Ohio Gadfly Daily


A good news online charter school story

Sarah Robinson, an online charter school graduate from Massillon, Ohio wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Canton Repository this week. Robinson, the co-valedictorian for the class of 2018 at Ohio Connections Academy (OCA), describes how the school’s flexibility enabled her and her sister to learn self-discipline, work at their own paces, and pursue outside interests (like taking college classes and volunteering). This is a great reminder that, despite the flurry of negative stories, there are many students like Sarah who thrive in online schools.


Analyzing the impact of dropout recovery report card changes

As we’ve described previously, the State Board of Education recently adopted significant changes to the rules around report cards for Ohio's dropout prevention and recovery schools (DPRS). A new piece from Fordham’s Jessica Poiner examines the potential impacts of those changes, specifically around identification as a DPRS and graduation rate performance levels.


Ohio charters in the news

The Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy (OhDELA), an online charter school long operated by White Hat management, is now working with ACCEL Schools. This story in the...


Death, taxes, and the Browns missing the playoffs are just about the only predictable things on this earth. But far greater uncertainty exists in other aspects of life, including matters of school finance. A new paper by Stéphane Lavertu and Travis St. Clair examines the accuracy of Ohio school districts’ revenue predictions. They also study whether districts’ forecasting errors—a surplus or shortfall relative to predicted amounts—affect student achievement. The analysis relies on state-required financial forecasts produced by Ohio’s 611 districts from 2007–08 through 2014–15.

In terms of forecasting accuracy, Lavertu and St. Clair find that districts underestimated following-year revenues by an average of 2.7 percent during the period of study—what they call a “conservative bias” in districts’ predictions. But as the authors note, it’s not just conservative budgeting that explains the underestimates: Districts also have an incentive to “deflate” revenue predictions in efforts to rally voters to approve local taxes (local news stories illustrate how they can use projected deficits in levy campaigns). But the average masks variation, with a significant number of cases in which districts overestimated revenues, leading to unexpected shortfalls.

Using a battery of analyses, the researchers examine the relationship between districts’ forecasting...

  1. If, many months ago when we were discussing the interdistrict open enrollment situation in Liberty Local Schools, you were asking yourself how it was possible for a district to enact a policy barring white students from utilizing open enrollment to leave Liberty and go to Girard Local Schools, whatever the justification, you were not alone. In fact, the Ohio Department of Education was “nervous” about that policy and told Liberty officials so. This week, the school board changed it. You can decide whether they’ve made things any better for themselves with the change. This piece from public media in Cleveland takes a broad and interesting look at open enrollment in light of the situation in Liberty (hey Geno!), but the fundamental questions (to me, that is) remain unanswered: How many kids does Liberty get via incoming open enrollees? Who are they? And where do they come from? (WCPN-FM, Cleveland, 7/19/18)
  2. Speaking of school choice, here’s an awesome look at the landscape in Dayton comparing district schools with charters and voucher-accepting private schools by their performance index scores. (Dayton Daily News, 7/18/18) The headline of this next piece is, “5 questions answered about the future of Dayton
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  1. What’s up in Dayton? Awesomeness, that’s what. Just take a look. First up, a change in bell schedules for nearly every school building in the district is on tap for the new school year. Awesome. (Dayton Daily News, 7/14/18) Additionally, the district is planning to begin implementation of a pilot turnaround strategy in five formerly-low-performing but very-soon-to-be-better-performing district schools. Also awesome. (Dayton Daily News, 7/16/18) The board also approved a slate of other new hires and rehires including principals and coaches and a number of new school resource officers. All awesome, of course. (Dayton Daily News, 7/17/18)
  2. Speaking of Dayton, here’s an update on some comings and goings in charter schools in the Gem City. Also awesome. (Dayton Daily News, 7/16/18)
  3. In today’s Easy Quiz, who do you think said the following phrase? “One has to look at the school district as a business.” If you guessed it was some for-profit corporate privatizer charter school pirate out to destroy the public common school system, you’d be wrong. But thanks for playing. It was in fact a 30+ year employee of Lorain City Schools, currently serving as Chief Operations Officer. He also said this:
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I recently wrote about some big changes that are coming for Ohio’s dropout prevention and recovery schools (DPRS), thanks to recent adjustments made by the State Board of Education. This piece examines the potential impacts of those changes.

Identification as a dropout prevention and recovery school

Previously, a DPRS was defined by the Ohio Administrative Code as a school in which a majority of students were enrolled in a dropout prevention and recovery program. Under the new rules, identification will be based on a much higher percentage of students: The minimum percentage will rise to 65 percent for the 2019–20 school year, and then increase again to 75 percent for 2020–21.

Based on the Ohio Department of Education’s dropout recovery enrollment verification data from September 2017,[1] here’s a breakdown of current DPRS and the percentages of their students who are between the ages sixteen to twenty-one and enrolled in a dropout recovery program:   


Percentage of students who are enrolled in a dropout recovery program

Number of schools

50–64.9 percent




At the most recent State Board of Education meeting, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) reported preliminary test results from the 2017–18 school year. The numbers still need to be verified by districts before they can be used to calculate report cards, which will include more detailed data and be disaggregated by subgroup. But the early results are promising.

In grades three through eight, proficiency rates went up in math and English language arts (ELA) in every grade except third. Third grade rates dropped by 3 percentage points in math and 2 points in ELA—but were still higher than rates from 2016, the first year that Ohio’s current state tests were administered. See table 1.

Table 1. The percentage of students who scored proficient or above in math and English, 2016–18 



% proficient or above 2016

% proficient or above 2017

% proficient or above 2018

2017-2018 Increase/Decrease

Grade 3 Math






With summer vacations now in full swing, the Ohio legislature is taking a breather after an eventful first half of 2018. The sudden resignation of House speaker Cliff Rosenberger and a contentious battle for his replacement stalled legislation for weeks. But once new speaker Ryan Smith was elected in early June, a flurry of bills passed. Let’s recap what the General Assembly has (and hasn’t) done so far this year on the most talked about education issues.

Online schools

Fallout from the mid-year collapse of ECOT continues to unfold. The legislature, undoubtedly sensing the need to ensure a debacle like this never occurs again and worried about its impact on the fall elections, passed several provisions aimed at improving online education. Some of them were introduced in House Bill 707 and later enacted as amendments to House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 216. Our more detailed comments on e-school policy are here, but three important provisions that passed last month are well worth a review.

First, e-schools are now required to withdraw students who fail to participate in learning opportunities without excuse after 72 instead of 105 consecutive hours. This change will...

  1. The Dayton Daily News has, it seems, decided to spearhead an all-out effort to help Dayton City Schools. It is part of their “The Path Forward” initiative which highlights different problem areas in the city. Not sure how extensive this series of articles will ultimately be, but it begins with three pieces published yesterday. First up, a manifesto that asserts Dayton City Schools are not as bad as the perception of them would suggest. Yet there is a lot to do to improve them – complete with data. (Dayton Daily News, 7/15/18) Second, brief profiles of five young people who “represent the best” of Dayton City Schools. I won’t quibble about the awesomeness of the kids – they seem great – but it seems fairly clear to me that the best of what goes on related to those kids has very little to do with Dayton City Schools, unless it’s extracurricular, the responsibility of the state (“Dunbar’s college credit plus program” indeed!), or something that rhymes with the word “strivers”. (Dayton Daily News, 7/15/18) Finally in this first salvo, many families supposedly love Dayton City Schools, yet even some of those who supposedly do are tepid in
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  1. Not much to cover in education news today, but half of what there is includes quotes from our own Chad Aldis! So there’s that. First up, Chad is among the folks discussing A-F school report cards. Good? Bad? Informational? Punitive? Everyone has something to say, but that particular legislative train seems to be staying in the station for a while yet either way. (Dayton Daily News, 7/12/18) Secondly, Chad is less the talker than the subject of talk in this piece about Ohio’s graduation requirements. Which is really sad, since the Plain Dealer has done what ODE has not: crunched some vitally important numbers on graduation rates across the state. But by all means, please just keep talking about Chad instead of who got a free graduation pass. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/13/18)
  2. Three small school districts in Trumbull County are looking into the possibility of sharing services in an effort to save money. One of the three is Liberty Local Schools, which recently made headlines by banning white students from leaving the district via open enrollment for nearby Girard City Schools. Girard City Schools is not among the three looking into the possibility of sharing services.
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In the waning days of June, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions advanced a bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. A similar bill passed the House over a year ago.

Career and technical education (CTE) enjoys broad bipartisan support, and reports say that the White House has already put its stamp of approval on the Senate version. Nothing is certain, but states could soon be implementing a new law that would meaningfully alter the CTE landscape. Based on the marked-up version of the Senate bill, here’s a broad overview of some of the biggest potential changes.

New terminology

It adds or updates the definitions of many terms, including career pathways, industry sector partnerships, recognized postsecondary credentials, and more. Some of this is meant to match the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2014. And some terms are particularly noteworthy, such as the bill’s definition of a “CTE concentrator” and a “CTE participant,” which are slightly different depending on whether the student is at the secondary or postsecondary level. At the secondary level, concentrators are students who...