Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Not much to report on today that isn’t shameless politicking or overt criminality. So what does that leave us with? John Kasich, that’s what. Mr. Kasich, who is, I am given to understand, not running for anything at the moment, told some reporters yesterday that he is in favor of doing away with an elected state board of education. That guy. Didn’t he used to be the governor or something? (Gongwer Ohio, 2/1/18)
  2. Folks in North central Ohio are celebrating 30 years since the merger of Firelands Local Schools with South Amherst Schools. My how time flies. Sounds like a positive outcome for both communities at this remove, but I do wonder how much doom and gloom was predicted by opponents back in 1988. I would go try and look it up, but I am afraid of what fiery rhetoric I might uncover, not to mention the photographs of all those people in shoulder pads and giant hair. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/1/18)
  1. Editors in Toledo this week offered their opinion on the closure of ECOT. It’s generally what you’d expect, but it curiously includes something of a warning that might seem a little odd at first blush, but will not be that big of a surprise for all of my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers. Thanks for sticking with me, y’all. (Toledo Blade, 1/29/18) I have asked myself numerous times during this debacle why we are here now. Why did this moment out of all the other possible “turning points” over the last 18 years finally stick? I know yesterday’s PD article on ECOT is not supposed to be about that question, but I think the answer to it may be in there anyway. (Cleveland Plain Ealer, 1/30/18)
  2. I know we’ve covered this before, but the state body tasked with reviewing proposed program rules this week approved changes to the College Credit Plus program, as expected. These cover limitations on available courses and setting up some new guardrails around student participation. Yeah, I know this is boring, but there’s a dearth of clips today and sometimes it’s refreshing to bask in the pure glow of bureaucratic pragmatism. (Gongwer Ohio,
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Much attention is fittingly paid to race- and income-based achievement gaps in K-12 schools. But research has also documented similar and worrying gender-based gaps in college classes on high-stakes science tests. Analysts have attributed these to variations of “student deficit,” such as unequal K–12 preparation for college-level science, and to “stereotype threat”—the idea that women are led to believe they don’t have the same ability as men to succeed in STEM fields and thus perform poorly at the most stressful moments, like when taking exams. If these gender gaps and their underlying causes remain unaddressed, important and lucrative job paths in fast-growing STEM fields could be closed to many women.

A recent study by Sehoya Cotner and Cissy J. Ballen of the University of Minnesota proffered a different theory for these observed gaps: a “course deficit” model, wherein course structure leads to performance gaps, specifically instances in which high-stakes midterms and finals are the main components of final grades.

Cotner and Ballen looked at nine high-enrollment introductory biology courses at an unnamed large public university with varying mixes of high-stakes and low-stakes assessments comprising their final grades. They analyzed summative course grades and performance on midterm, final,...

  1. It’s always interesting when education stories are covered in unconventional outlets. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in Crain’s Cleveland in regard to the recent closure of ECOT and what it might mean for charter schools in general and online schools in particular going forward. They even let him answer and printed his answer—as if this journalist didn’t already have an answer in mind. Nice. (Crain’s Cleveland Business, 1/26/18)
  2. Meanwhile, back on more familiar ground, the D reports that ECOT families are being urged to find new schools. Not “urged” like “you should get on this”; “urged” like “you better”. Less nice. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/26/18)
  3. I regret that I am super late in discovering what is an extraordinary series of ongoing articles in the Plain Dealer. For the last six months, journalist Leila Atassi has been reporting the everyday life of the Korper family in painstaking detail—housing, employment, food, transportation, education, dreams, reality. Seems like the most important reporting I have ever read and once I discovered it, I didn’t stop until I’d read every piece. The entire series is vital reading, but here are two recent items relevant to Gadfly Bites subscribers. First up, four
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In 2009, Public Impact launched the Opportunity Culture initiative, which identifies ways for effective teachers to take on roles that enable them to positively affect many more students.

For example, under the multiclassroom leadership model, a highly effective teacher is placed in charge of a team of teachers and is accountable for the learning of all the students who are taught by her team. This multiclassroom leader is responsible for supervising instruction, evaluating and developing teachers’ skills, and facilitating team collaboration and planning. The team leaders are either not assigned students or given a light teaching load that enables them to focus on their mentorship role. The other model used in the study’s data—the time-swap model—uses learning stations facilitated by paraprofessionals to enable effective teachers to lead instruction for more students.

Earlier this month, CALDER released a working paper that examined the relationship between Public Impact partner districts that adopted these staffing models and student achievement in math and reading. Data was drawn from three public school districts: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, which contributed nearly 90 percent of the students in the research sample, Cabarrus County Schools in North Carolina, and the Syracuse City School District in New...

Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about changing the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES). That’s because the system has failed to accomplish its intended purposes: It doesn’t differentiate teachers based on performance, nor does it help them improve their practice. It’s also unfair to many educators, it’s a paperwork pileup for administrators, and it’s a time-suck for students who must take local tests solely for the purposes of teacher evaluation. Taken together, Ohio has a policy ripe for major changes.

Enter Senate Bill 240, legislation introduced last December. It adopts the majority of the Educator Standards Board’s recent recommendations, including some promising proposals that if implemented well could change the evaluation system for the better. The most significant change would get rid of Ohio’s various frameworks and weighting percentages. Under the new system, teachers would no longer have a specific, state-mandated percentage of their summative rating determined by student growth measures. Instead, student growth and achievement would be used as evidence of a teacher mastering the various domains of a revised classroom observation rubric. This is definitely a more organic way to measure student growth, but until it’s put in...

  1. Columbus City Schools is, apparently, facing a budget shortfall within two years, and the initial discussions about solving it involve closing it down immediately so it can repay lost revenue to the state of Ohio the elimination of up to 163 positions. Another option would be to downsize operations for more efficiency “get some more revenue” from somewhere. Good call! Although it is unclear at this juncture out of whose derrière that money could possibly materialize. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/22/18)
  2. The final decision on whether Cincinnati will be home to a Major League Soccer expansion team is still pending, but that doesn’t stop fervid speculation about same. (Nor does it stop me from having to read the sports page, yet again.) Cincinnati City Schools owns some land that the football club may or may not be touting as the future home for its putative pro stadium and it seems as if some behind-the-scenes discussions have already gone on. Either that or the sporty-types are simply figuring that the district will go along with their choice whenever they deign to announce it (shades of the Columbus Crew/Columbus Foundation/Abbott Labs debacle last year). Whichever it is, I can only imagine
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  1. With ECOT closed, a special master appointed by the court to help oversee things like records transfer and asset management, and families working to find new schools that are at least the second-best fit for their kids, it seems there is little else for education reporters to write about. Especially if they actually want to report on anything of substance. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/19/18)
  2. Per the above, I picture staff members at school districts across the state standing around the front entrance to their buildings today like frustrated guests at the world’s saddest surprise party – waiting and waiting and waiting to welcome guests who just aren’t going to arrive. But let’s not let reality get in the way of a good clip, shall we? We’re all better than that. In the vein, here is a story on what some districts in Stark County have planned to help their seniors graduate on time at the end of this school year. Very little of it sounds inspiring or indeed very helpful at all. The current “on track/likely to be on track” numbers for the various school districts are enlightening though. That surprise party in Canton might be the saddest
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Earlier this week, Chiefs for Change (CFC) announced that Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, joined their network. CFC is a nonprofit, bipartisan network comprising state and district education chiefs who advocate for innovative education policies and practices, support each other through a community of practice, and nurture the next generation of leaders. The network is made up of members who lead education systems serving 7.2 million students, 435,000 teachers, and 14,000 schools.

According to the CFC website, members of the network “share a vision that all American children can lead fulfilling, self-determined lives as adults.” Though it is made up of diverse members with various viewpoints, the chiefs find common ground in five key areas: 1) access to excellent schools, 2) quality curriculum, 3) fully prepared and supported educators, 4) accountability, and 5) safe and welcoming schools.

Here’s a look at a few specific policies supported by CFC and what they look like in Ohio:

School choice

In a statement on school choice released last year, CFC members asserted that “school choice initiatives have the potential to dramatically expand opportunity for disadvantaged American children and their families.” We’ve seen this firsthand in Ohio, where...

  1. The 2018 Quality Counts ratings are out and very little has changed for Ohio from the previous year. Doesn’t stop folks from trying to spin those results into a vision of speculative doom. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece as the voice of anti-spin. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/17/18)
  2. On Wednesday morning, Chad was in the posh studios of WOSU-FM, taking part in an hour long radio talk show titled “The Future of ECOT”. Other guests included several ECOT alums and current parents. (All Sides with Ann Fisher, WOSU-FM, 1/17/18) So, how was “the future of ECOT” looking by the end of the day Thursday? Nonexistent. Chad is quoted in the PD piece on the vote which terminated the school’s operation as of today. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/18/18)
  3. If a state’s ESSA plan is approved in a bureaucracy and no one is there to care, does it make a sound? Probably not, according to Patrick O’Donnell. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/17/18)
  4. This piece is a bit out of the mainstream for Gadfly Bites (and I’m indebted to my colleague Jessica Poiner for drawing it to my attention), but stay with me as I
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