Ohio Gadfly Daily

It’s budget season in Ohio, and that means plenty of debates about school funding and other education policy issues. Buried deep in the legislative language is a short provision about teacher licensure that’s garnering a whole lot of pushback—as it should. Here’s the legislative language: “Beginning September 1, 2018, the state board of education’s rules for the renewal of educator licenses shall require each applicant for renewal of a license to complete an on-site work experience with a local business or chamber of commerce as a condition of renewal.”

In Ohio, teacher licenses are renewed every five years. Although the requirements vary depending on the license, renewal typically involves six semester hours of coursework related to classroom teaching or the area of a teacher’s licensure and 18 continuing education units. If this proposal becomes law, completing an externship at a local business will become part of the process.

The intentions behind this requirement are good: Governor Kasich is trying to actuate a recommendation made by his executive workforce board, which wants to “help business connect with schools, and to help teachers connect with strategies to prepare their students for careers.” This is a worthy...

In early February, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released the first draft of its state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Required by law to incorporate at least one “non-academic” indicator in its report card, Ohio chose two: student engagement as measured by chronic absenteeism and the Prepared for Success report-card component. In a previous piece, I explored the student engagement aspect; here, I tackle the Prepared for Success (PFS) component, which is designed to gauge how well prepared students are for what comes after high school.

The PFS component contains six measures that are combined to determine an A-F grade. They are divided into a “primary” and “bonus” category. Primary measures earn districts one point toward their composite score and include students who earn any of the following:

  1. There is a new voucher bill on the horizon here in Ohio, looking to make some radical changes – some might say improvements – to the existing programs. First up with coverage was Patrick O’Donnell. In his initial summary of the impending proposal, he seems to focus on who might stand to benefit from the changes. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/17/17) In his second look, Patrick focuses more on proposed structural changes. Specifically, a provision that would allow families to save any of their unused K-12 voucher funds for college expenses. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/20/17) The view from Columbus was published yesterday. Although not written by a Dispatch staffer, it has more than a whiff of the typical skepticism. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/21/17) The view from the Statehouse was also published yesterday. In true Gongwer fashion, the reportage is calm and to-the-point. In fact, it is the only piece published thus far that uses the term “needs-based scholarship” (i.e. – what the new proposal mainly is). (Gongwer Ohio, 2/21/17)
     
  2. Meanwhile, as Ohio’s new graduation requirements inch ever closer to reality – study group recommendations notwithstanding – the state is gearing up to require (and to offer for
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  1. Mike Petrilli and Fordham are namechecked in this guest commentary about the role of the local chapter of The Exchange Club in boosting civics education in Dayton. Fascinating. (Dayton Daily News, 2/15/17)
     
  2. Your humble clips compiler will admit to knowing nothing at all about the ins and outs of what might be termed “protest culture.” Case in point: I was both surprised and baffled by both sides of the argument in this editorial from the Toledo Blade in which editors implore parents not to homeschool their kids as a means to “avoid dealing with” new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. That's a thing? (Toledo Blade, 2/16/17)
     
  3. We noted earlier this week that the state board of education heard from organized groups of district superintendents regarding flaws that they perceive in the state’s proposed new ESSA accountability plan. That theme continued yesterday as state supe Paolo DeMaria was questioned on same (and in a very similar manner) by legislators on the Joint Education Oversight Committee. (No, it’s pronounced “JAY-ock”.) (Gongwer Ohio, 2/16/17)
     
  4. Meanwhile, back in the real world, a veritable plethora of new security cameras was installed in Youngstown’s East High School this week.
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  1. The state board of education met this week and members heard testimony from a number of organized groups of superintendents on the state’s draft ESSA plan. Coverage was sparse. First up was a group of mostly-suburban districts from Northeast Ohio who said that the current version of the plan “ignores” public input and requested a rethink on certain items. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/13/17) What do they (and, by extension, “the public”) want instead? According to a whitepaper released along with their testimony, the they want fewer state tests, an end to A through F grades on state report cards, and changes to graduation requirements, among other things. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/14/17) Concurrently, a group of Akron-area superintendents opined upon the draft ESSA plan, with more (and more detailed) requests, including: keeping student subgroups at 30 (rather than the proposed drop to 15), not requiring the reporting of high school exam retakes for excused absences, and making wraparound services universal. (Akron Beacon Journal, 2/14/17)
     
  2. We have already noted that in his new biennial budget Governor Kasich has proposed requiring school boards to include 3 ex-officio members from the business community. As an extension of this new “business
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The recent unveiling of Governor Kasich’s budget plan for the 2018-19 fiscal years has kicked off Ohio’s biennial ritual of debating school funding. Caps and guarantees have long been a central part of that discussion, and it’ll be no different this spring. As I’ve argued before, state leaders should get rid of these pernicious policies.

To allocate state dollars to school districts, Ohio lawmakers have crafted an intricate funding formula designed to drive more aid to districts that need it most (e.g., those with more students to educate, more pupils with special needs, or less capacity to fund education locally). They’ve done a pretty decent job of it, too. Don’t just take our word for it: EdTrust has said Ohio is one of the best in the nation at it. Both caps and guarantees throw a wrench into this system.

Caps limit the increase in a district’s state formula aid from year to year. Conversely, a guarantee ensures that a district won’t receive less funding than it received in a previous year. Caps are generally associated with districts experiencing enrollment growth, while guarantees typically apply to districts with declining enrollment. Changes in district property values...

Ohio just released its draft ESSA plan. While there’s much to applaud, the state’s proposals for improving the most chronically underperforming schools are underwhelming—serving to further remind us that sixteen years after the federal government began pushing states to turn around failing schools, our ideas for doing so are still scattershot.

Compared to past federal requirements for school improvement, ESSA is turnaround-lite—intentionally backing away from prescriptive solutions regarding school turnarounds embedded in NCLB and the School Improvement Grant program (SIG). Schools failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under NCLB faced a series of consequences including replacement of school staff, new curriculum, decreased authority of school administration, help from outside turnaround specialists, or restructuring of the school. Restructuring (similar to the more rigorous options that SIG put in place) included alternative school governance, reopening the school as a public charter school, replacement of most or all of school staff and leadership, takeover by an outside entity, or state takeover.

In Ohio, hundreds of millions in SIG dollars were spent with little to show for it. Low-performing schools were allowed to choose from a slate of turnaround options in exchange for funds; unsurprisingly, the majority of Ohio...

  1. Fordham Ohio staffers were quoted in some out-of-the-way places over the weekend. First up, Chad was among those quoted – and our HB2 implementation report was cited as welll – in a Crain’s piece discussing the state of play with regard to charter schools in Ohio generally (and in Cleveland specifically). There are a lot of moving parts for the business-minded to grapple with and the piece does a good job of laying them out. (Crain’s Cleveland Business, 2/12/17)
     
  2. Indeed the sheer volume of information seems to have overwhelmed the reporter for the West Virginia newspaper who interviewed our own Jamie Davies O’Leary in regard to the history of charter schools in Ohio. But the reporter is to be commended for going big in her efforts to interview charter sector players in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland as well as from the National Association of Public Charter Schools for her piece. Kudos! (Clarksburg (WV) Exponent-Telegram, 2/12/17)
     
  3. We end a slow news day with some good news/bad news in terms of teacher contract negotiations across Ohio. The (tentative) good news comes from Cleveland, where a possible contract agreement may have been reached after 8 months of
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On February 2, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released the first draft of its state plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA, the year-old federal education law, is the successor to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). While many of ESSA’s accountability provisions are similar to those found in NCLB, a new requirement is for states to have an indicator of “school quality or student success” that goes beyond state standardized test scores or graduation rates.

Ohio’s plan proposes two measures that meet this requirement. The first measure, Prepared for Success, is a carryover from the state’s current report card. It uses multiple indicators to determine the number of students ready for college or career at the end of high school, and is exclusively used for districts and high schools. The second measure, on the other hand, will be used by all schools and districts: student engagement as measured by chronic absenteeism.

Although the threshold for being considered chronically absent depends on the state, the idea behind the term is the same—chronic absentees are students who miss too much school. In Ohio, these students are known as “habitual truants.” They earn this designation...

  1. With less than a month to go until a new CEO-style Academic Distress Commission comes to Lorain City Schools, one elected school board member has decided to reach out to the ACLU to see if a possible civil rights case may be an option to halt ADC implementation, as if he’s just hearing about this situation for the first time. So weird. Additionally, I am shocked at the number of folks quoted here (and in the online comments section) who cannot seem to think of anything else the district could have done to avoid an Academic Distress Commission before yesterday. Academic… Distress… (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/9/17)
     
  2. It seems that Jefferson Township Local Schools’ books are in such poor shape that even StateAuditor Man! can’t figure them out. Akin to Lorain, above, it appears that no one quoted here can think of any way this situation of unauditable books could have been avoided prior to yesterday. But boy do they sound committed to fixing it after the fact. (Dayton Daily News, 2/9/17)
     
  3. Finally, some good news. World-renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman made a small tour of some awesome charter schools in Columbus yesterday. According to Twitter,
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