Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Not sure why the Dispatch decided to pick on one particular private school in Cincinnati to make its point here, but be that as it may, the paper is not wrong in its analysis. Information on private school quality is hard to come by in Ohio, even for publicly-funded EdChoice voucher students. As you may have guessed, this piece is riffing off of our EdChoice evaluation report released two weeks ago. Thanks for the love, guys. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/17/16)
  2. EdChoice is namechecked in this piece (along with charter schools and open enrollment) about Mansfield City Schools’ imminent release from state-mandated fiscal emergency status. The stats reported here are pretty interesting, especially the comparison between Mansfield and similar districts like Whitehall and Zanesville. It is noted that Mansfield has fewer kids open-enrolled to neighboring districts than those to which it is compared but has more charter and voucher students. Honestly, though, it seems like the inefficiencies of a smallish but spread-out district are what’s really come home to roost here. Kudos to the district for making the needed changes to tighten things up. Next up for Mansfield to tackle: that “at risk for academic distress” albatross. (Mansfield News
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  1. The Dispatch published dueling editorials in the wake of Fordham’s new report evaluating the EdChoice Scholarship Program. Well, I say “dueling” but that would imply that the two commentators were actually talking about the same thing. Our own Chad Aldis discusses the report and its findings in his piece. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/14/16) Teachers union president Melissa Cropper’s piece is more “free form”, incorporating commentary on the apparently widely-held belief that teachers are lazy and how she thinks HB 70 (the “Youngstown Plan”) should be repealed into her brief analysis of the EdChoice report. Nope. Me neither. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/14/16)
  2. We reported a while back that the city and the school district in Cincinnati worked together to avoid placing two separate levies funding pre-K expansions on the ballot simultaneously. A similar situation has arisen in Dayton but is not yet being handled collaboratively. I’m sure the Gem City will get there eventually, but it may take a little time if this report is to be believed. Step one: have coffee together. (Dayton Daily News, 7/13/16)
  3. The theme of this week’s meeting of the Dropout Recovery and Prevention Committee seems to be time. How much time
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  1. Another suburban school district has billed the state for a return of “their money”, which went to charter schools because “their students” went to charter schools instead of to them. Our own Aaron Churchill is quoted denouncing the move as the “theatrics” that it is. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 7/11/16)
  2. Some more coverage of Fordham’s new report evaluating Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program. Two national write ups – both seemingly in the right-of-center column – seem to get the nuances we hoped would emerge from the findings. (RedefinED blog, 7/11/16; Watchdog.org blog, 7/13/16) Gongwer also seems to get the pluses and minuses in the findings, getting quotes from a couple other Ohio voucher supporters to bolster their analysis. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/12/16) The D covers the report for a second time today, in their Education Insider column. I don’t think we’re particularly “bummed” around here by the report’s findings, but I personally am bummed that they chose a sports analogy to try and illustrate their case. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/13/16)
  3. We told you on Monday about the state’s largest online charter school suing the state to block the final stage of an attendance audit which was to
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In a previous blog post, we urged Ohio’s newly formed Dropout Prevention and Recovery Study Committee to carefully review the state’s alternative accountability system for dropout-recovery charter schools. Specifically, we examined the progress measure used to gauge student growth—noting some apparent irregularities—but didn’t cover in detail the three other components of the dropout-recovery school report cards: graduation rates, gap closing, and assessment passage rates. Let’s tackle them now.

Each of these components is rated on a three-level scale: Exceeds Standards, Meets Standards, and Does Not Meet Standards. This rating system differs greatly from the A–F grades issued by Ohio to conventional public schools; the performance standards (or cut points) used to determine their ratings are also different. One critical question that the committee should consider is whether the standards for these second-chance schools are set at reasonable and rigorous levels.

Graduation Rates

Dropout-recovery schools primarily educate students who aren’t on track to graduate high school in four years (some students may have already passed this graduation deadline). These schools are still held responsible for graduating students on time. Ohio, however, recognizes that dropout-recovery schools educate students who need extra time to graduate by assigning ratings for extended (six-, seven-,...

  1. A little more coverage of our new report evaluating the EdChoice Scholarship Program. First up, Jeremy Kelly visited a couple of local Catholic schools that take voucher students and the new superintendent of Dayton City Schools to get their take on the research, along with questioning our own Chad Aldis further. Nicely nuanced discussion. Both school leaders More on Figlio report. (Dayton Daily News, 7/10/16) Also finely-nuanced is Patrick O’Donnell’s look at the report. Which is really nice because the program doesn’t actually impact many Cleveland kids, one of several facts seemingly missed by some folks in the active online PD comments section. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/11/16)
  2. The state’s largest online school sued the state late on Friday in an effort to stop the Ohio Department of Education from obtaining login records if its students. We’ll let you know how it all turns out. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/8/16)
  3. I don’t know if Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip is a competitive runner, but if he is, he sounds like he’d be the kind who would help a fallen runner up and finish strong, even if it meant not coming in first himself. Why do I think this?
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Eighteen months ago, Ohio proved it was finally serious about cleaning up its charter sector, with Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly placing sponsors (a.k.a. authorizers) at the center of a massive charter law overhaul. The effort aimed to hold Ohio’s sixty-plus authorizers more accountable—a strategy based on incentives to spur behavioral change among the gatekeepers of charter school quality. Poorly performing sponsors would be penalized, putting a stop to the fly-by-night, ill-vetted schools that gave a huge black eye to the sector and harmed students. Under House Bill 2, high-performing sponsors would be rewarded, which would encourage authorizing best practices and improve the likelihood of greater quality control during all phases of a charter’s life cycle (start-up, renewal, closure).

While the conceptual framework for these sponsor-centric reforms is now toddler-aged, the actual reforms are still in their infancy. (House Bill 2 went into effect in February of this year, and the earlier enacted but only recently implemented sponsor evaluation is just now getting off the ground.) Even so, just five months in, HB 2 and the comprehensive sponsor evaluation system are having an impact. Eleven schools were not renewed by their sponsors,...

In case you missed it, Fordham Ohio released a new report yesterday—Evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program—a first-of-its kind rigorous examination of the state’s largest voucher program. Say what you will about the frankly disappointing findings but never say that Fordham is afraid to go where the data lead. Here is the higher-level coverage the report received both in Ohio and nationally. More to come, I imagine:

  1. Ohio’s voucher students fare worse than public-school peers, study finds (Columbus Dispatch, 7/7/16)
  2. Study: Public-school students test better than voucher users (Associated Press, 7/7/16) – more than two-dozen outlets published this AP piece, which mainly notes that the Dispatch covered our report.
  3. Ohio Study Latest to Show Poor Voucher Results: 7 Theories Dissect The Trend (The 74 Million blog, 7/7/16)
  4. Ohio Vouchers Have Mixed Impact on Student Performance, Study Finds (Education Week. 7/7/16)
  5. Study Finds Failing Ohio Voucher-Funded Schools Perform Worse than Public School Counterparts (WKSU-FM, Kent, 7/7/16) – ran in other public media outlets as well
  6. Principal investigator on the EdChoice evaluation, Dr. David Figlio, presented his findings and took audience questions at a City Club of Cleveland event yesterday. You can find audio and video of
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No Child Left Behind (NCLB) required states to identify and intervene in persistently low-performing schools. Some states opted for more aggressive intervention with the creation of recovery school districts, including the Achievement School District in Tennessee, the Recovery School District in Louisiana, and the Education Achievement Authority in Michigan. Here in the Buckeye State, we don’t have a statewide recovery district—but we do have “academic distress commissions” (ADCs).

ADCs were added to Ohio state law in 2005 as a way for the state to intervene in districts that consistently fail to meet academic standards. Only two districts (Youngstown and Lorain) have ever been placed under ADC control, while a third (Cleveland) avoided the designation because of its implementation of the Cleveland Plan. In the summer of 2015, however, ADCs blasted onto the front pages of Ohio newspapers thanks to House Bill 70. The bill—widely known as the “Youngstown Plan” [1]sharpened the powers and duties of ADCs in Ohio and was signed into law by Governor Kasich in July. (See here for an overview of the bill’s biggest changes to ADCs.) 


Shortly after Ohio lawmakers enacted a new voucher program in 2005, the state budget office wrote in its fiscal analysis, “The Educational Choice Scholarships are not only intended to offer another route for student success, but also to impel the administration and teaching staff of a failing school building to improve upon their students’ academic performance.” As economist Milton Friedman had theorized decades earlier, Ohio legislators believed that increased choice and competition would boost education outcomes across the board. “Competition” in the words of Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby, “would be the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats.”

Today, the EdChoice program provides publicly funded vouchers (or “scholarships”) to more than eighteen thousand Buckeye students, youngsters previously assigned to some of the state’s lowest-performing schools, located primarily in low-income urban communities.[1] That much is known. Yet remarkably little else is known about the program. Which children are using EdChoice when given the opportunity? Is the initiative faithfully working as its founders intended? Are participating students blossoming academically in their private schools of choice? Does the increased competition associated with EdChoice lead to improvements in the public schools that these kids left?

The present study utilizes longitudinal...

  1. Only 30 students nationwide were chosen to be pages in the U.S. Senate this year. Dayton Early College Academy junior Jocelyn Martin was one of them. She’s just finished her term (which she could not talk about while it was ongoing) and is now allowed to tell all. The work sounds fascinating, and she sounds like a rock star. Awesome! (Dayton Daily News, 7/1/16)
  2. It’s week two for Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip. On his agenda this week was a community meeting to gather input to inform his school improvement plan – due to the Academic Distress Commission within 90 days of his start date. Seems like the attendee list for this week’s meeting was a bit heavy on school employees, but I’m sure they had plenty to say. (Youngstown Vindicator, 7/6/16)
  3. Speaking of noobs, the newest state board member is no stranger to state government in Ohio. But she’s got an unusual and interesting take on the education needs of her rural and Appalachian constituents. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/1/16)
  4. The New Beginnings dropout prevention program in Lorain City Schools looks likely to stay in business for the 2016-17 school year. The board approved a
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