Check today's Ohio Education Gadfly for a special Race to the Top analysis recommending strategies for the Buckeye State as it heads into round two of the competition. Ohio has exactly one month (that's when districts and charter schools must sign on) to improve its application. Fordham recommends that Ohio:
- Address the state's round-one areas of weakness directly. Ohio shouldn't just resubmit the same package of proposals but should be sure that its second-round application reflects substantive changes to the areas it scored lowest in. This will show Sec. Duncan and reviewers that the state can take constructive criticism seriously and change course when necessary to improve student performance.
- Pay particular attention to the ???Great Teachers and Leaders??? section. Ohio scored second to lowest of the 16 finalists states in this category. Compared to winning states (Tennessee and Delaware) and those scoring highest in this section (Rhode Island and Louisiana), Ohio hasn't enacted the type of bold reforms related to teachers and leaders that it needs to. Not sure what those reforms look like? Ohio Education Gadfly synthesizes six of the boldest teacher-related reforms and provides examples of each.
- Be aware that other states are moving quickly to improve substantive areas of their applications. You might have heard about Florida and Kentucky making legislative changes to improve Race to the Top competitiveness for round two. Chances are, so have the federal reviewers and Sec. Duncan, who will view Ohio's application alongside other states that have made significant improvements. Florida's passage of Senate Bill 6 is just one example- Ohio Education Gadfly provides a side-by-side comparison of this legislation with Ohio's House Bill 1 as they relate to teacher reforms and argues that Ohio will have to do more. ????
- Not assume that the state will earn all of its round-one points in round two. Critics have been public about the fact that Ohio probably earned more points for charter schools than it should have, and that school turnarounds were scored generously (in all states). Others are pointing out several flaws in round-one scoring, so Ohio shouldn't expect the scoring process ??? or the number of first-round points ??? to remain the same.
Ohio is in a decent position headed into round two but must resist the urge to take the easy route and resubmit the same package of reforms. Significant improvements should be made especially related to ???Great Teachers and Leaders??? (and peer states can serve as excellent models for this) not only because there are a ton of points to be won, but because reforming the way teachers are evaluated, rewarded, retained, prepared, etc. will have the greatest impact on student achievement in the Buckeye State.