Ohio Gadfly Daily

Today, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission announced eight winners in the state’s inaugural round of funding to charter schools to purchase, construct, or renovate classroom facilities. The $25 million competitive grant was created through last year’s budget bill (HB 64) to enable high-performing charter schools to access funds for growth and expansion, and ultimately serve more students in Ohio’s neediest communities. Nineteen charter schools and eleven charter networks were eligible for the award, and thirteen applications were submitted. The winners are as follows:

The announcement can be found here.

The winners include two Fordham-authorized charter schools/networks, DECA Prep in Dayton and the United Schools Network (USN) in Columbus. Fordham’s Vice President for Sponsorship and Dayton Initiatives, Kathryn Mullen Upton, said, “We are thrilled that DECA Prep and United Schools have secured much-deserved facilities dollars. Families and students in some of Dayton’s and Columbus’ most challenged communities who will have new school opportunities are the true winners.”

Ohio’s public charter schools receive, on average, 28 percent fewer taxpayer dollars (federal, state, and local combined) than do traditional public schools. These inequities are exacerbated by the...

Ohio has developed one of the nation’s best school report cards, packed with data and clear A–F ratings for schools and districts. In this light, the reports that parents receive on their own children’s state exam performance are doubly disappointing. Simply put, the current form of these reports is mediocre. They represent a missed opportunity to clearly convey where children stand academically, how well (or not) they are progressing in school, and how bright (or not) are their future education prospects.

Ohio can and should do a better job communicating with families.

The image below displays a snippet from a sample state test score report for 2015–16. The student’s name (Jane) and high school math score (706) are fictitious. The entire document is available at this link both for grades 3–8 and high school.

These score reports have a couple of helpful features that provide context and comparison, such as giving families the ability to relate their children’s scores to various averages. In this example, Jane’s math score lags behind these averages, which might raise flags for her parents. Additionally, the...

August 16 marked the first day of school for the thousands of children who attend the Dayton Public Schools (DPS). They returned to a district with a new superintendent, but many old problems. Regrettably, Dayton is at the end of a five-year strategic plan that barely moved the needle on the city’s dismal track record for student achievement. In 2014–15, DPS was the lowest-performing of Ohio’s 610 public school districts. That distinction should make Dayton’s citizens cringe.

Superintendent Rhonda Corr—who knows Cleveland well but is new to the Gem City—was given only a one-year contract by the board of education. That’s not enough time to accomplish much beyond figuring out what needs fixing. She’ll need to determine why so few of Dayton’s young people are learning enough to put themselves on track for success in later life.

She may find something nobody has ever spotted before, but previous diagnoses of Dayton’s education woes have uncovered plenty of problems. Some of them are outside the school system’s immediate control, such as the tragic challenge of multi-generational poverty. Others, though, are endemic to the district itself, including a stubborn bureaucracy, eleven different bargaining units, high rates of truancy, and huge numbers of suspensions in the...

Ohio leaders have started an important conversation about education policy under the Every Student Succeeds Act. One of the central issues is what accountability will look like—including how to hold schools accountable for the outcomes of student subgroups (e.g., pupils who are low-income or African American). Ohio’s accountability system is largely praiseworthy, but policy makers should address one glaring weakness: subgroup accountability policies.

The state currently implements subgroup accountability via the gap-closing measure, also known as “annual measureable objectives.” Briefly speaking, the measure consists of two steps: First, it evaluates a school’s subgroup proficiency rate against a statewide proficiency goal; second, if a subgroup misses the goal, schools may receive credit if that subgroup shows year-to-year improvement in proficiency.

This approach to accountability is deeply flawed. The reasons boil down to three major problems, some of which I’ve discussed before. First, using pure proficiency rate is a poor accountability policy when better measures of achievement—such as Ohio’s performance index—are available. (See Morgan Polikoff’s and Mike Petrilli’s recent letters to the Department of Education for more on this.) Second, year-to-year changes in proficiency could be conflated with changes in student composition. For example, we might notice a jump in subgroup proficiency. But is...

Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost calls for “learning-based” funding approach for e-schools

COLUMBUS (OH) – Today, Auditor of State Dave Yost opened a two-day charter summit by issuing a challenge to charter advocates and policy makers: Overhaul e-school funding. Specifically, Yost urged a major shift in the way the state pays e-schools—from funding based on enrollment and attendance to a modernized, competency-based funding model. This approach, already being piloted in a few states, would provide payments to e-schools when their students demonstrate learning rather than simply by awarding funding based on “time in a chair.”

“As Auditor Yost points out, online students can learn anytime, anywhere,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy. “Unfortunately, seat-time funding policies are not well-aligned to online learning. Competency-based funding would place the emphasis where it belongs—on student learning and mastery, rather than on whether a child is logged into a computer.”

Auditor Yost called on the legislature to rework the funding structure with the goal of producing an “educated citizen.” While putting forward several principles to guide the debate, Yost made clear to summit attendees that the experience and expertise of charter leaders would be needed in crafting...

Dave Yost

On August 11, 2016, Ohio’s elected state auditor delivered the following remarks during the opening of the Ohio Charter School Summit. His comments address the state’s well-documented struggles with online education head on and offer practical, learning-focused ideas for improving the sector.

We are here, very simply, because we care about educating our children and understand one very simple truth: not all children are the same. And here is a second truth that is like it: not all schools are the same.

Put another way, not all kids can learn in a given school, and not all schools will be able to teach a given child.

All the other arguments in favor of school choice—innovation, competition, efficiency—all of them are secondary to this one idea, that we owe to our children their best opportunity to learn. It is the first principle. School choice is not a policy option, it is the only logical conclusion—a conclusion that is proven and measured in the lives of these young people we met a few minutes ago, and many more like them.

Your work, your lives, and this conference are all about increasing the number of these shining stars in...

You're invited to join in the conversation and contribute to Ohio’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.
Engage in a regional meeting to share your thoughts and perspective on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Ohio’s developing state plan. This meeting is an exciting opportunity to gather valuable input from various perspectives from local educators, funders, parents, students and community members. The meeting will include an introduction from state superintendent Paolo DeMaria, a brief overview of ESSA and group discussions around specific provisions and options.
ESSA, which passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 10, 2015, replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. It has shifted broad authority from the federal government to state and local agencies, providing them with greater flexibility and decision-making power. Ohio’s state plan, which is required by ESSA, will be submitted to the federal government in 2017 and will address topics such as standards, assessments, accountability and assistance for struggling schools.
This regional conversation is one of a series of conversations Philanthropy Ohio and its members, in...

Competency-based education has attracted attention as a “disruptive innovation” that could remake American schools. Under this model, students move through the curriculum at their own speed by demonstrating competency as determined by the instructor or other assessment tools. At a high-school level, competency can replace the traditional “seat time” method of bestowing credit, a policy that New Hampshire has adopted. Competency-based education allows students of any age to accelerate their learning progress once they master a topic, while enabling them to slow down in an area where they need more work.

Funding based on competency is widely seen as a way to finance e-schools or online course access programs. It could also be used to fund schools that focus on dropout recovery—whether online or brick-and-mortar. Competency-based funding would offer schools (or course providers) incentives to focus on student learning. It would also fit well with the flexible nature of online or dropout recovery programs. But if Ohio policy makers consider the competency-based funding route, what are the design alternatives? A good starting point is to examine the models other states have already piloted. This article offers an overview of what four states have...

Chronic absenteeism among students elicits serious concern for good reason. When pupils miss many days of school, they risk falling behind. This further puts them at risk of dropping out or being sucked into the criminal justice system through truancy proceedings, which is punitive for both students and their parents. (A bill proposed earlier this year would decriminalize truancy; Ohio lawmakers should revisit it soon.)

If attendance is so critical for students, isn’t it even more critical for teachers—especially since they are the most important in-school factor impacting student success? Yet data from the latest Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), a federal survey of all public schools in the country, demonstrates that teacher absenteeism is a pressing problem nationally and in Ohio.

We learn from the CRDC report (from the 2013–14 school year) that 28 percent of Ohio public school teachers (in traditional public and charter schools) were absent for ten or more days for sick or personal leave. This compares to 27 percent of teachers nationally. CRDC does not count paid professional development, field trips, or other off-campus activities with students, nor does this estimate include paid holidays or paid vacation...

  1. There are five seasons here in central Ohio: winter, spring, summer, back-to-school whining, and fall. Guess which one we’re in now? [OHIO EDUCATION GADFLY PUTS ON SCREECHY VOICE] “The school year is starting toooooooooo early nowadays. What happened to summer you guyyyyyyyys? I remember when I was a kid….” Testing is, of course, to blame. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/8/16) [OHIO EDUCATION GADFLY PUTS ON SCREECHY VOICE AGAIN] “The school day starts tooooooooo early nowadays. Middle schoolers will be on the bus in the dark and sleep through claaaaaaaass. And high schoolers will die driving to schoooooooooooooool!” Going to bed early is, apparently, impossible. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/8/16)
  2. How about a little good news for central Ohio and beyond? 32 graduates of Ohio’s Bright New Leaders program are starting their first year as principals and lead administrators in schools across the state. These are “mid-career professionals” who left their business or administration tracks to train intensively for the last year to become education leaders. Kudos to the Ohio Business Roundtable, the Fisher College of Business and the Ohio State University, and all the other partners who came together to make this project a reality. Great to hear the voices
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