Ohio Gadfly Daily

  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 Aaron’s quotes and several other Fordham historical references constitute a small part of this epic blog post (nearly 3500 words) that tries to tie the case study of one recently-closed area charter school with the entire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...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis was a guest on All Sides with Ann Fisher again yesterday. Unsurprisingly, the topic was charter schools. Specifically, “The Performance and Outcomes of Online Schools”. Not a bad hour of talk radio, even if Chad doesn’t come in until the half-way point. But listen especially for the couple of times when Chad takes the show “off script”. Pretty good. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 5/26/16)
  2. Speaking of charter schools, the data wonks over at KnowYourCharter released a new report yesterday looking at previous federal Charter School Program (CSP) grants received by Ohio…in exactly the same way that wolves look at henhouses. The message seems to be that lots of schools that received CSP grants either never opened or closed after receiving grants, raising questions to which the wolves would like an answer. Here’s one not answered: why are so many of the closed schools affiliated with school districts? The report got a little bit of play in the media. Chad’s response is quoted in response in all of these pieces, as is the response of the Ohio Department of Education (which I love, BTW): “This department has no interest in playing partisan politics with a special interest
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Like much of Know Your Charter’s (KYC) charter school coverage, today’s report, “Belly Up: A Review of Federal Charter School Program Grants,” intentionally inflates the failures of Ohio’s charter sector, makes misleading performance comparisons, and falls short on providing comprehensive facts. The report reviews Ohio’s track record with the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant. Last year, Ohio was selected to win another CSP grant worth $71 million—money that is essential to help high-performing charter schools expand. The grant is currently on hold while federal officials review Ohio’s revised application, and its loss would deny Ohio’s high-quality charters much-needed resources.

“The CSP grant may represent the best way to improve Ohio’s charter sector, as it allows the state to replicate top performers and gives a competitive advantage to schools making a difference for students,” said Chad L. Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “We agree with Know Your Charter on at least one thing: federal grant dollars should be spent on replicating success. If we don’t—and that’s what will happen if Ohio loses the current grant—we can almost certainly count on Ohio’s charter sector being worse over the long haul.”


  1. One of State Auditor! Man’s superpowers, it appears, is the ability to create two news stories with a single press conference. Case in point: his announcement on Monday of the results of an attendance audit at charter and district schools. We told you briefly in that day’s clips about the findings, but his other point – an assertion that the Ohio Department of Education might not be the best-run agency in all of state government – got as much or more attention than the audit findings. Fiendishly clever. Here you can find the full video of the press conference in four pieces. A fifth piece here includes full commentary from our own Chad Aldis on both of State Auditor! Man’s truth bombs. Y’all know I love both Yost and Aldis, so take it from me with love: fish-eye lenses are not flattering. (Ohio Capital Blog, 5/23/16)
  2. Chad is also quoted in these stories reporting the auditor’s press conference. First up, Jeremy Kelley focuses on the part about ODE, although Chad is quoted only on the attendance audit findings. (Dayton Daily News, 5/23/16) Public radio reporter Andy Chow economically addressed both of the auditor’s topics in his
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NOTE: This is the introduction to Fordham Ohio's latest report—Pathway to Success: DECA prepares students for rigors of college, realities of life—researched and written by former Dayton Daily News editor and journalist Ellen Belcher. You can read the full report here. It is the first in a series of charter school student profiles.

Too much of what we hear about urban public schools in America is disheartening. A student’s zip code—whether she comes from poverty or economic privilege—often predicts her likelihood of educational (and later-life) success. Motivated by this unacceptable reality, some schools have worked relentlessly against the odds to deliver excellent educational opportunities to students no matter their background. Charter schools in particular have played a role in creating high-quality choices for urban students. Many are led and staffed by incredible visionaries who hold high expectations for all students and have made it their mission to ensure that more inner-city kids make it to (and through) college. When we hear about these schools, it behooves us to pay attention—to celebrate them, study them, and do our damnedest to support them. While there’s no silver bullet for fixing what ails urban public education, there are common undercurrents of