Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. In the news from Lorain, it appears to be two steps forward as five new administrative positions are filled… (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/19/18) …and one step backward as the board president goes fishing for information about stuff. (Elyria Chronicle, 2/21/18) Hey Lorainians! How about a charter school instead? Constellation Schools would like to have a word if for some reason you’re interested. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/20/18)
  2. Enrollment in West Muskingum Schools has been steadily declining for a decade. Open enrollment availability in the rural-ish part of Ohio is partially to blame, say officials, but so also is a declining birth rate in the area. Very perceptive of them, I must say. As a result, teacher positions will likely be eliminated and a new levy placed on the ballot soon. And yes, 7 positions eliminated will result in savings of over $600,000 per year, according to this piece. (Zanesville Times Recorder, 2/17/18)
  3. Speaking of declining enrollment, a taskforce looking at underutilization in Dayton City Schools was said to be speeding up its work—conducting the last of its formal meetings this week, and, seemingly, backing away from more than a couple of consolidations
  4. ...

If a renewed focus on curriculum as a driver of improvements in K–12 education is in the cards, then a recent study from University of Oregon and Georgia Southern University scientists is good news indeed. It shows that four well-designed online science modules increased student achievement across all student subgroups, and especially for English as a second language (ESL) students and students with disabilities.

The study, a randomized controlled trial with over 2,300 middle school students and their teachers in thirteen schools in Oregon and Georgia, was conducted over three school years between 2014 and 2017. Each year, students in the treatment group completed one module—described as “enhanced online textbooks.” The modules covered life science, Earth and space science, and physical science; were aligned with Next Generation Science Standards; and included teacher professional development regarding their effective use prior to the start of each school year. Pacing was left up to the teachers, although the minimum duration reported was ten weeks. Control group teachers taught these topics “as usual”—i.e., in class without online content. Students in both groups completed pre-tests and post-tests around the specific content of each module.

The researchers found that students in both groups...


In the waning days of January, the Ohio Department of Higher Education gained approval from the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review for two new regulations regarding College Credit Plus (CCP) that will take effect during the quickly approaching summer term of the 2018-19 school year. Here’s a brief look at two of the most significant changes.

Course restrictions

One of the new rules divides available college courses into two categories: Level I and Level II courses. Level I is defined as any of the following:

  • A transferable course, which is defined in detail within the rules
  • A course in computer science, information technology, anatomy, physiology, or foreign language that is not eligible to be a transferable course
  • A technical certificate course, which the rules define as a course that is part of an organized program for a technical certificate offered by a public institution
  • A course included in a model pathway, which are developed by each secondary school in accordance with state law
  • A course designed to teach study skills and other skills for academic and career success to first-year college students
  • An internship
  • Any other course approved by the chancellor

Level II courses...

  1. I hear tell that February is “Career and Technical Education Month” among folks who pay attention to these things. In honor of that (and of them), I first give you an update on what I like to call “OG CTE” – it seems there is a resurgence in the very traditional vocational school models that I remember from my school days. Nice. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/18/18) And secondly I give you the 21st century CTE model which is also, it appears, flourishing. As a secondary note, I would draw your attention to the structure of the school featured here. It is a standalone STEM school located in Ohio – a tuition-free public school that is not a charter and is not run by a district either. It is so borderless that students can attend from anywhere, including across state lines. I don’t know how they manage the financial part of it, but it seems to be working. There are fewer than ten such schools in Ohio but it seems like there ought to be more. If this heavily-biased-toward-such-entities clips compiler says so himself. (Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail, 2/16/18)
  2. Editors in Columbus this weekend opined about the proposed consolidation
  3. ...
  1. As reported in Bites on Wednesday, a proposal has been put forward in the General Assembly that would make some important changes to the state-level governance structure of K-12 education, higher ed, and workforce development. Here is some additional coverage of the initial announcement. Chad Aldis is quoted in both of these pieces as being in favor of the proposal. The Dayton Daily News does not appear to share his sentiment. (Dayton Daily News, 2/14/18) Gongwer, as usual, is thorough and efficient in their even-handed coverage. (Gongwer Ohio, 2/14/18)
  2. Here is coverage of same from outlets who did not feel the need to include Chad. Wonder why? Most curious of all is this revised version of the original Dispatch piece which initially included Chad but now does not. How very odd. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/15/18) Next up, the Blade. Not fans of the proposal, if I am reading this correctly. (Toledo Blade, 2/14/18) The PD’s follow up piece reads like a potted history of proposals to change state level K-12 governance, pretty well ignoring all of the other changes in the proposal. I detect a less-than-enthusiastic response here. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/15/18) No maybe
  3. ...

Non-cognitive skills are an increasingly popular topic in education. These include capabilities like perseverance, grit, self-efficacy, work ethic, and conscientiousness. Research shows that possessing them can affect both scholastic and life outcomes.

Their popularity and apparent effectiveness have led to calls on schools to pay more attention to these non-cognitive factors. These calls were answered in part by ESSA, which requires states to have an indicator of “school quality or student success” that goes beyond state standardized test scores and graduation rates. Sometimes referred to as the “nonacademic indicator,” the inclusion of this measure in federal requirements opened the door for schools to focus, at least in part, on non-cognitive skills. California’s CORE districts, for example, use a social-emotional learning metric that measures four non-cognitive competencies with student surveys.

But incorporating non-cognitive skills into schools is still quite difficult. Paul Tough, author of the widely-cited How Children Succeed, explained why in a 2016 Atlantic article:     

But here’s the problem: For all our talk about noncognitive skills, nobody has yet found a reliable way to teach kids to be grittier or more resilient. And it has become clear, at the same time, that the educators...

  1. The State Board of Education met this week and, among other things, members got an update on the graduation readiness of the Class of 2018. It seems that 77 percent of this year’s seniors are on track to graduate using the more difficult requirements which are going fully into effect this year. There are approximately five months left of the school year and, of course, lots of less rigorous diploma pathways for those remaining students to utilize thanks to the enormous sympathies of the board and the state legislature. There is no data yet on how many of the remaining students might utilize those other pathways. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/13/18). Speaking of the state board, a new bill previewed this morning would seriously curtail its authority, along with combining K-12, higher ed, and workforce development authorities of the state into one cabinet-level department. Czar-riffic! Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on the proposal in this first-out-of-the-gate piece from Patrick O’Donnell. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/14/18) Chad is also quoted in the D on the proposal, sure to garner lots of attention for the foreseeable future. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/14/18)
  2. Sticking with the state board for a moment: Board members
  3. ...

Today, Representative Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) announced that he’ll be introducing legislation to significantly change the way Ohio governs public schools. The proposal calls for the creation of the Ohio Department of Learning and Achievement, which will focus on aligning Ohio’s education system to better prepare the workforce of tomorrow. The new agency will absorb the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and most of the responsibilities of both the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The leader of the Department of Learning and Achievement would be a cabinet-level official and appointed by the governor.

“While the most important part of education happens every day in classrooms across Ohio, state leaders bear the responsibility of providing support and clear guidance to assist school districts in implementing education law,” said Chad L. Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “By creating an agency under the direct oversight of the governor, the legislature would ensure that governors are unambiguously responsible—and accountable to the people—for executing Ohio education laws.”

The soon to be introduced legislation shifts the focus of the state board of education away from its current role, which is to create...

Jack Archer

NOTE: 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.

On January 9, the State Board of Education again gave advocates of career and college readiness cause for dismay. With just one dissenting vote, the board adopted a resolution recommending that the legislature extend to the Classes of 2019 and 2020 the much-derided high school graduation alternatives established last year—also upon the board’s recommendation—for the Class of 2018.

It is difficult to add much to what’s already been said about the softened graduation requirements that the board would now extend to the following two graduating classes. In short, they permit an Ohio student to obtain a high school diploma without demonstrating the minimum academic competencies needed to be successful in post-secondary education and employment. These requirements are a big step back from the much more rigorous standards adopted by the legislature in 2009, which still provided appropriate flexibility for students who might wish to choose a different route to a diploma.

All this to avert a “graduation apocalypse” that never truly materialized. ODE data show that 77 percent of students...


Ohio’s State Board of Education recently voted in favor of recommending that the legislature extend softer graduation requirements to the classes of 2019 and 2020. Such a move would be seriously misguided, since these expectations don’t require students to demonstrate academic mastery or readiness for college or career. Instead, the board suggests that students receive diplomas when they complete various non-academic options, including meeting attendance requirements or accruing a certain number of volunteer or internship hours.

An argument could certainly be made that the state should stick with the graduation requirements currently enshrined in law, which permit students to graduate if they have: achieved a passing cumulative score on seven end-of-course exams, achieved a “remediation-free” ACT or SAT score, or completed career and technical education requirements that include earning an industry recognized credential. After all, more than three-fourths of students in the class of 2018 are on track to graduate, even with these rigorous expectations in place.

However, if the General Assembly decides to make a change, they should consider other options aside from the proposal from the state board. One possibility is the model recently adopted by Indiana, beginning with its class of 2023. In order...