Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Fordham’s own Aaron Churchill had an op-ed in the Beacon-Journal over the weekend. What’s he talking about? Oh nothing much, really. Only about the large-scale failure of many Ohio schools to properly educate their students for future success, and how much worse that’s going to get if Ohio sticks with its plan to make diplomas into participation awards without any relevance to academic ability. (Akron Beacon Journal, 12/1/18)
  2. An interesting piece in the Toledo Blade this weekend goes from the premise that students in district schools appear to be doing “just as well” as students in local charter schools. Data is provided. This is a subtly different take on the topic of comparing schools than you normally see in the big city news outlets in Ohio (although the usual kudos for Toledo School of the Arts apply here of course). That subtlety was not lost on Toledo City Schools superintendent Romules Durant, and he responded to it as you might expect. Fascinating. (Toledo Blade, 12/1/18)
  3. Speaking of charter schools, the Communities in Schools program here in central Ohio, which provides support services for students with everything from food insecurity to college application completion, also serves
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The ongoing debate on what standards (if any) students in the class of 2019 should have to meet in order to receive a diploma has resulted in very little attention being paid to recent recommendations by the Ohio State Board of Education to change graduation requirements for the classes of 2022 and beyond. In response to clamors for a “long term fix” to graduation standards, the state board has proposed requirements based on criteria such as vaguely defined culminating student experiences (CSEs) that align with concepts of personalized learning—a term used throughout the board’s strategic plan and emphasized in the “each child” part of the plan’s title. The board’s ideas are also reflected in a recent Ohio Department of Education statement supporting the proposal: “Students, with their parents and teachers, will choose how they demonstrate their career, college, or life readiness...with options like an internship, capstone project, or culminating student experience.”

Within limits, it’s perfectly fine to tailor classroom instruction to the needs and interests of individual students. But the application of personalized learning to graduation standards is misguided, especially when viewed through the lens of educational equity—an important concept that the state...

  1. We start today with some very nice coverage of yesterday’s Fordham-hosted panel event on the topic of the Janus Supreme Court decision and its possible effects on education in Ohio. Good event with some important and interesting discussion. Full video forthcoming, y’all. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/29/18). Scant hours after our own Chad Aldis finished moderating that discussion, he was off to the Statehouse to testify on the topic of funding for online schools. Here is coverage of yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on E-School Funding, including some quotes from Chad. His full written remarks are here, if you are so inclined. (Gongwer Ohio, 11/29/18) In between, Chad was on the phone with the Enquirer’s Jackie Borchardt, talking about his most favorite of recent subjects: Ohio’s War on Knowing Stuff. Here is her coverage of the state’s current efforts to lower graduation requirements to absolute rock bottom. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/29/18) And while the quotes used in this Canton Rep editorial on same topic came from Chad on another, equally-busy day, they are still as fresh and biting (and correct) as ever. Editors in Canton opined in agreement. Whew! (Canton Repository, 11/30/18)
  2. Here is
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Online charter proves a great fit for Gahanna student

Vanessa McCoy, an Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) graduate, wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Dispatch recently. McCoy explains why she enrolled in OCA and the flexibility it afforded her.

Enrollment doubles at Sandusky’s only charter school

Monroe Preparatory Academy, Sandusky’s only charter public school, has experienced significant growth since relocating to its current location this spring. According to Erik Thorson, the school administrator, enrollment at the K-6 school has doubled and plans are in the works to add seventh- and eighth-grade classes.

ODE releases charter school sponsor ratings

A couple of weeks ago, the Ohio Department of Education released sponsor ratings for the 2017-2018 school year. The ratings, a function of Ohio’s sponsor evaluation system, categorized more than half of Ohio’s charter sponsors as “effective.” The Dayton Daily News digs into the details and gets reactions to the ratings.

Stop trying to claim charters “steal” money from traditional public schools

Christian Barnard, a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation, recently published an op-ed in the Washington Examiner in which he explains that charters don’t “steal”...


Editor’s Note: Chad Aldis was invited to give testimony before the Ohio General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Committee on E-School Funding. These are his written remarks.

Thank you, Co-Chair Lehner, Co-Chair Cupp, and joint committee members for giving me the opportunity to provide testimony on Ohio’s options for how it funds online charter schools.

My name is Chad Aldis, and I am the Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Fordham Institute is an education-focused nonprofit that conducts research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C. Our Dayton office is also an approved Ohio charter school sponsor.

As many of you know, Fordham has been a staunch supporter of school choice for decades. We believe that every family deserves the right to choose their child’s school; however, we also believe that state and local leaders have a duty to ensure that these options are high-quality. Although the Ohio General Assembly has done a considerable amount of work in the last few years to improve charter school laws, the unique nature of online schools has created a specific set of challenges that are yet to be addressed. Most notably,...

  1. The Dayton Daily News’ look at the most recent evaluation results for Ohio charter school sponsors notes that while most sponsors rated as effective, some folks say that’s “not all good news”. Chad Aldis, quoted here on the topic, is not one of those people. (Dayton Daily News, 11/28/18)
  2. Speaking of charter schools, the only charter school in Sandusky, Ohio, doubled its enrollment in its second year of operation. While the head of the school says “the future’s bright”, the local district supe has some restrained words in response to the news. (Sandusky Register, 11/27/18) And sticking with the topic of school choice for a moment, here is some news on a new school option coming to Athens County next year for kids ages 4 to 8. The putative Solid Ground School is apparently patterned on the Reggio Emilia educational model, but that is only mentioned once and seems to be downplayed in favor of simply “nature school”. It will definitely be a tuition-charging non-public school when it arrives but whether it will be a traditional state-chartered private school or a non-chartered, non-tax supported “08” school is unclear. (Athens News, 11/25/18)
  3. Here’s a thorough look
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Editor’s Note: As Ohioans await the start of the new governor’s term in January, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the tenth in our series, under the umbrella of maintaining high expectations for all students. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: The ODE should move state testing windows from April to May, and state law should require the ODE to pilot computer-adaptive testing.

Background: Ohio administers statewide math and English language arts (ELA) exams in grades 3–8; science exams in grades 5 and 8; and math, ELA, science, and U.S. history and government exams during high school. These exams provide parents with regular feedback on their children’s progress against academic standards. And because state assessments yield objective, comparable information on pupil achievement, they also form the basis of a school report card that offers an impartial, external check on district and school performance. Yet implementing such a battery of assessments brings its own challenges. Schools have raised concerns...

  1. The topic of graduation requirements remains on the front burner for Ohio’s education reporters. First up, a prediction from the Dispatch that at least some portion of the lowered, non-academic requirements from 2018 will extend into 2019 via legislative action. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted here with his usual blunt wisdom: “Somewhere along the line they lost the plot, and they became more concerned with the number of kids walking across the stage. It’s a disservice to kids who need the most help and aren’t going to get it.” Quite. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/25/18) The Dayton Daily News concurs with the above prediction, quoting state Senator Peggy Lehner as saying, “I don’t think we’ll agonize over (the details) too much. We’ll just get it done … very, very soon.” Oddly enough, she is also quoted as saying, “We’re very anti-testing these days. But tests are part of school,” arguing that the state had set a “pretty low bar” for passing scores. “What’s going on in our schools that kids are having so much trouble taking tests? Are the tests too hard? I don’t think so.” These statements seem at odds with one another if you ask me. (Dayton
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  1. You’ve got to appreciate just how dedicated the folks at News5 in Northeast Ohio have become to the topic of graduation requirements. Here is at least the third story in the last two months. In it, Fordham’s recent report card analysis (and author Aaron Churchill himself) is quoted. But the point of the story is to show just how good Akron City Schools’ college and career academy is at getting kids to the highest possible graduation bar and preparing them for their next academic step. Of course, three kids is an anecdote and not a trend. Nor does it do anything to disprove Aaron’s quoted two-in-five statistic. But all that detail is probably just me being churlish. (News5, Cleveland, 11/21/18) In nearby Stark County, the on-time graduation status of the Class of 2019 in Northwest Local Schools is top of mind. The story is a little light on details, but my back-of-the-envelope math says that somewhere around 50 percent of seniors are short on the end-of-course points needed to graduate one third of the way through the school year. There is only the vaguest of hints as to what the district is doing to help their students get
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In Ohio’s great graduation debate, we at Fordham have warned that lowering the bar is tantamount to the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Weakened standards, such as those pushed by the State Board of Education, imply that many low-income pupils need alternative routes to diplomas because they’re unable of reaching the state’s academic or career-technical requirements. Yet as this piece discusses, lowering our sights won’t just hurt poor students, it’ll also ask much less of our young men, especially Ohio’s young men of color.

Consider the four-year graduation rates for the class of 2017, the most recent available, displayed in the figures below. This was the final cohort subject to Ohio’s “old” graduation requirements, which included passage of the low-level Ohio Graduation Tests (OGTs). Figure 1 shows average graduation rates across Ohio’s district typologies, classifications developed by ODE to group districts with similar socio-economic and geographic characteristics. You’ll notice that graduation rates for males trail behind their female counterparts across all typologies, suggesting that high-school completion for young men should be a widespread concern. The disparities are most visible in Ohio’s high-poverty urban areas that include big- and small-city districts, and some inner-ring suburbs.