As Ohio goes, so goes the nation—at least when it comes to the 2016 Quality Counts ranking. Called to Account is the twentieth edition of Education Week’s annual ranking of states based on a bevy of (somewhat random) indicators. Each year’s rankings are accompanied by a thematic commentary on American education—effectively a backdrop of national trends, events, or priorities against which to view state data. This year’s theme is accountability, and researchers examined trends in achievement and poverty-based gaps according to NAEP.
The latest scorecard for the Buckeye State is nearly impossible to differentiate from the national one. Ohio’s overall letter grade (C) and individual grades on the report’s three main indicators—the Chance-for-Success Index (C-plus), K–12 Achievement Index (C-minus), and school finance analysis (C)—match national grades right down to the pluses and minuses.
Ohio falls in the middle of the pack nationally on all counts, though not all grades are especially insightful. For instance, a state earns a perfect score on the “spending index” if all of its districts spend above the U.S. average, yet we know that more spending does not always translate to better outcomes. Still, it’s worth noting Ohio’s rankings relative to peers and areas of possible...
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 594,000 children live in poverty throughout the state of Ohio. Assuming a family of four, these Buckeye youngsters come from households with an annual income of less than $25,000—truly disadvantaged families. It’s no secret that children such as these are behind the proverbial eight-ball in life; as recent research demonstrates, it’s a longshot that kids who grow up poor will climb into the upper-middle class as adults—and Ohio’s low-income children face some of the longest odds nationally.
It has long been recognized that the best antidote to this vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty is an extraordinary education. Still, even today, tens of thousands of low-income Buckeye students are way off track in school—in an academic Siberia—and almost certainly not on the path to adult success. In fact, according to early results from last year’s PARCC tests, roughly 15 percent of students from poor urban areas are meeting career- and college-ready benchmarks, while the percentages reach 50 and 60 percent in the suburbs.
What can we do? One possible avenue for advancement is to create public finance policies that devote more dollars to the education of low-income students. In technical...
In early December, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its 2015 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, which examines the laws and regulations governing state teacher policy. NCTQ evaluated states in five policy areas, each of which contained sub-goals such as delivering well-prepared teachers, expanding the teaching pool, and identifying effective teachers. States were evaluated on each dimension and given a grade for each policy area. The five policy area grades were then rolled into one state grade.
In terms of overall grades, Ohio did fairly well, earning a B-minus. (The top-performing state was Florida with a B+, while the lowest performer was Montana with an F.) Ohio received the same grade in 2013, but earlier overall grades (a C-plus in 2011 and a D-plus in 2009) were far less impressive, and the results point to general improvement. The Buckeye State earned its highest area grade, a solid B, in expanding the teacher pool through efforts to increase teaching opportunities with flexible and rigorous pathways. But the state earned its lowest grade (a C-minus) for delivering well-prepared teachers—mostly due to its failure to require prospective elementary, secondary science, secondary social studies, and special education teachers to pass rigorous content...
I’m not sure when it became de rigeur for school choice supporters generally and charter school advocates specifically to lead with charter school bashing in any discussion of charters in Ohio, but that does seem to be the new norm. Luckily for these noobs, charter school opponents have seeded tons of references in the past for use today. Feel free to copy/paste. Case in point, this piece from the 74 Million blog – in which our own Chad Aldis is quoted – talking about the Buckeye State’s new sponsor evaluation system and how it relates to larger charter reforms enacted in 2015. The author seems less than optimistic about the potential success of said reforms. Luckily, Chad is sunny and positive as always. (The 74 Million blog, 1/4/16)
The article uses the current federal investigation of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) as the hook (“Oh look! An article about that $71 million grant—I wonder what the status is.”), then launches into a discussion about the audit results from high-profile blow-up Next Frontier Academy and Ohio’s alleged inability to track misspent dollars. Another editorial from ABJ with an equally cynical title (“Ohio and its legacy of careless charter schools”) better explains the apparent linkage between the two topics: “Because of the shabby record-keeping, auditors could not reach firm conclusions about school enrollment and finances. Thus, conveniently enough, the Next Frontier story could not be included in the information sent to federal investigators. Next Frontier wasn’t alone, the records of other charter schools in similar disarray. That left the state in position to offer a rosier...
Fordham Ohio is all over this wide-ranging piece on charter schools. It is the personal story of a Cleveland grandmother’s efforts to find the right academic fit for her granddaughter, it is 2015-in-review for statewide charter school policy, and it is a look ahead to charter accountability in 2016 and beyond. CREDO’s 2014 report on Ohio charter school performance, our blockbuster school closure report, Jamie Davies O’Leary’s blog post on Ohio’s past CSP grant winners, and an interview with Chad Aldis are all quoted extensively in the piece, along with several charter critics. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 12/24/15)
Speaking of Fordham’s blockbuster school closure report, this fascinating opinion piece from a former classroom teacher quotes said blockbuster school closure report while discussing the stormy relationship between teachers unions and charter schools nationwide. (California Political Review, 12/22/15)
Governor Kasich popped back home last week to sign a passel of bills into law. One of those was a “clean up” of some provisions passed in last year’s state budget. Among other things, the new bill corrected budget language which erroneously delayed access to vouchers for students in three suburban Cleveland private schools. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/24/15)
The recent story on Dayton Public Schools’ poor test scores generated a response from the district which is worth a read. It is a tiny bit worrying that their response included early reference to the “safe harbor” status currently in place for Ohio’s schools. The fact that no sanctions will come down on the district for a few years due to those poor test scores should not be a balm for anyone. However, their statement ended with the district pledging it would “continue to do the hard work without excuses.” Let’s hope it is so. (Dayton Daily News, 12/22/15)
As the year winds down, the Fordham Ohio team reflects on a landmark year in the Buckeye State. At times, this year has felt long and arduous, an uphill climb that could prompt even the driest among us to want to spike the holiday eggnog. However, the state’s struggles haven’t been for naught; this year boasts some successes that would put a smile on the face of the Grinchiest of the Grinches. Here’s our take on the three worst and best events in Ohio’s education space in 2015.
Worst #1: Authorizer evaluation fiasco and its aftermath
Legislation in 2012 installed meaningful authorizer performance reviews. After three years of piloting and developing the evaluations, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) finally launched them and announced the first spate of ratings (including the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s exemplary marks). The ratings lasted all of four months. It was discovered that ODE’s school choice director had tossed out scores from online schools as part of authorizers’ academic ratings. That move was illegal, cost him his job, and resulted in all ratings being rescinded. The evaluation was sent back to the drawing board; Fordham weighed in on its...