Additional Topics

DEMOCRACY REQUIRES PATRIOTISM
“In the long and deadly battle against those who hate Western ideals, and hate America in particular, we must be powerfully armed, morally as well as materially,” writes historian Donald Kagan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT
Former President Bill Clinton made waves with “stunning remarks” arguing charters that don’t outperform public schools should be closed. If “stunning” means saying the same thing charter advocates have been saying for twenty years, responds NACSA head Greg Richmond, “then yes, his remarks were stunning.”

“NOBODY WANTS TO BE ATLANTA”
The Wall Street Journal reports on “a burgeoning industry in detecting cheating on standardized exams.” School districts from Delaware to Idaho are hiring anti-cheating consultants, buying software to spot wrongdoers, and requiring testing companies to offer anti-cheating plans when seeking contracts. 

ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH
Literacy expert Tim Shanahan enters the fray on teaching with complex text, not just “leveled” text. “Teachers should pay attention to evidence—not opinion,” he writes. Read Fordham’s take by Mahnken and Pondiscio here....

  1. Gongwer Ohio discussed Aaron's Poised for Progress report on Friday, looking at new report card data from the perspective of the distribution of high-quality seats in Ohio's urban areas. OAPCS's report card analysis is covered as well. Nice! (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. How did the Big D get wind of the fact that Columbus City Schools is losing high schoolers to other districts and schools? Football. 8 teams were downgraded to smaller leagues based on student population. No matter. This fact spurred an investigation to find that most other Franklin County districts are losing high schoolers as well. No one has any idea why or even where specifically kids are going. Conjecture from our education professionals include competition from those pesky charter schools and the ease of public transit (?!) making changing schools easier. If only there was a study about this sort of thing though…. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. According to StateImpact, among those high schoolers who do find the right fit and stick it out, four-year graduation rates are improving among Ohio’s Urban 8 districts. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  4. This weekend’s talks between Reynoldsburg teachers and the district were unsuccessful and teachers are back on the picket
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  1. What could be worse than extended weeks of daily school transportation delays? Perhaps having your transportation up and functional for a couple of weeks, only to have it stopped with the explanation that you shouldn’t have had this bus service these last few weeks anyway. Oops. Our bad. For the love of Pete – please find another way to do this. (ThisWeek News/Bexley News)
     
  2. Cleveland’s Brent Larkin opines on the (lack of) substantive education discussion going on during the gubernatorial contest in Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. Speaking of the gubernatorial race, gubernatorial challenger Ed FitzGerald visited the picket line in Reynoldsburg yesterday. I will leave the question as to why a Clevelander visiting central Ohio was covered most fully in the Toledo paper up to others to answer. (Toledo Blade)
     
  4. Gubernatorial candidate FitzGerald only gets a brief passing mention in the Big D’s Reynoldsburg story today….probably because things have taken a turn for the bizarre there. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  5. Recall that there is a law on the books in Cleveland that parents must meet with their children’s teachers. There are no consequences, as you might imagine, but Year 1 numbers for parent visits
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DEPARTMENT OF GOOD NEWS:
Hispanic children, the fastest growing group of young people in the U.S., are seeing improvements on many academic measures, including increased math proficiency and lower dropout rates.

DEPARTMENT OF BAD NEWS:
The number of charter schools has nearly doubled over the past decade, but federal and state assistance for funding school facilities and renovations, a major obstacle for many charter schools, has declined.

COMMON CORE UNFOLDS IN LOUISIANA:
In spite of the legal furor surrounding the implementation of Common Core in the Pelican State, the standards have seen a mostly encouraging reception in the classroom, Will Sentell reports in the New Orleans Advocate.

YALE BEATS HARVARD, 20.2-15.4:
Yesterday we pointed you to a Wall Street Journal story highlighting Harvard’s somewhat lackluster 15.4 percent investment gains in fiscal 2014; today brings the news that archnemesis Yale posted a 20.2 percent return over the same period. Meanwhile, the Crimson's investment arm has brought on a new chief executive....

  1. We noted busing woes in a few parts of the state at the beginning of the school year. Sadly, a shortage of drivers in the Cincinnati area is extending transportation woes for families in district, charter, and private schools far into the school year. Please can we think up a new way of doing this? (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. I’m tempted to comment on the use of the phrase “traditional charter school” here, but the story is just too good to mess up with snark. A charter school in the Toledo area is partnering with a center for children with autism to help transition students into a more typical classroom setting. Gregory, for one, seems to be doing very well so far. (WTVG-TV, Toledo)
     
  3. Pickerington Central High School’s band will not be performing at tomorrow night’s football game against Reynoldsburg. Apparently band parents were concerned about “spillover” from the ongoing teachers strike in Reynoldsburg and Pickerington pulled the plug on the performance. I don’t know what “spillover” is but the fact that every adult involved on all sides of this strike didn’t rush out to reassure, “Every visitor to our stadium will have a good time and
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On Monday, Paul Peterson penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that American politicians ought to stop exploiting the common, mistaken belief that most schools are getting by on a shoestring. This is also, of course, a strong argument for more fiscal transparency, something that doesn’t get enough treatment in ed reform. If states and districts were more upfront about per-pupil costs, we could start having useful conversations about how to efficiently and effectively spend money—and how to best stretch school dollars.

Over at Education Next, John Bailey and Tom Vander Ark call for democratizing school information. Most of us won’t watch a movie, buy a book, eat at a restaurant, or stay at a hotel without checking crowd-sourced and/or expert reviews. It’s appalling, then, that Americans are forced to choose where their kids attend school without this sort of fundamental, easy-to-access data. Annual school report cards, which are required under federal law and ought to the one-stop shop for discerning parents, are difficult to find, lack key data, and can be hard to understand. And GreatSchools.org, a fantastic, useful resource, often bases its ratings exclusively on test scores,...

Blended learning, a teaching model in which students learn from both online sources and traditional instruction, has recently seen tremendous growth. Advocates say it can improve brick-and-mortar schools and increase students’ curricular options. A new white paper written for CEE-Trust examines two new blended learning networks created by local, city-based organizations and provides a framework for others who wish to emulate their efforts. Front and center is the work of the Chicago Public Education Fund and the CityBridge Foundation (in cooperation with the NewSchools Venture Fund). The former selected sixteen teams of educators to enroll in their Summer Design Program and provided tools and support that enabled them to better recognize school shortcomings and develop novel ways to offset them—typically through the implementation of blended learning programs. Likewise, CityBridge and NewSchools created the Education Innovation Fellowship to improve the quality of blended learning programs in Washington, D.C. Twelve teachers were chosen to design and implement the model in their classrooms with constant feedback from their peers through CityBridge-organized events. They also took part in workshops and visited schools around the country that are utilizing this type of instruction. Both programs helped foster the development of innovative learning models by creating...

To answer the questions in its title, this NBER study analyzes administrative and test score data in the upper elementary grades from one of the country’s largest school districts (not identified). The district provides gifted services to three groups of fourth-grade kids, who are mixed together post-identification: 1) non-disadvantaged students who score at least 130 points on an IQ test, the state cut off for gifted eligibility; 2) English language learners and low-income youngsters with IQs over 116 points (a lower threshold allowed under law for these kids); and 3) a group of non-gifted pupils—called “high achievers”—who scored highest among their school/grade cohort on the state test in the previous year. The third group comprises the bulk of students in the program. The district requires schools to create a gifted classroom whenever there’s at least one identified student in a school/grade cohort (e.g., school A, grade 4). And before a teacher is assigned to such a classroom, he or she must complete a specialized five-course training sequence. Researchers utilize a series of analytic models and find that the program had no effect on the reading or math achievement of the first two groups, the disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged kids identified as...

Our earliest thinkers about education—men like Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, and Horace Mann—would have found our current obsession with preparing children for college or a career a trifle odd. Given the uncertain prospect of ordinary Americans running their own affairs, they were focused on an entirely different “C”—citizenship. Rush spoke of the need to “convert men into republican machines.” Education was key, he said, “if we expect them to perform their parts properly in the great machine of the government of the state.” Once the impetus, civic education is the forgotten mission of public schools, unloved and—as this report from the American Enterprise Institute correctly observes—increasingly untested. The absence of high-stakes assessments devalues the significance of civics as a subject and sets in motion the dull hum of apathy: no stakes, no urgency, no civic knowledge, no civic engagement. Might high-stakes civics exams help turn young people into informed and engaged voters? David Campbell, a professor of political science and director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame, looks at twenty-one states that have some kind of statewide civics assessments. Eleven of those administer a test that’s mandated for graduation or a...

  1. Today’s scheduled Common Core repeal hearings were themselves “repealed”, so no live tweeting for Chad today. What do the bill sponsors propose for future hearings? Evenings with teachers in October. Could be interesting. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Speaking of Common Core, the director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education was speaking of Common Core at Bluffton University in Northwest Ohio yesterday. There were even math problems to do. Awesome! (Lima News)
     
  3. Sticking with some more out-of-the-way places in the state, the value of income-based vouchers are extolled in rural Ohio. (Logan Daily News)
     
  4. Back in the big city, the state Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in the case questioning who owns the assets of a charter school contracting with a for-profit management company. You can check out coverage from Gongwer Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and StateImpact Ohio. Is this a battleground over charter school accountability or just a question of contract law?
     
  5. Speaking of accountability, here’s the second in the Morning Journal’s series on “the new era of accountability” in Ohio’s schools. I don’t know if this is the point of the piece, but it seems that officials’
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