Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. In case you missed it last week, Betsy DeVos was chosen as the next U.S. Education Secretary. Public media in Cleveland got hold of our own Mike Petrilli to discuss the choice and what it might mean for Ohio. (IdeaStream Public Media, Cleveland, 11/24/16)
  2. Also in the ICYMI category, the ongoing kerfuffle between the state’s largest online school and the state department of education last week took a courtroom-related turn in favor of the state just before Thanksgiving. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/23/16)
  3. The Vindy today issued a reminder that Lorain City Schools will soon be heading down the path of the new-style Academic Distress Commission, same as Youngstown City Schools. Everyone interviewed seems far more optimistic than I might have expected, especially the president of Lorain’s school board. Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip may actually be too rosy in describing what’s happening in his neck of the woods, but who am I to judge? (Youngstown Vindicator, 11/28/16)
  4. He’s still not back on the education beat, remember, but let’s not quibble about semantics in this time of giving thanks. Doug Livingston today tells us about a recent report from the State Auditor (!) showing (among other things)
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It would be an understatement to say that the 2015–16 school year was one of transition. Indeed, over the past twelve months, we lived through the implementation of the third state assessment in three years, the rollout of Ohio’s revised sponsor evaluation, and the introduction of a new state superintendent at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Change is reverberating throughout the system, and change is hard. As Charles Kettering once said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”

Charles Kettering was right. Lest we lose sight of the endgame, it is important to remember that the developments of the last twelve months have their roots in policy decisions designed to improve Ohio’s academic standards overall and its charter school sector—one that many viewed as rife with poorly performing schools and controlled by special interests—in particular.

Toward that end, in 2015–16 Ohio implemented assessments developed by the ODE and American Institutes of Research (AIR). AIR is the third assessment administered in Ohio’s public schools in three years and follows administration of the Ohio Achievement Assessments in 2013–14 and the politically charged and ultimately doomed PARCC tests in 2014–15. At the same time, the...

  1. A member of the state board of education member tendered his resignation this week because he and his family are moving out of state. He’s got a few things to get off his chest on the way out. You can read all about them in Gongwer (Gongwer, 11/21/16) and the Dispatch. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/22/16)
  2. The Parma school board is fully staffed again. Should be able to turn to that fiscal recovery plan soon. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/17/16)
  3. Some fireworks of the usual variety at the Youngstown school board meeting this week. (WKBN-TV, Youngstown, 11/22/16) But when the smoke cleared, at least one thing was different – district CEO Krish Mohip wasn’t invited into the board’s executive session and not all board members attended Mohip’s briefing afterward. Sounds like it may go on like that for the foreseeable future after a prolonged kerfuffle over agenda-setting. (Youngstown Vindicator, 11/23/16).
  4. Contract talks have been occurring between the Louisville school board and teachers union this week. Both sides say they’re close to an agreement to end the weeks-long strike, but one sticky issue remains: the inclusion of a no-retaliation clause. (Canton Repository, 11/22/16)

As another year ends, we want you to tell us what you think were the most important Ohio education stories in 2016 and what you predict will be the top story next year.

This is the easiest task you’ll be asked to do today. It’s only two questions and should only take a minute to complete. You can preview the questions below. When you’re ready to take the survey, click here or on the image below.

Just like the voting booth, whatever you submit will be confidential. Of course, if you want to write and tell us why, we may even feature your piece on our blog.  

Thanks for your participation.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has put the future of teacher evaluations firmly in the hands of states. Ohio is now in full control of deciding how to develop and best implement its nascent system.

It should come as no surprise to folks in the Buckeye State that the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) has significant room for improvement. Since its inception in 2009, approximately 90 percent of Ohio teachers have been rated in the top two categories and labeled “skilled” or “accomplished.” Unfortunately, there isn’t significant evidence that the system has impacted the quality of Ohio’s teacher workforce, perhaps because there is no statewide law that permits administrators to dismiss teachers based solely on evaluation ratings. Meanwhile, OTES also doesn’t appear to be delivering on the promise to aid teachers in improving their practice.

A quick glance at the ODE-provided template for the professional growth plan, which is used by all teachers except those who are rated ineffective or have below-average student growth, offers a clue as to why practice may not be improving. It is a one-page, fill-in-the-blank sheet. The performance evaluation rubric by which teachers’ observation ratings are determined...

As a form of credentialing, high school diplomas are supposed to signal whether a young person possesses a certain set of knowledge and skills. When meaningful, the diploma mutually benefits individuals who have obtained one—it helps them stand out from the crowd—and colleges or employers that must select from a pool of many candidates.

In recent years, however, Ohio’s high school diploma has been diluted to the point where its value has been rightly questioned. One of the central problems has been the state’s embarrassingly easy exit exams, the Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT). To rectify this situation, Ohio is phasing in new high school graduation requirements starting with the class of 2018. Under these new requirements, students must pass a series of seven end-of-course assessments in order to graduate high school, or meet alternative requirements such as attaining a remediation-free ACT score or earning an industry credential.

The end-of-course exams have proven tougher for students to pass than the OGT, leading to concerns that too many young people will soon be stranded without a diploma. One local superintendent called the situation an “apocalypse,” predicting that more than 30 percent of high school students in his...

Italy has an achievement gap—one that may sound familiar to Americans. PISA scores show a marked gap between Italian students and those of other OECD countries in both math and reading. Digging into the data, Italian education officials found their own in-country gap: Students in the wealthier north perform far better than students in the poorer south. As a result of all of this, starting in 2010, schools in Southern Italy were offered an opportunity to participate in an extended learning time program known as The Quality and Merit Project (abbreviated PQM in Italian). A new study published in the journal Economics of Education Review looks at PQM’s math and reading intervention, which consisted of additional teaching time after school in four of the poorest—and lowest-performing—regions in the country.

A couple of things to note: PQM intervention was focused not on improving PISA test scores, but on improving scores on the typical tests taken by students in lower secondary school (equivalent to grades six to eight in the U.S.). There is no enumeration of which/when/how many tests these students typically take and the researchers are not attempting to make a connection between the intervention and PISA test scores....

  1. Our own Chad Aldis is among the list of Ohio officials and experts (by process of elimination, Chad must be one of the latter) deploring the uncertain future for education in Ohio in the wake of the presidential election. Rhetorical question: does anyone think the future of education in Ohio would have been certain if the election had turned out differently? For a possible non-rhetorical answer, read on. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 11/20/16)
  2. It seems that several Youngstown-area school district officials were unable to make it to last week’s rally of superintendents in Columbus. But they took time to chat with the Vindy about their concurrence with the notion that Ohio’s new graduation requirements are too demanding of students even before they’ve been phased in. (Youngstown Vindicator, 11/21/16) Editors on Akron weighed in this weekend on the supes’ concerns/demands, somewhat unhelpfully seeing both sides of the issue. (Akron Beacon Journal, 11/18/16)
  3. I know, I know. He’s NOT back. But Doug Livingston is still digging into charter school contract disputes in Northeast Ohio with his usual verve, even if he’s not back. (Akron Beacon Journal, 11/18/16)
  4. Back in the real world, here’s a nice piece from
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  1. Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers (“Get a life!”) will recall that Dayton City Schools is facing a funding decrease due to declining enrollment. As a result, some staff reduction has already been undertaken and more has been mooted by the school board president. Newly-proposed reductions seemed to be getting too close to the classroom for some folks’ liking. (Dayton Daily News, 11/15/16) DDN stalwart Jeremy Kelley, however, has done some simple math – and called ODE – to determine that Dayton City Schools’ financial woes from declining enrollment are not quite as woeful as first reported. (Dayton Daily News, 11/16/16). Perhaps because of this revelation – or perhaps because of the weird and raucous board meeting (seriously, is there any other kid these days?) – further staff reductions have been postponed in Dayton, although much chaos and confusion continues. (Dayton Daily News, 11/17/16)
  2. Meanwhile, Cincinnati Schools supe Mary Ronan this week announced that she would retire at the end of this school year. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/17/16)
  3. Editors in Youngstown this week opined strongly in favor of a bill pending in the Ohio Senate that would, they say, provide a “realistic and promising cure for
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  1. Patrick O’Donnell wrote up a summary of the statewide ESSA listening tour. His take: educators and parents who contributed to the discussions say there has been too much change in education recently. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/15/16)
  2. Perhaps in concert with the above, perhaps coincidentally, a brace of district superintendents (a clutch? a raft? an inspiration? a horde?) held a rally in Columbus yesterday to call for an end to one of those changes: specifically, they want to block Ohio’s new graduation requirements before they have even been fully implemented. Coverage was fairly gratifying for them, but varied a bit in content. The Enquirer spoke only to the supes and to state Sen. Peggy Lehner on the issue. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/15/16) The Dispatch focused primarily on the supes and Sen. Lehner, but got a few state board of education members (also meeting in Columbus that day, how convenient) on the record as well. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15/16) Ever-thorough, the Plain Dealer started with a summary of the graduation requirement situation as presented by the Ohio Department of Education during the state board meeting. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/15/16) This was followed by a relatively drama-free discussion
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