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Since the 1980s, there has been a significant increase in the average age at which women in industrialized nations have their first child. Advanced maternal age, medically defined as ages 35 and up, has in a number of studies shown negative association with infant health, and potentially, development in later life. However, data from three separate birth cohorts in the United Kingdom (1958, 1970, and 2001) indicated a marked increase in the cognitive ability of first-born children over time. At face value, this appears to be a disconnect: Shouldn’t the trend towards later child-bearing correlate to lower cognitive abilities among first-borns? A trio of researchers explored what was behind the unexpected results and recently published their results in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The three birth cohorts were studied separately for different longitudinal research projects and each included more than 16,000 randomly sampled children born in specific windows of time. Cognitive ability of the children was assessed at the ages of 10 or 11 using different tests of verbal cognition depending on the cohort. The researchers in the present study combined the data and standardized the three different test results to ensure the best comparability...

  1. At its sunset, the Lorain City Schools’ Academic Distress Commission was lionized by the school board at a special meeting this week. Nope. I don’t get it either. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/22/17)
     
  2. A new Spanish language immersion program is part of bevy of new options coming to Cincinnati City Schools’ students next year. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/22/17)
     
  3. It is difficult to tell by the way his piece is written whether Morning Journal reporter Kevin Martin actually went to the meeting in Avon earlier this week intended to solicit public input on Ohio’s proposed ESSA plan or whether he just got an overview of how it went from one if the organizers after the fact. Either way, Martin’s version (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/22/17) differs markedly from the version written up by confirmed eyewitness Patrick O’Donnell of the Plain Dealer. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/23/17) Kind of like the way that soda water is different from moonshine. Or gasoline.
     
  4. That was quick. We told you Wednesday that Youngstown Schools’ CIO John LaPlante was nominated for what appears to be the prestigious Illuminator of the Year award. Well, between now and then, he’s actually gone
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  1. There is a new voucher bill on the horizon here in Ohio, looking to make some radical changes – some might say improvements – to the existing programs. First up with coverage was Patrick O’Donnell. In his initial summary of the impending proposal, he seems to focus on who might stand to benefit from the changes. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/17/17) In his second look, Patrick focuses more on proposed structural changes. Specifically, a provision that would allow families to save any of their unused K-12 voucher funds for college expenses. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/20/17) The view from Columbus was published yesterday. Although not written by a Dispatch staffer, it has more than a whiff of the typical skepticism. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/21/17) The view from the Statehouse was also published yesterday. In true Gongwer fashion, the reportage is calm and to-the-point. In fact, it is the only piece published thus far that uses the term “needs-based scholarship” (i.e. – what the new proposal mainly is). (Gongwer Ohio, 2/21/17)
     
  2. Meanwhile, as Ohio’s new graduation requirements inch ever closer to reality – study group recommendations notwithstanding – the state is gearing up to require (and to offer for
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  1. Mike Petrilli and Fordham are namechecked in this guest commentary about the role of the local chapter of The Exchange Club in boosting civics education in Dayton. Fascinating. (Dayton Daily News, 2/15/17)
     
  2. Your humble clips compiler will admit to knowing nothing at all about the ins and outs of what might be termed “protest culture.” Case in point: I was both surprised and baffled by both sides of the argument in this editorial from the Toledo Blade in which editors implore parents not to homeschool their kids as a means to “avoid dealing with” new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. That's a thing? (Toledo Blade, 2/16/17)
     
  3. We noted earlier this week that the state board of education heard from organized groups of district superintendents regarding flaws that they perceive in the state’s proposed new ESSA accountability plan. That theme continued yesterday as state supe Paolo DeMaria was questioned on same (and in a very similar manner) by legislators on the Joint Education Oversight Committee. (No, it’s pronounced “JAY-ock”.) (Gongwer Ohio, 2/16/17)
     
  4. Meanwhile, back in the real world, a veritable plethora of new security cameras was installed in Youngstown’s East High School this week.
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  1. The state board of education met this week and members heard testimony from a number of organized groups of superintendents on the state’s draft ESSA plan. Coverage was sparse. First up was a group of mostly-suburban districts from Northeast Ohio who said that the current version of the plan “ignores” public input and requested a rethink on certain items. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/13/17) What do they (and, by extension, “the public”) want instead? According to a whitepaper released along with their testimony, the they want fewer state tests, an end to A through F grades on state report cards, and changes to graduation requirements, among other things. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/14/17) Concurrently, a group of Akron-area superintendents opined upon the draft ESSA plan, with more (and more detailed) requests, including: keeping student subgroups at 30 (rather than the proposed drop to 15), not requiring the reporting of high school exam retakes for excused absences, and making wraparound services universal. (Akron Beacon Journal, 2/14/17)
     
  2. We have already noted that in his new biennial budget Governor Kasich has proposed requiring school boards to include 3 ex-officio members from the business community. As an extension of this new “business
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  1. Fordham Ohio staffers were quoted in some out-of-the-way places over the weekend. First up, Chad was among those quoted – and our HB2 implementation report was cited as welll – in a Crain’s piece discussing the state of play with regard to charter schools in Ohio generally (and in Cleveland specifically). There are a lot of moving parts for the business-minded to grapple with and the piece does a good job of laying them out. (Crain’s Cleveland Business, 2/12/17)
     
  2. Indeed the sheer volume of information seems to have overwhelmed the reporter for the West Virginia newspaper who interviewed our own Jamie Davies O’Leary in regard to the history of charter schools in Ohio. But the reporter is to be commended for going big in her efforts to interview charter sector players in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland as well as from the National Association of Public Charter Schools for her piece. Kudos! (Clarksburg (WV) Exponent-Telegram, 2/12/17)
     
  3. We end a slow news day with some good news/bad news in terms of teacher contract negotiations across Ohio. The (tentative) good news comes from Cleveland, where a possible contract agreement may have been reached after 8 months of
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  1. With less than a month to go until a new CEO-style Academic Distress Commission comes to Lorain City Schools, one elected school board member has decided to reach out to the ACLU to see if a possible civil rights case may be an option to halt ADC implementation, as if he’s just hearing about this situation for the first time. So weird. Additionally, I am shocked at the number of folks quoted here (and in the online comments section) who cannot seem to think of anything else the district could have done to avoid an Academic Distress Commission before yesterday. Academic… Distress… (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/9/17)
     
  2. It seems that Jefferson Township Local Schools’ books are in such poor shape that even StateAuditor Man! can’t figure them out. Akin to Lorain, above, it appears that no one quoted here can think of any way this situation of unauditable books could have been avoided prior to yesterday. But boy do they sound committed to fixing it after the fact. (Dayton Daily News, 2/9/17)
     
  3. Finally, some good news. World-renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman made a small tour of some awesome charter schools in Columbus yesterday. According to Twitter,
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  1. Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger published an op ed this week in which he opines on the necessity and early efficacy of charter law reform in Ohio. For the latter, he cites our recent report looking at the early implementation of HB 2. Nice! (Washington Court House Record Herald, 2/7/17)
     
  2. Springfield’s Global Impact STEM Academy is on the grow! The non-district, non-charter, public STEM high school is expanding to middle school starting next year with a $13 million building project which is on time, under budget, and looking pretty darn cool. Check it out. (Springfield News Sun, 2/7/17)
     
  3. Dayton’s school board this week unanimously approved a new three-year contract for Superintendent Rhonda Corr, citing some important positives that occurred during her first year on the job. While the biggest ones – a better-than-expected state report card and removal of the threat of an Academic Distress Commission – admittedly happened on the watch of the previous supe, the board president hinted at some further good news on the horizon: “We’re really excited about some reports you’re going to receive, and feel that this community will become even more confident in us moving ahead…” Well, played, Mr.
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Do incentives nudge students to exert more effort in their schoolwork? A recent study by University of Chicago analysts suggests they do, though the structure of the incentive is also important.

The researchers conducted field experiments from 2009 to 2011 in three high-poverty areas, including Chicago Public Schools and two nearby districts, with nearly 6,000 student participants in grades two through ten. Based on improved performance relative to a baseline score on a low-stakes reading or math assessment (not the state exam), various incentives were offered to different groups of pupils, such as a $10 or $20 reward, or a trophy worth about $3 along with public recognition of their accomplishment. The analysts offered no reward to students in a control group. To test whether pupils responded differently to immediate versus delayed incentives, some of the students received their reward right after the test—results were computed on the spot—while others knew the reward would be withheld for one month.

Several interesting findings emerged. First, the larger cash reward ($20) led to positive effects on test performance, while the smaller reward had no impact ($10). This suggests that, if offering a monetary reward, larger payouts will likely lead to more...

  1. A bit more coverage of the Ohio charter school facilities report, with whose release we helped out last week, courtesy of statewide public radio. (Statehouse News Bureau, 2/6/17)
     
  2. Here is a story about simple, common-sense stress reduction efforts underway in three Columbus City Schools elementary buildings. By all measures presented here, these efforts have worked miracles for students and have aided discipline and focus building-wide. Even the teachers are said to have reduced stress levels. And while there is no mention of how much any of these steps have cost, none of them seems to be very expensive at all and a local non-profit is said to be involved. So stipulating, I will present you with the piece’s conclusion: “Ohio Avenue's academics still need to catch up, she said, but kids aren't being sent out of lessons so often for discipline problems. Feeling calm and secure, they might be absorbing more material. The hope is that test scores will climb accordingly.” And now I will ask rhetorically if any of my loyal Gadfly Bites readers can guess the question lingering in my mind… (Columbus Dispatch, 2/5/17)
     
  3. Speaking of improvements, here is an update on Youngstown
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