Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Some dude was busted last week for receiving and selling public transit bus passes stolen from Columbus City Schools and intended for students in lieu of yellow bus transportation. As a parent who has relied on said passes for years, I hope they throw the book at everyone involved. As someone who has seen multiple similar attempts by adults to literally steal education from kids for their own financial gain, my reaction is less benign...and less printable. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/25/17)
  2. Despite some Herculean efforts by folks to stem the tide, families are still opting to send their kids to online charter schools across the state gosh dang it, including more than 3,800 such students in the Dayton area. Not heartened enough by either the drop in enrollment numbers last year (assuming those are right, of course) or the likely drop in this year’s numbers since ECOT is planning to change its metaphorical spots, Jeremy Kelley decided to try and find out why so daggone many families are still opting in. No answer was readily forthcoming in his discussion with Ohio Connections Academy. In fact, kids who have been persuaded by the news to leave ECOT seem to
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  1. ECOT’s transformation from general online school to dropout recovery school drew some additional ink this week. First up, the Dispatch suggests this is an effort by the school to avoid certain areas of accountability. Our own Chad Aldis is on hand to note that if that is the case, then a new light will surely be shone on the accountability levers for dropout recovery schools as a result of this newcomer joining their ranks. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/24/17) Andy Chow of statewide public radio has a more compact version of the same suggestion and same response from Chad. (Statehouse News Bureau, 8/24/17)
  2. In case you missed it, CREDO yesterday released a massive new study on school closures across the country over a seven year period, looking at where displaced students ended up and how they did compared to students in similar schools which didn’t close. Ohio data were reviewed by Gongwer, including commentary from Chad. (Gongwer Ohio, 8/24/17) Doug Livingston of the ABJ took a rather different tack with the Ohio data. Our own Aaron Churchill was not only able to follow Doug’s train of thought but to offer cogent analysis of his own regarding state
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As part of the most recent state budget, Ohio lawmakers created alternative graduation pathways for the class of 2018 in response to widespread fears on the part of district administrators that too many students would fail to pass the seven End Of Course (EOC) tests that are administered during high school in the four core subjects.

We at Fordham strongly opposed this move because we believe it will hurt students in the long run. We weren’t the only ones who questioned it. Nevertheless, the alternative pathways became law. Recently, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria indicated that objections such as ours were not well founded.  Specifically, he told reporters:

The students who aren’t going to do well in college and in the workforce are those who don’t take their education seriously and a GPA increasingly both in research and in practice has been shown to be a far better indicator of a student’s readiness for college success and frankly for workforce success than any standardized test.

Whether, when, and how GPAs may be a better indicator of readiness than standardized tests is a subject for a different day. Let’s focus instead on the Superintendent’s assertion...

  1. Fordham is namechecked in this story noting the first day of school in Columbus. Specifically, the crack journalists at Columbus’s Fox affiliate discussed the new lowered graduation requirements for this year’s seniors. Fordham is against this, as you all know well; the state supe says we are “out of touch with the times”. Gotta say, that stings just a little bit. (WTTE-TV/WSYX-TV, Columbus, 8/23/17)
  2. Another thing that we – or at least I – am probably “out of touch” on is the decision by Dayton City Schools to lower the academic eligibility level for participation in sports. You will recall that the district’s entire varsity sports program got into some trouble last school year for, among other things, eligibility violations. No idea if this potentially catastrophic near miss factored into yesterday’s board decision, but apparently the 2.0 GPA level Dayton previously was supposed to hold to is not the rock bottom allowed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association – who sets these things on behalf of the entire state. What is rock bottom, you ask? Currently, a 1.0 GPA – or a D average. (I here refer the gentle reader to our illustrious state supe’s comments
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  1. Lots of folks in the Dayton area seem to be angst-ing over ongoing expansion of the EdChoice Scholarship program to give vouchers to more students from low-income families each year. Even the comments section is more lively than usual for the DDN. (Dayton Daily News, 8/19/17)
  2. Speaking of active online comments, folks in Youngstown seem to have quite a bit to say about the district’s plan to eliminate a requirement for students to carry see-through backpacks and instead instill a “climate of trust” between students and staff this year. Says East High School’s new principal: “A couple places you would expect to see... clear backpacks are airports and prisons. We are neither.” (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/20/17)
  3. Here are yet more details on the new “freshman academy” taking shape within the Colossus of Lorain (aka their schmancy new-ish high school building, which it seems is really very tremendously large). Interesting parallels with Youngstown in regard to issues of discipline and trust, although I might suggest tucking everyone away in the “penthouse” with the same handful of teachers and a couple of “safety officers” every day could be misconstrued in that regard. But that’s probably just me. Best
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Confronted with the paradox of a simultaneous rise in high school graduation and college remediation rates, researchers from The Alliance for Excellent Education examined diploma pathways across the country for evidence as to how well they match college or career expectations. They found that far too many students leave high school with diplomas that do not signal preparedness for what comes next.

The Alliance’s new report looked at all fifty states and the District of Columbia and found that there were 98 different pathways to diplomas for the Class of 2014. Slightly less than half were deemed sufficient to prepare students for college or careers (CCR diploma pathways). While college and career ready can be defined in a number of ways, the Alliance’s criteria for a CCR diploma are: 1) Any pathway that requires students to complete four years of grade-level ELA, three years of math through Algebra II or Integrated Math III; and 2) Any pathways promulgated by state institutions of higher education that fully align with admissions requirements into those institutions. All of their analyses follow from these requisites.

The most frequent reason for a rating of “non-CCR” for a diploma pathway was a mismatch between...

Research continues to point to the correlation between socioeconomic status and educational outcomes. Three new initiatives in the Buckeye State are cause for cautious optimism that old methods of addressing poverty may be giving way to innovation and new promise, especially for our youngest citizens.

  • Founded by Hillbilly Elegy author and Ohio native J.D. Vance, Our Ohio Renewal is a bold new initiative that will explore statewide policy solutions to intractable problems plaguing poor families. Vance’s upbringing included divorce, drug abuse, violence, and multi-generational poverty. Yet his rise through the Marine Corps, The Ohio State University, and Yale Law School against long odds challenge the notion that demography is destiny and will undoubtedly inform his work on behalf of families.
  • The Family Independence Initiative takes a city-centric approach to disrupting the cycle of poverty for families. The brainchild of Mauricio Lim Miller, this initiative steps away from the traditional service provider role and instead takes on a coaching role for poor families – families like the one in which he grew up. “…[M]y mother figured out how to get me out of poverty,” Lim Miller said in a recent New York Times profile of his life
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Charter opponents have long claimed that charter schools siphon resources away from the traditional public school system. The ideological motivation for this line of reasoning is clear when touted by teachers unions and their friends: i.e., calling charters parasitic unless they conform to traditional school practices, including mandatory unionization, makes that bias obvious. There’s also a technical basis for the argument, given how charters are funded in Ohio and in many states. Indirect or pass-through funding inevitably feels like a loss to districts and contributes to hostility toward charter schools for “stealing” students and “draining” the system.

But what impact do charter schools actually have on traditional public schools and the students who remain there? Are such loaded accusations deserved? Or might the presence of charters improve student outcomes through competition or as effective charter practices spill over into district schools?  

Recent research from Temple University professor Sarah Cordes sheds needed light on this question. Cordes examined the impact of charter schools in close proximity to, or even co-located with, traditional public schools (TPS) in New York City over a fourteen-year time span. Her analysis departed from previous research examining charter effects at the district level or...

  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted as saying that online schools are “not going away” in this piece from earlier in the week in which Columbus editors opine in support of Auditor Yost’s (…) recent guidance regarding charter school funding claw backs. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/17/17)
  2. On the very same day, the D published this chirpy piece about the start of the new school year, noting (with a tiny bit of surprise, perhaps?) that online school teachers are prepping for the first day just like all the other teachers out there. Those that still have jobs, I guess they mean. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/17/17)
  3. Speaking of the new school year, let’s take a quick look at some “innovations” happening around Ohio. First up, Toledo City Schools are debuting ten new Wi-Fi enabled school buses as part of a pilot program to create what they call “rolling study halls” especially for kids with the longest commutes. If it works out, more buses will be added. How will they know if it’s working out? Reportedly by tracking the academic performance of student bus riders. (Gasp!) It is worth noting – and the Blade does – that since most district high
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Back in July, the Columbus Dispatch posted an article entitled “Ohio high schoolers test poorly in math.” The story emerged from a State Board of Education meeting at which the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) shared preliminary assessment results from the 2016-17 school year.

Lost in the headline was the promising news that the results pointed upward for grades 3-8. Of the sixteen state tests administered in those grades, only one—5th grade math—had a lower proficiency rate than in 2016. The tables below show the results for English language arts and math in grades 3-8.

The high school results, however, were more disheartening. The table below shows that five of the ten End Of Course subject exams showed decreases in proficiency: geometry, integrated math I, physical science, biology, and American history.

How concerned should we be?  There’s no denying that thousands of students still aren’t doing...