Ohio Gadfly Daily

  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...

 
 

During the recent celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week and National Charter Schools Week, Fordham Ohio staffers shared stories of the teachers, counselors, and schools that made a positive difference in their education and in their lives. You can read about:

 
 

Ohio is no stranger to district turnarounds. Back in 2007, academic distress commissions (ADCs) were added to state law as a way for the state to intervene in districts that consistently fail to meet academic standards. The law was updated in 2015 via House Bill 70, which sharpened the powers of ADCs and significantly altered the way they were run. Some of the biggest changes included lessening the power of the local school board, empowering a CEO, and offering opportunities for expanded quality choice.

Although Lorain City Schools also immediately fell under the purview of the restructured ADC law, many considered Youngstown City Schools to be the primary target. After five unsuccessful years under the previous ADC framework, legislators insisted on more drastic action. The overhauled Youngstown ADC was appointed in December 2015, and CEO Krish Mohip was hired in June 2016. By September of that year, Mohip had unveiled the district’s new strategic plan for 2016–19.

In just a few short months, the final full year of implementation of the district’s strategic plan will begin and bring the district one step closer to a decade’s worth of ADC management. There...

 
 
  1. As previously noted here, FutureReady Columbus is once again ready for the present after more than a year of dormancy in the past. However, the group is perhaps going to be able to live up to its name a little more easily this time since—due to a change of focus—the future for which they are getting Columbus kids ready is Kindergarten. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/20/18)
     
  2. Speaking of the future, Edison High School in Milan, Ohio, conducted its third-annual Edge Day last week. It is focused on giving graduating seniors some practical knowledge of life after high school so they are “future ready”, to coin a phrase. Topics included financial tips (it’s OK to put off having a nice house until much later in life), basic car care (don’t drive for more than 50 miles on temporary tires), and safe interaction with law enforcement (be respectful). Milan native Thomas Edison is proud of the graduates of his namesake high school, I’m sure. (Norwalk Reflector, 5/20/18)
     
  3. Finally, in terms of getting ready for the actual future, here’s an interesting story comparing schools in the Springfield area on their use of technology in the classroom. First up are a
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Education is hard, so we should celebrate success at every opportunity. A sky-high graduation rate, for example, should make us smile from ear to ear. But a recent Akron Beacon Journal (ABJ) report on dramatically higher graduation rates in Akron City Schools should raise serious concerns.

According to the story, Akron school officials calculated last fall that only 54 percent of the class of 2018 was on track to graduate. This estimate was based on how many students had earned or were likely to earn the required number of points on the state’s new and more rigorous end of course (EOC) exams. Given that Akron’s graduation rate was 74 percent the previous year (2017), district officials were understandably worried. Rather than helping students acquire a diploma through shoring up academic weaknesses to pass EOC exams or earn an industry certification, Akron opted to take advantage of the alternative—and much softer--- graduation requirements pitched by the state board and passed earlier in the year by Ohio lawmakers. 

The new requirements are absurdly easy. Students need only meet two of nine metrics, which include non-academic measures such as 93 percent attendance during a student’s senior year and...

 
 

Back at the turn of the millennium, we at Fordham published a paper that urged a stronger focus on phonics. Author Louisa Cook Moates wrote: “Reading science is clear: young children need instruction in systematic, synthetic phonics in which they are taught sound-symbol correspondences singly, directly, and explicitly.” The reading wars—the longstanding debate between “whole language” and phonics proponents—has been mostly settled in the U.S. with phonics playing a key role in the federal Reading First program, and having now been embedded in most states’ English language arts standards, including Ohio’s.

Recently, British policymakers also took bold steps to prioritize phonics, i.e., structured instruction that teaches children to “decode” words. Coinciding with an influential 2006 paper known as the “Rose Report,” which recommended phonics as the principal strategy for early literacy, England began requiring its schools to move away from the nation’s “searchlights” model and instead implement phonics-centered instruction for children aged five to seven.

A recent study by Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally, and Martina Viarengo evaluates the impact of this initiative, which also included government aid allowing schools to hire literacy consultants who supported teachers’ transition to...

 
 
  1. In case you missed it, Chad Aldis published an op-ed on Ohio’s graduation requirements in the ABJ this week. Why the ABJ? Because, as my dedicated Gadfly Bites subscribers will recall, Akron City Schools recently gave us our first inside look at how the new, (hopefully) temporary, lower, non-academic requirements for the Class of 2018 played out in a large urban school district. Those details begged a response. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/16/18)
     
  2. Speaking of opining, editors in Toledo published their thoughts on Toledo City Schools’ plans to convert all high schools to themed academies. They were in favor of the change, especially of Jones’ change to a business theme. (Toledo Blade, 5/18/18)
     
  3. North Canton Schools’ board and administration are super excited about their new digital school, which this week got the go ahead for next school year. Apparently, they have at least 513,000 reasons to be excited. There is no word on a mascot yet, but may I humbly suggest the Mercenaries? (Canton Repository, 5/16/18)
     
  4. Here is an update on a year’s worth of effort from the Lorain Community Business Schools Partnership. Folks seem pleased. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 5/16/18) Of more interest,
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