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  1. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this Q&A piece about the upcoming state tests in Ohio. No, Chad isn’t answering the questions. Journalist Ben Lanka is asking and answering based on his research. Chad is just a reasonable voice among the rhetoric. (Newark Advocate, 4/1/16)
     
  2. The 70s and 80s were a turbulent time in central Ohio. The City of Columbus was annexing any land it could get its hands on to forestall becoming landlocked in the future. At the same time, a desegregation decision rendered the city school district toxic to many in outlying communities where annexation was taking place. (I know, right?!) The result was a thing we like to call “Win-Win” around here. (Ironic, yes?) Y’all can keep your suburban schools but your land belongs to the City of Columbus and you owe Columbus City Schools money every year for that privilege. That agreement renews automatically every six year…as long as the school districts involved in the pact don’t object. Well, like the 17-year cicadas, Win-Win renewal time is back again. Seems like it might not be challenged again this cycle, but the clock is still ticking on that. The last renewal time was
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Last year, a few early childhood advocates blasted the Common Core State Standards for their “harmful” effects on kindergarteners, particularly in reading. While a careful examination of the standards reveals this claim to be overstated, the notion that we are killing kindergarten was gaining traction long before Common Core came onto the scene (2010 and thereafter). Until now, this narrative has been informed largely by anecdotal evidence, idealism, and good old-fashioned nostalgia. Noting that “surprisingly little empirical evidence” has been gathered on the changing nature of kindergarten classrooms, this paper attempts to fill the void by comparing kindergarten and first-grade classrooms in 1998 and 2010—capturing the changes in teachers’ perceptions of kindergarten over time.

Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, researchers compared survey response data from public school kindergarten teachers in 1998 and 2010 to investigate changes across five dimensions: teachers’ beliefs about school readiness, curricular focus and use of time, classroom materials, pedagogical approach, and assessment practices.

Overall, researchers found that kindergarten has become more like first grade. When asked to rate the importance of thirteen school readiness skills, 2010 teachers tended to rate all of them as more important than...

If you’re reading this, you are probably a subscriber to the Ohio Gadfly Biweekly email newsletter. Kudos. You have excellent taste in email newsletters.

We love an in-depth analysis and an insightful review just as much as the next person, but there’s more to Fordham Ohio’s work than just what you see in the biweekly Gadfly. (Hard to believe, I know.) Check out the Ohio Gadfly Daily for additional coverage, such as:

Social Impact Bonds (SIB), also known as “pay for success” loans, are a novel form of financing social service interventions, including education initiatives. First piloted six years ago in the United Kingdom and now making their way to the U.S, SIBs aim to leverage private funding to start new programs or scale proven ones. Broadly speaking, the instrument works like this: Private lenders and philanthropists deliver dollars—the bond—to a nonprofit provider that, in turn, implements the intervention. A government agency pays back the bond principal with interest, but only if the program achieves pre-specified results.

In its ideal form, an SIB has the potential to be a triple win: Governments receive risk-free funding to test or expand social programs that could help them save money; investors reap a financial return if the program works; and providers gain access to new sources of funding. To ensure the deal will benefit all parties, due diligence occurs on the front end, including selecting a program provider, estimating government savings, and developing an evaluation method. 

To date, the discussion on SIBs has been largely conceptual, engaging both supporters and skeptics alike. But a fascinating new report written by MDRC President Gordon...

NOTE: There are no April Fools jokes in here. That ain’t my thing. You want jokes, try here.

  1. Ohio has long been known as a net producer of teachers: as in, producing more ed school grads than new teachers needed in a given year. It seems however, that the overall numbers have been dropping in recent years, and grads with certain in-demand specialties (think middle and high school math and science, foreign languages, and physical education) have already fallen below the level of need. Fordham friend Tom Lasley and other heavy hitters weigh in on options facing ed schools – and K-12 schools – in the Buckeye State. Pretty active and interesting comments section on this piece also. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/31/16)
     
  2. One school district which seems to be experiencing the aforementioned scarcity of high school math teachers is Youngstown City Schools, if increasingly vocal parents and community members are to be believed. Many changes are afoot in Youngstown, all the leaders currently in place seemingly resigned to soldiering on without an Academic Distress Commission for the foreseeable future. One thing that they say will not change is the Youngstown Early College School, the “shining star” of
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Ron Burgundy

Photo Credit

Last week, Education Week’s Alyson Klein had the opportunity to sit down with the men and woman who could be responsible for distributing 11 percent of the nation’s K–12 budget according to a fixed formula. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation…

Klein: Hello everyone, and thank you all for taking some time out of your schoolyard antics to talk about education policy. I’ll get right to the questions, starting with the Republican front-runner. Mr. Trump, critics say you have yet to articulate a coherent position on education. Can you clarify your position for our readers?

Trump: Oh, I’ll clarify it, Alyson. I’ll clarify it so good you won’t even believe it’s been clarified. Because it will be so great. I mean it will be way better than what we’ve had. And people will love it. That I can promise you. They will love it, because it will be great and because it will be successful and America will be great again. I’ve been very successful. I’ve had a lot of success, some of which has been in the educational field. Just look at Trump University, for example,...

The Hammered History of the Federal Role in Education

The Hammered History of the Federal Role in Education

Mike Petrilli and Rick Hess take a tipsy trip from 1789 to 2016.

Eric Taylor

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On Thursday, Donald Trump surprised an Ohio high school with an unplanned visit to the freshman civics class at Pyrite Academy.

Blake Herbert, who coaches the school’s football team in addition to teaching Pyrite’s Introduction to Civics class, said he wasn’t expecting the Donald’s drop-by, but added that he wasn’t the least bit surprised to find the orangeish sixty-nine-year-old sitting in the back of his third-period class.

“Trump has really galvanized civics education,” declared Coach Herbert, citing the candidate’s call to “loosen up” libel laws, restrict citizenship rights, and impose religious tests on immigrants, as well as his even-greater-than-Arne disregard for the system of checks and balances. “He’s really motivating kids to study civics. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.”

Asked what he hoped his students learned from the would-be Republican nominee’s talk, Herbert was momentarily nonplussed. “Oh, no, no, no. He’s not speaking to the class. He’s attending it,” he corrected. 

The two dozen kids in Herbert’s class mostly assumed the man in the back of the room was a school administrator observing the lesson, Herbert said. They seemed unaware that their new classmate has nearly locked up the...

Toby Flenderson

This week’s Democratic debate featured something more surprising than a Lincoln Chafee cameo: twenty-two minutes of dedicated, substantive discussion on education reform policies. Campbell Brown called it “a dream come true.”

Despite the fact that nearly seven minutes were taken up by Senator Bernie Sanders’ incoherent definition of “private charter schools” (“A school that takes the money from the taxpayer, and then they give it to the people, and the people are not the public people, they’re the private people, the rich people! WALL STREET!!”), the rest was a deep exploration of Bernie’s and Hillary’s perspectives on Common Core, teacher pay, school accountability, and the best ways to evaluate—though both found it rather unnecessary—student progress and teacher impact. Both candidates talked pre-K, and the two drew sharp differences between Clinton’s focus on low-income female students and Sanders’s plan for million-dollar teacher pay.

Unfortunately, as time went on, national viewership plummeted from twelve million to seven. (Not seven million. Seven.)

Part of it was poor timing—NCIS: Baton Rouge came on around minute fifteen—but according to focus group guru Frank Luntz, “voters just don’t give a damn about education policy. I couldn’t even assemble a panel. I offered...

Quincy Magoo

Leading education researchers are celebrating a “breakthrough” in the decades-long struggle to close racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

It occurred around 1:45 on the second day of the AEFP conference, as the Urban Institute’s Matt Chingos was presenting his working paper, “Dream World: Preparing for the Sanders Economy.” As he flipped to a slide featuring eighth-grade NAEP scores, the Seventy Four’s Matt Barnum entered the room characteristically late, arms overflowing with blueberry muffins that toppled to the floor when he tripped on a laptop cord. Racing against the five-second rule, he leapt suddenly to his feet in an explosion of crumbs and spittle. “It doesn’t look so bad from back here!” He mumbled through a mouthful of muffin.

Barnum was referring to the achievement gaps depicted on Chingos’s slide, which he claimed were smaller when viewed from a distance. This galvanized sundry researchers in attendance, many of whom were playing Candy Crush at the time.

The University of Washington’s Dan Goldhaber claimed that the gap between rich and poor students looked “almost insignificant” when he extended his arm and “crushed it” between his thumb and index finger (a technique he referred to as “Rubio-ing”).

“This...

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