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Good riddance to 2016!

On this week's podcast, special guest Marc Porter Magee, CEO & Founder of 50CAN, joins Mike Petrilli and Alyssa Schwenk to look back on the year that was.During the Research Minute, David Griffith summarizes Undue Process, a study he coauthored with Victoria McDougald that examines why bad teachers are so difficult to dismiss.

David's Research Minute 

David Griffith and Victoria McDougald, "Undue Process: Why Bad Teachers in Twenty-Five Diverse Districts Rarely Get Fired," Thomas B. Fordham Institute (December 2016).
  1. Here’s another article on Fordham-sponsored charter school DECA Prep’s expansion plans, now underway in Dayton. There’s some great detail here about the school’s plans. I find the “parent center” portion to be very interesting. Kudos to DECA on all fronts! (Dayton Daily News, 12/18/16)
  2. DECA is also name-checked in this piece – among a list of many other options from which one Dayton resident could choose for her grandson. The main part of the story is about inter-district open enrollment in Montgomery County, timed to coincide with the first public discussions in Huber Heights schools about the possibility of opening up their borders to students from outside. It’s a very interesting piece and thoroughly discusses the pros and cons. I was especially impressed by the superintendent from Kettering schools who candidly (and accurately) noted that “revenues are the main driver of open enrollment on the school side, while it’s just another form of school choice on the family side.” (Dayton Daily News, 12/17/16)
  3. Here is an interesting story on the current career-skills training going on at one Columbus City Schools high school. Specifically, construction trades. Nice. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/18/16)
  4. Finally today, eSports has
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  1. The end of the legislative session in Ohio included a couple of surprises, one of which was a bill from Rep. Andrew Brenner proposing a fairly radical overhaul of school funding in the state. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/15/16) Stakeholders are starting to react to the proposal and comments are, at least at first, nuanced and non-dogmatic. The details will be key going forward, but as Brenner notes in the Dispatch piece and this Gongwer piece, he is mainly aiming to “start a conversation” around the issue of tackling school funding. Mission accomplished, it seems. (Gongwer Ohio, 12/15/16)
  2. Fascinating commentary from an English teacher in Shaker Heights schools in suburban Cleveland. It’s a district with a distinct group of high-flyers and kids with distinct disadvantages. Teacher Cotton defines from firsthand what the terms “achievement gap” and “opportunity gap” mean to him and rejects them both as means by which to measure/rate the success of his district. His beef seems to be mainly with the Ohio Department of Education and one or more of the ratings given to the district by ODE, but it also seems to me that his argument is missing some important nuance in that regard.
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  1. Fordham’s first-ever analysis of Ohio’s EdChoice program – released earlier this year – was cited in a “School Vouchers 101” piece on NPR. NPR!! (National Public Radio, 12/7/16)
  2. I’m sure we talked about this last week, but here it is again. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece which discusses the impending end of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Anybody besides me think Bush’s writing sounds positively giddy here? (Columbus Dispatch, 12/14/16)
  3. As we noted earlier, the Ohio State Board of Education this week discussed changing the state’s new graduation requirements before they were fully implemented, amid widely-publicized fears of a “graduation apocalypse”. I don’t know about that last part, but no changes were made to said requirements this week. Instead, a workgroup will be impaneled to further discuss the issue and to make recommendations somewhere down the road. Chad testified before the board yesterday on the topic. Coverage of the non-decision which notes and/or quotes Chad’s testimony can be found in Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 12/13/16) and on Ideastream public radio. (Ideastream Public Media, Cleveland, 12/13/16) Anyone interested can read the full text of Chad’s remarks here.
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Most Ohio Gadfly readers know that we typically offer in-depth commentary one topic at a time. This tendency assumes (pardon the holiday metaphor) that one huge present is preferred—like the Lexus tied up in a bow. We recognize that other folks might prefer a bundle of gifts. So, for those yearning for a little more diversity in their inbox, this one is for you. (No white elephants, we promise.)

A win on ESSA accountability

In late November, the U.S. Department of Education released its revised and final regulations on school accountability under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In a victory for high achievers, the feds made it crystal clear that states are permitted to use a performance index—as Ohio has long done—as an indicator of student achievement. Regrettably (see here and here for why), the previous draft regulations would have likely forbidden performance indices and forced states to use proficiency rates instead. Now it’s full steam ahead on the performance index as Ohio drafts its ESSA state plan.

Information in the palm of your hand

Kudos to state leaders who are making Ohio’s report card data useful and accessible to policy wonks...

  1. Fordham-sponsored charter school KIPP: Columbus is among the grant recipients recently announced by the Columbus Foundation as part of its Capital Improvement Funding Partnership to “prioritize and respond to capital needs in the community.” Congrats to local KIPPsters on the grow! (Columbus Business First, 12/9/16)
  2. Fordham’s 2016 study of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship program is referenced in this commentary opining against Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. (Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail, 12/10/16)
  3. The PD reports that the lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly did not legislate changes to the attendance audit/funding process for online schools in the state, a process which is the subject of litigation and journalistic tit-for-tatting between the state’s largest such school and the state department of education. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/12/16)
  4. Speaking of the state legislature, this piece from the D regarding an impending change – or not – of Ohio’s new graduation requirements had a decidedly-legislative spin in its print version (which I read while drinking coffee out of a Christmas-themed mug this morning), but in this online version seems a bit less cut-and-dried in that regard. I’m sure we’ll know which it is when the state board
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  1. As the school’s sponsor, Fordham is namechecked in this story about an impending expansion at DECA Prep, one of the first charter schools to win facilities funding from the state. Awesome! (Dayton Biz Journal, 12/7/16)
  2. The state board of education has heard "nothing official" from the business community regarding proposed changes to Ohio’s new graduation standards (before they even fully take effect) and even the redoubtable Patrick O’Donnell seems unable to get an official comment from them, even by asking nicely…and persistently. Which I’m sure he did. Discussion on said changes will continue at next week’s board meeting. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/9/16)
  3. Potential disaster was averted in the Colossus of Lorain (aka, the district’s schmancy new high school) earlier this week after a candy bar fire was quickly extinguished. You can bet the whole thing was caught on camera. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 12/9/16)
  1. Our own Chad Aldis was busy yesterday. Here he is reminding us of the subtle irony of district-sponsored online charter schools looking for an exemption to the rule that other online schools – like Ohio’s largest such school – must currently follow regarding attendance audit findings and potential return of funds to the state. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/6/16) Here he is lamenting the impending closure of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools after 10 years of work on behalf of charters statewide. (Gongwer Ohio, 12/6/16) And here is saying lovely things about RaShaun Holliman, who started Monday as the new head of the Office of Community Schools at the Ohio Department of Education. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/6/16)
  2. Speaking of ODE – the department informed Parma City Schools late last week that the district’s proposed fiscal recovery plan had been accepted. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/5/16)
  3. And speaking of accepted plans – the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission this week approved a revised version of CEO Krish Mohip’s turnaround plan. Additions from the original submission include updating the student code of conduct, educating students on appropriate school behavior, providing high-quality professional development to all staff
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  1. What are the chances that the ongoing kerfuffle between Ohio’s largest online school and the state department of education regarding their recent attendance audit will be solved via legislation in the current lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly? The D says they are slim. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/5/16)
  2. An informal study shows that more than 70 percent of Ohio school district faced shrinking student populations in the last ten years. Here’s an interesting look at how some Lorain County districts coped, facilities-wise. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 12/3/16) And here’s a follow up looking at two suburban districts in Lorain County, both of which experienced strong increases in student enrollment over the last few years. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 12/4/16)
  3. I had never heard the story of how the founder of Columbus Africentric School ended up here in our fair city before. It’s pretty interesting. And he’s still here 50 years later and looking very much forward to the opening of the brand new and super-spiffy Africentric School building scheduled for early January. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/5/16)
  4. While not strictly education-focused, this interview with Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance is, I think, very
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  1. Editors in Youngstown yesterday opined in praise of the Youngstown Plan and expressed hope for Lorain as it embarks on its own version of the plan. (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/1/16) It’s not technically part of the Youngstown Plan, but I’m sure the district will be happy to reap any goodwill and academic benefits that accrue from its recent expansion to all-day, full-week preschool. (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/2/16)
  2. It appears that Austintown Schools is poised to make changes to its open enrollment policy soon, due mainly to financial considerations. (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/1/16)
  3. Speaking of district finances, it appears that the proposed layoffs of classroom paraprofessionals in Dayton Schools are on hold until at least the summer. (Dayton Daily News, 12/1/16)
  4. Recall that teachers in Louisville Local Schools went back to work on Wednesday after a 16-day strike. They did so without approving a new contract and they are still working without one today. A vote is scheduled next week on a fact-finder’s report – intended as the basis for a new agreement – which has already been rejected by the rank-and-file twice. The Rep’s piece from yesterday does not seem filled with confidence for an
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