Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Two separate stories; a similar theme. That theme is the correlation between test scores and race/income as reflected in state report card data. First up, Aaron is quoted on that topic in the Dispatch. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/24/17) Next up, Chad is quoted on that topic at length on statewide public television. (State of Ohio, via Ideastream Public Media, 9/22/17) Well, now that we’re all agreed (thanks to the data that we have at hand), on with the solutions, right?
  2. We interrupt your regularly-scheduled report card data update to bring you this “news”: the Ohio Department of Education isn’t currently planning to change its process for verifying students’ “at-risk” status despite the fact that ECOT will soon be entering into said process. Chad is on hand to suggest that if this is a problem for folks (well duh), the legislature may want to consider inducing a change. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/23/17)
  3. Returning to report card-related pieces, editors in Youngstown this weekend opined upon the district’s still-dismal report card and how that may affect their support for the CEO. Ouch. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/24/17) You will note that despite their angst (perhaps understandable given that the CEO’s “latitude”
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Cris Gulacy-Worrel

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.

The recent request by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) to apply for Ohio’s Drop Out Prevention and Recovery (DOPR) designation has shined a spotlight on this unique type of alternative school and has created many misconceptions surrounding what they do, the students they serve, and how they serve them.

Those of us who have dedicated our careers to providing safe, inclusive, high-quality learning environments for our most challenged students think these misconceptions should be identified and exposed. DOPR is a status for which schools must apply and is outlined in state law. The designation has existed for many years. Only programs that meet the components set forth by law are approved by the Department of Education. DOPR schools must meet specified academic as well as financial objectives set by the Department. The designation is not a shelter for charter schools to utilize as a protection against public accountability for student performance, nor are drop out recovery waivers intended to be leveraged by schools not specializing in this specific student population. The designation is meant...

  1. More on state report cards to start the day. To wit: at least one state legislator is very very unhappy about state report cards, for reasons which are barely articulated in this piece. He’s got some support among the usual statewide public media interviewee pool. Fordham is namechecked in this piece as well, regarding charter school report card data. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 9/22/17) Fordham is namechecked at the very end of this piece as having supported a “solution” two years ago to what is apparently a longstanding “problem” regarding charter school sponsor payments. Why mention that now? That “problem” is now seen as one of a couple of “loopholes” which might “benefit” ECOT (pronounced “not stop them”) in its efforts to regenerate into a dropout recovery school. And you know how journalists hate loopholes. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/21/17)
  2. The Columbus Dispatch has been publishing a monthly series on “The Future” of our great city, looking at various areas of civic endeavor and looking at what’s next within those areas in some depth. They have reached the topic of education this month, and one of the voices talking about “what’s next” is United Schools Network CEO Andy Boy.
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A recent article in Education Week highlighted how an under-the-radar ESSA provision could spell trouble for states with multiple high school diplomas. The provision outlines the definition of a regular high school diploma, which must be used to calculate a state’s four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate. Specifically, the definition of a regular high school diploma is: “the standard high school diploma awarded to the preponderance of students in the State that is fully aligned with State standards.”

The trouble that several states are running into is with the phrase “the preponderance of students in the State.” Preponderance, by definition, means a majority. In the past, some states offering multiple diplomas have calculated their graduation rates by adding up the percentage of students who earn each of the different diplomas. Under ESSA, states will only be permitted to count one of those diplomas—a move that could significantly lower graduation rates.

According to the EdWeek article, the provision was intended to ensure that the diplomas states award are adequately preparing all students. “Advocates for lower-income and minority students, and those with disabilities, were key voices at the table when that section of the bill was being drafted,” EdWeek journalist...

  1. The folks at the Mansfield News Journal were curious as to how the district’s Malabar Middle School earned As on their progress grades (across the board, nice!) while still getting D and F grades in areas of achievement. Our own Aaron Churchill is anonymously quoted on the topic, but not in answering the question. The answer, it seems, is good old fashioned high expectations, strong curriculum, and hard work from teachers and students. Mystery solved. (Mansfield News Journal, 9/18/17)
  2. In case you missed it, the state board of education met this week with a packed agenda. Most of which I don’t care about. However, Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in regard to one item of interest: the removal of a requirement for charter schools to report “adverse media coverage” to the Ohio Department of Education. Probably a smart move since ODE personnel are likely big news readers anyway. They probably appreciate a good crossword puzzle as well. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/18/17) If indeed you had missed the fact that the board was meeting this week, it is because the first ever live broadcast of said meeting – initiated at the previous board meeting – did not occur
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Last week, the Ohio Department of Education released school grades for the 2016-17 school year. These report cards offer Buckeye families, community members, and taxpayers an important annual review of the performance of the state’s 3,000 plus schools and 600 districts.

For many years, we at Fordham have kept a close eye on the performance of Ohio’s charter schools. We typically gauge their performance by comparing their results to district schools in the state’s “Big Eight” cities. We do this because most brick-and-mortar charters in Ohio are located in these districts (e.g., Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton).

In 2015-16, my analysis found some promising signs that the charter sector may be modestly outperforming Big Eight district schools on the state’s value-added measure, an indicator of schools’ impact on pupil growth over time.

How about this year? Let’s compare the A-F ratings that the state gives to schools on the two key report card ratings—the performance index (explained below, under Figure 1) and overall value added.

The first chart indicates that both charter and Big Eight district schools receive low ratings on the performance index. Roughly nine in ten schools in each sector receive Ds or Fs, a pattern that is nearly...

  1. A little more on school report cards this morning if you can handle it. First up, Jeremy Kelley took a look at charter schools’ performance in the Dayton area as compared to each other and to local districts. Our own Aaron Churchill is there to help. Kudos to Jeremy for taking a comparative look at the Dayton Regional STEM School’s (pretty darn good) report card as well. (Dayton Daily News, 9/15/17) Speaking of Aaron, he is quoted a little more extensively in this updated Columbus public radio version of the Statehouse News Bureau story on report card data originally clipped on Friday. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 9/15/17)
  2. The PD’s Rich Exner today has a series of graphs comparing district report cards to median income for people living in those districts. “The wealthier a school district,” he writes, “the better the district tends to do.” But it does depend on what aspect of report card data is being compared. Pretty interesting stuff. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/18/17) Like the Dayton Daily News, above, the Dispatch was also interested in some report cards other than traditional districts. To wit: here’s a look at central Ohio’s career tech school report cards.
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  1. In case you missed it, state report card data were released yesterday. Among the things we were looking at: the new two-year value added ratings, charter/district school comparisons, and how schools with large concentrations of poor students fared in serving them. There were pockets of very good performance and pockets of very bad performance across the state, but “mixed bag” and “cautious optimism” at the broad scale were common themes in the first blush analysis. All of the following pieces feature quotes from our own report card guru Aaron Churchill. The big-picture view from the PD. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/14/17) Old-dog Doug Livingston’s take from the ABJ. (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/14/17) The Statehouse view from Gongwer. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/14/17) Aaron is joined by that other report card analysis veteran Howard Fleeter in the first take from statewide public media. (Statehouse News Bureau, 9/14/17) Finally, Akron and Cleveland are the main focus for this piece from Northeast Ohio’s public media outlet. They also note that no districts are in imminent danger of falling under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission. (Ideastream Public Media, Cleveland, 9/14/17)
  2. To misquote an old adage, “all report cards are
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The Statehouse newspaper, Gongwer, recently ran a piece covering the ACT test results for Ohio’s graduating class of 2017. The headline trumpeted the fact that Ohio’s scores again topped the national average—definitely good news. But Ohio may not continue to outpace the rest of the country on this important gauge of college readiness—something it has accomplished for the past decade.

The reason doesn’t have much to do with the performance of Ohio schools or students; rather it has to do with the expanding pool of students who take the ACT. Instead of voluntary participation, as in the past, Ohio has now begun universal administration of the ACT (or SAT)[1] starting with the class of 2018. Requiring across-the-board testing—and paying for those costs—is sound state policy. There’s no reason why any student should be denied at least one opportunity to see how they stack up on college entrance exams. As a recent study indicates, universal testing can boost the four-year college-going rates of low-income students. Ohio lawmakers enacted the requirement that students take an entrance exam in a package of 2014 reforms that aim to better prepare young people for college or...

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) today released school report cards for the 2016-17 school year. The report cards offer an independent, objective lens through which Ohioans can view student and school performance in their local communities.

“Annual assessment of what students know and can do remains key to a healthy school system,” said Aaron Churchill, Ohio Research Director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “This year’s data are promising and indicate that an increasing number of students are rising to the challenge and meeting Ohio’s higher achievement standards.”

The chart below displays the 2015-16 and 2016-17 statewide proficiency rates in core subjects; these data are from the first two years of AIR/ODE developed assessments, aligned to Ohio’s more rigorous learning standards.

Higher-poverty schools tend to fare worse on Ohio’s proficiency-based measures. The table below shows the distribution of A-F ratings of schools based on the state’s Performance Index—a weighted measure of proficiency—by their poverty rates. Higher poverty schools’ lower ratings on this metric and others—e.g., Indicators Met, Gap Closing, Graduation, and Prepared for Success—reflect in part the well-documented challenges low-income students face in achieving at levels...