Ohio Gadfly Daily

At this week’s meeting of the state board of education, board members accepted Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recommendations on cut scores that will designate roughly 60–70 percent of Ohio students as proficient (based on the 2014–15 administration of PARCC). While this represents a decline of about fifteen percentage points from previous years’ proficiency rates, it isn’t the large adjustment needed to align with a “college-and-career-ready” definition of proficiency. In fact, this new policy will maintain, albeit in a less dramatic way than before, the “proficiency illusion”—the misleading practice of calling “proficient” a large number of students who aren’t on-track for success in college or career.

The table below displays the test data for several grades and subjects that were shared at the state board meeting. The second column displays the percentage of Ohio students expected to be proficient or above—in the “proficient,” “accelerated,” or “advanced” achievement levels. The third column shows the percentage of Ohio students in just the “accelerated” or “advanced” categories—pupils whose achievement, according to PARCC, matches college- and-career-ready expectations. The fourth column shows Ohio’s NAEP proficiency, the best domestic gauge of the fraction of students who are meeting rigorous academic benchmarks.

Under these...

  1. Chad is quoted in this piece looking at improvements in passage rates on reading tests for third graders in central Ohio school districts. Without exception, fewer third graders are being held back in reading in these districts due to poor scores on tests. Chad warns, however, of the possible downward creep of not only test quality but also scores regarded as passing. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/13/15)
  2. School funding in Ohio is complex and not well-understood by most folks. The last couple of weeks have seen analyses – along with resultant news coverage – of charter school funding by both opponents and supporters of charter schools. Neither side can agree on which way to look at it. Case in point, this guest commentary from a charter school supporter published this weekend in the Enquirer, from the weekend, responding to an article on the subject published last week. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/13/15)
  3. There’s a state board of education meeting today and tomorrow here in Columbus. Journalists across the state are hoping for some fireworks relating to the rescinded charter school sponsor ratings from earlier this year. They have been prepping this weekend. First up, the PD appears to have
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In a previous post, I explained course access and its potential to revolutionize school choice in Ohio. The best example of this is the Florida Virtual School (FLVS), which Brookings evaluated in 2014. But Ohio wouldn’t have to copy Florida’s entire model. Instead, it could create a unique one complementing its successful CTE and College Credit Plus programs. While there are plenty of ways to get to the mountaintop, here are a few ideas for how Ohio could establish a pilot program that—if it successfully meets the needs of students—could be grown into a statewide program.


FLVS was created as the nation’s first statewide, Internet-based public high school. Students can enroll full-time, but approximately 97 percent of students are part-time. Students who are enrolled at a traditional school (district, charter, or private) can sign up part-time for a course for a multitude of reasons: to make up course credit, to take a class not offered at their schools, or to accelerate their learning. Just imagine the possibilities for schools that want to incorporate mastery grading or competency-based education!

To provide Ohio students with similar options, policymakers in the Buckeye...

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill was among the panelists for a surprisingly-cordial discussion of charter schools in Ohio held in Dayton earlier this week. In discussion of the charter reform bill still pending in the legislature, Aaron said, “I think (the bill) tried not to impinge on charter schools’ autonomy and their ability to be flexible and nimble — some of those very benefits that we think are inherent in the charter school model.” Nice. (Dayton Daily News, others, 9/10/15)
  2. Speaking of that stalled charter reform bill, editors in Cleveland got their Google calendar alert and opined, again, urging the legislature to pass that bill as soon as they return from summer recess. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/9/15)
  3. Speaking of op-eds, here are two on the rescinded charter sponsor ratings (well, mainly just on the process of it) at the Ohio Department of Education. Editors in Columbus mainly just put their own sheen on the information made public so far but finally opine in favor of the state board of education keeping “a close eye” on the next round of sponsor ratings. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/11/15) Editors in Canton simply opine in favor of the state supe’s
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  1. Gadfly Bites is back on the beat after a long Labor Day break. Let’s cast our net back to last week, in the wake of the Ohio Department of Education’s release of 10,000 pages of emails and attachments (!) in regard to the withdrawn charter sponsor evaluations from earlier this year. It is unclear whether this piece from the Enquirer is opinion or journalism on the part of the cadre of authors, despite being tagged as the latter. What I do know is that our own Chad Aldis is quoted here, with two items standing out. First, he says, “Charter schools have gotten a lot of bad press over the last couple of years.” Truer words have rarely been spoken. And much of that bad press has been warranted. Also true, and likely more important in the context of this particular journalism/opinion piece: “Pointing fingers doesn’t get us one step closer to providing a better charter-school experience for our kids.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/6/15) Other Gannett outlets also ran this piece.
  2. Here’s another piece from last week, in the immediate aftermath of ODE’s release of its emails. It contains a frankly incomprehensible chart but really concerns the question
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Most states, including Ohio, have reported large majorities of students as proficient on annual exams over the past decade. This has led the public and parents to believe that most students are doing just fine. Sadly, however, we also know that too many young people require remedial education when they enter college, have great difficulty finding gainful employment, or can’t pass the test to serve our country in the military. A staggering 65 percent of first-year students in Ohio’s two-year colleges require remediation, while the rate is nearly 35 percent in some four-year universities.

A wide chasm—an “honesty gap”—has emerged between how student success in the K–12 realm is portrayed versus how colleges and employers view the skills of those leaving high school. To bridge that gulf, states have adopted higher learning standards, including the Common Core in math and English language arts, as well as rigorous next-generation assessments that are aligned with them. With these new exams in place, the practice of vastly overstating student proficiency is drawing to a close.

Indeed, several states have already unveiled 2014–15 results from Common Core-aligned assessments. Connecticut, a member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), recently reported that...

When we surveyed more than eight hundred college students six years ago, we found that most of them were planning to leave the state after graduation. This was a startling finding—and, recognizing its implications, Ohio leaders have made a concerted effort to retain college graduates (see here for an example). Meanwhile the job market has improved since the nadir of the Great Recession, making the Buckeye State a more attractive location for young people.

But what do the statistics say about Ohio’s ability to retain college-educated young people? According to a new Manhattan Institute analysis, a growing number of them reside in Ohio’s urban areas—what the author calls a “brain gain.” To arrive at this finding, the study focuses on twenty-eight U.S. cities that lost population and/or jobs from 2000 to 2013. Five metropolitan areas in Ohio fit those criteria: Akron, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown. According to Census data, the number of college-educated young people—in the 25–34 age bracket and with at least a bachelor’s degree—increased in all five cities. Akron was the leader among Ohio cities with a 13 percent increase in college-educated young people, while Toledo was the laggard with an increase of just...

When talking about educational choice, most people focus on choosing a school. But true educational choice shouldn’t stop after a family chooses a school. After all, few schools can meet the educational needs of all of their varied students—or can they?

Course choice, a growing trend in K–12 education, provides public school students with expanded course offerings across learning environments from diverse, accountable providers. It may sound impossible, but for many Ohio students, this is already a reality. CTE programs offer personalized paths toward earning high school credits, industry credentials, and college credit. The College Credit Plus program empowers students in grades 7–12 to attend classes at participating public or private colleges after they’re admitted based on their college-readiness. For students who aren’t interested in existing CTE programs and aren’t deemed college- and career-ready, ilearnOhio seems like the perfect solution. Dubbed a “powerful tool” for students and educators alike, the online platform provides classroom resources (e.g., instructional support materials, assessments, and professional development resources) and a marketplace with online courses from a variety of developers. The marketplace offers students extended course options—but only if their family has a few hundred dollars to drop, since many of...

  1. Lots of charter school-related news today. First up, our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece about the status – and the process – of charter law reform in Ohio. “The most important thing is that we get this right," he says. Yup. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 9/3/15)
  2. Meanwhile, State Auditor Dave (with the most) Yost released a report yesterday detailing the results of a special audit of the operations of three charter school sponsors. The results, he said, “[highlight] the need for increased sponsor oversight of schools.” He also acknowledged that the sponsor-centric charter reform bill pending in the state legislature “is a step in the right direction to increase accountability and transparency in our broken system.” Yup again.  (Columbus Dispatch, 9/3/15)
  3. Sadly, the Auditor’s press conference got short shrift in the media due to the late-day release of tens of thousands of pages of emails and attachments from the Ohio Department of Education in regard to the flawed sponsor-rating efforts undertaken by the department earlier this year. If you are so inclined, you can check out initial coverage of the emails’ contents in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/3/15) and the Dispatch,
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