Ohio Gadfly Daily

Back in 2011, the Obama administration released its plan for improving teacher education. It included a proposal to revise Title II regulations under the Higher Education Act to focus on outcomes-based measures for teacher preparation programs rather than simply reporting on program inputs. It wasn’t a smooth process. Serious pushback and a stalemate on a federal “rulemaking” panel followed. Draft regulations were finally released in 2014, but were immediately met with criticism. Many advocates wondered if the regulations would ever be finalized.

On October 12, the wondering ceased—the U.S. Department of Education at last released its final teacher preparation regulations. While the final rules number hundreds of pages, the provisions garnering the most attention are those outlining what states must annually report for all teacher preparation programs—including traditional, alternative routes, and distance programs. Indicators are limited to novice teachers[1] and include reporting placement and retention rates of graduates during the first three years of their teaching careers, feedback via surveys on effectiveness from both graduates and employers, and student learning outcomes. These indicators (and others) must be included on mandatory institutional and state teacher preparation program report cards that...

Hopes are high for a new kind of school in Indianapolis. Purdue Polytechnic High School will open in the 2017-18 school year, admitting its first class of 150 ninth graders on the near Eastside. It is a STEM-focused charter school authorized by Purdue University that will utilize a project-based multidisciplinary curriculum intended to give graduates “deep knowledge, applied skills, and experiences in the workplace.”

The location of the school in the Englewood neighborhood is a deliberate step for Purdue, which is aiming to develop a direct feeder for low-income students and students of color into Purdue Polytechnic Institute in West Lafayette. To that end, the high school will teach to mastery—each student moving on to the next level in a subject once they have demonstrated mastery at the current level. If that requires remediation of work, so be it. The school model is designed to keep students engaged, challenge them to reach their maximum potential, and meet high expectations. More importantly, a high school diploma will be “considered a milestone rather than an end goal,” according to the school’s website. College is the expected next step for all Purdue Polytechnic High School graduates. In fact, the high school’s curriculum...

  1. Jeremy Kelly at the DDN reports that Ohio’s state board of ed may change Ohio’s new graduation rules even before they’ve taken effect. (Dayton Daily News, 11/1/16) Cathy Candisky and Shannon Gilchrist at The D think so too, going a step farther than Jeremy and calling it a “likely” outcome. In related news: congratulations Nola on your imminent graduation. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/4/16)
  2. The Youngstown Academic Distress Commission met yesterday to discuss the proposed improvement plan submitted by district CEO Krish Mohip. A group of teachers present at the meeting expressed concern that the proposed plan did not address “discipline, proper student and teacher representation, safety and overall respect in the schools”. (Youngstown Vindicator, 11/4/16) Members sent the plan back to Mohip for revision. He has 15 days. Additional coverage from local TV makes it clear that discipline and a culture of respect are among the specifics that the commission want to see addressed in the revised plan. Check out WKBN (WKBN-TV, Youngstown, 11/4/16) and WFMJ for details. (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 11/4/16)
  3. A decade-old afterschool program in the Old West End of Toledo shut down abruptly this week due to lack of funds. A
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  1. Fordham’s annual report card analysis is cited in this piece as the bestower of the “honor” that Leetonia Schools received this year as a “high-quality” school district. Thanks guys, but we’re not the source of the data. Appreciate the media hit though. (Salem News, 10/30/16)
  2. While the ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state department of education over its recent attendance audit seems to be on the back burner simmering quietly in some darkened judicial or legislative chamber, the good folks at The D are keeping the topic alive and in the light by taking a look at absenteeism and truancy at ECOT. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/30/16)
  3. We’re in the home stretch for the vote on the renewal of the levy funding the Cleveland Plan. Wrapping up his look at the many aspects voters should consider before choosing, Patrick O’Donnell discusses the effort to replace or close failing schools in CMSD (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/1/16); the mixed-bag of results from various non-academic interventions in the district’s high-poverty “investment schools” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/1/16); and the district-wide goals such as increasing graduation rates, partnering with high-quality charter schools, and the like. (Cleveland
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  1. One member of the Youngstown school board held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss her reasons for walking out of a board meeting earlier in the week. Seems like those reasons might be personal based on what is reported here, but she seems to be using them as a more general talking point. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/27/16)
  2. Speaking of school boards, Parma is back in the news with a double whammy. The board finally approved a fiscal recovery plan to try and plug that multi-million dollar budget hole it still has (clerical errors notwithstanding). Immediately following, the board president resigned without explanation. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/27/16) If that all sounds a bit familiar, it is because this is the second Parma school board president to resign abruptly within a week. Meanwhile, the person appointed to fill the previous president’s seat on the board is under a bit of fire for some personal and business-related financial problems in his past. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/27/16) At this rate, there will be no one left to pursue the fiscal recovery plan. Just sayin’.
  3. A Republican state senator this week expressed interest in averting the conversion of Lorain
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Ohio’s charter school movement has faced a number of challenges over the past decade. A myriad of school closings and allegations of financial misconduct contributed to it being dubbed the Wild, Wild West of charter schools. Making matters worse, a comprehensive analysis in 2014 by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that, on average, Ohio charter students lost fourteen days of learning in reading and forty-three days of learning in math over the course of the school year compared to similar students in traditional public schools. To its credit, the Ohio General Assembly recognized these problems and in October 2015 passed House Bill 2 (HB 2)—a comprehensive reform of the Buckeye State’s charter school laws.

While HB 2 has only been in effect since February, there are already signs that the movement is changing for the better in response to the new law. Unfortunately, despite great strides forward, there is one group of charter schools in Ohio that’s still causing serious heartburn for charter school proponents and critics alike: full-time virtual charter schools. Attendance issues, a nasty court battle, the possibility that the state’s largest e-school (ECOT—The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) could have to...

  1. Education news is thin on the ground today, but we’ll try to get some edification out of what little there is. First up, a trio of school board stories. At last night’s Youngstown board meeting, there was a mini-rebellion over control of the agenda: “…otherwise continue to be stooges for Kasich and Benyo!” Not exactly a rousing rallying cry, but it kinda worked. Wonder if these guys will even get paid after walking out? (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/26/16) At last night’s board meeting in neighboring Austintown, another Benyo brother stepped into the fray. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/26/16) And at the Louisville board meeting on Monday, growing labor strife led to the invocation of the dreaded “me too” clause. (Canton Repository, 10/25/16)
  2. Back in the real world, Lakewood City Schools was said to have “celebrated” its tough new, Common Core-aligned elementary grade curriculum this week. That can’t be right, can it? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/25/16) Changes in are afoot in J.D Vance’s beloved/benighted (delete as appropriate) Middletown schools due to the state’s new high school graduation requirements. No word on whether these changes would be Mamaw-approved. (Dayton Daily News, 10/24/16)
  3. Finally today, some love for
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Matt Verber

On October 12, in the ornate Rotunda and Atrium of the Ohio Statehouse, surrounded by family and many of the state’s top education leaders, some of Ohio’s highest-performing beginning teachers were honored for demonstrating superior practice. We at Educopia, Ohio’s partner in administering the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA), feel truly privileged to have hosted the event, which recognized Ohio educators who earned the top 100 overall scores on RESA in each of the past three years. More than 120 of the state’s highest-scoring teachers attended, joined by their spouses, children, and parents in celebration of the honor. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria, Representative Andrew Brenner - Chair of the House Education Committee, and other state policymakers attended the event. Seeing the teachers beam with pride in front of their families and hearing their sincere gratitude for being recognized for their professional excellence was by far the most moving experience of my career in education policy.

For background, RESA is required for all third-year educators seeking a permanent teaching license in Ohio. It consists of four performance...

  1. Our own Jessica Poiner is cited in this high-level discussion of recently-released federal guidance on new Academic Enrichment Block Grants designed to fund a more varied curriculum, a more positive school environment and a more integrated use of technology in schools nationwide. Nice! (EdSource, 10/23/16)
  2. Closer to home, the media scrutiny of Ohio’s largest online school continues apace. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on the necessity of fully owning one’s statistics – for good or ill. (Dispatch, 10/23/16)
  3. Last week, it was pointed out that Ohio’s new charter sponsor evaluation results showed the Ohio Department of Education was in the bottom tier of sponsor quality and therefore might have been in danger of losing all the schools they sponsor. Fear not – turns out the legislation creating the sponsor review process had a safe harbor provision for the department in regard to this. Whew! (Columbus Dispatch, 10/21/16) This is especially good news because all of the other low-rated sponsors’ schools are now scrambling to find new sponsors on the off-chance that their current ones (mostly school districts) are forced by the ratings to end their sponsorship work. This very scenario was on the
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It’s October, and that means election season. One important decision facing many Buckeye voters is whether to approve their school districts’ tax requests. These referenda represent a unique intersection between direct democracy and public finance; unlike most tax policies, which are set by legislatures, voters have the opportunity to decide, in large part, their own property-tax rates. In Ohio, districts must seek voter approval for property taxes above 10 mills (equivalent to 1 percent) on the taxable value of their property.

Some citizens will enter the voting booth well-informed about these tax issues, but for others, the question printed on the ballot might be all they know. Voters have busy lives and they may not always carefully follow their district’s finances and tax issues. This means that the ballot itself ought to clearly and fairly present the proposition to voters. State law prescribes certain standard ballot language, but districts have some discretion in how the proposition is written. County boards of elections and the Secretary of State approve the final language. How does the actual language read? Is it impartial? Can it be easily understood?

Let’s take a look at a few high-profile ballot issues facing voters...