Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. After some drops, adds, and sifting, the list of finalists for Dayton City Schools superintendent is down to three. They were introduced to the public late last week and here are brief profiles of them all. Not sure when the board will make the decision. Hopefully soon. (Dayton Daily News, 6/10/16) However, there is some concern that said Dayton school board may run into difficulties with the superintendent hiring processes. Why? Because the district is also looking for an athletic director, but has had to rescind not one but two job offers following concerns that the interview process used was not fair to all applicants. Both times. Don’t forget the board is looking for a treasurer too!  (Dayton Daily News, 6/14/16)
     
  2. Meanwhile, in other “fourth branch of government” news, things are just as out of control as ever in Youngstown. Henry Martyn Robert, who grew up in Ohio and was married in Dayton, is likely spinning in his grave to see his rulebook used to foster what appears to be disorder, confusion, and gridlock like this. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/15/16)
     
  3. The state board of education meeting this week wrought at least two newsworthy items. First up,
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Thomas J. Lasley II

NOTE: Tom Lasley, executive director of Learn to Earn Dayton and former dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton, addressed the Ohio Board of Education in Columbus today. These are his written remarks in full.

Thank you for this opportunity to share thoughts regarding expectations for Ohio’s K-12 students. I believe Ohio must continue to have high quality, demanding achievement assessments and set rigorous passing scores for those assessments.

To get and to keep good jobs, our children need world-class educations. Lowering the bar when our competitors in this country and around the globe are increasing expectations would tremendously disadvantage our young people. We have to be honest with ourselves and with students about what’s required to compete--and to succeed--in a knowledge economy.

Ohio and other states now have a lot of data upon which to base policy and practice decisions. This was not true twenty years ago. But it is true today--as a result...

Ohio’s largest online school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), has recently caught flack for its low graduation rate. A New York Times article, for example, averred, “Publicly funded online schools like ECOT have become the new dropout factories.” It is true that a mere 39 percent of the ECOT’s class of 2014 graduated in four years, meaning that thousands of pupils failed to reach the high school finish line on time. Meanwhile, a recent GradNation report called out the low graduation rates of some alternative, charter, and virtual schools (for a deeper dive into the charter school rates, see Susan Aud Pendergrass’s excellent piece on Flypaper). For some, these statistics are proof positive of educational failure.

We are in no way defending “dropout factories” of any stripe. It’s well known that Ohio’s virtual schools (like those in almost every other state) have struggled mightily to demonstrate an impact on student growth, and we’ve made no secret of our own misgivings about ECOT and many of its peers. But when it comes to graduation rates, how much of the blame belongs to the schools themselves? Is it possible that the way these numbers are calculated yields...

Since President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December, much discussion has centered on changes related to school accountability. Under the new law, a state’s accountability plan must include long-term goals, measures of progress toward those goals, and an explanation of how the state plans to differentiate schools. This revised system would replace the accountability plans that states developed under their still-operational NCLB waivers, and it would take effect during the 2017–18 school year. ESSA’s accountability requirements also involve the dissemination of annual report cards for the state, districts, and schools that contain a variety of accountability indicators and a plethora of data.

NCLB also required school report cards, so the idea itself is nothing new. What’s changed is what the report cards contain. For instance, NCLB required states to include information on state assessment results, the percentage of students not tested, graduation rates, and performance on adequate yearly progress measures. ESSA moves away from adequate yearly progress while mandating four types of indicators: achievement, another academic measure (probably growth for elementary and middle schools and graduation rates for high schools), progress for English language learners, and “other indicators of school quality and...

In April, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining recent trends in the racial and socioeconomic composition of America’s public schools. Between the 2000–01 and 2013–14 school years, the study finds, the fraction of U.S. schools that were both high-poverty (75 percent or more eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, or FRPL) and high-minority (75 percent or more African American or Hispanic students) rose from 9 to 16 percent.

While the GAO analysts caution that their analyses “should not be used to make conclusions about the presence or absence of unlawful discrimination,” to headline writers at the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times, the findings suggest “resegregation” in American schools. The Post editorial board declared a “resurgence of resegregation.” But is this a fair interpretation?

There are at least two problems with drawing such a conclusion. The first is that the GAO analysis doesn’t take into account overall demographic trends. During this time period, student demographics were changing in America. As a share of the national student population, Hispanic students increased from 16 percent to 25 percent from 2000 to 2014 (though African American pupils remained virtually unchanged as a fraction...

Ohio’s second-ever school district CEO was chosen at the end of May by the members of the Youngstown City Schools Academic Distress Commission (ADC). He is Krish Mohip, a former teacher and principal and current school administrator in Chicago. He has a track record of turning around low performing schools in the Windy City and make no mistake that that is his charge in Youngstown as well.

Mohip was chosen from a field of nearly three dozen candidates and was introduced to Youngstown stakeholders and the public last week. So far he is enthusiastic, effusive, and inclusive. He told WFMJ-TV that he is thrilled to be in Youngstown and can’t wait to get to work gathering input and working with the ADC, teachers, parents, the elected school board, and the community to create the academic improvement plan that is his required first order of business. In an in-depth interview with Vindy Radio last Friday, Mohip was thoughtful and engaging but clear on his goals: all parents want the best for their children, all children can learn, and it is the schools’ job to make that learning happen. We are encouraged by Mohip’s track record and enthusiasm for...

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to incorporate at least one non-academic indicator—which might include (but isn’t limited to) factors like school climate or safety—into their accountability frameworks. That makes this study published in Educational Researcher rather well-timed. The authors set out to test the theory that reductions in school violence and/or improvements to school climate would lead to improved academic outcomes. Instead, the evidence they discovered suggests the relationship flows in the opposite direction: A school’s improvement in academic performance led to reductions in violence and improved climate—not the other way around.

The study’s authors point to serious gaps in past studies of school climate and safety, many of which illustrated only correlation (not causation) among the variables examined. This motivated them to test the assumption that improved school climate must come first in the chicken-egg scenario. Using six years of student survey results (from 2007–13) from a representative sample of 3,100 California middle and high schools, analysts employed a research design known for its ability to test causality when large-scale experimental designs aren’t possible. (For the curious, this is described as a “cross-lagged panel autoregressive modeling design,” which determines whether variables at different points in...

  1. Kinda quiet this weekend in terms of education news stories. First up, two previews of state board of ed action to occur this week. It appears that board members will hold their noses and approve a proposed set of criteria defining the term “consistently high-performing teacher”. Neither the committee that came up with the criteria nor the board members who have to vote on it seem all that thrilled with what is before them. Why are they going to vote for it then? Because they are required by law to set a definition by July 1 and this is what there is to vote on. Inspiring (Gongwer Ohio, 6/10/16) Also on the agenda this week, adjust the cut scores for two new high school end-of-course math exams that students took this spring. We told you last week that the initial results didn’t look so promising. So the question before the board is to keep the cut scores high and have loads of kids not pass, or lower the cut scores so larger numbers pass. This is such an important issue that our own Chad Aldis weighed in, landing on the side that says that “Diplomas have to mean
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  1. If things go as planned, Cincinnati City Schools’ board of education will pass a resolution next week to authorize negotiations with Phalen Leadership Academies, a charter school network from Indianapolis, with an eye toward opening a district-sponsored Phalen school in the Queen City. The timing is important because formalizing the negotiation status will allow Phalen to apply for Ohio’s new charter school facilities funding, the deadline for which is fast approaching. You can read journalist Hannah Sparling’s pretty awesome description (if I do say so myself) of Phalen’s work in Indy here. But the three months since that piece was published seem to have soured Sparling on the idea. Or else it was her discussion with the leader of the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition that did it. CEJC leader Michelle Dillingham, also a candidate for city council, was quoted in yesterday’s piece vehemently opposing the district’s plan. She “doesn’t know enough about Phalen to rate the model one way or the other, but she didn’t see anything in Wednesday’s presentation that CPS isn’t already offering its students… ‘It’s not really clear what they’re innovating,’ she said.” There you have it. More developments next week, I’m sure. (Cincinnati Enquirer,
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  1. Krish Mohip, the newly-appointed CEO of Youngstown City Schools, came into town yesterday to sign his contract…and to meet with the school board, district staffers, and as much of the public as could be mustered on a Tuesday afternoon. There’s a lot to parse here and I may have more to say about this after I check out all the video from his public remarks. (“Scraped along with C’s”? Dude! Diligent work on the party of the Vindy though.) But I’ll leave you with three observations on the written piece: Mohip seems to have a pretty good track record in Chicago as he tells the story, including significant improvements to some difficult schools. He seems to be trying to be inclusive out of the gate (board, interim supe, teachers, public, etc.). Most importantly he seems to have solidified in his own mind some of the less-clear aspects of the new ADC/CEO framework, including the role he sees for the elected board and for their appointed superintendent. These will be important down the line if/when other districts come under the aegis of the new ADC/CEO framework. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/8/16)
     
  2. Speaking of one of those districts, here is
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