Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. A bit more coverage of the Ohio charter school facilities report, with whose release we helped out last week, courtesy of statewide public radio. (Statehouse News Bureau, 2/6/17)
  2. Here is a story about simple, common-sense stress reduction efforts underway in three Columbus City Schools elementary buildings. By all measures presented here, these efforts have worked miracles for students and have aided discipline and focus building-wide. Even the teachers are said to have reduced stress levels. And while there is no mention of how much any of these steps have cost, none of them seems to be very expensive at all and a local non-profit is said to be involved. So stipulating, I will present you with the piece’s conclusion: “Ohio Avenue's academics still need to catch up, she said, but kids aren't being sent out of lessons so often for discipline problems. Feeling calm and secure, they might be absorbing more material. The hope is that test scores will climb accordingly.” And now I will ask rhetorically if any of my loyal Gadfly Bites readers can guess the question lingering in my mind… (Columbus Dispatch, 2/5/17)
  3. Speaking of improvements, here is an update on Youngstown
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  1. In case you missed, it Fordham assisted in the release of a new report documenting the opportunities and challenges facing charter schools in Ohio in terms of obtaining and maintaining proper facilities for their work. You can find great coverage of the report and of the release event we co-hosted yesterday in Gongwer. (Gongwer Ohio, 2/2/17)
  2. There was a little more talk yesterday about Governor Kasich’s proposal to include business leaders as ex-officio members of elected school boards across the state. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/2/17)
  3. Swanky Ottawa Hills school district in suburban Toledo is looking for a few good recruits to top out its student enrollment numbers. Just five kids would do the trick, but they have to be able to pay the out-of-district tuition, which is estimated at over $13,000 per year. “What?!” you ask. “How can it be that a public school district – open to all – could charge tuition when there is an existing open enrollment mechanism they could avail themselves of?!” You’re probably thinking this is about money. But let the soothing words of the school board president reassure you: “This isn’t about the money. It’s about populating our district
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A report released today outlines the facilities challenges facing Ohio’s public charter schools. The report, “An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Ohio,” found that on average, Ohio charter schools spend $785 per pupil  from their foundation funding on facilities—a cost not typically faced by traditional public schools. The report also finds that few Ohio charters are able to locate in unused or underutilized district facilities.

“This study is eye opening,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy. “It provides Ohio policy makers with concrete data, for the first time ever, regarding how extensive the facility challenges are for Ohio’s 370 public charter schools.”

The report is based on a 2015 survey of Ohio charter school principals (representing 81 percent of brick-and-mortar charters in the state). The study was sponsored by the National Charter School Resource Center of the U.S. Department of Education, and conducted by the Colorado League of Charter Schools with the assistance of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

“Charter schools face an uphill battle when it comes to securing a quality facility. Facility expenses of almost $800 per...

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.

In the last Ohio Gadfly, I described the many similarities between Washington State’s lengthy debate about high school graduation requirements during the years that I worked there and the debate underway in Ohio now. 

As has been Washington’s habit as well on everything from funding to accountability, the Ohio State Board of Education has kicked the issue to a study panel for the time being. At its meeting on December 13, the Board, after first rejecting proposals to delay or reduce the college and work-ready requirements adopted in 2014, directed the State Superintendent to appoint a work group to “review the graduation requirements and consider alternative approaches." The up-to-twenty-five-member work group with broad representation from the education community is to make a recommendation to Superintendent DeMaria by the Board’s April 2017 meeting.

Following is some immodest advice to the work group from someone who may be new to Ohio but is not new to work groups, task forces,...

  1. Details of Governor Kasich’s new biennial budget are emerging this week. Here are some peeks at the K-12 education portion of said budget from around the state. The Dispatch focuses on the governor’s assertion that school districts which have lost students should get less money from the state. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/31/17) Coverage from Dayton focuses quite a bit on Kasich’s idea to require school boards to have 3 ex-officio members from the local business community. (Dayton Daily News, 1/30/17) The DDN is so interested in this particular part of the budget bill that they published a separate piece covering reactions of some area school board members to the proposal. (Dayton Daily News, 1/30/17). As is its wont to do, the PD took a “wait and see” approach on the education budget but laid out all the details known so far. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/30/17) Ditto for Gongwer, who led with the declining enrollment piece but generally just laid out the facts. Kudos to them for also mentioning the Straight-A Innovation Fund, which is continued and funded at $50 million over the biennium. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/30/17) Our own Chad Aldis commends the continuation of the
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“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” There's a lot of truth in that cliché, but it doesn't seem to apply to education. When it comes to chronically low-performing schools, in many cases, the better – and more courageous – course is to “quit” and close a school that is simply beyond repair.

In recent years, attempts to turn around failing schools are most closely linked to the Obama Administration’s supercharged School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Between 2010 and 2015, the federal government spent $7 billion in efforts to turnaround low-performing schools. In exchange for these funds, grantee schools pledged to implement prescribed interventions, such as replacing personnel or changing instructional practices.

The returns: Not much—or perhaps not clear—according to a massive study by Mathematica and the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The study examined schools in the 2010 SIG cohort and tracked pupil outcomes through three years of implementation. Using data from twenty-two states, their analysis found that SIG had no significant impact on students’ state math or reading test scores. Nor did they find any evidence that SIG increased pupils’ likelihood of high school graduation or college enrollment. Further, the analysts didn’t even uncover...

Ohio charter schools have long reported struggling in their efforts to secure school facilities. A soon-to-be released report, “An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Ohio,” from the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Charter School Resource Center, the Charter School Facilities Initiative, managed by the Colorado League of Charter Schools, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools surveys school principals to get the most detailed look to date of Ohio charter school facilities. The survey, which includes data from 81 percent of Ohio's brick and mortar charter schools, examines multiple aspects of charter facilities including the size, uses, and cost per student of each.

Please join Fordham and the Callender Group to hear the report’s authors share the data and Ohio charter schools/school networks talk about what the report means on-the-ground.

Thursday, February 2, 2016
8:30 - 10:00 am

Chase Tower - Sixth floor conference room B
100 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Kevin Hesla, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and report co-author
Jessica M. Johnson, Esq., Colorado League of Charter Schools and report co-author

Tiffany Adamski,...

One of the hallmarks of school accountability is the identification of and intervention in persistently low-preforming schools. Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools were required to make adequate yearly progress (AYP); if they fell short, they were subject to a set of escalating consequences. Much of the backlash against NCLB was a result of these consequences being imposed from afar with little flexibility. So when Congress geared up for reauthorization, it wasn’t surprising that the new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), shifted the responsibility of identification and intervention to the states.

Last week, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released an overview of its proposed ESSA state plan. This isn’t the entire plan—the full draft will be released for public comment in early February. In future posts, we’ll do some deep dive analyses of the key areas and potential impacts of the full draft. But in the meantime, there’s plenty in the overview to explore—including how the Buckeye State plans to identify its lowest-performing schools.

ESSA requires states to identify at least two categories of schools: comprehensive support schools (which include the lowest-performing schools in the state) and targeted support schools (which...

Parents make choices about their child’s schooling based on a variety of factors: location, safety, convenience, academics, extracurriculars, support services, and more. Many families choose their school by moving to the neighborhood of their preference, thus exercising “choice” when making homeownership decisions. It’s important to recognize that not all families have the same luxury. In fact, many don’t. For the most part, parents living in poverty can’t just up and move themselves to a neighborhood with higher-performing, better-programmed, safer schools. Yet their children deserve high-quality educational opportunities, too, in schools that work for them based on their unique learning styles, interests, and needs.

If we believe that parents of all income levels and backgrounds deserve the same choices we exercise for ourselves and our own children, then Ohio’s high-performing charter schools deserve our unwavering support. The 21,000+ events held across the nation last week for National School Choice Week demonstrate the pressing need—and support for—quality school options. Columbus Collegiate Academy (Dana Avenue campus), one of the city’s highest-performing middle schools, helps its eighth graders achieve math and science proficiency at a rate that’s more than double what the district achieves. Meanwhile, its eighth-grade reading proficiency rate is thirty-seven...

  1. A new report from Learn to Earn Dayton showed some sobering data regarding the achievement gap for black students in Montgomery County’s district schools, especially boys. At an event unveiling the report, interventions in early education; raising of expectations in classrooms; and accessible, high-quality after-school programming were all put forward as parts of an overall solution going forward. (Dayton Daily News, 1/27/17)
  2. FutureReady Columbus appears to be interested in the same sorts of things in Columbus as Learn to Earn is in Dayton. Here is a primer on how the organization came to be and where it is heading in the near future. Interesting compare/contrast with Learn to Earn’s plans could be made, if one was inclined to make such comparisons. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/30/17)
  3. Ditto for Lorain City Schools, where wraparound services are in the limelight. I’ll let the new director of student and family outreach explain it to you: “Our main battle, I find, is the battle between home culture and school culture. Meaning, we do all these things we can for the student here at school, but then they go home and face whatever they’re facing. So it’s a constant battle for the
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