Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. As originally noted in Wednesday’s clips, here is more on this week’s Ohio Supreme Court rulings against the state’s largest online charter school. And I do mean “against”. It ain’t over yet, of course, but three rulings in two hours has got to be a tough blow to absorb. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/12/17)
  2. As also originally noted in Wednesday’s clips, here is more on the third grade reading test “controversy”, from a Cleveland perspective. Same “problem” here as in the other districts who begged (and I do mean “begged”) the state board of education to do something to help them out – expecting the alternative tests’ cut scores to be lower than they were and being horribly wrong. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/13/17)
  3. As noted in the clips a few months ago, Lorain is attempting to build an Alumni Club of high school graduates in the area. Here is more on the status of recruitment efforts. Last time, we noted that district and Catholic high school grads were being sought, but this time we learned that alumni can be from “any Lorain school.” Interestingly, the district’s elected board seems a bit standoffish with regard to the club
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  1. Now here is a confluence of articles that I would call inexplicable. First up, the state board of ed met earlier in this week and seemed eager to talk about Ohio’s CEO-style Academic Distress Commissions. That is, about how much they all seem to loathe them. Seriously? None of you see any positives at all? (Gongwer Ohio, 7/10/17) Meanwhile, a gubernatorial candidate from the party which is not in charge of almost all of state government – that is, a gubernatorial candidate who introduced legislation to end CEO-style ADCs – spoke in Youngstown this week to what one can only assume is a receptive audience, and apparently didn’t mention ADCs at all. I would say that “up is down” but at this point I think that phrase has lost all meaning. (Business Journal Daily, 7/11/17)
  2. And what’s going on the only two Ohio school districts currently under the aegis of CEO-style Academic Distress Commissions? In Lorain, a Meet the CEO Candidates Night has been scheduled for next week. No news on which or even how many candidates will be there, although I can think of one who will be there early. Maybe even setting up the
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The Ohio General Assembly recently passed and Governor Kasich approved legislation that allows students in the class of 2018 to graduate without demonstrating competency on state exams or meeting career and technical education-related requirements. This means that there won’t be any assurance that those getting diplomas have learned much of anything. At a time when Ohio is trying to get reasonably serious about ending social promotion into fourth grade—via the Third Grade Reading Guarantee—voters and taxpayers should be outraged that it’s again reared its ugly head in connection with the promotion that matters most: exiting from high school into real life.

Why worry about social promotion? Consider an interview with Doug Lemov, the well-known author of Teach Like a Champion and co-founder of the Uncommon Schools charter network. Richard Whitmire recounts Lemov’s experience as a tutor at Indiana University:

One of the football players he tutored was a redshirt freshman who had gone to a high school in the Bronx. “He was a real gentleman, a decent guy in every way, but he was struggling academically. So I said, ‘Why don’t you write a paragraph about yourself,’ which he did. I took one look...


In early June, State Superintendent DeMaria shared with the state school board his recommendations for streamlining Ohio’s student testing regimen. Among the list of proposed cuts is the WorkKeys assessment, a job skills test that measures how well prepared students are for the workforce. Though other proposed cuts received more attention (and have since been finalized), the proposed elimination of WorkKeys has largely been ignored—perhaps because many Ohio policymakers aren’t sure what it is or even who takes it. Let’s take a look.

What is the WorkKeys assessment?

WorkKeys is an ACT-designed system that includes assessments, curriculum, and “skill profiles” for schools to use in building and measuring students’ workplace skills. Superintendent DeMaria specifically recommends the elimination of the assessment, of which there are three sections:

  1. Applied math: a 55-minute assessment with 34 items. This test measures mathematical critical thinking and problem-solving techniques that are commonly used in the workplace, including negative numbers, fractions, decimals, and money and time conversions.
  2. Graphic literacy: a 55-minute assessment with 38 items. This test measures how well an individual can read and interpret common workplace graphics such as diagrams, maps and floor plans, order forms, and flow
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  1. In case you missed it, there was some talk a week or so ago that two new charter schools planned for the 2017-18 school year might not open in Cleveland due to some procedural, paperwork-y type issues. Well, Fordham’s own Kathryn Mullen Upton is here to tell you that hurdles have been cleared and those schools will open as planned. Allons-y! (Ideastream Public Media, Cleveland, 7/7/17)
  2. Depending on when you read these clips, this story may be old news or simply forgotten entirely. The state’s largest online charter school is supposed to pay its first installment of that $60 million dollar finding to the state today. On Friday, the school filed some kind of legal thing to delay that first installment pending the outcome of other court actions. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/7/17)
  3. “There is a perception out there...that report cards can feel punitive at times and that's not really the intent…,” says the Ohio Department of Education. "We're trying to shine a light on performance of students and we're trying to identify when there's some problem areas for improvement, but also try to reward some successes.” That is the reasoning behind an impending change to district
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  1. In case you missed it last week, the General Assembly passed the new two-year state budget and Governor Kasich signed it into law…making a record number of line item vetoes along the way. Jeremy Kelley took a look at 11 of those education-related vetoes and got some big names to help him make sense of the original intent of the language and the effect of the vetoes. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on an item regarding charter sponsor evaluation rules. The legislature is due back in town tomorrow to possibly override some of those vetoes. Which ones and how likely they are to be overridden are still open questions. (Middletown Journal-News, 7/3/17)
  2. Youngstown City Schools has a new interim superintendent, we discovered yesterday. He is a current district principal, well-regarded it seems, and will stay in the role at least until a permanent supe is found. In case you’re wondering: the previous interim was non-renewed, and the role of the supe in a CEO-style Academic Distress Commission district will apparently be as a communication liaison between the CEO and the elected board. Can’t imagine why they can’t find a permanent occupant. (Youngstown Vindicator, 7/3/17) The
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  1. The Dispatch published an interesting piece this weekend discussing the lack of district superintendents who are female and people of color in Ohio. They interview outgoing Reynoldsburg supe Tina Thomas-Manning, an African-American woman, who talks about her difficulties in reaching the position. In the end, the discussion focuses almost solely on women vs. men and the people of color part of the question kind of fades away. I can’t wait to see the D’s analysis of how the numbers shake out for charter school leaders. I’ll just hold my breath while I wait for that one to be published… (Columbus Dispatch, 7/2/17)
  2. Dispatch editors, meanwhile, were opining on the ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and just about every entity of state government. Kinda like trying to hit a moving target. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/2/17)
  3. Editors in Youngstown this weekend were opining on district CEO Krish Mohip at the start of his second year in charge. Seems generally favorable, with some uphill battles yet to come. (Youngstown Vindicator, 7/2/17)
  4. Finally today, we have a set of profiles of recent high school graduates from various Stark County High Schools. Each story is individual (even the
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  1. After the departure of its high-profile leader in the recent past, FutureReady Columbus is still trying to get itself ready for the present day. The organization was born as a big ticket, partner-fueled initiative to help Columbus students get the best possible education. While the dollars and the big-name partners still seem to be in place, the unexpected need to do a second leader search has required them to slow their roll and to significantly shrink their focus. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/29/17) A similar organization in Toledo appears to have had a similar trajectory. Take your time, people. I’m sure it’s fine. (Toledo Blade, 6/29/17)
  2. So, what’s up with that ongoing kerfuffle between the state’s largest online school and the Ohio Department of Education? And the State Board of Education? And the court system? And StateAuditor Man!? And the court of public opinion? And the Ohio Attorney General? And several newspapers around the state? Well, I’m glad you asked, but you might not be. You can check out updates on the fast-moving situation from the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/29/17), and the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 6/29/17), and the Plain Dealer (again) for everything you
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Joshua D. Hawley

Apprenticeships are all the rage. President Trump recently announced a doubling of federal funding for apprenticeship programs to $200 million in his next budget. This follows an investment by President Obama of $50 million in the outgoing months of his administration. In fact, this follows a major rewrite of the federal legislation governing job training in 2014. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) calls for a much greater level of coordination among workforce programs.

President Trump correctly noted that the organizational framework surrounding workforce development still needs some work, but this criticism is too simplistic. States have made major strides in recent years to improve the coordination of workforce development, and some have promoted apprenticeships as a part of the effort. The WIOA legislation made a requirement for workforce plans at the state level and some states have plans to expand apprenticeships. Many states have invested state tax revenue in apprenticeships and other mechanisms to strengthen training for youth.

Ohio, for instance, has recently taken critical steps to link apprenticeship programs to young people’s educational experiences. These include: 1) expanding linkages between high schools and state-recognized pre-apprenticeship programs through the College Credit Plus program, 2) developing an optional state...


In early June, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released an updated draft of its ESSA plan for public comment. The department had initially intended to submit its plan earlier this spring, but after heavy pressure, state officials decided to delay submission until September. The most important part of the document is its description of the state’s proposed school accountability and intervention policies. We believe that Ohio’s plan does a good job meeting both federal and state requirements.

Still, Ohio should aim for excellence, if not perfection. Allow me to identify three improvements worthy of consideration before ODE submits its plan to the U.S. Department of Education. These are sections that ODE could likely tweak without running afoul of federal or state law.

Eliminate the Chronic Absenteeism indicator (Title I, Part A: Improving Basic Programs Operated by LEAs—Indicators; lines 428-512)

ODE proposes using Chronic Absenteeism as a new report-card measure to comply with ESSA’s requirement for an indicator of School Quality or Student Success. This is a mistake. While related to student learning, absenteeism is not itself an outcome measure, which should form the basis of school accountability. Attendance should be viewed more akin to an “input”...