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Cincinnati voters will likely decide this fall on whether to approve a tax hike to expand pre-K. The Cincinnati Preschool Promise is the organization driving these efforts; if they get a thumbs-up from the electorate, the tentative plan is to provide families with a subsidy that covers the cost of two years of all-day preschool (full tuition for families up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level and partial tuition, on a sliding scale, for those with higher incomes). Only high-quality pre-K providers—those receiving at least a three-star rating on the state’s Step Up to Quality system—will be eligible to receive these public funds.

To help inform the debate as Election Day draws near, the Cincinnati Business Committee and United Way of Greater Cincinnati commissioned the RAND Corporation to review national research on the effectiveness of pre-K. The study doesn’t add any new evidence, but does provide an overview of the findings from fifteen evaluations of pre-K: One federal program (Head Start), eleven statewide programs (all non-Ohio), and three district-level programs (Boston, Chicago, and Tulsa). Broadly speaking, the authors paint an optimistic picture, highlighting the positive short-term effects of pre-K on kindergarten readiness and noting...

  1. Fordham’s report card analysis “Facing Facts” got another brief notice this week, Cincinnati style. Chili is not optional. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/15/16)
  2. Speaking of school report cards, editors in Sandusky want to remind readers that they were against testing and report cards before such hatin’ was cool. They opined with just such a reminder today, but still took a moment to give kudos to area schools who did well on the despised test. Sounds like the next big ride at Cedar Point should be called Ironclad Irony. (Sandusky Register, 3/16/16)
  3. For some reason, I am reminded of the beloved Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar when I read this piece. Two state legislators most vociferous in their hatred of the so-called “Youngstown Plan” (actually, a sharpening of Ohio’s Academic Distress Commission protocols currently narrowly focused on Youngstown) and the legislative process which brought it into being are offering a way out of the judicial impasse in which said ADC is currently mired. It does not involve defining the word “teacher”. Story developing, as they say. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/15/16)
  4. A school district does not reach a state of academic distress overnight, and it takes even longer before
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  1. The 2014 CREDO report “Charter Performance in Ohio”, paid for by Fordham, is cited and our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this Politico piece on the education record of presidential candidate (and Ohio Governor) John Kasich. (Politico, 3/14/16)
  2. Our “Facing Facts” report analyzing Ohio’s report card data garnered a couple more notices. The folks at Gongwer took a long look at the report and seem to have found it interesting and informative. Not sure what’s up with that urban district teacher job fair notice tacked on at the bottom. Probably meant to be a separate story, but you have been informed. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/11/16) With journalist Doug “Dog” Livingston off dogging politicians instead of education folk these days, it falls to the ABJ editorial staff to “report” on K-12 issues. This includes editorial page editor Michael “Dog” Douglas, who perused our “Facing Facts” report before opining positively on the value of Ohio’s report card data. Maybe he was so positive because of the relatively-high value added scores of some otherwise-maligned Akron schools. Or maybe it was something Aaron said. Whatever the reason, new “Dog” is definitely going against the prevailing narrative on Ohio’s report cards
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  1. Some nice coverage of Fordham’s new state report card analysis “Facing Facts” in the Dispatch this morning. Definitely a case of good news/bad news for central Ohio. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/11/16)
  2. The ironies in this brief piece about yet another online school forced to pay back money for kids unable to be accounted for are so loud that the outrage is being drowned out. Surely that’s why I can’t hear it. (Newark Advocate, 3/8/16)
  3. Speaking of technology, the Dayton Daily News is really really excited about the start of a pilot program giving a small group of Dayton City Schools’ students Chromebooks. How excited? They even note in this brief “breaking news” piece the time that the distribution will happen: 9:45 am. No mention of what time the boys are going to have to give them back (3:15? 3:45?); also no mention of what they’re going to do when Ohio gives up on computers in schools and heads back to slide rules and abaci. Stay tuned. (Dayton Daily News, 3/11/16)
  4. Speaking of avid journalism, the Enquirer has been avidly following (perhaps even stoking) the furor over the School for Creative and Performing Arts in the
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The Coates-Miranda edition

In this week’s podcast, Robert Pondiscio and Alyssa Schwenk contrast the views of two MacArthur “geniuses,” weigh the role of “life experiences” in the college admissions process, and question reform critics’ push to block John King’s confirmation as education secretary. In the Research Minute, Amber Northern explains how DCPS gathers various data on teacher hiring but doesn't make the best use of them.

Amber's Research Minute

Brian Jacob, Jonah E. Rockoff, Eric S. Taylor, Benjamin Lindy, and Rachel Rosen, "Teacher Applicant Hiring and Teacher Performance: Evidence from DC Public Schools," NBER (March 2016).

  1. Editors in Toledo opined on the subject of state report card results, looking to outside analyses of those results to bolster their point. Fordham’s first-blush mini-analysis of the report card data from last week is one of those outside sources. Just wait gang, there’s more where that came from! (Toledo Blade, 3/9/16)
  2. The Blade must have written its editorial a few days ago, because there is no mention of the other shoe. That is, the growing hubbub over a “huge disparity” in value-added results for schools who took PARCC tests online vs. those who took PARCC tests via pencil and paper. We brought you the PD version of the story on Monday. Here it is from the D. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/8/16)
  3. The above-referenced failure of Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips was front and center at this week’s state board of education meeting. You can read coverage of this specific issue in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/8/16) and the AP (Dayton Daily News, via AP, 3/7/16). In other state board of ed news, far less interesting other stuff was discussed. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/7/16)
  4. At the other end of the wire,
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When the history of this era’s urban-education reform movement is written, four big policy innovations are sure to get attention: the nation’s first voucher program, first charter law, first mayor-controlled charter authorizer, and first “extraordinary authority” unit (the RSD).

The people mostly responsible for these have two important things in common.

First, unless you’re an old hand in this business, you may not know of them.

Second—Polly Williams, Ember Reichgott Junge, Teresa Lubbers, Leslie Jacobs—they’re all women.

Unfortunately, those two facts are probably related.

Much has been written recently about the social forces pushing women below the radar in professional settings. In an excellent NYT piece, “Speaking While Female,” Sheryl Sandberg (Lean In) and Adam Grant (a Wharton professor) argue that “speaking up” at work generally helps men but not women.

“When a woman speaks in a professional setting,” they write, “she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s...

I have no idea if Lin-Manuel Miranda has read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me; nor am I aware if Coates has seen Miranda’s Hamilton on Broadway. But it would be fascinating to listen to the two of them discuss each other’s work and their views on what it means to be young, brown, and American today.

All of us who work in classrooms with children of color would be richer if we could eavesdrop on such an exchange.

The parallels are striking. Both are young men of color who have created two of the most praised and dissected cultural works of the moment. Both were recent and richly deserving Macarthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipients. Each turns his creative lens on our nation. But their respective visions of America, signaled through their work, could scarcely be more different.

We can be a bit promiscuous in our use of the word “genius,” but if it applies to anyone, it’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Anyone who can read, as he did, Ron Chernow’s seven-hundred-page doorstop biography of Alexander Hamilton and think “Hip hop musical!” has a mind like few others.

But where Miranda’s genius burns bright, Coates’s burns hot. He is, by a...

The White House has selected Columbus, along with nine other cities, as a focus site for two newly launched campaigns to address and eliminate chronic student absenteeism. The first is the My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors Initiative, the “first-ever effort to scale an evidence-based, data-driven mentor model to reach and support the highest-risk students.” The program will connect over one million students across the ten cities with trained mentors, including coaches, administrative staff, teachers, security guards, AmeriCorps members, tutors, and others. The second initiative is a multi-million-dollar parent engagement campaign through the Ad Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the Mott Foundation, to “elevate the conversation about the devastating impact of chronic absenteeism.” The initiative will target K–8 parents through a campaign website with downloadable resources, billboards, and Public Service Announcements on bus shelters and in doctors’ offices and schools. Chronic absenteeism—missing more than 10 percent of a school year—is a strong predictor of low performance and eventual dropping out. Research shows that when at-risk students have caring adults in their lives, their likelihood of dropping out decreases. We’re pleased to see the campaigns’ selection of Columbus, a city whose district has the second-lowest attendance...

  1. In a leftover from late last week, our own Chad Aldis was talking to public media about the challenges facing e-schools in developing a system to take attendance and how he believes it can be done. Which is good, because they have to. (Statehouse News Bureau, others via public media, 3/4/16)
  2. Speaking of e-schools in Ohio, the D gave us tons more dirt on Provost Academy, an online school which – it was announced last week – was ordered to pay back something like 80% of the state funding it had received due to attendance discrepancy (see above for more on that “taking attendance” conundrum). And by “dirt”, I mean texts of emails and audio-recorded meetings. Ugh. Didn’t I see this on “The Good Wife”? (Columbus Dispatch, 3/6/16) Today, editors in Columbus put it all together for us re: the importance of not watering down e-school attendance tracking and reporting requirements. Helpful. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/7/16)
  3. In other news, Dayton City Schools is pushing back a bit on a couple of dings (yes, that is the technical term) in its most recent state audit. (Dayton Daily News, 3/6/16) Meanwhile, staffers from the Ohio Department
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