Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. At the risk of diluting the cool factor of my kids’ current favorite word, reporter Patrick O’Donnell appears to be “nettled” over the possible expansion of private school vouchers in Ohio. If building a case against such an expansion is indeed his goal, he’s got his work cut out for him since such an expansion has been mooted from both the state and the federal level. Thorough as O’Donnell always is, he makes sure to note the limitations in data and generalizability of our 2016 study on the EdChoice Scholarship program, quoting Chad thoroughly on their nature. Nevertheless, he appears to be launching a one-man campaign to bring that data to light, despite the limitations. First up, Cleveland Metropolitan School District in general vs. voucher schools in general in reading and math. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/26/17) Part two of the campaign is more specific: CMSD’s magnet schools vs. St. Ignatius and several other well-known private high schools. Wonder if it’s just a coincidence that O’Donnell took an in-depth look at those magnet schools in profiles published a few weeks ago? Guess we’ll find out, if this current series continues. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/26/17)
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  1. During the divisive teachers strike in Louisville, Ohio, we learned that there were also serious divisions between Louisville and other nearby towns. Getting “outsiders” to staff classrooms during the strike was not only problematic because of the whole “crossing the picket line” thing but also because folks in Louisville held some deep animosity toward folks from other districts nearby. As you may recall, this has to do with sports. And while the teachers strike is over now and the internal wounds are starting to heal, sports-related beefs are much harder to fix. You will recall that the seven other member districts of the Northeastern Buckeye Conference voted to dissolve and reform said conference (for no explained reason) without Louisville. As a result, the Leopards are facing life as a member of no athletic conference at all and they are having a difficult time finding opponents to fill their 2018-19 football season…except for “private school football powerhouses” apparently looking for some easy pickings. It all sounds pretty desperate to me – to the point of Louisville leaders being urged to rejoin the league they left nearly 30 years ago. And even those wounds may not have healed yet. (Canton Repository,
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When the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) went into effect in 2011, it was the culmination of a process that began back in 2009 with House Bill 1. This bill was a key part of Ohio’s efforts to win the second round of Race to the Top funding, which, among other things, required states to explain how they would improve teacher effectiveness.

Beyond bringing home the bacon, Ohio’s evaluation system aimed to accomplish two goals: First, to identify low-performing teachers for accountability purposes, and second, to help teachers improve their practice. Unfortunately, as we hurtle toward the end of the fourth year of OTES implementation, it’s become painfully clear that the current system hasn’t achieved either goal.

To be fair, there have been some extenuating circumstances that have crippled the system. Thanks to its ever-changing assessments, Ohio has been in safe harbor since the 2014-15 school year, which means that the legislature prohibited test scores from being used to calculate teacher evaluation ratings. As a result, the full OTES framework hasn’t been used as intended since its first year of implementation in 2013-14. But even back then, OTES didn’t offer much evidence of differentiation—...

After much criticism, state superintendent Paolo DeMaria decided to delay Ohio’s submission of its ESSA plan until September. One of the chief complaints was that the plan did not propose any cutbacks on the number of state assessments students take, and a committee is now forming to examine whether any could be culled.

The committee will find that most state assessments must be given to comply with federal law. ESSA, like No Child Left Behind before it, requires annual exams in grades 3-8 in math and English language arts (ELA); science exams once in grades 3-5 and 6-8; and one high school math, ELA, and science exam. This leaves just seven of twenty four state exams on the table for discussion: four social studies assessments, two high school end-of-course exams, and the fall third-grade ELA exam. Ohio students spend less than 2 percent of their time in school taking these state tests.

While eliminating any of these assessments would slightly reduce time on testing, doing so also comes at a steep price. Let’s take a closer look.

Social Studies Exams

Ohio currently administers exams in grades 4 and 6 social studies and end-of-course assessments in US...

  1. Despite what was discussed – and however heatedly that discussion was had by board members this week – I am reasonably certain that neither the number of school buses actually available to be driven (HOW MANY do they want?!) nor the ages of those vehicles are part of the ongoing problems Dayton City Schools is having with student transportation. But please carry on with your plans. (Dayton Daily News, 3/21/17)
  2. The Enquirer this week confirmed one half of what was rumored in a WCPO-TV piece we clipped on Monday – the Cincinnati school board voted to invoke the take-back clause of their lease agreement with the Clifton Community Arts Center. Shortly, a 365-day clock will begin to tick for the CCAC to vacate so the magnet school across the street can expand. No formal word from the board yet on whether the much-smaller and likely-in-need-of-some-work mansion next door will be offered for rent to CCAC. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/20/17)
  3. Youngstown schools’ CEO launched a new series of community input sessions this week to find out what district parents want from their schools. Unfortunately, only 1 parent showed up for the first meeting on Monday, although there
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It’s that time of year when many of us are searching desperately for a local Girl Scout troop in order to buy some cookies. (Helpful hint: It’s super easy to find a cookie booth near you.) But the Girl Scouts aren’t just the bearers of thin mint goodness—the organization also has a research arm, which recently published The State of Girls 2017, an examination of national and state-level trends related to the health and well-being of American girls.

The report analyzes several indicators including demographic shifts, economic health, physical and emotional health, education, and participation in extracurricular/out-of-school activities. Data were pulled from a variety of national and governmental sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends were analyzed from 2007 through 2016.

American girls are growing more racially and ethnically diverse along with the rest of the country’s population. The report notes that the percentage of white school-age girls (ages five to seventeen) decreased from 57 percent in 2007 to 51 percent in 2016. Meanwhile the percentage of Hispanic/Latina girls increased from 20 to 25 percent while the percentage of Black girls decreased from 15 to 14 percent. Approximately 26 percent...

E-schools, a.k.a. virtual charter schools, have been so thoroughly mired in controversy that they’ve become radioactive in most education discussions. Or in most discussions, period. The current dispute in Ohio is largely technical and centers on the extent to which e-schools provide learning opportunities to students rather than merely offering them. This is much more than semantics; how to track attendance and student log-ins for funding purposes is at the heart of a year-long lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) by one of the state’s largest and most politically influential e-schools. Hundreds of millions of public dollars are at stake.

There have also been broad concerns about e-schools’ lagging performance in Ohio as well as nationally. Last year, a trio of education groups, including long-time charter advocacy organizations, began to share their concerns more publicly, offering policy recommendations to base funding on performance and consider creating enrollment criteria for students. These bold suggestions were embraced shortly thereafter by Ohio’s Auditor of State, Dave Yost, who recently ordered a statewide examination of how online charters collect learning and log-in data.

So it’s no surprise that Senator Joe Schiavoni, a long-time advocate for...

  1. Interesting rhetorical pivot from the state supe this week. After announcing that Ohio was going to delay submitting its ESSA accountability plan due to “public outcry” over a lack of changes in the state’s standardized testing regimen (i.e. – lack of reduction in same) early in the week, Paolo DeMaria was at the end of the week turning the lens back on local districts. He notes that districts may very well have been “layering on” tests themselves over the years and might perhaps want to look at their own regimens for places to cut should they maintain the belief that their students are being tested too much. "It's not a stone we should leave unturned," he said. Is it just me who predicts that that particular stone will remain unturned? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/17/17)
  2. As you may have heard, Governor Kasich in his new biennial budget proposed an externship at a local business as a requirement for teachers to renew their licenses. Democrats in the General Assembly – all on their own, probably, with no prompting from anyone – quickly introduced a response bill that would require Governor Kasich to “intern” at a school or two instead. Perhaps
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  1. We mentioned earlier this week that Ohio has decided to postpone submission of its ESSA accountability plan until September due to “outcry” from folks who said they hadn’t been heard during the input process. Perhaps not all devotees of the Patron Saint of Ink-Stained Wretches and Anguished Press Stoppers are as pleased with this outcome as earlier press coverage might have otherwise indicated. Case in point, this editorial from today’s Dispatch in which editors urge caution in adopting any ESSA changes that might water down accountability in Ohio. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/17/17)
  2. Speaking of things that certain folks might want watered down for various reasons, some players in the charter school realm (and their opposites) testified this week in regard to the state’s sponsor evaluation system. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/16/17)
  3. The proposed state budget includes cuts in support for school transportation, a change which of course some folks don’t care for. Those folks’ concerns were aired in legislative testimony this week. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/16/17) Meanwhile, the powers that be in ex-urban Groveport Madison schools have come up with what your humble clip compiler thinks is an ingenious – and cost-effective solution to one of their biggest transportation
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NOTE: The House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education of the Ohio General Assembly is hearing testimony this week on the education portion of Ohio's next biennial budget. Below is the written testimony that Chad Aldis gave before the subcommittee today.

Thank you Chair Cupp, Ranking Member Miller, and committee members for giving me the opportunity to provide testimony today on House Bill 49.

My name is Chad Aldis, and I am the Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Fordham Institute is an education-focused nonprofit that conducts research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C. Our Dayton office, through the affiliated Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, is also a charter school sponsor.

As opposed to past years, Governor Kasich’s as-introduced budget includes relatively few education proposals. Given the magnitude and number of changes over the past six years, this is generally a good thing. While it’s still early in the budget process, we’d encourage the House to focus on the most critical adjustments needed to foster a high-performing educational system. It’s important that students, teachers, principals, and school districts have some stability and essential policy changes should...