Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. As all my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers know (love to all six of you!), your humble clips compiler loathes politics. So, as you can imagine, it is a very fallow week for proper news clips. I’ll soldier on, of course, but if any of you wanted to drop your subscription after reading this pathetic edition, I couldn’t blame you. The “driver's education company” Aceable has for some inexplicable reason released a list of the 25 most beautiful high schools in Ohio. For an even more inexplicable reason, the Enquirer has chosen to make this into “education news”. Can’t hurt that the top two schools are in the Cincy area, I imagine. But seriously, school quality is more about what goes on inside, right? Are any of these schools on the whole list any good academically? Oh. Maybe this is not inexplicable after all. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/4/18)
  2. Perhaps when the dust clears in Ohio’s ongoing War on Knowing Stuff, kids will get points toward a diploma based on the beauty of their high school building. That’d be cool. This piece—mainly just a bullet-point rundown of items discussed at the most recent meeting of the elected board of Canton City
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Ohio’s news outlets have covered the debate over graduation requirements as if it were a burning problem that policymakers need to urgently “fix.” For instance, the local NPR affiliate headlined an article, “Ohio education panel still crafting long-term fix on graduation standards.” The Dayton Daily News ran a piece titled, “State school board backs long-term graduation changes, weighs emergency fix.”

Such headlines are likely inspired by public officials who have raised alarms over the past two years that Ohio’s new graduation standards would withhold diplomas from too many students. In fact, one former State Board of Education member predicted that graduation rates would fall sharply to 60 percent for the class of 2018, the first cohort subject to the state’s updated requirements that include exam-based and career-technical pathways. Based on these concerns, state lawmakers approved softball alternatives that this cohort could meet to receive high school diplomas. Various policymakers have expressed interest in extending less demanding options to future graduating classes.

Now that much of the class of 2018 has moved onto bigger and better things, it’s a good time to step back and see how these students fared in terms of meeting...


A few weeks ago, officials at ACT released a report that breaks down the ACT test results of the 2018 graduating class. It examines participation and performance overall, as well as data based on college and career readiness benchmarks in English, reading, math, and science that indicate whether students are prepared to succeed in first-year college courses. 

At the national level, the results are disheartening. The data—which account for more than 1.9 million graduates, or 55 percent of students in the 2018 national graduating class—show that the average composite score dropped from 21 to 20.8. Average scores in all four subjects also slid compared to last year (though only between 0.1 and 0.3 points).

As for the benchmarks, readiness in both math and English has been steadily declining since 2014. This year was no exception: 40 percent of graduates met the math benchmark, the lowest percentage in fourteen years, and 60 percent met the benchmark in English, the lowest level since the benchmarks were first introduced. Reading and science readiness levels were both down by 1 percentage point compared to the year prior, but generally show flat long-term trends.

In Ohio, the declines were larger. The table below...

  1. Not much in the way of education news in recent days. Wonder what else reporters are talking about? Whatever it is, the pieces we do have were all posted today, which is a nice way to keep the Bites fresh. First up, Fordham is namechecked in this piece which states that a legislative panel has been named to “find a plan to pay [online] schools based on students’ course completion, for “competency” in subjects or for finishing units within a course” rather than basing payment on reported enrollment. Once they do that, I can’t wait until it gets rolled out to districts too. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/5/18)
  2. Speaking of online schools, the elected board of Columbus City Schools has decided to make use of the former headquarters of ECOT, which they bought using nearly $4 million in loose change scrounged out of dilapidated couch cushions in various district properties. Other than having six people hang out in the vacant building to let reporters come in, the actual uses still seem to be up in the air. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/5/18)
  3. Finally today, here is yet another piece about the “graduation crisis” in Springfield Local Schools. We
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Editor’s Note: As Ohioans prepare to elect a new governor this November, 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 seventh in our series, under the umbrella of supporting great educators. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Establish a competitive grant program that would provide funds to implement human-capital initiatives aimed at attracting and/or developing classroom talent. These grants could be used to support innovative compensation strategies, such as differential pay structures, signing or performance bonuses, or assistance with paying off student loans. They could also be used to implement mentoring, evaluation, retention, and development programs that ensure great teachers remain in classrooms and take on instructional leadership roles. The grants should be open to districts, charter and STEM schools, as well as to consortia of educational institutions.

Background: Attracting talented individuals to the teaching profession remains key to developing a high-performing K–12 system. But in an increasingly competitive job market, schools have had trouble drawing top talent into...


On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to prohibit public-employee labor unions from collecting “agency” or “fair share” fees, overturning a 41-year-old precedent. At the time, the ruling in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, was thought to have broad implications for education. What, if anything, has changed in the ensuing months? What will happen further down the line?

We invite you to join us in Columbus on Thursday, November 29 for an important conversation on the implications of Janus in Ohio and how it's likely to impact education.

Doors open at 8:00 am; coffee and pastries will be served.


It’s no secret that school attendance is a significant factor in student achievement. In elementary school, truancy can contribute to weaker math and reading skills that persist into later grades. Students who are chronically absent often experience future problems with employment, including lower-status occupations, less stable career patterns, higher unemployment rates, and low earnings.

That’s why Ohio has spent the past few years overhauling its student attendance and absenteeism policies. It started back in December of 2015, with the introduction of House Bill 410, whose major provisions prohibited districts from including truancy in their zero tolerance discipline policies and required them to assign truant students to an absence intervention team that would create a personalized intervention plan. These changes were made because schools often dealt with absenteeism by suspending truant students instead of helping them. This punitive system forced students to miss even more school and exacerbated negative impacts. The bill also changed the state’s definition of chronic absenteeism to be based on hours instead of days, a shift that aligned attendance policies with the state’s instruction requirements that were changed from days to hours during the 2014–15 school year.  

Meanwhile, in 2017, the...



KIPP Columbus hosts naturalization ceremony

One hundred fifty immigrants became American citizens this past week at an event at KIPP Columbus. The guests (from fifty-three nations) heard a speech from Armando Mora Perez (a KIPP high school student whose mother is waiting to be granted citizenship) and joined together to do the Pledge of Allegiance. You can find a video of the event on KIPP’s Facebook page and photos on their website.

Bruno Manno: How charter schools make their grads successful in college

Bruno Manno, the senior adviser for the Walton Family Foundation K-12 Program, in a recent op-ed praised the ability of some charter schools to help their graduates succeed in college. He explains how a number of charter school networks like KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Chicago’s Noble Network, and Green Dot Schools “are pointing the way and providing crucial evidence that K-12 education can provide a robust foundation for opportunity, upward mobility, and financial stability.”

School choice and community-building

Amy Lueck recently published a piece in the Atlantic in which she celebrates the civic purpose of the traditional American public high school and accuses school choice proponents of...

  1. Not much to report today in proper education news, but most of what we have is decently good news. So there’s that. First up, Lorain City Schools held an appreciation event this week to honor the 45 students who scored 21 or over on the ACT. That includes two high-flying eighth graders and one high schooler with a perfect score. The latter became the first inductee into Lorain’s Academic Hall of Fame that night. Nice! (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 11/1/18)
  2. The branch campus of Ohio State University located in Mansfield is working to build a pathway to the university—and to the teaching profession—for African-American students in Mansfield High School. Perhaps it is a bit limited in ambition and scope right now (just one CCP class before graduation, guys? Dream bigger), but hopefully the effort can pay dividends down the road. (Richland Source, 11/2/18)
  3. For me, one of the neatest things about working in our state capital is driving by the federal courthouse on the mornings when the citizenship swearing-in ceremonies are happening. Lots of individuals and families streaming into the beautiful old building together, dressed to the nines, carrying their all-important paperwork and flags as they
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  1. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “This report card is not an accurate depiction of all the work we do as a school district, which is what most superintendents in Ohio would agree (with), including those districts that received A grades.” I would agree with this too, but probably not in the same way as the superintendent of Reynoldsburg City Schools intends it. Nevertheless, Reynoldsburg is said to be working to improve parts of its report card ratings for the future, including test scores and a stubbornly high absenteeism rate. Which is good, no matter the grudging motivation. (ThisWeek News, 10/29/18)
  2. Liberty Local Schools is looking to remain in the black, budget-wise, for the next five years. While this positive projection is predicated on passing a levy next week (when isn’t it, I ask you), the real meat of this story is in the subtext. Liberty gained more than 130 students this year, and of course the state funding that comes with them. It is stated that more than 1/3 of those students have come in to the district via open enrollment and the rest are “district residential students”. Supe says that great new programs are
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