Ohio Gadfly Daily

  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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As students and teachers settle back into school routines, thousands of high schoolers are getting their first taste of classes that are supposed to prepare them for college. Some of them are sitting in Advanced Placement courses, while others have enrolled in district-designed advanced courses. In general, most people seem to take it for granted that high school courses that are labeled “advanced” are an effective preparation tool for college. A new analysis out of Brookings calls the conventional wisdom into question.

At issue is whether high school courses impact college performance at all. The Brookings authors point to a 2009 review of college preparation from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) that found “low evidence” that academic preparation for college actually improved college classroom outcomes. Despite myriad college preparation methods reviewed, none of them—including advanced coursework like AP classes—was strongly predictive of college readiness.

The Brookings authors did some further analysis of their own on the impacts of high school course-taking. After examining a nationally representative database of U.S. students and controlling for academic, demographic, and individual-level variables, they found that, on average, advanced high school courses do little to prepare students to succeed...

Politicians are wise to pay attention to public opinion data, but they are also responsible for crafting sound policies based on research and evidence. So what are they supposed to do when these two goods conflict?  

Anya Kamenetz at NPR was the first to highlight the contradiction between newly released poll results from PDK International and a variety of research related to school closures (“Americans Oppose School Closures, But Research Suggests They're Not A Bad Idea”). The PDK survey revealed that 84 percent of Americans believe that failing schools should be kept open and improved rather than closed. Sixty-two percent said that if a failing public school is kept open, the best approach to improvement is to replace its faculty and administration instead of increasing spending on the same team. In other words, the majority of Americans are firmly committed to their community schools—just not the people working in them.

These findings shouldn’t come as a huge surprise (as my colleague Robert Pondiscio pointed out here). No one wants to see a school closed, no matter how persistently underperforming. For many communities, schools offer not just an education, but a place...

  1. As noted last week, lots of folks were up in arms about lower scores almost across the board for schools and districts on state report cards. Our own Aaron Churchill is quoted in this piece, laying down some reasons for the drop and what the results may mean for schools going forward. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/19/16)
  2. Editors in Youngstown opined on the topic of the district’s report card. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/18/16) Meanwhile, Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip has hired three new pairs of hands to get to grips with his district’s transportation woes, all three hired away from neighboring Austintown schools. “I found out she’s one of the best in the state,” said Mohip, talking of new transportation director Colleen Murphy-Penk. So he went and got her. “My blood runs yellow and I love what I do,” Murphy-Penk said. “I’m up for the challenge.” (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/17/16)
  3. School meals are on the minds of journalists in Springfield. Here is a very long piece on lunch and breakfast service in Springfield and other Clark County districts. (Springfield News-Sun, 9/18/16) Dietician and professor Diana Cuy Castellanos is quoted as a child nutrition expert in the meals piece above.
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