Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Ohio’s first ever charter school sponsor ratings have been released after much tumult. No sponsors achieved the highest rating, and most were clustered at or near the bottom. More details on what this all means comes from the usual journalistic suspects. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in all of the following pieces. Check out coverage in the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 10/13/16), Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 10/13/16), the Blade (Toledo Blade, 10/13/16), and the redoubtable PD (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/13/16).
  2. Speaking of charter schools, here’s a piece from the Dispatch touting something their sports writer found remarkable: a local professional soccer team helping an inner-city district school to get their prep soccer program back up and running. While this is a good thing and a nice story if you like sports, it is hardly an unusual occurrence. What IS unusual in this story is that a charter school has a competitive sports team of any kind. This rare and important fact (the school is Fordham-sponsored KIPP Columbus, by the way) goes completely unremarked other than in photo captions. Thank heaven for photo publication waivers! (Columbus Dispatch, 10/12/16)
  3. The Plain Dealer has already covered the
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Ohio Charter Accountability Takes Big Leap Forward with First Sponsor Evaluation Ratings

Today the Ohio Department of Education released results for the state’s new comprehensive sponsor evaluation system. The ratings resulted in 5 sponsors being deemed effective, 39 ineffective, and 21 poor. No sponsors were rated exemplary.

“Completion of the first sponsor performance review is a critical step forward in Ohio’s goal to improve its charter sector,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Sponsors provide critical oversight for charters schools, determining when to intervene, non-renew, or close schools—and just as importantly, when and where to allow charters to open in the first place. Given this tremendous responsibility, they are essential to our accountability system.”

Ohio’s sponsor evaluation system—initially put in place by HB 555—was revised last fall by a Department task force. The evaluations grade sponsors on three equally weighted categories: compliance—how well they follow applicable rules and laws and ensure their sponsored schools do the same; quality practices—whether they are adhering to general principles of quality authorizing; and academic performance—how well their schools performed on a variety of report card metrics.

“The Department of Education deserves...

Our goal with this post is to convince you that continuing to use status measures like proficiency rates to grade schools is misleading and irresponsible—so much so that the results from growth measures ought to count much more—three, five, maybe even nine times more—than proficiency when determining school performance under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We draw upon our experience with our home state of Ohio and its current accountability system, which currently generates separate school grades for proficiency and for growth.

We argue three points:

  1. In an era of high standards and tough tests, proficiency rates are correlated with student demographics and prior achievement. If schools are judged predominantly on these rates, almost every high-poverty school will be labeled a failure. That is not only inaccurate and unfair, but it will also demoralize educators and/or hurt the credibility of school accountability systems. In turn, states will be pressured to lower their proficiency standards.
  2. Growth measures—like “value added” or “student growth percentiles”—are a much fairer way to evaluate schools, since they can control for prior achievement and can ascertain progress over the course of the school year. They can also differentiate between high-poverty schools where kids are making steady
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  1. Our own Chad Aldis was among the interview subjects in this piece talking about Cincinnati City Schools’ levy request, which includes both K-12 and pre-K funding asks. Chad talks about pre-K quality and the dangers of “fadeout” in the run up to the vote. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 10/11/16) In discussing the K-12 portion of the levy, journalist Hannah Sparling throws up a number of boogiemen to illustrate the reasons why Cincy is asking for the money. To wit: charter schools, state regulations (especially around technology), and vouchers (which she calls a “free ticket” for families to leave the district). I could almost hear the violin music rising as I read the last paragraph. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/11/16)
  2. Speaking of boogiemen, Progress Ohio yesterday hosted an event here in Columbus featuring an attorney representing the government of Turkey. The topic: Concept charter schools, which the attorney said are “fleecing” taxpayers in Ohio and elsewhere to the benefit of a man the Turkish government asserts is behind a recent coup attempt in that country. Heady stuff. Turkey (I’m almost sure it’s Turkey) is asking StateAuditor! Man to dig deep into Concept Schools (again) to find out for sure. (Gongwer Ohio,
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This report from the Council for a Strong America provides an alarming snapshot of how ill-prepared many of the nation’s young adults are to be productive members of society.

The Council is an 8,500-member coalition comprised of law enforcement leaders, retired admirals and generals, business executives, pastors, and coaches and athletes. Its inaugural “Citizen-Readiness Index” gives more than three quarters of states a C or below on the index, due to staggering numbers of young people who are 1) unprepared for the workforce, 2) involved in crime, or 3) unqualified for the military.

Ohio received an overall C grade, earning some of the top marks for workforce and crime indicators. More specifically, 12 percent of Ohio’s young people ages 16–24 were reported to be unprepared for the workforce, a relatively low percentage nationally that earned Ohio a B. Ohio also earned a B on crime, with eight arrests per one hundred people (among those ages 17–24)—one of the lowest numbers nationwide. On military readiness, however, Ohio earned a D. A whopping 72 percent of youth ages 17–24 were ineligible for military service. Eligibility to enter the military depends on a range of factors, including physical fitness and attainment of...

Piet van Lier

NOTE: All photos used in this piece were graciously provided by the Cleveland Transformation Alliance. The photo at the top of this page features HBCU Preparatory School student Meiyah Hill and school principal Tim Roberts.

Standardized test scores are the most common measure of academic success in our nation’s K-12 schools. While they are an important indicator, most observers would agree that tests don’t tell the whole story about what’s happening in our public schools.

Given the recent changes to Ohio’s assessments and standards and their impact on test scores statewide, the need to tell a deeper story about public education has become even more evident.

In Cleveland, we know that Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools is enabling both district and charter schools to create new learning environments that are laying a foundation for sustainable academic improvement. Progress is slow and not always visible from the outside, but it’s happening.

That’s why the Cleveland Transformation Alliance recently partnered with Civic Commons ideastream to share powerful stories about education in Measuring Success Behind the Numbers. The conversation included three storytellers:

  • Student Meiyah Hill talked about how HBCU Preparatory School, a charter middle school in Cleveland, made her feel
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  1. Fully online preschool, anyone? (This Week News/Canal Winchester Times, 10/5/16)
  2. In case you missed it earlier this week, the president of the Parma school board resigned abruptly at the start of a public meeting packed with fired-up constituents and walked out before discussions began on how the district would dig itself out of a multi-million dollar budget hole. None of the options on the table would go without vehement opposition and many in the crowd were more interested in finding out how they had found themselves here. This piece from the Plain Dealer tries to unravel the possible causes for Parma’s dire financial situation which seems to have occurred without anyone noticing. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/6/16)

A multitude of research has shown that quality teaching is necessary for students’ achievement and positive labor market outcomes. Rigorous evaluations have been hailed as a way to improve the teacher workforce by recognizing and rewarding excellence, providing detailed and ongoing feedback to improve practice, and identifying low-performers who should be let go. While plenty of time has been devoted to how best to provide teachers with feedback, less time has been spent examining how evaluation systems contribute to the removal of underperforming teachers and the resulting changes in the teacher workforce.   

This study examines The Excellence in Teaching Project (EITP), a teacher evaluation system piloted in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in 2008. The program focused solely on classroom observations and used Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (FFT) as the basis for evaluation (unlike many current systems, which rely on multiple measures including student test scores). Roughly nine percent of all CPS elementary teachers participated in the first year of the pilot, which was considered a “low-stakes intervention” since scores on the FFT rubric were not officially included on teachers’ summative evaluation ratings.

Prior to the use of the FFT, teachers in Chicago were evaluated...

  1. The perennial disaster which is student transportation in Dayton City Schools continues unabated months into the school year. Jeremy Kelly provides a maddening update. Where, I ask you humbly, is the outrage? (Dayton Daily News, 10/1/16)
  2. As usual for the Vindy, it is not marked as such, but this is clearly the editorial board opining in favor of the Youngstown CEO in the recently-joined battle of Mohip v Board of Ed. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/4/16) Speaking of Sheriff Mohip, it appears that he has made his decision on the topic of school uniforms after gathering parent input. Uniforms are out district-wide and “clothing appropriate for school” is in. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/5/16) Now that they are staring a CEO-style Academic Distress Commission in the eyes, members of the Lorain school board are watching Youngstown more closely these days. Case in point, the final item described in this coverage of what sounds like an otherwise boring board meeting in Lorain yesterday. It involves the hotel tax abatement issue in Youngstown, which we have covered here for a couple of weeks. Will it be the board who decides or the CEO? For some reason that even the city planner
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According to the most recent Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) compiled by the U.S. Department of Education,[1] an alarming 6.5 million American students, more than 13 percent nationwide, were chronically absent—defined as missing 15 or more days of school— during the 2013-14 school year. Of these students, more than half are enrolled in elementary school, where truancy can contribute to weaker math and reading skills that persist into later grades. Chronic absenteeism rates are higher in high school: Nearly 20 percent of U.S. high school students are chronically absent, and these teenagers often experience future problems with employment, including lower-status occupations, less stable career patterns, higher unemployment rates, and low earnings.  

The data get even more disconcerting when they’re disaggregated by location. The CRDC explains that nearly 500 school districts reported that 30 percent or more of their students missed at least three weeks of school during the 2013-14 school year. The idea that certain districts struggle more with chronic absenteeism than others caught the attention of Attendance Works (AW), an organization that aims to improve school attendance policies. To create a more in-depth picture of the problem,...