Additional Topics

  1. Having failed, thus far, to scupper Ohio’s $71 million federal Charter School Program grant award, opponents of charter schools seem to be pivoting toward begging for additional oversight of whatever money Ohio’s charter schools might receive. Unfortunately for Sen. Brown and those feeding him information, our own Chad Aldis is here to set their mistaken arguments straight. First, the “smoking gun” report that purports to show previous CSP grant money went to “failed” charter schools actually shows that the money went in large measure to traditional school districts who founded over 40 percent of those closed schools. Second, Ohio’s charter reform law (HB 2) is already starting to have its desired effect. Poor-performing schools are closing and sponsors are proactively pruning their portfolios, making it even more likely that CSP grant funds will go to the high-performing charter schools they are intended to help. What could be wrong with that?  (Columbus Dispatch, 6/21/16)
  2. Speaking of dispelling myths, none were during last week’s meeting of the Columbus City Schools’ citizen millage committee. Instead, the group was treated to a line-toeing presentation (from the district treasurer no less) that oversimplified the topic of school funding yet again. As reported
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  1. There was more talk of the “HB 2 Effect” this weekend. The Dispatch didn’t go into quite the level of detail that the Plain Dealer did, but Chad was quoted saying the same thing. The closure of underperforming charter schools seems to be ramping up and it seems to be happening quite quickly. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/19/16)
  2. But all that is not to say that more charter schools aren’t going to open. The Canton Rep had no sooner finished celebrating the demise of one charter school in their town only to turn around and discover another one on the way. They pulled out the fine-toothed comb and got to work. (Canton Repository, 6/15/16)
  3. Here’s a local story that seems to be gaining some national traction. Shania Clifford, a female competitor from a southern Ohio career tech school apparently slayed during a statewide masonry competition in April. Yes, that’s bricklaying. However, by the time the national competition roster came around, Shania had been demoted and learned via Facebook that she would not be competing after all. The organizers say the Ohio competition scores were erroneous and recalculation showed Shania didn’t win after all. Others, including her teacher,
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  1. The NAPCS/50CAN/NACSA report on the quality of virtual schools across the country made a splashy debut yesterday. It was big news in Ohio for sure, although folks took its messages somewhat differently. Was it an attack? A “call for action”? You decide. Our own Chad Aldis was quoted in all of the following pieces. The PD was first out of the gate with coverage. They were also the only ones (so far) to get a statement in response to the report from Ohio’s largest online school, ECOT. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/16/16). No such luck for The Dispatch, although the quote from the PD made it in here too. What? You think reporters don’t talk to each other? (Columbus Dispatch, 6/16/16). True to its nature, Gongwer went to a state legislator to get its second quote. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/16/16)
  2. Dayton City Schools has a new supe. She is Rhonda Corr, a veteran administrator who has worked in Cleveland, Chicago, and Indianapolis. The board also named a new treasurer from within district ranks. She is Hiwot Abraha, who has been interim treasurer and assistant treasurer in the district. Interestingly, both appointments were for only one year, although
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The Tonys edition

On this week’s podcast, Mike Petrilli and Alyssa Schwenk discuss school segregation, four directions states can take under ESSA, and what Hamilton says about grit and privilege. During the Research Minute, David Griffith summarizes ACT’s national curriculum survey.

Amber's Research Minute

"ACT National Curriculum Survey 2016," ACT (June 2016).

  1. After some drops, adds, and sifting, the list of finalists for Dayton City Schools superintendent is down to three. They were introduced to the public late last week and here are brief profiles of them all. Not sure when the board will make the decision. Hopefully soon. (Dayton Daily News, 6/10/16) However, there is some concern that said Dayton school board may run into difficulties with the superintendent hiring processes. Why? Because the district is also looking for an athletic director, but has had to rescind not one but two job offers following concerns that the interview process used was not fair to all applicants. Both times. Don’t forget the board is looking for a treasurer too!  (Dayton Daily News, 6/14/16)
  2. Meanwhile, in other “fourth branch of government” news, things are just as out of control as ever in Youngstown. Henry Martyn Robert, who grew up in Ohio and was married in Dayton, is likely spinning in his grave to see his rulebook used to foster what appears to be disorder, confusion, and gridlock like this. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/15/16)
  3. The state board of education meeting this week wrought at least two newsworthy items. First up,
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In April, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining recent trends in the racial and socioeconomic composition of America’s public schools. Between the 2000–01 and 2013–14 school years, the study finds, the fraction of U.S. schools that were both high-poverty (75 percent or more eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, or FRPL) and high-minority (75 percent or more African American or Hispanic students) rose from 9 to 16 percent.

While the GAO analysts caution that their analyses “should not be used to make conclusions about the presence or absence of unlawful discrimination,” to headline writers at the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times, the findings suggest “resegregation” in American schools. The Post editorial board declared a “resurgence of resegregation.” But is this a fair interpretation?

There are at least two problems with drawing such a conclusion. The first is that the GAO analysis doesn’t take into account overall demographic trends. During this time period, student demographics were changing in America. As a share of the national student population, Hispanic students increased from 16 percent to 25 percent from 2000 to 2014 (though African American pupils remained virtually unchanged as a fraction...

Ohio’s second-ever school district CEO was chosen at the end of May by the members of the Youngstown City Schools Academic Distress Commission (ADC). He is Krish Mohip, a former teacher and principal and current school administrator in Chicago. He has a track record of turning around low performing schools in the Windy City and make no mistake that that is his charge in Youngstown as well.

Mohip was chosen from a field of nearly three dozen candidates and was introduced to Youngstown stakeholders and the public last week. So far he is enthusiastic, effusive, and inclusive. He told WFMJ-TV that he is thrilled to be in Youngstown and can’t wait to get to work gathering input and working with the ADC, teachers, parents, the elected school board, and the community to create the academic improvement plan that is his required first order of business. In an in-depth interview with Vindy Radio last Friday, Mohip was thoughtful and engaging but clear on his goals: all parents want the best for their children, all children can learn, and it is the schools’ job to make that learning happen. We are encouraged by Mohip’s track record and enthusiasm for...

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to incorporate at least one non-academic indicator—which might include (but isn’t limited to) factors like school climate or safety—into their accountability frameworks. That makes this study published in Educational Researcher rather well-timed. The authors set out to test the theory that reductions in school violence and/or improvements to school climate would lead to improved academic outcomes. Instead, the evidence they discovered suggests the relationship flows in the opposite direction: A school’s improvement in academic performance led to reductions in violence and improved climate—not the other way around.

The study’s authors point to serious gaps in past studies of school climate and safety, many of which illustrated only correlation (not causation) among the variables examined. This motivated them to test the assumption that improved school climate must come first in the chicken-egg scenario. Using six years of student survey results (from 2007–13) from a representative sample of 3,100 California middle and high schools, analysts employed a research design known for its ability to test causality when large-scale experimental designs aren’t possible. (For the curious, this is described as a “cross-lagged panel autoregressive modeling design,” which determines whether variables at different points in...

  1. Kinda quiet this weekend in terms of education news stories. First up, two previews of state board of ed action to occur this week. It appears that board members will hold their noses and approve a proposed set of criteria defining the term “consistently high-performing teacher”. Neither the committee that came up with the criteria nor the board members who have to vote on it seem all that thrilled with what is before them. Why are they going to vote for it then? Because they are required by law to set a definition by July 1 and this is what there is to vote on. Inspiring (Gongwer Ohio, 6/10/16) Also on the agenda this week, adjust the cut scores for two new high school end-of-course math exams that students took this spring. We told you last week that the initial results didn’t look so promising. So the question before the board is to keep the cut scores high and have loads of kids not pass, or lower the cut scores so larger numbers pass. This is such an important issue that our own Chad Aldis weighed in, landing on the side that says that “Diplomas have to mean
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  1. If things go as planned, Cincinnati City Schools’ board of education will pass a resolution next week to authorize negotiations with Phalen Leadership Academies, a charter school network from Indianapolis, with an eye toward opening a district-sponsored Phalen school in the Queen City. The timing is important because formalizing the negotiation status will allow Phalen to apply for Ohio’s new charter school facilities funding, the deadline for which is fast approaching. You can read journalist Hannah Sparling’s pretty awesome description (if I do say so myself) of Phalen’s work in Indy here. But the three months since that piece was published seem to have soured Sparling on the idea. Or else it was her discussion with the leader of the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition that did it. CEJC leader Michelle Dillingham, also a candidate for city council, was quoted in yesterday’s piece vehemently opposing the district’s plan. She “doesn’t know enough about Phalen to rate the model one way or the other, but she didn’t see anything in Wednesday’s presentation that CPS isn’t already offering its students… ‘It’s not really clear what they’re innovating,’ she said.” There you have it. More developments next week, I’m sure. (Cincinnati Enquirer,
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