Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill was among the panelists for a surprisingly-cordial discussion of charter schools in Ohio held in Dayton earlier this week. In discussion of the charter reform bill still pending in the legislature, Aaron said, “I think (the bill) tried not to impinge on charter schools’ autonomy and their ability to be flexible and nimble — some of those very benefits that we think are inherent in the charter school model.” Nice. (Dayton Daily News, others, 9/10/15)
     
  2. Speaking of that stalled charter reform bill, editors in Cleveland got their Google calendar alert and opined, again, urging the legislature to pass that bill as soon as they return from summer recess. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/9/15)
     
  3. Speaking of op-eds, here are two on the rescinded charter sponsor ratings (well, mainly just on the process of it) at the Ohio Department of Education. Editors in Columbus mainly just put their own sheen on the information made public so far but finally opine in favor of the state board of education keeping “a close eye” on the next round of sponsor ratings. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/11/15) Editors in Canton simply opine in favor of the state supe’s
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  1. Gadfly Bites is back on the beat after a long Labor Day break. Let’s cast our net back to last week, in the wake of the Ohio Department of Education’s release of 10,000 pages of emails and attachments (!) in regard to the withdrawn charter sponsor evaluations from earlier this year. It is unclear whether this piece from the Enquirer is opinion or journalism on the part of the cadre of authors, despite being tagged as the latter. What I do know is that our own Chad Aldis is quoted here, with two items standing out. First, he says, “Charter schools have gotten a lot of bad press over the last couple of years.” Truer words have rarely been spoken. And much of that bad press has been warranted. Also true, and likely more important in the context of this particular journalism/opinion piece: “Pointing fingers doesn’t get us one step closer to providing a better charter-school experience for our kids.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/6/15) Other Gannett outlets also ran this piece.
     
  2. Here’s another piece from last week, in the immediate aftermath of ODE’s release of its emails. It contains a frankly incomprehensible chart but really concerns the question
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Most states, including Ohio, have reported large majorities of students as proficient on annual exams over the past decade. This has led the public and parents to believe that most students are doing just fine. Sadly, however, we also know that too many young people require remedial education when they enter college, have great difficulty finding gainful employment, or can’t pass the test to serve our country in the military. A staggering 65 percent of first-year students in Ohio’s two-year colleges require remediation, while the rate is nearly 35 percent in some four-year universities.

A wide chasm—an “honesty gap”—has emerged between how student success in the K–12 realm is portrayed versus how colleges and employers view the skills of those leaving high school. To bridge that gulf, states have adopted higher learning standards, including the Common Core in math and English language arts, as well as rigorous next-generation assessments that are aligned with them. With these new exams in place, the practice of vastly overstating student proficiency is drawing to a close.

Indeed, several states have already unveiled 2014–15 results from Common Core-aligned assessments. Connecticut, a member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), recently reported that...

When we surveyed more than eight hundred college students six years ago, we found that most of them were planning to leave the state after graduation. This was a startling finding—and, recognizing its implications, Ohio leaders have made a concerted effort to retain college graduates (see here for an example). Meanwhile the job market has improved since the nadir of the Great Recession, making the Buckeye State a more attractive location for young people.

But what do the statistics say about Ohio’s ability to retain college-educated young people? According to a new Manhattan Institute analysis, a growing number of them reside in Ohio’s urban areas—what the author calls a “brain gain.” To arrive at this finding, the study focuses on twenty-eight U.S. cities that lost population and/or jobs from 2000 to 2013. Five metropolitan areas in Ohio fit those criteria: Akron, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. According to Census data, the number of college-educated young people—in the 25–34 age bracket and with at least a bachelor’s degree—increased in all five cities. Akron was the leader among Ohio cities with a 13 percent increase in college-educated young people, while Toledo was the laggard with an increase of just...

When talking about educational choice, most people focus on choosing a school. But true educational choice shouldn’t stop after a family chooses a school. After all, few schools can meet the educational needs of all of their varied students—or can they?

Course choice, a growing trend in K–12 education, provides public school students with expanded course offerings across learning environments from diverse, accountable providers. It may sound impossible, but for many Ohio students, this is already a reality. CTE programs offer personalized paths toward earning high school credits, industry credentials, and college credit. The College Credit Plus program empowers students in grades 7–12 to attend classes at participating public or private colleges after they’re admitted based on their college-readiness. For students who aren’t interested in existing CTE programs and aren’t deemed college- and career-ready, ilearnOhio seems like the perfect solution. Dubbed a “powerful tool” for students and educators alike, the online platform provides classroom resources (e.g., instructional support materials, assessments, and professional development resources) and a marketplace with online courses from a variety of developers. The marketplace offers students extended course options—but only if their family has a few hundred dollars to drop, since many of...

  1. Lots of charter school-related news today. First up, our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece about the status – and the process – of charter law reform in Ohio. “The most important thing is that we get this right," he says. Yup. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 9/3/15)
     
  2. Meanwhile, State Auditor Dave (with the most) Yost released a report yesterday detailing the results of a special audit of the operations of three charter school sponsors. The results, he said, “[highlight] the need for increased sponsor oversight of schools.” He also acknowledged that the sponsor-centric charter reform bill pending in the state legislature “is a step in the right direction to increase accountability and transparency in our broken system.” Yup again.  (Columbus Dispatch, 9/3/15)
     
  3. Sadly, the Auditor’s press conference got short shrift in the media due to the late-day release of tens of thousands of pages of emails and attachments from the Ohio Department of Education in regard to the flawed sponsor-rating efforts undertaken by the department earlier this year. If you are so inclined, you can check out initial coverage of the emails’ contents in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/3/15) and the Dispatch,
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The latest report from the Center for American Progress opens with a detailed effort to define the problem of truancy. The causes are myriad: Family duties and instability at home can pull students out, while bullying and zero-tolerance policies can push them in the same direction. Regardless of the reason, chronic absenteeism has consequences for students, schools, the economy, and society. The authors successfully identify the problem for readers who do not deal with it daily, as many educators do. The definition of truancy differs from state to state, while districts and schools have wide latitude to address absenteeism. Unfortunately, these factors have conspired to virtually require the development of “customized” approaches to addressing truancy when a common menu of solutions might lead to better outcomes. The report highlights successful efforts in California (defining “chronic truancy” for the first time in state law and tracking data on it statewide), Washington, D.C. (early warning and intervention program), New York City (improved data collection, incentivizing attendance), Baltimore (student-centered non-judicial “truancy court”), and Hartford (mentoring programs for students who trigger early absenteeism warnings). From there, the authors extrapolate a variety of policy recommendations applicable to the federal, state, or local levels: Develop...

  1. Proceeds from a new craft beer are earmarked to help support a cash-strapped high school band in rural central Ohio. The beer company CEO is an alum. Kudos to everyone involved and let’s hope that… Wait. What? (Columbus Dispatch, 9/2/15)
     
  2. It’s a tale of two online education programs in eastern central Ohio. First up, a profile of one teenage parent who got back on track for high school graduation and college thanks to district-run Newark Digital Academy and its staff. Says the student: “They are working to get you through school and won’t stop bugging you until you get it done.” Sounds about right. (Newark Advocate, 8/31/15) Meanwhile, the digital academy run by nearby Southwest Licking Schools is facing a student shortage. Judging by the well-meaning efforts to keep it operating, district officials see the value in it for the students they have, but if they don’t add at least five more students (up to 25) before September 15, the academy will receive no state funding for the month of October. And that would seriously test the resolve of the district to keep the program going. Why yes, this IS the same district using beer sales
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A new analysis from Matthew A. Kraft at Brown University links the characteristics of laid-off teachers to changes in student achievement. The analysis was conducted in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), which laid off just over a thousand teachers as a result of the Great Recession in 2009 and 2010. Since North Carolina is one of five states where collective bargaining is illegal, a discretionary layoff policy was used rather than the more common “last-hired, first-fired” (sometimes referred to as LIFO—last in, first out) method. CMS identified candidates for layoffs based on five general criteria: duplicative positions, enrollment trends, job performance, job qualifications, and length of service.

Kraft estimates the effects of these layoffs on student achievement by using both principal observation scores (which directly informed layoffs) and value-added scores (which were not used to make layoff decisions). This enabled him to compare the impact of a teacher layoff based on subjective and objective measures of effectiveness. The good news for CMS students is that, overall, laid-off teachers received lower observation scores from principals and had lower value-added scores in math and reading compared to their counterparts who weren’t laid off. Kraft found that math achievement in grades that lost an...

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