Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. In a leftover from late last week, our own Chad Aldis was talking to public media about the challenges facing e-schools in developing a system to take attendance and how he believes it can be done. Which is good, because they have to. (Statehouse News Bureau, others via public media, 3/4/16)
     
  2. Speaking of e-schools in Ohio, the D gave us tons more dirt on Provost Academy, an online school which – it was announced last week – was ordered to pay back something like 80% of the state funding it had received due to attendance discrepancy (see above for more on that “taking attendance” conundrum). And by “dirt”, I mean texts of emails and audio-recorded meetings. Ugh. Didn’t I see this on “The Good Wife”? (Columbus Dispatch, 3/6/16) Today, editors in Columbus put it all together for us re: the importance of not watering down e-school attendance tracking and reporting requirements. Helpful. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/7/16)
     
  3. In other news, Dayton City Schools is pushing back a bit on a couple of dings (yes, that is the technical term) in its most recent state audit. (Dayton Daily News, 3/6/16) Meanwhile, staffers from the Ohio Department
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  1. Our own Aaron Churchill pushed a Kardashian off the front page of the 74 Million’s blog yesterday, talking about the “dismal democracy” that often is the local elected school board in Ohio. (The 74 Million education blog, 3/2/16)
     
  2. Our own Chad Aldis had no measurable influence over the Kardashian kabal while talking about some of the dismal demagoguery that attends charter school issues in Ohio. (Politico Pro Education Report, 3/2/16)
     
  3. Keeping up with the theme, editors in Nordonia Hills (no, I don’t either) opined against the “slimy influences” of “scoundrels” trying to undermine or even reverse charter school accountability measures in Ohio. (Nordonia Hills News-Leader, 3/2/16)
     
  4. Back in the real world, Dayton City Schools announced a new initiative that will give Chromebooks to every student in grades 3 through 8 during the school day, starting next year. A pilot program kicks off at one school this month. (Dayton Daily News, 3/3/16) Ditto for the kids (and teachers) at the Chaney High School campus in Youngstown, although YCS is going with Apple products. Interesting to note that the district received a grant from Apple for this tech two years ago, and it included
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This piece was first published on the education blog of The 74 Million.

William Phillis, the director of a lobbying group for Ohio’s school systems, recently stated in his daily email blast: “Our public school district is operated in accordance with federal, state and local regulations by citizens elected by the community....Traditional public schools epitomize the way democracy should work.” The email then went on to criticize charters for having self-appointed governing boards.

Setting aside charter boards for a moment, let’s consider the statement: Traditional public schools epitomize the way democracy should work. To quote tennis legend John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious.”

As observers of American politics would quickly point out, elections at any level of government aren’t perfect. One common concern in representative democracy is electoral participation. Approximately 40–50 percent of the electorate actually votes in midterm congressional races, and roughly 60 percent vote in presidential elections.

With only half of adults voting in some of these races, many have expressed concerns about the vibrancy of American citizenship.

But in comparison to school board races, national elections are veritable models of participatory democracy. In the fall of 2013, I calculated turnout rates in Franklin...

In a previous post, I outlined the current landscape of teacher policy in Ohio and pointed out some areas in need of significant reform. The largest problem—and perhaps the most intractable—is teacher preparation. Despite consensus on the need for reform, some solid ideas, and an abundance of opportunities over the last few decades, schools of education have changed very little. Ohio is no exception, and many of the Buckeye State’s teacher preparation programs are in need of an overhaul. Here are a few recommendations for how policy makers and preparation programs in Ohio can start making progress in the impervious-to-change area of teacher training.

Rethink ways of holding teacher preparation programs accountable 

Uncle Ben may not have been thinking of education when he said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” but the shoe certainly fits. Teachers have an enormous impact on their students, and it makes sense that taxpayers, parents, and policy makers would want to ensure that the programs entrusted with training those teachers are accountable for their performance. Ohio leaders recognize this and have already taken some tentative steps toward judging teacher preparation programs on the performance of their graduates. Unfortunately,...

  1. Big discrepancies found during a detailed attendance check at Provost Academy, a small Ohio e-school, have resulted in the school being ordered to pay back nearly $800,000, some 80 percent of the state funding the school received. What’s that you said? Can’t hear you over the baying. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/1/16)
     
  2. It’s also really noisy in the realm of report card fallout. First up, how much the zeroes given to students whose parents opted them out of testing last year affected performance index scores for their schools. This is the Central Ohio version of this story. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/1/16) Secondly, how much did online testing vs. paper/pencil testing affect value added scores for the schools who chose between these options for test taking last year. This is the Northeast Ohio version of this story. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/1/16)
     
  3. Finally, the cult of Our Lady of Oyler could get a big boost in Columbus next year. But first, a bond issue must pass. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/2/16)

The “college preparation gap” among students graduating from high school is real and persistent. There are some signs that it has been stabilizing in recent years, but the fact remains that too many holders of high school diplomas aren’t ready for college-level work. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the realm of community college, where 68 percent of students require at least some form of remedial coursework (also known as “developmental education”) just to get to square one. Perhaps four-year colleges should face facts and refuse to admit students who aren’t ready, but we’re not there yet. For better or worse, community colleges have their doors wide open when it comes to “underprepared” students who still want to give college a go. But do they have their eyes similarly wide open? Two recent reports highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly among community colleges’ efforts to build successful students via remediation.

First up, a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) surveying approximately seventy thousand students from more than 150 of its institutions across the country. The vast majority (86 percent) of the incoming students surveyed believed they were...

Leading up to this year’s report card release, some school districts expressed concern about the negative impact of students opting out of state assessments on their report card grades. In response, lawmakers proposed a well-intentioned but shortsighted bill attempting to mitigate the impact of opt-outs—first by erasing non-test-takers from their schools’ performance grades and then (after being amended) by reporting two separate Performance Index grades. The Ohio Department of Education devised a temporary reporting solution: Performance Index scores would be reported as normal (including the impact of non-test-takers, as per current law), but a “modified achievement measure” would be made available to illustrate how districts would have scored if non-test-takers didn’t count.

A quick look at the data shows that the impact of opt-outs last year (2014–15) was minimal for the vast majority of Ohio school districts. As depicted in Table 1, fifty-two districts (8.5 percent) experienced a letter grade change because of their non-participation rates (shaded in green). This was most likely driven by the opt-out movement. It’s hard to say for sure, though, because Ohio only captures test participation rates and not the reasons for non-participation—which might include excused or unexcused absences, truancy, or opting...

America’s schools are staffed disproportionally by white (and mostly female) teachers. Increasing attention has been paid to the underrepresentation of teachers of color in American classrooms, with research examining its impact on expectations for students, referral rates for gifted programs, and even student achievement. This paper by American University’s Stephen Holt and Seth Gershenson adds valuable evidence to the discussion by measuring the impact of “student-teacher demographic mismatch”—being taught by a teacher of a different race—on student absences and suspensions.

The study uses student-level longitudinal data for over one million North Carolina students from kindergarten through fifth grade between the years 2006 and 2010. The researchers simultaneously controlled for student characteristics (e.g., gender, prior achievement) and classroom variables (e.g., teacher’s experience, class size, enrollment, etc.), noting that certain types of regression analysis are “very likely biased by unobserved factors that jointly determine assignment to an other-race teacher.” For example, parental motivation probably influences both student attendance and classroom assignments. The researchers conducted a variety of statistical sorting tests and concluded that there was no evidence of sorting on the variables they could observe, and likely none occurring on unobservable dimensions either. All of which is to...

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill continues to be the go-to explainer of Ohio’s school and district report cards for media outlets across the state. Here he is on the radio early this morning in Columbus. (WTVN-AM, Columbus, 2/29/16) Here he is over the weekend in print in Dayton, where report card data looks particularly gloomy. (Dayton Daily News, 2/27/16) And here he is in print in Northern Ohio, where the mixed-bag of results has folks scratching their heads a bit. I am just glad, as always, that Aaron is there to explain. (Norwalk Reflector, 2/27/16)
     
  2. “You can’t have a computer plumb a house” is the theme of this piece looking at career tech education in Columbus City Schools through the lens of a new report from KidsOhio. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/29/16)
     
  3. You learn something new every day in this job. Today, it’s “overload pay”. That is, bonus pay for teachers whose classrooms are “oversize”. This story is about Cincinnati Public Schools, but reporter Hannah Sparling says other districts have this in their teacher contracts as well. How many? How much? No one keeps track of this statewide, but someone probably should. Cincy’s overload pay expenditures
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  1. In case you missed it yesterday, full report card data for Ohio schools and districts were released. Our own Aaron Churchill was front and center in major media coverage, as he usually is for these things. Aaron’s main point was that, while generally lower for everyone, the scores better reflect how students and their schools actually performed last school year. The Dispatch put that notion at the very top of their coverage, although the print headline (front page, above the fold) conveys that thought better than the online one. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/26/16). Aaron is farther down in the quote mix in this piece, likely reflective of the high-profile folks who came out swinging against the data even before the report cards were available, let alone analyzed. (Gongwer Ohio, 2/25/16) In Fordham’s home city of Dayton, things look pretty bleak. The district is the bottom of the heap statewide and folks there are taking it hard. Kudos, however, to West Carrollton supe Rusty Clifford for this quote clearly stating his opinion on the state’s value added measure: “It’s a lark. It’s a joke. It’s phooey data… “We don’t look at it, we don’t use it. … You’ve heard
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