Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Well, well, well. Nothing official here, but it is nice to hear the President of the Ohio Senate say that Ohio’s current participation-trophy graduation requirements should not be extended to the Classes of 2019 and 2020. Without “a good reason”, that is. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/26/18)
  2. It is also nice—though somewhat shocking in its candor—to hear what really went on behind closed doors of the Columbus City Schools’ recently-suspended superintendent search. Hey guys, once you get your new search underway I hear there’s a dude in the Youngstown area looking for a new gig…although I think he might prefer someplace where it snows a lot. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/27/18)
  3. Staying in Columbus for a moment, Dispatch editors opined today on the now-discredited Education Trust evaluation of Ohio’s efforts to target school funding for the benefit of its poorest students. Sorry to inject my own thoughts into a clip about an editorial, but I fear that they are missing the actual point of the revised analysis in their conclusion. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/28/18) Dispatch editors also opined today on the Move to PROSPER program, which we’ve been following with interest here in the Bites for a year or
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Ohio’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan doesn’t include many changes to the state’s current accountability system, but it does make some meaningful adjustments that improve equity within the state. Most notably, it lowers the minimum number for Ohio subgroup sizes, or n-size, from thirty to fifteen students for accountability purposes—a transition the state is implementing gradually and will complete in the 2018–19 school year. Unfortunately, legislation that recently passed the Senate, S.B. 216, would undo the n-size shift before it’s fully implemented. Here’s why that would be a mistake.

N-size and why it matters

Subgroups generally comprise historically disadvantaged populations like black and Latino children and English language learners (ELLs). Ohio’s previous n-size of thirty students meant, for example, that only schools with at least thirty ELLs had to report their performance as a subgroup for state report card purposes. Lowering this threshold to fifteen students is beneficial because it improves transparency and holds schools accountable for meeting the needs of underprivileged students, increasing the likelihood that students will receive the proper supports and interventions they need. Indeed, civil rights groups like Ohio’s Latino community, the NAACP, and disability rights organizations have long urged schools...


STEM education is, by design, integrative. It strives to emulate the real-world work of engineers within a teaching environment. Traditional science and math concepts merge with hands-on design-and-build work using technology, often through “design challenges.” Team dynamics, learning by failure and revision, and analytical thinking all factor in as well. It’s a big lift, but such efforts are vital for schools to attempt as demand for STEM—from parents, employers, the military, and colleges—increases. Traditional education models may not readily adapt to the hands-on demands of STEM, nor can many practitioners turn on a dime to accommodate a tech-heavy pedagogy. A new report from Michigan Technological University sheds light on some of these complexities that teachers face bringing STEM education into their practice.

Authors Emily Dare, Joshua Ellis, and Gillian Roehrig use observation and interview data to assess the first-time STEM integration efforts of teachers in nine physical science classrooms in different, unnamed middle schools in the United States. The researchers posit that a lack of consensus over best practices and a lack of professional development contribute to the difficulties. Both classroom observation and teacher reflection data for these nine case studies of teachers attempting STEM integration with little...

  1. The bill which proposes, among other things, a consolidation of Ohio’s K-12, higher ed, and workforce development governance structures was the topic of dueling op-eds in the Dispatch this weekend. Fordham’s Aaron Churchill provided the case in support of the proposal. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/25/18) The CEO of the Ohio School Boards Association provided the case against the proposal. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/25/18) There’s even a poll you can take to register your own feelings on the matter. How very civic of the editorial page editors of the D.
  2. I think the folks at the Elyria Chronicle were as surprised as I was by the dueling articles on Lorain school board member Yvonne Johnson which ran in the Chronicle and in the Northern Ohio Morning Journal last week. Specifically, why those two articles seemed to present polar opposite views of her positions. So, they asked her about it. The answers are interesting, cogent, and eye-opening. Take a look. (Elyria Chronicle, 3/24/18) Speaking of taking a second look, you remember that national report released last month that said Ohio ranked second in the nation for equitable school funding? The one that was touted hither, yon, and beyond? Yeah,
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  1. The bill which proposes to, among other things, consolidate the state’s K-12, higher ed, and workforce development governance apparatus is still the talk of the state for some reason. Lots of folks in Northeast Ohio are opposed for some reason. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted herein in support of the bill. Thank goodness. (MyTownNEO, 3/21/18) The reason I say thank goodness for Chad is not only because he’s my boss and he expects such statements, but also because he may soon be the only person making any sense at all in discussion of this bill. Case in point is this piece where a group representing Ohio restaurateurs took the podium this week to complain about some testing and credentialing change that happened a while back and with which they don’t agree. For some reason. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/21/18)
  2. There will be no “balanced calendar” in Youngstown City Schools next year. CEO Krish Mohip deemed the year-round schedule to be too much change too quickly for parents, students, and staff. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/22/18) Of course, there may be no CEO Krish Mohip in Youngstown next year either, which could lead to some change. Mohip is a finalist
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  1. The General Assembly’s Joint Education Oversight Committee is back in action this week (!) after a three month hiatus. This week’s meeting under a new chair will reevaluate priorities and sound out some issues to pursue for the future. Hope they can think of some good ones. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/19/18) Meanwhile, state supe Paolo DeMaria is traveling around the state kicking the tires on a draft five-year strategic plan with the help of the public, including students. (Canton Repository, 3/20/18)
  2. Speaking of plans, here is more concrete detail (sorry about that pun) on proposed changes to Elyria Schools’ construction plan. Looks like plans for two promised K-4 schools are being shelved in order to keep costs in line. Folks are steamed by the perceived bait-and-switch, but here’s hoping that calm and realistic deliberations will prevail. (Elyria Chronicle, 3/20/18)
  3. In school board news: Lorain City Schools’ Board of Education found time in its no-doubt jam-packed meeting agenda earlier this week to take a vote of no confidence in the district’s CEO. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 3/19/18) Dayton City Schools’ Board of Education, as expected, voted to make the interim district supe the permanent supe.
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Ohio policymakers are currently wrestling with a slew of issues related to transitions from high school to college or career. Among the major topics of debate is the state’s dual-enrollment program—known as College Credit Plus—that allows advanced students an opportunity to take university-level courses while in high school. Dual enrollment, done well, is a fine way to expand opportunities for high achievers, as are Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses and early-college high schools.

What if Ohio also made a more concerted effort to graduate high-achieving students early? Why not encourage students who are ready and willing to head off to college to do just that—rather than asking them to stick it out in high school?

These questions crossed my mind while reading a witty essay by Neerav Kingsland. Reflecting on his own educational experience, Kingsland believes he would have been better off doing other, more productive things during his late high school years. I can relate: In retrospect, going off to college early might’ve been better than suffering through a case of “senioritis.”

To encourage more college-ready students to consider the early graduation route, Ohio legislators could create a scholarship program, something a few other states have...

  1. It was learned late last week that Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip is not only looking to Colorado for a new gig but also to North Dakota. He is one of four finalists for superintendent of Fargo Public Schools. Weren’t there any good gigs up for grabs in Alaska, dude? (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/17/18) Local curmudgeon Bertram de Souza opined yesterday on this state of affairs. Specifically, he wrote in support of Mohip’s fairly brutal comments about the governance landscape in Youngstown City Schools, made during his interview with Boulder Valley school officials. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/18/18) Mohip is interviewing in Fargo this week – maybe we’ll get some good dope from that one too.
  2. Back in the real world, Lorain Schools CEO David Hardy is rolling up his sleeves and finally outlining some hard deliverables for his turnaround plan. To wit: Only 1.1 percent of Lorain students achieve remediation-free scores on the ACT. To address this deficit, Hardy says he is implementing more rigorous coursework across the board starting next school year. (Elyria Chronicle, 3/16/18)
  3. Speaking of school leaders, it looks like Dayton’s acting superintendent will become the permanent superintendent. Perhaps as early as tomorrow, when
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Susan Pendergrass

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.

In addition to fielding questions about what a charter school is, and whether charters are private or public schools, I’m often asked: Aren’t charter schools intended for failing urban districts serving low-income students of color? They do serve those communities well, but let’s talk about who else they serve.

While it’s true that over half of all charter schools are in urban districts, in the 2015–16 school year there were nearly 1,800 suburban charter schools and over 1,200 in small towns and rural communities.

It turns out that curriculum really matters to middle-income parents, and many gravitate to charter schools because they offer educational models that aren’t available in traditional public schools. Some of these models are more rigorous, some are more open and creative, and some offer unique programs. There are hundreds of examples of outstanding suburban and rural charter schools, but I’ll offer just a few to ponder.

Take the BASIS charter schools: In the 2017 US News rankings of the top 10 public high schools, nine...


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  1. By a vote of 11-4, the State Board of Education yesterday voted against supporting HB 512, the bill which would—among other things—consolidate the state’s K-12, higher ed, and workforce development apparatuses into one agency. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/13/18) Meanwhile, the Dispatch is time traveling back to look at who HAS supported HB 512, focusing on Fordham (complete with new PCA photo from last week!) and the leaders of several career tech education centers across the state. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/13/18)
  2. CEO Krish Mohip tells Youngstown: I can’t quit you. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/13/18) Supe candidate Krish Mohip says to Boulder Valley: Well…. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/13/18) Meanwhile, editors in Boulder say: Hold up a sec. (Boulder Daily Camera, 3/10/18)
  3. Back in the sports page: Cincinnati City Schools’ Board of Education is one of several entities who must sign off on any final deal to bring a professional soccer stadium to the city’s West End. This week, board members and other stakeholders discussed an offer or two on the table, but nothing was decided. The two sides remained some distance apart. Talks are
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