Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Common Core State Standards Ohio’s Learning Standards in English language arts and math will be further “Ohioized” after public input. (Gongwer Ohio, 10/20/16)
  2. Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon received the "Urban Educator of the Year" award earlier this week, bestowed by the Council of the Great City Schools. Congrats! (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/20/16)
  1. A recent Fordham blog post about relying on growth measures rather than proficiency rates to evaluate schools drew the attention of a writer at the University Herald News, who reviewed the post and threw in a few tidbits from our recent Ohio report card analysis too. Thanks! (University Herald News, 10/19/16)
  2. Fallout from Ohio’s first-ever charter sponsor evaluations continues. To wit: Patrick O’Donnell took a look at how the Ohio Department of Education’s rating as “ineffective” might impact the department’s sponsorship work going forward. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/18/16) In the Queen City, Hannah Sparling investigated the “poor” sponsor rating received by the Cincinnati City School district. Existing schools sponsored by the district will need to find new sponsors and the planned new Phalen Academy school may not happen at all. Pending appeal, of course. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/18/16)
  3. Here’s a nice piece looking at the various ESSA-related public input events now winding up in Ohio after several months of effort. The work of crafting a new accountability plan for the state from the tons of feedback now begins. (WVIZ-FM, Cleveland, 10/18/16)
  4. Lorain City Schools officials are to meet with the State Superintendent this week
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The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently released the results of its revised sponsor evaluation, including new ratings for all of the state’s charter-school sponsors. Called “authorizers” in most other states, sponsors are the entities responsible for monitoring and oversight of charter schools. Under the current rating system, sponsors are evaluated in three areas—compliance, quality practice, and school academic outcomes—and receive overall ratings of “Exemplary,” “Effective,” “Ineffective,” or “Poor.” Of the sixty-five Buckeye State sponsors evaluated, five were rated “Effective,” thirty-nine “Ineffective,” and twenty-one “Poor.” Incentives are built into the system for sponsors rated “Effective” or “Exemplary” (for instance, only having to be evaluated on the quality practice component every three years); however, sponsors rated “Ineffective” are prohibited from sponsoring new schools, and sponsors rated “Poor” have their sponsorship revoked.

Number of charter schools by sponsor rating


Evaluating sponsors is a key step in the direction of accountability and quality control, especially in Ohio, where the charter sector has been beset with performance challenges. Indeed, the point of implementing the evaluation was two-fold. First, the existence of the evaluation system...

  1. The Dayton Daily News was talking about Ohio’s first-ever charter sponsor ratings late on Friday. Sponsors of Dayton-area charter schools did a bit better than the state average. Fordham’s own sponsor ranking (“effective”) is noted and our own Chad Aldis weighed in on the process and the outcome. (Dayton Daily News, 10/14/16) The Buckeye State is entering the “what’s next?” phase after these first-ever sponsor ratings. Chad is also quoted in this piece looking at the ratings process and the fallout from the results – specifically, what will happen too the schools whose sponsors were rated as “poor”? (Gongwer Ohio, 10/14/16)
  2. Fordham is namechecked in this editorial from the weekend, in which editors in Columbus opine in favor of a swift legislative fix to end the ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state department of education. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/16/16)
  3. The reporter on the bus goes write write, write, write…. (Lancaster Eagle Gazette, 10/16/16)
  1. Ohio’s first ever charter school sponsor ratings have been released after much tumult. No sponsors achieved the highest rating, and most were clustered at or near the bottom. More details on what this all means comes from the usual journalistic suspects. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in all of the following pieces. Check out coverage in the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 10/13/16), Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 10/13/16), the Blade (Toledo Blade, 10/13/16), and the redoubtable PD (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/13/16).
  2. Speaking of charter schools, here’s a piece from the Dispatch touting something their sports writer found remarkable: a local professional soccer team helping an inner-city district school to get their prep soccer program back up and running. While this is a good thing and a nice story if you like sports, it is hardly an unusual occurrence. What IS unusual in this story is that a charter school has a competitive sports team of any kind. This rare and important fact (the school is Fordham-sponsored KIPP Columbus, by the way) goes completely unremarked other than in photo captions. Thank heaven for photo publication waivers! (Columbus Dispatch, 10/12/16)
  3. The Plain Dealer has already covered the
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Ohio Charter Accountability Takes Big Leap Forward with First Sponsor Evaluation Ratings

Today the Ohio Department of Education released results for the state’s new comprehensive sponsor evaluation system. The ratings resulted in 5 sponsors being deemed effective, 39 ineffective, and 21 poor. No sponsors were rated exemplary.

“Completion of the first sponsor performance review is a critical step forward in Ohio’s goal to improve its charter sector,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Sponsors provide critical oversight for charters schools, determining when to intervene, non-renew, or close schools—and just as importantly, when and where to allow charters to open in the first place. Given this tremendous responsibility, they are essential to our accountability system.”

Ohio’s sponsor evaluation system—initially put in place by HB 555—was revised last fall by a Department task force. The evaluations grade sponsors on three equally weighted categories: compliance—how well they follow applicable rules and laws and ensure their sponsored schools do the same; quality practices—whether they are adhering to general principles of quality authorizing; and academic performance—how well their schools performed on a variety of report card metrics.

“The Department of Education deserves...

Our goal with this post is to convince you that continuing to use status measures like proficiency rates to grade schools is misleading and irresponsible—so much so that the results from growth measures ought to count much more—three, five, maybe even nine times more—than proficiency when determining school performance under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We draw upon our experience with our home state of Ohio and its current accountability system, which currently generates separate school grades for proficiency and for growth.

We argue three points:

  1. In an era of high standards and tough tests, proficiency rates are correlated with student demographics and prior achievement. If schools are judged predominantly on these rates, almost every high-poverty school will be labeled a failure. That is not only inaccurate and unfair, but it will also demoralize educators and/or hurt the credibility of school accountability systems. In turn, states will be pressured to lower their proficiency standards.
  2. Growth measures—like “value added” or “student growth percentiles”—are a much fairer way to evaluate schools, since they can control for prior achievement and can ascertain progress over the course of the school year. They can also differentiate between high-poverty schools where kids are making steady
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  1. Our own Chad Aldis was among the interview subjects in this piece talking about Cincinnati City Schools’ levy request, which includes both K-12 and pre-K funding asks. Chad talks about pre-K quality and the dangers of “fadeout” in the run up to the vote. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 10/11/16) In discussing the K-12 portion of the levy, journalist Hannah Sparling throws up a number of boogiemen to illustrate the reasons why Cincy is asking for the money. To wit: charter schools, state regulations (especially around technology), and vouchers (which she calls a “free ticket” for families to leave the district). I could almost hear the violin music rising as I read the last paragraph. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/11/16)
  2. Speaking of boogiemen, Progress Ohio yesterday hosted an event here in Columbus featuring an attorney representing the government of Turkey. The topic: Concept charter schools, which the attorney said are “fleecing” taxpayers in Ohio and elsewhere to the benefit of a man the Turkish government asserts is behind a recent coup attempt in that country. Heady stuff. Turkey (I’m almost sure it’s Turkey) is asking StateAuditor! Man to dig deep into Concept Schools (again) to find out for sure. (Gongwer Ohio,
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This report from the Council for a Strong America provides an alarming snapshot of how ill-prepared many of the nation’s young adults are to be productive members of society.

The Council is an 8,500-member coalition comprised of law enforcement leaders, retired admirals and generals, business executives, pastors, and coaches and athletes. Its inaugural “Citizen-Readiness Index” gives more than three quarters of states a C or below on the index, due to staggering numbers of young people who are 1) unprepared for the workforce, 2) involved in crime, or 3) unqualified for the military.

Ohio received an overall C grade, earning some of the top marks for workforce and crime indicators. More specifically, 12 percent of Ohio’s young people ages 16–24 were reported to be unprepared for the workforce, a relatively low percentage nationally that earned Ohio a B. Ohio also earned a B on crime, with eight arrests per one hundred people (among those ages 17–24)—one of the lowest numbers nationwide. On military readiness, however, Ohio earned a D. A whopping 72 percent of youth ages 17–24 were ineligible for military service. Eligibility to enter the military depends on a range of factors, including physical fitness and attainment of...

Piet van Lier

NOTE: All photos used in this piece were graciously provided by the Cleveland Transformation Alliance. The photo at the top of this page features HBCU Preparatory School student Meiyah Hill and school principal Tim Roberts.

Standardized test scores are the most common measure of academic success in our nation’s K-12 schools. While they are an important indicator, most observers would agree that tests don’t tell the whole story about what’s happening in our public schools.

Given the recent changes to Ohio’s assessments and standards and their impact on test scores statewide, the need to tell a deeper story about public education has become even more evident.

In Cleveland, we know that Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools is enabling both district and charter schools to create new learning environments that are laying a foundation for sustainable academic improvement. Progress is slow and not always visible from the outside, but it’s happening.

That’s why the Cleveland Transformation Alliance recently partnered with Civic Commons ideastream to share powerful stories about education in Measuring Success Behind the Numbers. The conversation included three storytellers:

  • Student Meiyah Hill talked about how HBCU Preparatory School, a charter middle school in Cleveland, made her feel
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