Additional Topics

Under President Obama’s stewardship, initiatives to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs have sparked heated political debate. Aiming to ground policy makers and education leaders in this conversation, a recent report from the American Enterprise Institute examines the effectiveness of early childhood education by analyzing and summarizing studies of the country’s ten best-known pre-K programs. It finds that high-quality pre-K works for some students, but the research is inconclusive as to whether it’s beneficial for all.

The report starts with an overview of the four most common research methodologies used to evaluate pre-K programs. These include assessing a program’s long-term impact with Randomized Control Trials, i.e., randomly assigning students to either a program (treatment) or non-program (control) group to measure differences in outcomes; comparing results for participating pre-K students against those for children who were eligible for pre-K but did not enroll; comparing results for participating students with a comparison group based on observable characteristics; and comparing outcomes for pre-K participants before and after the program.

One of the most positive takeaways from the research is that low-income children reap short-term and long-term benefits from high-quality pre-K programs. In Boston’s program, for example, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch showed...

  1. I’m sorry to say that I missed this piece when it first ran last week. Sorry Jeremy! Redressing the balance now because it is a very interesting and detailed peek into the variations in teacher pay schedules among Dayton-area school districts. Since all of these variations are the result of collective bargaining over the years, it is interesting to see what is more valued (high starting salary vs. longevity pay, holding veteran transfers to the 10-year level regardless of experience, etc.) from district to district. (Dayton Daily News, 4/29/16) Apparently, DDN readers were equally interested in the piece. So much so that Jeremy Kelly researched and published an addendum with more information related to questions on pay schedules raised by readers. Also an interesting read. (Dayton Daily News, 5/2/16)
  2. A new new member should join the state board of ed at its meeting next week, and she’s no stranger to state government in Ohio. Why do we need a new new member? Because the old new member, appointed in March, withdrew before being sworn in. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/3/16)
  3. Also happening next week: the state board will interview the top 8 candidates for state superintendent. One
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  1. The Akron Beacon Journal’s former education reporter Doug Livingston, current state Rep. Kristina Roegner, and others participated in a panel discussion last week on how awful charter schools are at the behest of the Hudson League of Women Voters. Nice summary article on the manifest evils of charter schools from the paper. No charter school supporters were invited to participate, for which Aaron is grateful. (Hudson Hub Times, 4/27/16) If you think that description of the event overblown on my part, I encourage you to check out edited video of the panel on YouTube. The well-timed gasps from the audience will tell you all you need to know.
  2. Back in the real world, Tornado pride is on the rise again, y’all! West Muskingum’s school board voted unanimously to eliminate pay to play fees for all middle and high school sports. I’m not sure from what new pot of money this largesse is emanating but lots of folks are happy about it. Honestly, reading some of those quotes from community members and staffers makes it sound like the old fees were really divisive on a very personal level. Perhaps the folks in West Muskingum need some perspective.
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National education reform leader and author Kevin P. Chavous will visit central Ohio to headline the June 10 event with his presentation Building a Learning Culture in America. Through personal stories of his work as an educator, advocate, and change agent, Chavous will share his vision of how to reclaim a positive learning culture and to regain international leadership in education.

The program will also feature Ohio school leaders sharing their strategies for creating a culture of learning and engagement in their classrooms. Jim Mahoney, Ph.D., executive director of Battelle for Kids, will provide the closing keynote on Creating Highly Effective Teachers.

The OAPCS Charter School Leadership Event

Friday, June 10, 2016, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

The Conference Center at OCLC, Lakeside Room

6565 Kilgour Place

Dublin, Ohio 43017

Register today by clicking here....

  1. Have you all been following the Proper Perspective series in Ohio Gadfly Daily? If not, you should. In it, our own Jamie Davies O’Leary exchanges views on important education topics with Innovation Ohio and KnowYourCharters guru (and former state legislator) Steve Dyer. And now one of those Proper Perspective entries – on the topic of testing opter-outers – has spawned a commentary piece by Jamie and Steve in the ABJ. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/29/16)
  2. The state board of education added three more folks to the list of finalists for permanent state supe, bringing the total of candidates to be interviewed to eight. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/28/16). Interviews will start soon, which is good because the person holding the seat on an interim basis is actively looking for another job closer to home. Just like he said he would. (Toledo Blade, 4/28/16)
  3. I think we may be able to move Groveport-Madison schools from “maybe challenging” the Win-Win Agreement to “definitely challenging” the Win-Win Agreement. But I could be wrong. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/28/16)
  4. As our own Jessica Poiner has told us previously, Ohio’s new-ish College Credit Plus program – to give kids access
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We have many reasons to be troubled by the Left’s push to dramatically reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions by public schools. At the top of the list is the worry that disorder and violence will return to high-poverty schools across the country, putting the safety and learning of poor and minority students at even greater risk. This is hardly hypothetical; it’s already happening, report teachers in New YorkMinnesota, and elsewhere.

But an even more fundamental question is whether school discipline reformers are diagnosing the problem correctly. Many analysts and activists look at national, state, and local data illustrating large disparities in discipline rates between racial subgroups and interpret them as proof of racial discrimination or bias. Why else would African Americans and Latinos be suspended or expelled at much higher rates than whites or Asians?

In a system of fifty million children and one hundred thousand schools, instances of minority children being treated unfairly will undoubtedly occur. A white teenager pulls a fire alarm and gets a slap on the wrist; a black ten-year-old does the same and gets a week’s suspension. That’s wrong and is a legitimate target for civil rights enforcers.

But discrimination isn’t the...

The LEMONADE edition

On this week’s podcast, Mike Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio celebrate Prince’s little-known legacy in the world of education, assess education policies that hold parents accountable, and question the alleged diversity of the opt-out movement. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines the causes and effects of test score manipulation in New York State.

Amber's Research Minute

SOURCE: Thomas S. Dee, Will Dobbie, Brian A. Jacob, and Jonah Rockoff, “The Causes and Consequences of Test Score Manipulation: Evidence from the New York Regents Examinations,” National Bureau of Economic Research (April 2016).

  1. We’ve mentioned previously that Ohio’s “value added” measure is going to undergo some scrutiny in the state legislature. The first round took place this week as “placeholder” HB 524 got its first hearing in the House Education Committee. Prior to the hearing, Fordham was namechecked in this piece looking ahead to the value-added hearing. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/25/16) Additionally, Chad was actually quoted in this piece from The D, summarizing previous discussions about value added and what if anything might augment or replace it. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/26/16) Both the House and Senate Education Committees got a presentation from the Ohio Department of Education on value added – what it is, how it’s calculated, and how its been used on state report cards in the past. Gongwer has a good summary of the presentation and of the testimony from House Ed. More to follow. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/26/16)
  2. What’s that they say about a free lunch never really being free? Having made the district 100% free lunch last year, Columbus City Schools are now choking down a big old irony burger. They have erased a long-standing deficit in their food service budget (replaced with a healthy surplus thanks
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Whether the goal is to enhance instruction, create a culture of excellence, or broaden educational options for parents, it’s nearly impossible to improve schools without strong leaders. This is hardly news; for decades, unambiguous evidence has proven the importance of effective principals. Yet reform strategies have largely lacked a coherent plan to upgrade leadership, even though it’s clearly a fundamental piece of the school improvement puzzle. This neglect is likely unintentional. Many states simply don’t know how to strengthen their cadre of leaders.

This is understandable. Most of the action around school leadership takes place at the local level, far from state capitals. It is, after all, districts (and charter schools) that recruit, select, and place school leaders—and develop their expertise (or not). It’s easy for state officials and advocacy groups to prioritize leadership. Knowing which policy levers to pull is a lot harder.

That’s where A Policymaker's Guide to Improving School Leadership comes in. This online resource was designed to help policymakers and advocates focus on what makes a great principal—and how to get more of them in the schools that need them most. We teamed up with our friends at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) to produce the toolkit and recruited author Eric...

School leadership is one of the keys to making our schools stronger and giving every student the educational opportunities that prepare him to succeed. That’s why the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Center on Reinventing Public Education recently released A Policymaker’s Guide to Improving School Leadership for state policymakers and advocacy groups interested in improving school leadership policies.

Much attention has been focused on teacher effectiveness, but there has been too little discussion about the role that principals play in ensuring that educators have the support, tools, and working environment they need to provide high-quality instruction. Education advocates need to understand which state policies most impact principal quality and how they can strengthen or alter them to benefit schools.

As with any proposed reform, however, advocates are likely to encounter some pushback from institutions and individuals resistant to change. Yet many of the arguments against changing school leadership policies are not founded on a full understanding of the research and facts. What follows are rebuttals to five common justifications for maintaining the status quo.

1. Improving the principal training pipeline

Argument: It’s not clear that preparation programs are the problem. And even if they are, we can’t fix them by...