Ohio Gadfly Daily

NOTE: The Senate Education Committee of the Ohio General Assembly is hearing proponent testimony this week on Senate Bill 85, a proposal that would significantly alter Ohio’s voucher programs. Below is the written testimony that Chad Aldis gave before the committee today.

Thank you, Chair Lehner, Vice Chair Huffman, Ranking Member Sykes and Senate Education Committee members for giving me the opportunity today to provide testimony in support of Senate Bill 85.

My name is Chad Aldis, and I am the Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Fordham Institute is an education-focused nonprofit that conducts research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C.

Fordham has long supported school choice in its many forms, including charter schools, open enrollment, magnet schools, homeschooling, and private school choice. We believe that it’s essential to empower all parents with meaningful, high quality educational options. While supportive of school choice, we’ve been a critical friend at times. Our advocacy work to improve Ohio’s charter sector is a good example of that. We’ve also funded research to study the effectiveness of charter schools, vouchers, and—coming soon—open enrollment. We...

  1. The Dayton Daily News announced this week – with something akin to relief, or maybe glee? – that there are no changes to Ohio’s testing regimen for the first time in three years. Not for lack of trying, I’m sure. (Dayton Daily News, 4/4/17) I jest, of course. Obviously there were plenty of efforts to change things in regard to testing this year; just like there was when everyone and their brother ganged up to retire the OGT and to nuke the PARCC tests in previous years. And the efforts continue unabated. To wit: the state supe’s panel on assessments. This piece is ostensibly a look at one panel member – the director of CTE at a local high school – and what he plans to bring to the table. What is more interesting to me is the full list of panelists and the organizations or groups that each person represents (hint: none of them appear to be representing students or parents). A “stacked” panel, indeed, Aaron. (Canton Repository, 4/4/17) Like the Dispatch editorial board before it, editors in Toledo opined today in favor of a diploma that is more than a certificate for showing up 93
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NOTE: An addendum to this blog post, incorporating important new information, was published on Ohio Gadfly Daily on 4/17/17.

College Credit Plus (CCP) provides qualified Ohio students with the opportunity to undertake college coursework while still in high school. Students in grades 7-12 can earn college credit in three ways: by taking a course on a university campus; at the student’s high school where it’s taught by a credentialed teacher; or online.

As the program’s popularity has surged, there have been growing pains and calls to scale it back. Other folks claim that it exemplifies and perhaps even fosters inequitable access—it’s just too hard for some students to qualify. It’s true that not everyone interested in CCP is permitted to enroll. But the program wasn’t designed for totally open access; it was built for middle and high schoolers who could demonstrate that they were ready for college-level content. Other pathways are available for students who fall just below CCP standards but are still interested in challenging courses like AP, IB, and honors courses.

Unfortunately, proposals in Ohio’s pending budget bill would make it easier for unqualified students to enroll in CCP. Here’s what...

Research on individualized, in-school tutoring such as Match Corps has demonstrated impressive results. A report from the Ohio Education Research Center examines a tutoring intervention developed by Youngstown City Schools and Youngstown State University to help more students meet the test-based promotion requirements of Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

Called Project PASS, the initiative enlisted almost 300 undergraduate students who weekly tutored second and third graders outside of regular instructional time. Each undergrad committed thirty hours per semester and received course credit and a small monetary award in return. The tutors received training and used a variety of reading strategies. The evaluation includes about 300 students who participated in one or more semesters of PASS from spring 2015 (second grade) to spring 2016 (third grade). The evaluation was not experimental, and the self-selection of students into PASS limits the ability to draw causal inferences, as the authors note. Nevertheless, the researchers were able to match participants and non-participants based on demographic and prior achievement data (using a second grade diagnostic test given before program launch) to compare test score outcomes.

The results indicate that the tutoring increased their state test scores in third grade reading. PASS...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis today offers a suggestion or two for folks interested in reducing standardized testing in Ohio schools. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/3/17)
     
  2. Meanwhile, the Dispatch editorial board today opines in favor of keeping graduation requirements as high as possible in the Buckeye State, quoting Chad and former state board of education president Tom Gunlock in support of their argument. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/3/17)
     
  3. I don’t know how big the editorial board of the PD is, but it includes at least two people because said board is apparently split on the topic of Senate Bill 85, which would substantially expand Ohio’s private school voucher program. Fordham’s 2016 evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship program is namechecked in support of the group opining against voucher expansion. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/2/17) The group opining in support of voucher expansion states their case here. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/2/17) Color me fascinated.
     
  4. The spectre of Dayton City Schools losing their athletic eligibility (maybe just in football; maybe in other sports too) was raised this weekend in a detailed piece chronicling what sounds like a nightmare of adult manipulation, mismanagement, and blatant disregard for the rules and purpose of
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  1. What’s the biggest education news story going in Ohio this week? Hmmm… Let me see… Oh yes, here it is: the completely unfathomable and largely-abominable recommendations released this week by the state’s graduation requirement review committee. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/30/17) The D does a pretty good job of explaining the deets in its piece so there’s very little reason (VERY little) for me to enumerate further here. But I feel like this scheme is going to need a tagline or a hook in order to sell it to the public. Personally, I like “No test scores, no problem.” But perhaps the headline on this DDN piece would work too: “Ohio students should graduate without passing state tests”. Succinct. (Dayton Daily News, 3/29/17) However, I could be wrong about the need to work at all to sell these changes. The superintendent of Springfield City Schools is already on the bandwagon. (Dayton Daily News, 3/31/17) And when Fordham’s own Chad Aldis is one of only two voices out in opposition to the plan, perhaps this bill of goods is already signed, sealed, and delivered. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/31/17)
     
  2. OK. Anything else going on in education news? Here’s one:
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NOTE: The House Finance Committee of the Ohio General Assembly is hearing testimony this week on the education portion of Ohio's next biennial budget. Below is the written testimony that Chad Aldis gave before the committee today.

Thank you, Chair Smith, Vice Chair Ryan, Ranking Member Cera and Members of the Ohio House Finance Committee, for allowing me the opportunity to provide testimony on House Bill 49.

My name is Chad Aldis, and I am the Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Fordham Institute is an education-focused nonprofit that conducts research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C. Our Dayton office, through the affiliated Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, is also a charter school sponsor.

As opposed to past years, Governor Kasich’s as-introduced budget includes relatively few education proposals. Given the magnitude and number of changes over the past six years, this is generally a good thing. We’d encourage the House to follow the governor’s lead and to focus on the most critical adjustments needed to foster a high-performing educational system. It’s important that students, teachers,...

Tom Gunlock

NOTES: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.

This piece was originally published in the Dayton Daily News.

When you ask most people, “What should a high school diploma represent?” They’ll tell you, “It means a student has a 12th grade education.” If only that was the truth. Unfortunately, in Ohio, it’s not.

This year’s diploma recipients will have completed 15 required high school courses and at least five elective courses. The required courses include four years of English, four years of math, three years of science, and three years of social studies. In addition, students will have scored proficient on the five sections (reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies) of the Ohio Graduation Test. The dirty little secret, though, is that the Ohio Graduation Test is a test of 8th grade knowledge. Do most students graduate with more than an 8th grade education? Of course. But an 8th grade education is the minimum.

Back in 2010, Ohio made a decision. An eighth grade education isn’t enough. An eighth grade education is not enough for our students to succeed...

  1. Leaders at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center have rejected an offer from Cincinnati City Schools to move to the old mansion next door, which the district recently purchased, saying it’s too small for their needs and would require too much renovation. Maybe they’re sore because they’re getting kicked out of their decorous digs in the first place. Maybe they’re worried because the district will still be their landlord if they take the deal. Or maybe it’s just a negotiating tactic – call it the art of the deal. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/28/17)
     
  2. Speaking of deal making, the school board in Brecksville-Broadview Heights announced this week that pay-to-play fees for sports, arts, cheerleading and more will be cut in half if the district’s upcoming levy is approved. Think these guys spotted the irony? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/29/17)
     
  3. There is a level of irony in this piece also, but it’s a bit less obvious. Lorain City Schools – currently in some twilit valley between Academic Distress Commissions, as we noted earlier this week – has received what appears to be some distressing news in the form of the results of a “social justice audit”. It sounds a bit
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“Government by the people” is one of the most powerful ideas in American government. It represents the belief that, in a democracy, the people hold sovereignty over government and not the reverse.  

I bring this up as a way of considering how far we can deviate from this ideal. Take a look at Ohio’s newly formed assessment committee, which is charged with the important task of reviewing assessment policies. While this is an “advisory” committee with no formal policymaking authority, one expects its recommendations to make headlines and capture legislator attention. The state superintendent recently appointed twenty-three committee members and it’s almost entirely comprised of government (i.e., public school) employees. As you can tell from the table below, public school administrators, principals, and teachers hold eighteen of the twenty-three seats—a large majority.

 

* One member is considered tentative

Administrators and teachers should definitely be part of this conversation. But it’s not right to stack this committee with public employees whose own interests are also at stake. For instance, it’s no secret that many school officials want to weaken Ohio’s assessment...

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