Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. More analysis of state report cards over the weekend, from the usual sources. The Dispatch took a look at the fairly universally low eighth grade reading results. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/25/16) The PD’s Patrick O’Donnell took a look at the “Urban 8” district performance vs. state averages. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/25/16) Meanwhile, the PD’s Rich Exner tried to see how closely passage rates mirrored household poverty levels in Northeast Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/26/16) Finally, in the run up to a levy vote, Patrick tried to answer the question “Did CMSD schools improve as promised?” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/25/16)
  2. Speaking of report card results, Lorain City Schools – already under the aegis of an old-style Academic Distress Commission – did not do well enough to avoid transition to the new-style ADC. That means a new panel of commission members, a CEO, less power for the board and supe, a new strategic plan, and a new ticking clock. All of this should start to take shape in October. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 9/25/15)
  3. In other news, last week’s rejection of a tentative contract by CMSD teachers sets negotiations back by several steps. So far,
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We know that teacher quality is the most important in-school factor impacting student performance—and that the variation in teacher quality can be enormous, even within the same school. We also know that most teachers are paid according to step-and-lane salary schedules that exclusively reward years on the job and degrees earned. These systems pay no attention to instructional effectiveness, attendance, leadership and collaboration within one’s school, or any other attributes relevant to being a good worker.

When I entered the classroom at age twenty-two, I looked at my contract and realized I wouldn’t reach my desired salary until I was in my mid-to-late forties. I would reach that level regardless of whether I took one or fifteen sick days every year; whether I put in the bare minimum or a herculean effort (as many educators do in fact do); or whether I clocked out at 3:01 or stayed with my students to offer extra help. No matter the outcomes my kids achieved, my salary would steadily tick upward based only on time accrued. Predictable, yes. But given the urgent task at hand—to keep excellent educators at the instructional helm, address the challenges of burnout and attrition,...

  1. Jeremy Kelly is one of a handful of folks around Ohio who go the extra mile in analyzing report card results each year, and this year is no exception. We’ve already clipped his district-centric analysis. Today, we’re clipping his comparison of charter and district schools in Montgomery County. He quotes our own Aaron Churchill on the topic, which just makes this more awesome. Additional kudos to Jeremy for noting the results for Dayton Regional STEM School also. (Dayton Daily News, 9/21/16) Aaron’s recent Ohio Gadfly blog post on the shrinking “honesty gap” in Ohio was cited by editors in Columbus as they opined favorably on the substance of this year’s report cards. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/23/16)
  2. Our own Jessica Poiner was cited in EdWeek this week in a piece extolling the virtues of project-based learning. (Education Week, 9/21/16)
  3. Back to school report cards for a moment. Other reliable analysts of the annual data release are the Ohio Education Policy Institute’s Howard Fleeter… (Gongwer Ohio, 9/21/16) …and the Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell. Patrick’s been especially busy with a series of reports, including one which tries to compare previous years’ reports to this years' – an
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  1. Chad is quoted in this brief story about the federal Charter School Program grant being released to Ohio at long last. It’s so brief that the details are somewhat muddled, but Chad is on point as always. (WYSO-FM, Yellow Springs, 9/19/16) As usual with the Vindy, this piece opining strongly against charter schools is not clearly labeled as an editorial. But it’s either that or a poison-pen letter. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/20/16)
  2. Ohio’s new-ish College Credit Plus program provides access to college courses – and college credit – for high school students free of charge to their families. First year stats are out and Gongwer’s got a detailed look. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/20/16) This is pretty interesting stuff, so for those of you not behind Gongwer’s paywall, the PD has an unvarnished look at the numbers. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/20/16)
  3. Jeremy Kelly at the Dayton Daily News continued his look at state report cards, focusing on end of course exams in regard to graduation requirements. Those who took the tests last year largely didn’t do so hot, but Jeremy does a good job of explaining how the new exam points system works and what will
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As students and teachers settle back into school routines, thousands of high schoolers are getting their first taste of classes that are supposed to prepare them for college. Some of them are sitting in Advanced Placement courses, while others have enrolled in district-designed advanced courses. In general, most people seem to take it for granted that high school courses that are labeled “advanced” are an effective preparation tool for college. A new analysis out of Brookings calls the conventional wisdom into question.

At issue is whether high school courses impact college performance at all. The Brookings authors point to a 2009 review of college preparation from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) that found “low evidence” that academic preparation for college actually improved college classroom outcomes. Despite myriad college preparation methods reviewed, none of them—including advanced coursework like AP classes—was strongly predictive of college readiness.

The Brookings authors did some further analysis of their own on the impacts of high school course-taking. After examining a nationally representative database of U.S. students and controlling for academic, demographic, and individual-level variables, they found that, on average, advanced high school courses do little to prepare students to succeed...

Politicians are wise to pay attention to public opinion data, but they are also responsible for crafting sound policies based on research and evidence. So what are they supposed to do when these two goods conflict?  

Anya Kamenetz at NPR was the first to highlight the contradiction between newly released poll results from PDK International and a variety of research related to school closures (“Americans Oppose School Closures, But Research Suggests They're Not A Bad Idea”). The PDK survey revealed that 84 percent of Americans believe that failing schools should be kept open and improved rather than closed. Sixty-two percent said that if a failing public school is kept open, the best approach to improvement is to replace its faculty and administration instead of increasing spending on the same team. In other words, the majority of Americans are firmly committed to their community schools—just not the people working in them.

These findings shouldn’t come as a huge surprise (as my colleague Robert Pondiscio pointed out here). No one wants to see a school closed, no matter how persistently underperforming. For many communities, schools offer not just an education, but a place...

  1. As noted last week, lots of folks were up in arms about lower scores almost across the board for schools and districts on state report cards. Our own Aaron Churchill is quoted in this piece, laying down some reasons for the drop and what the results may mean for schools going forward. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/19/16)
  2. Editors in Youngstown opined on the topic of the district’s report card. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/18/16) Meanwhile, Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip has hired three new pairs of hands to get to grips with his district’s transportation woes, all three hired away from neighboring Austintown schools. “I found out she’s one of the best in the state,” said Mohip, talking of new transportation director Colleen Murphy-Penk. So he went and got her. “My blood runs yellow and I love what I do,” Murphy-Penk said. “I’m up for the challenge.” (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/17/16)
  3. School meals are on the minds of journalists in Springfield. Here is a very long piece on lunch and breakfast service in Springfield and other Clark County districts. (Springfield News-Sun, 9/18/16) Dietician and professor Diana Cuy Castellanos is quoted as a child nutrition expert in the meals piece above.
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College may not be for all, but it is the chosen path of nearly fifty thousand Ohio high school grads. Unfortunately, almost one-third of Ohio’s college goers are unprepared for the academic rigor of post-secondary coursework. To better ensure that all incoming students are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in university courses, all Ohio public colleges and universities require their least prepared students to enroll in remedial, non-credit-bearing classes (primarily in math and English).

Remediation is a burden on college students and taxpayers who pay twice. First they shell out to the K–12 system. Then they pay additional taxes toward the state’s higher education system, this time for the cost of coursework that should have been completed prior to entering college (and for which students earn no college credit). The remediation costs further emphasize the importance of every student arriving on campus prepared.

Perhaps the bigger problem with remedial education is that it doesn’t work very well. In Ohio, just 51 percent of freshmen requiring remediation at a flagship university—and 38 percent of those in remedial classes at a non-flagship school—go on to complete entry-level college courses within two academic years....

  1. Our own Chad Aldis was a member of the panel discussing charter schools at the Columbus Metropolitan Club forum on Wednesday of this week. First coverage of the event was from a business/politics news aggregator in New Zealand! No, Chad doesn’t have that kind of juice, but StateAuditor! Man (leader of the panel) does. (Foreign Affairs Publisher, NZ, 9/15/16) For event coverage closer to home, check out Gongwer. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/14/16) If no-holds-barred full video is more your style, look no further than here. (Columbus Metropolitan Club YouTube channel, 9/14/16)
  2. Earlier the same day, the US Department of Education finally released the $71 million Charter School Program grant that Ohio won many months ago. As you’ll no doubt recall, the release of the funds was put on hold when questions arose in regard to the application. As a result of those questions – and the answers provided by the state – Ohio’s grant award was declared “high risk” and a number of new conditions were placed upon it. Chad and others tell you all about it in the following pieces from the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 9/15/16), the Beacon Journal (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/14/16) and
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Ohio’s report card release showed a slight narrowing of the “honesty gap”—the difference between the state’s own proficiency rate and proficiency rates as defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP proficiency standard has been long considered stringent—and one that can be tied to college and career readiness. When states report inflated state proficiency rates relative to NAEP, they may label their students “proficient” but they overstate to the public the number of students who are meeting high academic standards.

The chart below displays Ohio’s three-year trend in proficiency on fourth and eighth grade math and reading exams, compared to the fraction of Buckeye students who met proficiency on the latest round of NAEP. The red arrows show the disparity between NAEP proficiency and the 2015-16 state proficiency rates.

Chart 1: Ohio’s proficiency rates 2013-14 to 2015-16 versus Ohio’s 2015 NAEP proficiency

As you can see, Ohio narrowed its honesty gap by lifting its proficiency standard significantly in 2014-15 with the replacement of the Ohio Achievement Assessments and its implementation of PARCC. (The higher PARCC standards meant lower proficiency...