Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. The Dispatch dug more deeply into the issue of districts across central Ohio dropping GPA and class rankings in favor of the Latin system. Turns out that a 4.0 just isn’t what it used to be and it’s stressing everyone out. Everyone in high end suburbs, that is. Latin saves lives, y’all. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/3/18) Things are a little different in Akron City Schools, as you may have suspected. Here is more detail on the Akron students in the Class of 2018 using the state’s one-year temporary alternative paths to reach graduation—with the hand-holding help of the good folks at ACS. Excerpts from Chad’s ABJ op-ed denouncing these alternatives are included as well. But the main point here is the story of the two students highlighted. When a reporter takes this route—illustrating a larger issue by showing how the issue affects some regular folks—I always assume that she has done so specifically because those people most cogently illustrate the point and that other examples were discarded as being outliers. If that is the case, then I believe that the stories of the ESL student whose English proficiency level inhibited test passage (but who earned graduation via service hours
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  1. Let’s start the day with a spate of graduation-time stories. First up, yet another Ohio school district is getting rid of “antiquated” class rankings in favor of the Latin system. Future Hilliard grads, you have been warned. (ThisWeek News, 5/29/18) Elsewhere, Mahoning County High School graduate Marquale Armour gave full props to the staff of his dropout recovery charter school for helping him turn his life around to reach this moment. Said staff gave him some pretty solid props right back. Nice. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/1/18) Similar story, it seems, for this Chillicothe grad. Access to an online school helped a teen mom stay on course after the birth of her child. (Chillicothe Gazette, 5/27/18) Kudos, also, to Tiffany Baker. Her claim to fame? She is the sole member of the Class of 2018 at her school. Not only has she successfully completed her K-12 education, her school—St. Rita’s School for the Deaf in the Cincinnati area—will continue to serve her for the next two years via their Career Plus Program. At the end, Tiffany will start the next chapter of her life “with a career she loves”. I’ll bet it’s going to be something awesome! (Middletown
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If kicking the accountability can down the road were an Olympic sport, Ohio policymakers would win the gold medal. The latest example comes from the State Board of Education, which recently recommended that the state legislature again push back the overall A–F rating to fall 2019. The rating is slated to appear on school report cards for the first time this September and will be based on 2017–18 data. According to Patrick O’Donnell of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, legislators are mulling the Board’s proposal.

The key word in the previous paragraph is “again,” as Ohio has already delayed overall grades before. Rewind to December 2012 when the legislature passed House Bill 555 and shifted the state from its former school-report-card framework to the A–F format used today. That legislation eliminated the old overall ratings—designations such as “Effective” and “Continuous Improvement”—and called for summative A–F grades starting in 2014–15.[1] Yet as the time drew near for the release of overall grades, lawmakers backed off and delayed them until the 2015–16 school year. Then, in true Britney Spears fashion, they did it again one year later, pushing back the overall rating to its current release...


Headlines this year have largely focused on teacher pay. But just a few years ago, a different set of teacher-policy issues were in the limelight, including teacher evaluation, tenure, and collective bargaining. At that time, states were pursuing aggressive reforms challenging decades-old laws that many viewed as more protective of educator jobs than promoting student learning. Though not all of these efforts yielded dramatic changes, Florida eliminated tenure for new teachers starting in July 2011. Instead of facing extensive and often costly dismissal procedures, this reform allows school leaders to remove low performers from the classroom by not renewing annual teacher contracts.

In theory, removing tenure in K–12 education can both positively and negatively affect student achievement. On the one hand, it may increase achievement as teachers are incentivized to focus more intently on student learning, knowing their job is on the line each year. Over the long haul, the overall quality of the educator workforce may improve if incompetent teachers are removed more swiftly and frequently than they are today. On the other hand, school leaders may be prone to poor judgment and erroneously dismiss some effective teachers. Proponents...


In a recent analysis of the Academic Distress Commission (ADC) system currently in place in Youngstown City Schools, my colleague Jessica Poiner shows significant deviations from the six habits of highly effective school district turnarounds. These deviations have undoubtedly contributed to a slow start for much needed reform efforts. But the plan is not solely to blame. Youngstown’s history is riddled with apathy and neglect. Even the most miraculous of turnaround plans would have had to contend with a depleted system resistant to change. Here are a few examples of how this neglect has immeasurably complicated the early work of the current ADC and its CEO.


Mere days after taking the reins in 2016, Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip received an in-depth report on the district’s transportation system from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). That report detailed numerous flaws and failings related to bus driver background checks and training, maintenance schedules, efficient routing, and expenditures. With just weeks to go before the start of the school year, every driver had to be rechecked and retrained and every route had to be replanned just to reach baseline operational capacity.

Neither the six habits nor the recent ...


We're back after a week's break and there's a lot to cover!

  1. Well, it took a little while, but the superintendent of Akron City Schools finally submitted an op-ed in response to Chad’s own commentary on the topic of the district’s expected graduation rate for the Class of 2018. Personally, I’m not sure it says what Hizzoner thinks it says. But I could be wrong. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/26/18) Meanwhile, public radio in Kent briefly covered the original story on how Akron was able to reach the 90+ percent graduation rate this year, and also quoted Chad “Color Me Skeptical” Aldis on same. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 5/28/18) Also happening in Akron: here is an update on that social-emotional education effort known as the I Am mirror wall. It is, in a word, a triumph. If the teachers do say so themselves. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/27/18)
  2. Lest you think that John Kasich has checked out of governing Ohio during his final months in office, here is a story which might make you think again. Kasich is in support of summative A-F grading for schools—which makes sense since he championed the legislation which created it in the first
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  1. It was a busy hearing in the House Education and Career Readiness Committee yesterday. Lots of bills crammed in there. Our own Chad Aldis was on hand to testify on two bills. First up, Senate Bill 216, the education deregulation bill. Before Chad even hit the witness podium, the Dispatch had coverage of one of his most-important points: keeping the “n-size” for subgroup accountability as small as possible so that accountability for Ohio’s most vulnerable students is maintained. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/22/18) Luckily, Chad is not alone in this view. Details on Chad’s and others’ testimony on that point—and on other aspects of the wide-ranging bill—can be found in Gongwer. (Gongwer Ohio, 5/22/18) The other bill piquing Chad’s interest on yesterday’s docket was that regarding A-F grading for Ohio’s schools and districts. Surprisingly, he was not alone in his efforts to retain A-F this time. You can check out all the testimony in Gongwer, as usual. (Gongwer Ohio, 5/22/18)
  2. You can go ahead and ignore the headline of this piece on the deregulation bill, but the detail on some of the bill’s other provisions is solid. (Dayton Daily News, 5/23/18)
  3. Here is another early college
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NOTE: The Education and Career Readiness Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives today heard testimony on SB 216, a proposal that would make changes to the regulatory burden of Ohio’s public schools. Fordham’s Chad Aldis was a witness at this hearing and these are his written remarks.

Thank you, Chair Brenner, Vice Chair Slaby, Ranking Member Fedor, and House Education Committee members for giving me the opportunity to provide interested party testimony on Senate Bill 216.

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.

At Fordham, we’ve long believed that scrapping regulations that burden schools, have little to do with student learning, and restrict local flexibility and autonomy is a worthy undertaking. Over the past few years, Ohio legislators have taken small but commendable steps in providing regulatory relief for public schools.

Senate Bill 216 seeks to carry on this tradition, and it does so in a couple admirable ways. First, it provides flexibility around teacher licensing. Although licensing is viewed by...


NOTE: The Education and Career Readiness Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives today heard testimony on HB 591, a proposal that would make changes to Ohio’s school report cards. Fordham’s Chad Aldis was a witness at this hearing and these are his written remarks.

Thank you, Chair Brenner, Vice Chair Slaby, Ranking Member Fedor, and House Education Committee members for the opportunity to provide testimony today in opposition to House Bill 591.

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.

Strong, transparent school performance information is a key element to creating a high-performing educational system. It can be used to ensure excellent schools are properly recognized and rewarded for their success. It’s also critical in order for local communities and (when necessary) the state to identify chronically low-performing schools where children are grade levels behind and making no discernable progress. This allows the provision of targeted resources to schools in the greatest need of improvement. For this reason, many civil rights and...


Comparing Ohio K–12 education to other states helps us gauge the pace of progress, provides ideas on improvement, and gets us out of our local “bubble.” In a recent post, my colleague Chad Aldis examined Ohio and Florida’s NAEP results, finding the Buckeye State wanting in terms of gains over the past decade. Terry Ryan has also offered an insightful comparison of Ohio’s charter policies to Idaho’s. This piece follows a similar path and takes a look at Ohio’s charter landscape relative to Arizona’s.

Why the Grand Canyon State? For starters, Arizona has a significant charter enrollment of about 180,000 students, or 16 percent of public-school enrollment (Ohio has roughly 110,000, or 7 percent). Arizona charters are also producing some stellar results. As Matthew Ladner has repeatedly (and I mean repeatedly) shown, Arizona charters have posted high scores on NAEP—and for two years straight, US News & World Report placed several of them in its top-ten high schools in nation.

Let’s start by comparing a couple terrific maps that my Fordham colleagues produced in their recent Charter School Deserts report. Figure 1 displays the charter locations for the Cleveland...