Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Gongwer noticed the release of Fordham’s report card analysis, released last week. Thanks! Love your spiffy new website too. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/30/16)
  2. The ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the Ohio Department of Education regarding an attendance audit took some sort of lurch on Friday when a judge rejected a preliminary injunction against the state agency sought by the school and some of its parents regarding the parameters of said audit. I can’t say that I understand it entirely, but I think it may go like this: the judge determined that a contract between the school and ODE dating from 2002/3 is not the guiding principal for the current attendance audit and that ODE's current/new definition of attendance is or should be. Unless that ruling is successfully appealed, the judge believes that all other lines of argument the school is currently using to stop the required payback (based on the audit results ODE released last week) will not succeed. Even if I’ve correctly summarized what happened, this ruling probably doesn’t mean that the kerfuffle is over. You can check out coverage of the ruling and what a handful of other, avidly interested, and probably better-informed folks
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  1. State Supe Paolo DeMaria was in Lorain earlier this week to participate in one of the many ESSA listening events going on across the state. Maybe roundtable discussion about state-level accountability doesn’t make for good newspaper articles, or maybe there are more pressing matters in Lorain. Either way, the Morning Journal was far more interested in talking to DeMaria about the new CEO-style Academic Distress Commission heading for Lorain in the very near future. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 9/28/16)
  2. Speaking of those ESSA listening events, this guest commentary from State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) published Wednesday is mainly an appeal to get more folks to attend the Cincinnati event – held Thursday – with a pretty good click-bait headline. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/28/16) In Queen City education news, the Cincinnati Schools’ board of education this week voted unanimously to sponsor a new Phalen Academy charter school, to be located somewhere on the city’s growing west side. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/28/16)
  3. We told you earlier in the week that “Sheriff” Krish Mohip laid down the law to the Youngstown school board, imposing meeting limits and taking control of those meetings’ agendas from here on out. The board
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Management expert Peter Drucker once defined leadership as “lifting a person's vision to higher sights.” Ohio has set its policy sights on loftier goals for all K-12 students in the form of more demanding expectations for what they should know and be able to do by the end of each grade en route to college and career readiness. That’s the plan, anyway.

These higher academic standards include the Common Core in math and English language arts along with new standards for science and social studies. (Together, these are known as Ohio’s New Learning Standards.) Aligning with these more rigorous expectations, the state has implemented new assessments designed to gauge whether students are meeting the academic milestones important to success after high school. In 2014-15, Ohio replaced its old state exams with the PARCC assessments and in 2015-16, the state transitioned to exams developed jointly by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Ohio Department of Education.

As the state marches toward higher standards and—one hopes—stronger pupil achievement and school performance, Ohioans are also seeing changes in the way the state reports student achievement and rates its approximately 600 districts and 3,500 public schools. Consider these developments:

As the standards...

  1. The attendance audit about which the state education department and the state’s largest online school have been kerfuffling for the last many weeks has been completed. A letter from ODE to the school earlier this week indicated that ODE’s student count is 58.8 percent less than that of the school. The kerfuffle continues. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/26/16) This story has gained some national attention, as you might imagine. Here is a piece from the EdWeek blogs discussing the kerfuffle, ODE’s findings, and the ongoing court case. For good measure, it includes Fordham among the list of charter advocates who have been arguing for more accountability for online schools. (Education Week digital education blog, 9/27/16)
  2. The last release of Ohio school report card data earlier this year saw a newcomer enter the field of test score analysis. And with the new report card data released last week, Mike Molnar, executive director of educational services for Amherst Local Schools in Lorain County, is back at it. Same as last time, his main area of interest is the difference in performance between districts using paper and pencil tests vs. those using online tests. His operative word this year: “seesaw”.
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Twenty-five years into the American charter school movement there remains little research on the impact of charter authorizers, yet these entities are responsible for key decisions in the lives of charter schools, including whether they can open, and when they must close.

A new policy brief from Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance seeks to shed some light on authorizer impact in post-Katrina New Orleans, specifically does the process by which applications are reviewed help to produce effective charter schools? And after those schools have been initially authorized, does that process also shed light on which types of charter schools get renewed?

It merits repeating that the authorizing environment in New Orleans was unlike anywhere else in the country: Louisiana had given control of almost all New Orleans public schools to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Recovery School District (RSD). Independent review of charter applications was mandated in state law, and tons of organizations applied to open new charters.

To facilitate the application process, BESE hired the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). NACSA reviewed and rated applications, and in most cases BESE followed those recommendations. As the authors point out, NACSA is...

The annual release of state report card data in Ohio evokes a flurry of reactions, and this year is no different. The third set of tests in three years, new components added to the report cards, and a precipitous decline in proficiency rates are just some of the topics making headlines. News, analysis, and opinion on the health of our schools and districts – along with criticism of the measurement tools – come from all corners of the state.

Fordham Ohio is your one-stop shop to stay on top of the coverage:

  • Our Ohio Gadfly Daily blog has already featured our own quick look at the proficiency rates reported in Ohio’s schools as compared to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). More targeted analysis will come in the days ahead. You can check out the Ohio Gadfly Daily here.
  • Our official Twitter feed (@OhioGadfly) and the Twitter feed of our Ohio Research Director Aaron Churchill (@a_churchill22) have featured graphs and interesting snapshots of the statewide data with more to come.
  • Gadfly Bites, our thrice-weekly compilation of statewide education news clips and editorials, has already featured coverage of state report cards from the Columbus Dispatch,
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  1. More analysis of state report cards over the weekend, from the usual sources. The Dispatch took a look at the fairly universally low eighth grade reading results. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/25/16) The PD’s Patrick O’Donnell took a look at the “Urban 8” district performance vs. state averages. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/25/16) Meanwhile, the PD’s Rich Exner tried to see how closely passage rates mirrored household poverty levels in Northeast Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/26/16) Finally, in the run up to a levy vote, Patrick tried to answer the question “Did CMSD schools improve as promised?” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/25/16)
  2. Speaking of report card results, Lorain City Schools – already under the aegis of an old-style Academic Distress Commission – did not do well enough to avoid transition to the new-style ADC. That means a new panel of commission members, a CEO, less power for the board and supe, a new strategic plan, and a new ticking clock. All of this should start to take shape in October. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 9/25/15)
  3. In other news, last week’s rejection of a tentative contract by CMSD teachers sets negotiations back by several steps. So far,
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We know that teacher quality is the most important in-school factor impacting student performance—and that the variation in teacher quality can be enormous, even within the same school. We also know that most teachers are paid according to step-and-lane salary schedules that exclusively reward years on the job and degrees earned. These systems pay no attention to instructional effectiveness, attendance, leadership and collaboration within one’s school, or any other attributes relevant to being a good worker.

When I entered the classroom at age twenty-two, I looked at my contract and realized I wouldn’t reach my desired salary until I was in my mid-to-late forties. I would reach that level regardless of whether I took one or fifteen sick days every year; whether I put in the bare minimum or a herculean effort (as many educators do in fact do); or whether I clocked out at 3:01 or stayed with my students to offer extra help. No matter the outcomes my kids achieved, my salary would steadily tick upward based only on time accrued. Predictable, yes. But given the urgent task at hand—to keep excellent educators at the instructional helm, address the challenges of burnout and attrition,...

  1. Jeremy Kelly is one of a handful of folks around Ohio who go the extra mile in analyzing report card results each year, and this year is no exception. We’ve already clipped his district-centric analysis. Today, we’re clipping his comparison of charter and district schools in Montgomery County. He quotes our own Aaron Churchill on the topic, which just makes this more awesome. Additional kudos to Jeremy for noting the results for Dayton Regional STEM School also. (Dayton Daily News, 9/21/16) Aaron’s recent Ohio Gadfly blog post on the shrinking “honesty gap” in Ohio was cited by editors in Columbus as they opined favorably on the substance of this year’s report cards. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/23/16)
  2. Our own Jessica Poiner was cited in EdWeek this week in a piece extolling the virtues of project-based learning. (Education Week, 9/21/16)
  3. Back to school report cards for a moment. Other reliable analysts of the annual data release are the Ohio Education Policy Institute’s Howard Fleeter… (Gongwer Ohio, 9/21/16) …and the Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell. Patrick’s been especially busy with a series of reports, including one which tries to compare previous years’ reports to this years' – an
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  1. Chad is quoted in this brief story about the federal Charter School Program grant being released to Ohio at long last. It’s so brief that the details are somewhat muddled, but Chad is on point as always. (WYSO-FM, Yellow Springs, 9/19/16) As usual with the Vindy, this piece opining strongly against charter schools is not clearly labeled as an editorial. But it’s either that or a poison-pen letter. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/20/16)
  2. Ohio’s new-ish College Credit Plus program provides access to college courses – and college credit – for high school students free of charge to their families. First year stats are out and Gongwer’s got a detailed look. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/20/16) This is pretty interesting stuff, so for those of you not behind Gongwer’s paywall, the PD has an unvarnished look at the numbers. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/20/16)
  3. Jeremy Kelly at the Dayton Daily News continued his look at state report cards, focusing on end of course exams in regard to graduation requirements. Those who took the tests last year largely didn’t do so hot, but Jeremy does a good job of explaining how the new exam points system works and what will
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