Ohio Gadfly Daily

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to incorporate at least one non-academic indicator—which might include (but isn’t limited to) factors like school climate or safety—into their accountability frameworks. That makes this study published in Educational Researcher rather well-timed. The authors set out to test the theory that reductions in school violence and/or improvements to school climate would lead to improved academic outcomes. Instead, the evidence they discovered suggests the relationship flows in the opposite direction: A school’s improvement in academic performance led to reductions in violence and improved climate—not the other way around.

The study’s authors point to serious gaps in past studies of school climate and safety, many of which illustrated only correlation (not causation) among the variables examined. This motivated them to test the assumption that improved school climate must come first in the chicken-egg scenario. Using six years of student survey results (from 2007–13) from a representative sample of 3,100 California middle and high schools, analysts employed a research design known for its ability to test causality when large-scale experimental designs aren’t possible. (For the curious, this is described as a “cross-lagged panel autoregressive modeling design,” which determines whether variables at different points in...

  1. Kinda quiet this weekend in terms of education news stories. First up, two previews of state board of ed action to occur this week. It appears that board members will hold their noses and approve a proposed set of criteria defining the term “consistently high-performing teacher”. Neither the committee that came up with the criteria nor the board members who have to vote on it seem all that thrilled with what is before them. Why are they going to vote for it then? Because they are required by law to set a definition by July 1 and this is what there is to vote on. Inspiring (Gongwer Ohio, 6/10/16) Also on the agenda this week, adjust the cut scores for two new high school end-of-course math exams that students took this spring. We told you last week that the initial results didn’t look so promising. So the question before the board is to keep the cut scores high and have loads of kids not pass, or lower the cut scores so larger numbers pass. This is such an important issue that our own Chad Aldis weighed in, landing on the side that says that “Diplomas have to mean
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  1. If things go as planned, Cincinnati City Schools’ board of education will pass a resolution next week to authorize negotiations with Phalen Leadership Academies, a charter school network from Indianapolis, with an eye toward opening a district-sponsored Phalen school in the Queen City. The timing is important because formalizing the negotiation status will allow Phalen to apply for Ohio’s new charter school facilities funding, the deadline for which is fast approaching. You can read journalist Hannah Sparling’s pretty awesome description (if I do say so myself) of Phalen’s work in Indy here. But the three months since that piece was published seem to have soured Sparling on the idea. Or else it was her discussion with the leader of the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition that did it. CEJC leader Michelle Dillingham, also a candidate for city council, was quoted in yesterday’s piece vehemently opposing the district’s plan. She “doesn’t know enough about Phalen to rate the model one way or the other, but she didn’t see anything in Wednesday’s presentation that CPS isn’t already offering its students… ‘It’s not really clear what they’re innovating,’ she said.” There you have it. More developments next week, I’m sure. (Cincinnati Enquirer,
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  1. Krish Mohip, the newly-appointed CEO of Youngstown City Schools, came into town yesterday to sign his contract…and to meet with the school board, district staffers, and as much of the public as could be mustered on a Tuesday afternoon. There’s a lot to parse here and I may have more to say about this after I check out all the video from his public remarks. (“Scraped along with C’s”? Dude! Diligent work on the party of the Vindy though.) But I’ll leave you with three observations on the written piece: Mohip seems to have a pretty good track record in Chicago as he tells the story, including significant improvements to some difficult schools. He seems to be trying to be inclusive out of the gate (board, interim supe, teachers, public, etc.). Most importantly he seems to have solidified in his own mind some of the less-clear aspects of the new ADC/CEO framework, including the role he sees for the elected board and for their appointed superintendent. These will be important down the line if/when other districts come under the aegis of the new ADC/CEO framework. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/8/16)
     
  2. Speaking of one of those districts, here is
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  1. Kudos to Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) and sister school DECA Prep (sponsored by Fordham), two of the schools admitted to Ohio’s STEM Learning Network this year. They join a consortium of high-quality tech-focused schools across the state which include charters, traditional district, private, and standalone public STEM schools. Keep up the good work everyone! (Ohio STEM Learning Network, 6/6/16)
     
  2. Recall that StateAuditor! Man had some strong words for the Ohio Department of Education a couple of weeks ago. In a depressingly predictable turn of events, folks from all parts of the ideological spectrum seized upon his words to advance their own agendas. The D chatted with state board members and state legislators who were all over the map with ideas about how to “fix” the department, with little apparent agreement as to what the problem was. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/30/16) Yost himself took time to expand on his thoughts about ODE’s “problems” in a commentary piece in the Plain Dealer last weekend. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/3/16)
     
  3. Confession time: I loathe Facebook. The level of discourse I have found there – in general – makes Twitter seem Aristotelian by comparison. Imagine my reaction, then, when the
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Compiler’s note: We’ll be catching up today and tomorrow from last week’s vacation.

  1. Our own Chad Aldis was a guest on the weekly Statehouse News Bureau chat show “State of Ohio” this past weekend. He was joined by Innovation Ohio’s Steve Dyer to talk about the new Know Your Charter report on the history of federal Charter School Program (CSP) funds in Ohio. Very interesting discussion, starts at 8:40 on the video. (Ohio Public Media’s Statehouse News Bureau, 6/3/16)
     
  2. Aaron Churchill spoke to Cincinnati journalist Mike Brown about charter schools recently. Aaron’s quotes and several other Fordham historical references constitute a small part of this epic blog post (nearly 3500 words) that tries to tie the case study of one recently-closed area charter school with the entire history of charter schools in Ohio. Fascinating effort. Never knew this blog existed. (Cincinnatians for the American Dream blog, 6/1/16)
     
  3. Chad is quoted extensively on the adoption by the Capacity Committee of the state board of a set of changes
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This week Ohio Auditor Dave Yost visited United Preparatory Academy (UPrep), a high-performing elementary charter school in the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus. UPrep is part of the United Schools Network of charter schools whose middle schools and CEO, Andy Boy, were profiled recently by the Columbus Dispatch (“Charter school producing hoped-for results” and “Charter school stands out”).

The middle schools serve students who are over 95 percent and 82 percent economically disadvantaged, respectively; yet eighth graders at both middle school campuses outscored statewide averages for both reading and math proficiency by margins that the Dispatch calls “eye-popping.” UPrep serves students in grades K–2 and will be expanding to the third grade in the fall (and eventually up to fifth grade).

Auditor Yost toured the UPrep campus and visited classrooms. He also met with Andy Boy, who described the network’s future plans, the challenge of securing school facilities, and the overall impact that the schools have made on student outcomes as well as the neighborhoods in which they are located.

“Charter schools are accustomed to doing more with less. In the case of United Preparatory Academy, they’re doing a lot more with...

Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is looming on the horizon, and education leaders and policy makers are in need of accurate information regarding stakeholder perceptions and opinions. The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) recently answered that call by releasing a comprehensive survey of perceptions of K–12 assessment. The survey asked a range of assessment-related questions to superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and students.    

Some of the results are unsurprising. For instance, more than seven in ten teachers, principals, and superintendents say that students spend too much time taking assessments. Their opinions on specific tests vary, however. Six in ten teachers rate their states’ accountability tests as fair or poor, but most gave a thumbs-up to both formative assessments and classroom tests and quizzes developed by teachers. The approval gap between state tests and other assessments is most likely due to their perceived usefulness. While state tests give a summative picture of student performance, they aren’t designed to provide diagnostic information or inform instruction—functions that classroom tests and formative assessments perform well. (Of course, let’s not forget that NWEA makes millions of dollars selling a formative assessment.)

In contrast to teachers and administrators, three out of four...

I recently wrote about two studies whose results showed promise in the use of co-requisite remediation (students simultaneously taking a developmental and a credit-bearing course in the same subject). The strategy is aimed at getting college students up to speed faster, thus cutting time and costs associated with degree completion (both in two-year and four-year colleges). Now two more studies on this topic offer additional insights.

First up is Iris Palmer’ plan to scale up co-requisite remediation models based on the experiences of pilot programs in five states. These pilots either a) fully replaced traditional prerequisite remediation with a co-requisite model as described above or b) created two different tracks into which students were slotted based on ACT score cutoffs identified by the community colleges. She identifies the subtle variations that different colleges employed (class size, test cutoff points, integration of remediation with credit-bearing content, etc.) and identifies the stakeholders within college hierarchies who would have the best vantage point and leverage to make the needed systemic changes. Who knew that registrars had that kind of power? I jest, but Palmer insists that redesigning an institution’s remediation process “needs to be someone’s full-time job” to be done right—and...

The Ohio State Board of Education chose Paolo DeMaria as the next state superintendent of public instruction earlier this month. Mr. DeMaria is a former state budget director, education advisor to two governors, high-level staffer with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Board of Regents, and a current principal with Education First Consulting. His dedication to improving education is obvious and is matched only by his impeccable qualifications.

Mr. DeMaria brings a calm, thoughtful, and analytical approach to the agency’s work. But there is even more to be glad about in terms of this choice: For the first time in many years, the sitting governor did not send a representative to sit in on candidate interviews for state superintendent. This deliberate move away from the politicization of the selection process is a positive step and may have played a small role in the usually fractious board unanimously selecting Mr. DeMaria (even with a number of other highly qualified candidates from which to choose). Just as impressive, DeMaria scored points with many by asking for a lower base salary than originally offered, to be supplemented by a performance-based bonus option. A class act...

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