Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. The most recent third grade reading scores across Ohio were released this week and the numbers got a lot of coverage across the state, including here in Central Ohio. It is reported that 89.5 percent of Columbus City Schools' third graders passed last year's test; not the worst in the county. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/24/16) In Northwest Ohio, Toledo City Schools had just shy of 72 percent of last year’s third graders pass the test, although with the allowed exemptions for special needs students and others, they say 95 percent of last year’s third graders were promoted to fourth grade. (Toledo Blade, 3/24/16) In Stark County, they are more interested in individuals than percentages, noting that 148 of last year’s third grade students in the county did not pass. (Canton Repository, 3/25/16) Note that the cut score for this year’s test rises again. That data has been promised in a more timely fashion.
  2. Free bachelors degrees from OSU will produce a raft of new preschool teachers in low-income Columbus neighborhoods. That’s the 50,000-foot view of this story from the D this week. Digging into the details yields some fine print and questions. The program is limited
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Back in 2008, the Ohio General Assembly mandated the creation of a “clearinghouse of interactive and other distance learning courses delivered by a computer-based method.” In 2013, the Ohio Department of Higher Education (then known as the Ohio Board of Regents) announced a “new online distance-learning web portal” that aimed to provide a “wealth of digital education tools, standards-based resources, curricula, texts, and Web-based courses.” Known as ilearnOhio, the clearinghouse offers standards-aligned, peer-reviewed digital media from multiple content providers, instructional support materials, assessment items, and professional development resources. Teachers can search for lessons and materials based on grade level, discipline, resource type, or Common Core standard. A recent piece in the Columbus Dispatch states that since July 1, more than 475,000 users have visited the site. The Dispatch also reports that Ohio State University—which operates the clearinghouse—estimated in a report last fall that approximately 82 percent of Ohio’s schools and districts have used the clearinghouse in some way, making it a “valuable component of the state’s educational infrastructure.”

So if the clearinghouse is a valuable tool for Ohio educators, why will it cease to exist this summer? The answer is a bit complicated. For...

  1. Just some quick hits on today’s clips. Regular service will return on Friday. I promise. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on one of two items in this piece on charter school news, glued together (almost) by the subject of e-schools. Chad is quoted in regard to a new report on charter school funding. Oranges and apples are referenced, but not necessarily in that order. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/22/16)
  2. A new national study identified schools across the country who have been successful and shrinking or closing the achievement gap between rich and poor students in their communities. In Columbus, that short list includes five charter schools, one of which is Fordham-sponsored Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main. We couldn’t be prouder of the great work of CCA’s staff, teachers, families, and students. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/23/16)
  3. No offence to Stephen Stohla, but I can only imagine he was figuring he would either be out of his current job or permanently into a very different version of this current job by now. Either way, due to the lack of clarity around the judicial definition of the word “teacher”, he is still in his temporary job as Interim Superintendent of Youngstown
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  1. Today’s clips are just catching up with news from late last week. The first charter school in Ohio with a unionized teaching force is one in the “I Can” network in Cleveland. I wonder if they’ll have to change the name? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/16/16)
  2. School districts across the state learned last week that it is too late for them to switch from online back to paper test administration for the imminent round of spring testing. You can check out coverage from the D (Columbus Dispatch, 3/17/16) and the PD (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/17/16). Someone somewhere is contemplating the paradox of folks simultaneously wanting to regress to 20th century test administration processes AND wanting to invent time travel at the same moment. But not me.
  3. Speaking of time travel, it seems like a double dose of the butterfly effect might be in action in Cincinnati. Stay with me here, because my interpretation of this story is slightly different than that of the Enquirer. It definitely starts at a different point in time – circa 2005, when Cincinnati City Schools decided to close up a century-old school building in the Clifton neighborhood. It was too rundown
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On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, Fordham president Mike Petrilli will be in Columbus to discuss his new book, Education for Upward Mobility. In it, more than a dozen contributors work to answer fundamental questions: How can we help children born into poverty transcend their disadvantages and enter the middle class as adults? And in particular, what role can our schools play?

Mike will be presenting the answers he gleaned from work on the book and we will be convening a wide-ranging panel of Ohio stakeholders in education, human services, and government to respond to both the questions and the answers presented.

Wednesday, March 23

9:00 – 10:30 am

Chase Tower

100 E Broad Street

Sixth Floor - Conference Room B

Columbus, OH 43215


This report from Public Impact describes an unusual $55 million public-private school turnaround initiative in North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools called Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment for Transformation). Despite its sizable price tag, the project offers lessons for funders, district leaders, and anyone else taking on the tough work of overhauling low-performing schools—as spelled out in this examination of outcomes at the project’s two-year midway point.

Launched in 2012–13, L.I.F.T. is an effort led (and largely funded by) a group of donors working in partnership with the district to raise the graduation rate at West Charlotte High School and improve performance at select feeder schools. The project’s initial investment group (led by local foundations) pledged $40.5 million to the effort during its planning phase; corporate sponsors, individual donors, and federal School Improvement Grants and Title 1 dollars have funded the rest. Project reforms center on four areas: time, talent, technology, and parent and community engagement. This has included implementing extended learning in select schools and opening a credit recovery high school, as well as issuing hiring bonuses, revamping the district’s hiring calendar, and implementing “Opportunity Culture”—an initiative through which teachers teach more students for more pay. Laptops have been subsidized...

Cincinnati voters will likely decide this fall on whether to approve a tax hike to expand pre-K. The Cincinnati Preschool Promise is the organization driving these efforts; if they get a thumbs-up from the electorate, the tentative plan is to provide families with a subsidy that covers the cost of two years of all-day preschool (full tuition for families up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level and partial tuition, on a sliding scale, for those with higher incomes). Only high-quality pre-K providers—those receiving at least a three-star rating on the state’s Step Up to Quality system—will be eligible to receive these public funds.

To help inform the debate as Election Day draws near, the Cincinnati Business Committee and United Way of Greater Cincinnati commissioned the RAND Corporation to review national research on the effectiveness of pre-K. The study doesn’t add any new evidence, but does provide an overview of the findings from fifteen evaluations of pre-K: One federal program (Head Start), eleven statewide programs (all non-Ohio), and three district-level programs (Boston, Chicago, and Tulsa). Broadly speaking, the authors paint an optimistic picture, highlighting the positive short-term effects of pre-K on kindergarten readiness and noting...

  1. Fordham’s report card analysis “Facing Facts” got another brief notice this week, Cincinnati style. Chili is not optional. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/15/16)
  2. Speaking of school report cards, editors in Sandusky want to remind readers that they were against testing and report cards before such hatin’ was cool. They opined with just such a reminder today, but still took a moment to give kudos to area schools who did well on the despised test. Sounds like the next big ride at Cedar Point should be called Ironclad Irony. (Sandusky Register, 3/16/16)
  3. For some reason, I am reminded of the beloved Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar when I read this piece. Two state legislators most vociferous in their hatred of the so-called “Youngstown Plan” (actually, a sharpening of Ohio’s Academic Distress Commission protocols currently narrowly focused on Youngstown) and the legislative process which brought it into being are offering a way out of the judicial impasse in which said ADC is currently mired. It does not involve defining the word “teacher”. Story developing, as they say. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/15/16)
  4. A school district does not reach a state of academic distress overnight, and it takes even longer before
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[Editor’s note: This is the third post in a series on improving teacher preparation programs. See here and here for prior posts.]

The traditional pathway toward becoming a teacher requires the completion of an undergraduate teacher preparation program. In Ohio, entry requirements for these programs aren't mandated by law, which means they are set by individual institutions. While some schools automatically admit all who apply, others have GPA or test score requirements. Unfortunately, these requirements often aren’t very rigorous.[1]

Low or nonexistent entry standards to teacher training programs have been identified as a problem in Ohio and nationally by many experts, including those at the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). NCTQ argues that “sixty years of research and the experience of nations whose students outperform our own” have proven that raising the bar of admission into teacher preparation programs—filtering out potentially weak teachers at the beginning of the process, before they ever step foot in a classroom, even as a student-teacher—is a necessary first step in ensuring a strong teaching force.

While others contend that teacher licensure (which typically happens as a candidate finishes up her...

Ohio’s 2014–15 report cards are now fully available for all schools and districts except dropout prevention and recovery programs (due at the end of March). With ten graded measures and several ungraded components as well, there are dozens of ways to parse the data to learn how well Ohio public schools are performing—and more importantly, how well equipped students are for later life success. (Performance on the report cards is not the same as true college and career readiness; check out our recently released statewide report card analysis, Facing Facts, for more about that.)

Much of Ohio’s high school data is relatively new and merits exploration. High school report cards include traditional graduation rates as well as additional measures intended to gauge students’ college and career readiness. These “Prepared for Success” measures (rolled out in 2013–14) remain ungraded until next year, but they yield valuable information in six categories: 

  • College admission tests (participation rates on ACT/SAT, mean scores, and percentage receiving remediation-free scores),
  • Dual enrollment (specifically, the percentage of students earning at least three dual enrollment credits while in high school),
  • Industry credentials,
  • Honors diplomas awarded,
  • Advanced Placement (participation rates and test results), and
  • International Baccalaureate (participation
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