Ohio Gadfly Daily

  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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College may not be for all, but it is the chosen path of nearly fifty thousand Ohio high school grads. Unfortunately, almost one-third of Ohio’s college goers are unprepared for the academic rigor of post-secondary coursework. To better ensure that all incoming students are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in university courses, all Ohio public colleges and universities require their least prepared students to enroll in remedial, non-credit-bearing classes (primarily in math and English).

Remediation is a burden on college students and taxpayers who pay twice. First they shell out to the K–12 system. Then they pay additional taxes toward the state’s higher education system, this time for the cost of coursework that should have been completed prior to entering college (and for which students earn no college credit). The remediation costs further emphasize the importance of every student arriving on campus prepared.

Perhaps the bigger problem with remedial education is that it doesn’t work very well. In Ohio, just 51 percent of freshmen requiring remediation at a flagship university—and 38 percent of those in remedial classes at a non-flagship school—go on to complete entry-level college courses within two academic years....

  1. Our own Chad Aldis was a member of the panel discussing charter schools at the Columbus Metropolitan Club forum on Wednesday of this week. First coverage of the event was from a business/politics news aggregator in New Zealand! No, Chad doesn’t have that kind of juice, but StateAuditor! Man (leader of the panel) does. (Foreign Affairs Publisher, NZ, 9/15/16) For event coverage closer to home, check out Gongwer. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/14/16) If no-holds-barred full video is more your style, look no further than here. (Columbus Metropolitan Club YouTube channel, 9/14/16)
     
  2. Earlier the same day, the US Department of Education finally released the $71 million Charter School Program grant that Ohio won many months ago. As you’ll no doubt recall, the release of the funds was put on hold when questions arose in regard to the application. As a result of those questions – and the answers provided by the state – Ohio’s grant award was declared “high risk” and a number of new conditions were placed upon it. Chad and others tell you all about it in the following pieces from the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 9/15/16), the Beacon Journal (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/14/16) and
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Ohio’s report card release showed a slight narrowing of the “honesty gap”—the difference between the state’s own proficiency rate and proficiency rates as defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP proficiency standard has been long considered stringent—and one that can be tied to college and career readiness. When states report inflated state proficiency rates relative to NAEP, they may label their students “proficient” but they overstate to the public the number of students who are meeting high academic standards.

The chart below displays Ohio’s three-year trend in proficiency on fourth and eighth grade math and reading exams, compared to the fraction of Buckeye students who met proficiency on the latest round of NAEP. The red arrows show the disparity between NAEP proficiency and the 2015-16 state proficiency rates.

Chart 1: Ohio’s proficiency rates 2013-14 to 2015-16 versus Ohio’s 2015 NAEP proficiency

As you can see, Ohio narrowed its honesty gap by lifting its proficiency standard significantly in 2014-15 with the replacement of the Ohio Achievement Assessments and its implementation of PARCC. (The higher PARCC standards meant lower proficiency...

School report cards offer important view of student achievement -
c
ritical that schools be given continuity moving forward

The Ohio Department of Education today released school report cards for the 2015-16 school year. After a couple tumultuous years, today’s traditional fall report card release reflects a return to normalcy. This year also marked the first year of administration for next-generation exams developed jointly by Ohio educators and the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

“This year’s state testing and report card cycle represents a huge improvement from last year,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Last year’s controversy made it easy to forget the simple yet critical role state assessments and school report cards play. They are, quite simply, necessary, annual checkups to see how well schools are preparing students for college or career.”

“The state tests are designed to measure the extent to which our children are learning so that our students can compete with students around the country and around the globe,” said Andy Boy, Founder and CEO of United Schools Network, a group of high-performing charter schools in Columbus....

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) announced that it would release the $71 million Charter School Program (CSP) grant awarded to Ohio last September, but with additional restrictions attached. The letter outlines "high-risk" special conditions for how Ohio's award can be spent. This includes excluding virtual charter schools, placing extra requirements on subgrants to dropout recovery charter schools, and a promise that USDOE will carefully monitor and ensure that Ohio completes its authorizer evaluations on time.

The federal CSP program dates back to 1994, and has been used to seed new charter schools across the U.S. as well as enable top-performing charter networks to grow and expand. In recent years, the CSP program has drawn broad bi-partisan support in Congress.

Ohio’s grant was put on hold shortly after it was announced, as the USDOE considered additional safeguards on how the funds would be spent. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) revised its application in January 2016 to further describe the state’s charter accountability infrastructure. More recently, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria aggressively moved forward with charter sponsor evaluations—a key part of the state’s CSP application—despite attempts to delay them.

“We’re extremely pleased that the USDOE, after a...

  1. The State Auditor (that guy!) released a financial performance audit of Cincinnati City Schools earlier this week. He’s got a recommendation or two to help the district save $11 million. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted helpfully as encouraging the district to do so. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 9/10/16)
     
  2. The Florida NAACP and teachers unions have challenged Florida’s voucher programs in court. The ongoing case is covered pretty thoroughly in this piece from The 74. Fordham’s Chad Aldis was a prime mover in Florida’s voucher programs before coming to Ohio and is quoted in this interesting and detailed piece. (The 74 Million blog, 9/13/16)
     
  3. Speaking of court cases, the ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state department of education over the parameters and definitions of an attendance audit has made it to court with a couple days of testimony so far this week. You can check out Day One details here… (Columbus Dispatch, 9/12/16) …and here (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/12/16, with video!). Day Two coverage is here. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/13/16)
     
  4. Back in the real world, Columbus City Schools’ board of education may decide next week to sell off as many
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  1. As one might have expected, the kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the department of education over an attendance audit did not remain contained between those two entities. Other online schools seem to be experiencing attendance tracking issues when checked, many of which are enumerated in this piece. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/11/16)
     
  2. The state board of education is meeting this week. One item on members’ agenda: discussion of proposed new rules for gifted education in Ohio. Here’s a piece that purports to showcase the debate over said rules but seems to me to present only one side of the argument in interviews. But I might have missed something. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/11/16)
     
  3. The payment method for College Credit Plus (that’s early college courses for credit while students are still in high school) gets a look-see in today’s Dispatch. Opinion is decidedly mixed among those interviewed. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/12/16) Meanwhile, Denison University in Granville with help from the I Know I Can college access organization, announced it will give four-year tuition-only scholarships to 20 Columbus City Schools graduates each year for the foreseeable future. Recipients will be chosen based on academic record, extracurricular achievements, essays
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GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump recently visited Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy, a charter school educating predominately minority and low-income children. I write not to comment on Mr. Trump’s candidacy, his thoughts on education policy, or even Ohio’s charter schools. Rather, this is my takeaway from the whole brouhaha—and be forewarned, it’s a wonky one: Ohio needs to return to a multi-year value-added measure.

Here’s why. Charter critics, media, and even a respected education reform group were quick to label Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy a “failure.” They relied on the school’s 2014–15 school report cards, which indeed showed low A–F grades. One glaring rating was the school’s F on Ohio’s value-added measure—not good at face value, because the measure is generally uncorrelated with student demographics and is therefore a metric that high-poverty schools can and do succeed on. (Value added gauges growth over time, regardless of students’ prior achievement.)

Keep in mind, however, that Ohio is presently basing value-added rating on one year of data—and those ratings can swing quite dramatically from year to year. Consider, for example, that Toledo Public Schools received an A rating on value added in 2013-14....

  1. In case you missed it, Republication presidential candidate Donald J. Trump visited Cleveland yesterday and spoke at a charter school in the city. The candidate’s remarks were mainly about education plans and promises should we elect him to the top office. This is really the only coverage I could find that stuck to the education theme. But if that’s what it takes to bring the Beacon Journal’s ace inkhound Doug “Dog” Livingston back onto these clips, then so be it! Welcome back, buddy! We missed your brass and sass. (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/9/16). Doug’s been out of the education reporting game for a while, covering politics (bleurgh) for the ABJ instead, so he probably hasn’t had an opportunity to read Fordham’s recent downbeat report on Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program. These folks have read it, and framed the candidate’s call for expanded vouchers with it…like a shroud. First, the Standard Examiner out of Ogden, Utah. (Standard Examiner, 9/8/16). Second, the Villages Suntimes News out of Dog knows where. (Villages Suntimes, 9/8/16). As per usual, the candidate didn’t exactly stick to one theme, and a couple of his national security-related comments took over the Dispatch’s coverage. But the
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