reverse charter school accountability measures in Ohio. (Nordonia Hills News-Leader, 3/2/16)
  4. Back in the real world, Dayton City Schools announced a new initiative that will give Chromebooks to every student in grades 3 through 8 during the school day, starting next year. A pilot program kicks off at one school this month. (Dayton Daily News, 3/3/16) Ditto for the kids (and teachers) at the Chaney High School campus in Youngstown, although YCS is going with Apple products. Interesting to note that the district received a grant from Apple for this tech two years ago, and it included
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This piece was first published on the education blog of The 74 Million.

William Phillis, the director of a lobbying group for Ohio’s school systems, recently stated in his daily email blast: “Our public school district is operated in accordance with federal, state and local regulations by citizens elected by the community....Traditional public schools epitomize the way democracy should work.” The email then went on to criticize charters for having self-appointed governing boards.

Setting aside charter boards for a moment, let’s consider the statement: Traditional public schools epitomize the way democracy should work. To quote tennis legend John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious.”

As observers of American politics would quickly point out, elections at any level of government aren’t perfect. One common concern in representative democracy is electoral participation. Approximately 40–50 percent of the electorate actually votes in midterm congressional races, and roughly 60 percent vote in presidential elections.

With only half of adults voting in some of these races, many have expressed concerns about the vibrancy of American citizenship.

But in comparison to school board races, national elections are veritable models of participatory democracy. In the fall of 2013, I calculated turnout rates in Franklin...

In a previous post, I outlined the current landscape of teacher policy in Ohio and pointed out some areas in need of significant reform. The largest problem—and perhaps the most intractable—is teacher preparation. Despite consensus on the need for reform, some solid ideas, and an abundance of opportunities over the last few decades, schools of education have changed very little. Ohio is no exception, and many of the Buckeye State’s teacher preparation programs are in need of an overhaul. Here are a few recommendations for how policy makers and preparation programs in Ohio can start making progress in the impervious-to-change area of teacher training.

Rethink ways of holding teacher preparation programs accountable 

Uncle Ben may not have been thinking of education when he said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” but the shoe certainly fits. Teachers have an enormous impact on their students, and it makes sense that taxpayers, parents, and policy makers would want to ensure that the programs entrusted with training those teachers are accountable for their performance. Ohio leaders recognize this and have already taken some tentative steps toward judging teacher preparation programs on the performance of their graduates. Unfortunately,...

  1. Big discrepancies found during a detailed attendance check at Provost Academy, a small Ohio e-school, have resulted in the school being ordered to pay back nearly $800,000, some 80 percent of the state funding the school received. What’s that you said? Can’t hear you over the baying. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/1/16)
  2. It’s also really noisy in the realm of report card fallout. First up, how much the zeroes given to students whose parents opted them out of testing last year affected performance index scores for their schools. This is the Central Ohio version of this story. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/1/16) Secondly, how much did online testing vs. paper/pencil testing affect value added scores for the schools who chose between these options for test taking last year. This is the Northeast Ohio version of this story. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/1/16)
  3. Finally, the cult of Our Lady of Oyler could get a big boost in Columbus next year. But first, a bond issue must pass. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/2/16)

The “college preparation gap” among students graduating from high school is real and persistent. There are some signs that it has been stabilizing in recent years, but the fact remains that too many holders of high school diplomas aren’t ready for college-level work. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the realm of community college, where 68 percent of students require at least some form of remedial coursework (also known as “developmental education”) just to get to square one. Perhaps four-year colleges should face facts and refuse to admit students who aren’t ready, but we’re not there yet. For better or worse, community colleges have their doors wide open when it comes to “underprepared” students who still want to give college a go. But do they have their eyes similarly wide open? Two recent reports highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly among community colleges’ efforts to build successful students via remediation.

First up, a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) surveying approximately seventy thousand students from more than 150 of its institutions across the country. The vast majority (86 percent) of the incoming students surveyed believed they were...

Leading up to this year’s report card release, some school districts expressed concern about the negative impact of students opting out of state assessments on their report card grades. In response, lawmakers proposed a well-intentioned but shortsighted bill attempting to mitigate the impact of opt-outs—first by erasing non-test-takers from their schools’ performance grades and then (after being amended) by reporting two separate Performance Index grades. The Ohio Department of Education devised a temporary reporting solution: Performance Index scores would be reported as normal (including the impact of non-test-takers, as per current law), but a “modified achievement measure” would be made available to illustrate how districts would have scored if non-test-takers didn’t count.

A quick look at the data shows that the impact of opt-outs last year (2014–15) was minimal for the vast majority of Ohio school districts. As depicted in Table 1, fifty-two districts (8.5 percent) experienced a letter grade change because of their non-participation rates (shaded in green). This was most likely driven by the opt-out movement. It’s hard to say for sure, though, because Ohio only captures test participation rates and not the reasons for non-participation—which might include excused or unexcused absences, truancy, or opting...