Ohio Gadfly Daily

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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The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently reviewed one hundred of the nation’s pre-K teacher prep programs, attempting to answer whether pre-K teacher candidates are being taught what they need to know to be effective in their future jobs.[1] The answer is, largely, no. This should be sobering news, especially for folks here in Ohio as many head to the November ballot hell bent on expanding pre-K.

The bottom line, reported NCTQ, is that most of the programs reviewed spend far too much of their limited time on how to teach older children rather than on the specific training needed to teach three- and four-year-olds. Some specific findings are neatly summarized in the following slides from NCTQ:

NCTQ recommends, among other things, that states narrow their licensure to certify educators for no more than pre-K through third grade (as Ohio already does), rather than treating pre-K as a part of an overall elementary credential; that they encourage teacher prep programs to...

  1. It’s Friday. Time to update you on the seemingly-endless kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state department of education regarding the school’s ongoing attendance audit. The school delivered 48 boxes of documents to the state yesterday – one day earlier than previously agreed upon. Immediately afterward, representatives of the school noted that they are currently waiting on documents from the state via a public records request. (Gongwer Ohio, 8/4/16) Meanwhile, a second front in the kerfuffle seems to have opened up between the school and state auditor’s office (!?) regarding yet more documents and the vaunted – and snooze-inducing – doctrine of the “agreed upon procedures” audit. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/4/16)
     
  2. School is right around the corner and folks in Mansfield are getting ready. Especially for their youngest students. Kindergarten camp there sounds like a hoot. I fully concur with the youngster who thinks that “Ten in the Bed” is a picture-book classic. (Mansfield News Journal, 8/3/16)
     
  3. Speaking of school starting, the brass is being polished to a high shine (or is that the lenses to the 386 cameras?) in the Colossus of Lorain (aka the district’s schmancy new high school). Meanwhile the
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