Ohio Gadfly Daily

Peter Cunningham recently called district-charter collaboration the “great unfilled promise” of school choice. He explains the possibilities by pointing to a host of cities that are already benefiting from collaboration: In New York City, districts and charters are partnering to improve parent engagement. In Rhode Island, charters are sharing with district schools their wealth of knowledge on how to personalize learning effectively. Boston has district, charter, and Catholic schools working together on issues like transportation and professional development and has successfully lowered costs for each sector. The SKY Partnership in Houston is expanding choice and opportunities for students. The common enrollment system in New Orleans has solved a few long-standing problems for parents (like issues with transparency), and partnerships in Denver have set the stage for even more innovation. Though the type and extent of collaboration differs in each of these places, the bottom line is the same: Kids benefit.

Here in the Buckeye State, there are thousands of kids in need of those benefits. Our most recent analysis of state report card data shows that within Ohio’s large urban districts (commonly known as “the Big Eight”), proficiency rates were far below...

  1. In case you didn't know, our own Chad Aldis is serving on the state supe’s workgroup on dropout prevention and recovery schools and was quoted following the group’s meeting earlier this week. As you might have predicted, he urged the study of data on dropout recovery students and schools to aid in decision making and any redesign/reform efforts. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/11/17)
  2. Miracle of miracles! The Dayton RTA drivers and mechanics strike lasted less time than the Louisville teachers strike – just four days in fact. Full service resumed this morning, which should be a great relief for all of the Dayton students who rely on RTA for school transportation. The city school board said “hundreds” of students were absent during the strike because they could not get to school. (Dayton Daily News, 1/13/17)
  3. Ohio this week was awarded a $2 million grant from JPMorgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (through the New Skills for Youth initiative), which is meant to strengthen career-focused education in the Buckeye State. Wonder if that’s why the House Education Committee was this week renamed to the Education and Career Readiness Committee? Just askin’. (Associated Press, 1/11/17)
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Education Week just issued its twenty-first “Quality Counts” report card for states. Ohio’s grades are so-so—and nearly identical to last year’s. Yet with a “C” overall and ranking twenty-second nationally, the Buckeye State’s standing relative to other states has fallen dramatically since 2010 when it stood proud at number five.

Ohio’s slide in EdWeek’s Quality Counts ranking has become easy fodder for those wishing to criticize the state’s education policies. Those on the receiving end of blame for Ohio’s fall have included: Governor Kasich (and the lawmakers who upended former Governor Strickland’s “evidence-based” school funding system), Ohio’s charter schools (never mind that nothing whatsoever in the EdWeek score cards takes them into consideration!), and even President Obama (specifically for his 2009 Race to the Top program). I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard or read that Ohio’s plummeting ranking is incontrovertible evidence of things gone awry.

An almost-twenty slot drop in rankings sounds terrible, but my guess is that many people who lament it don’t know what the ratings comprise or that EdWeek’s indicators have changed over time. Let’s take a look at the overall rankings, and then take a...

  1. Here is a nice look at a charter school in Canton, newly opened this school year, which focuses on students with special needs. For anyone who’s keeping count (besides me), that’s now two articles from shall we say “typical skeptics” reporting nice things about charters managed by Cambridge Education Group. (Canton Repository, 1/10/17) On the topic of students with special needs, the Warren County ESC has purchased a former church complex in Franklin, Ohio, in which to expand their Laura Farrell Learning Center. Looks like the aim of this program (not a school, despite the headline) is to expand the provision of services for students in need of extra help to flourish in traditional classroom settings. This is a good advance look at the program’s expansion plans. (Dayton Daily News, 1/11/17)
  2. Today is day three of a strike by Dayton RTA bus drivers and mechanics. We have told you repeatedly about the school district’s transportation woes, now the Gem City transit strike is affecting students who take RTA as an alternative. New talks are supposedly set for today. (Dayton Daily News, 1/10/17)
  3. Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers will recall that Ohio’s state board of education in
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  1. Columbus City Schools is looking to expand selective admissions in a number of its lottery schools. This effort comes complete with school fairs to help district families find the best fit for their students among the CCS offerings. Whatever you may think of the former move, the latter is most definitely a welcome development. More please! (Columbus Dispatch, 1/9/17)
  2. Speaking of school choice, here’s another look at open enrollment from the perspective of a group of districts in Northern Ohio who seem to swap students back and forth fairly regularly. As is typical with these stories, the folks interviewed seem to have a clear grasp on the dollars and cents involved with open borders but very little idea as to why students come or go from their districts (aside from the dry observation that “people always like to have a choice”). Seems to me that one of these is more important to the proper functioning of the program than the other. Just sayin’. (Fremont News-Messenger, 1/6/17)
  3. Columbus will likely need permission from the state board of education for the above-mentioned proposal to expand selective admissions. The new session of the board begins with its first meeting
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  1. Our own Chad Aldis was quoted this week on Ohio’s placement in EdWeek’s latest Quality Counts survey of states. At a glance, the Buckeye State’s middling rank was lackluster, but Chad’s more in-depth analysis helps put the data in context. Check out that analysis in Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 1/4/17) and in the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 1/5/17).
  2. Speaking of EdWeek, here’s a nicely-detailed piece on what various states are doing in terms of preparation for ESSA accountability plan implementation. Ohio’s recent “massive” effort at public input is noted with general positivity. (Education Week, 1/4/17)
  3. Youngstown City Schools has a new COO, having “poached” the superintendent of a nearby (i.e. - suburban, higher-performing) district for the job. It seems that Youngstown CEO Krish “Sheriff” Mohip has no problem finding high-level talent to fill the ranks of his deputies. Now, about that school board… (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/5/17)
  4. Finally, we have a curious little piece from the PD in which census data reveals the percentage of school-age children attending private vs. public schools in all of the cities in the state. The full chart is there, but the article focuses on Northeast Ohio. No mention is
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Today Education Week released its annual Quality Counts report card for states. Ohio earned a C with an overall score of 74.2, aligning the Buckeye State for the second year in a row with national U.S. average (also 74.2). Its ranking of 22nd is up one place from 2016; all of Ohio’s neighboring states earned a C or C-minus except for Pennsylvania, which earned a B.

Ohio’s individual sub-grades also remained unchanged from last year:

  • C-plus in Chance for Success—a measure that includes educational inputs and outputs across the life span such as family income, parent educational levels, preschool and kindergarten enrollment, fourth- and eighth-grade NAEP scores, and adult educational attainment.
  • C-minus in K-12 Achievement—looks at student performance on the NAEP, graduation rates and percent of students scoring 3 or above on AP exams, as well as gaps in proficiency between poor and non-poor students.
  • C in School Finance—a measure that includes state funding systems’ reliance on local property wealth as well as other measures of equity, per pupil expenditures, and share of taxable resources spent on education.

For the last several years in the Quality Counts report cards, Ohio’s subcategory scores largely stayed consistent despite several shifts in...

John Morris

NOTE: The State Board of Education of Ohio on December 13, 2016 debated whether to change graduation requirements for the Class of 2018 and beyond. Below are the written remarks of John Morris, given before the board.

Members of the Board,

Thank you for giving me a moment to offer testimony on behalf of the construction industry. Members of the industry sent me here to thank you for setting a new higher bar with the class of 2018 graduation requirements. We are excited that this board has supported maintaining high standards for graduating and earning a diploma in the State of Ohio. Members of the construction industry were very pleased when the phase out of the Ohio Graduation Test was announced in favor of multiple end-of-course exams and the opportunity for an industry credential to help a student graduate. We expect this new system to be an improvement over the current system that graduates many without the skills to succeed in college and continuously FAILS to introduce others to the hundreds of thousands of pathways to employment via industry credentials.

For many decades, industries such as construction and manufacturing enjoyed a steady stream of individuals coming directly from "vocational" schools...

  1. Looks like the new year is starting in Youngstown City Schools the same way the old one ended – with a battle of words between the school board and the CEO waged in the pages of the Vindy. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/3/17)
  2. Meanwhile, the new year means a new CEO-style Academic Distress Commission for Lorain City Schools. In fact, March 7 is the exact date. Here’s a very thorough look at the preparations already underway. If this story is accurate, the “Lorain Plan” feels a lot different than the “Youngstown Plan” to me. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 1/1/17)
  3. Editors in Toledo opined this week against a proposed zoning change that would, they say, “attack the autonomy” of charter schools in the Glass City. Yes. You read that right. (Toledo Blade, 1/2/17) In case you’re wondering what the zoning proposal is, you can check out the details here. You can also check out who is spearheading it and why and who thinks it’s a bad idea and why. (Toledo Blade, 12/25/16) Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers may remember that zoning and review mechanisms were used successfully in 2015 to scuttle a move by another charter school to
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In late 2016, we at the Ohio Gadfly asked for your predictions on the most important education issues of 2017. Here were your prognostications, along with—as you might expect from us at the Gadfly—commentary on how we hope these debates will unfold in the year to come.

Number 5: School accountability

It’s no surprise to see school accountability on our readers’ list of big issues for 2017. In the coming year, Ohio will submit a revised plan for accountability under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Fortunately, the law doesn’t require the Buckeye State to undertake a major overhaul of its accountability policies. Ohio can and should stay the course on its key policies (with minor adjustments; see number 2 below). For instance, policymakers should maintain the use of a performance index and student growth measures or value added; they should also preserve a transparent A-F grading system. As Ohio’s ESSA plan is reviewed and debated, policymakers must ensure that accountability policies uphold high expectations for all pupils and offer clear information on school quality.  

Number 4: E-schools

With over 30,000 Ohio pupils attending virtual charter schools, the Buckeye State has one of the largest e-school...