Additional Topics

The RNC edition

On this week’s podcast, Alyssa Schwenk, Brandon Wright, and David Griffith discuss GOP education politics and report that Nebraska might replace its state tests with the ACT or SAT. Amber Northern explains which school leader characteristics positively affect achievement.

Amber's Research Minute

Moira McCullough, Stephen Lipscomb, Hanley Chiang, and Brian Gill, "Do Principals’ Professional Practice Ratings Reflect Their Contributions to Student Achievement?," Mathematica (June 2016).

  1. Chad was a guest on a tiny sliver of All Sides with Ann Fisher yesterday. The topic was Ohio’s largest online school, its current tussle with the state over an ongoing attendance audit, and the larger implications for it and others like it depending on the findings. Audio and video are available at the link; the online schools portion starts around 16:45; Chad gets to join in after the journalists have had their bash (sending the nonexistent case to the state supreme court if they do say so themselves), around 35:00. (WOSU-FM, Columbus, 7/19/16) The first 16 minutes of this edition of Fisher’s show was spent on the journalists discussing the Republican National Convention. When this show was planned, there wasn’t a connection between the two topics. Fortuitously for radio station, host, and journalists/pundits, a connection arose. Here’s the editorial board at the ABJ to tell you all about it. (Akron Beacon Journal, 7/20/16)
  2. Back in the real world, the third and final public meeting hosted by Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip was held this week. Some students finally showed up (including one from a local private school and none from the district’s East High School)
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  1. Not sure why the Dispatch decided to pick on one particular private school in Cincinnati to make its point here, but be that as it may, the paper is not wrong in its analysis. Information on private school quality is hard to come by in Ohio, even for publicly-funded EdChoice voucher students. As you may have guessed, this piece is riffing off of our EdChoice evaluation report released two weeks ago. Thanks for the love, guys. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/17/16)
  2. EdChoice is namechecked in this piece (along with charter schools and open enrollment) about Mansfield City Schools’ imminent release from state-mandated fiscal emergency status. The stats reported here are pretty interesting, especially the comparison between Mansfield and similar districts like Whitehall and Zanesville. It is noted that Mansfield has fewer kids open-enrolled to neighboring districts than those to which it is compared but has more charter and voucher students. Honestly, though, it seems like the inefficiencies of a smallish but spread-out district are what’s really come home to roost here. Kudos to the district for making the needed changes to tighten things up. Next up for Mansfield to tackle: that “at risk for academic distress” albatross. (Mansfield News
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  1. The Dispatch published dueling editorials in the wake of Fordham’s new report evaluating the EdChoice Scholarship Program. Well, I say “dueling” but that would imply that the two commentators were actually talking about the same thing. Our own Chad Aldis discusses the report and its findings in his piece. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/14/16) Teachers union president Melissa Cropper’s piece is more “free form”, incorporating commentary on the apparently widely-held belief that teachers are lazy and how she thinks HB 70 (the “Youngstown Plan”) should be repealed into her brief analysis of the EdChoice report. Nope. Me neither. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/14/16)
  2. We reported a while back that the city and the school district in Cincinnati worked together to avoid placing two separate levies funding pre-K expansions on the ballot simultaneously. A similar situation has arisen in Dayton but is not yet being handled collaboratively. I’m sure the Gem City will get there eventually, but it may take a little time if this report is to be believed. Step one: have coffee together. (Dayton Daily News, 7/13/16)
  3. The theme of this week’s meeting of the Dropout Recovery and Prevention Committee seems to be time. How much time
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The Pondiscio Go edition

On this week’s podcast, Mike Petrilli, Robert Pondiscio, and Brandon Wright discuss times tables, virtual charter school struggles, and charter school discipline. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern explains what we can learn from charter lotteries.

Amber's Research Minute

Julia Chabrier, Sarah Cohodes, and Philip Oreopoulos, "What Can We Learn from Charter School Lotteries?," NBER (July 2016).


  1. Another suburban school district has billed the state for a return of “their money”, which went to charter schools because “their students” went to charter schools instead of to them. Our own Aaron Churchill is quoted denouncing the move as the “theatrics” that it is. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 7/11/16)
  2. Some more coverage of Fordham’s new report evaluating Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program. Two national write ups – both seemingly in the right-of-center column – seem to get the nuances we hoped would emerge from the findings. (RedefinED blog, 7/11/16; blog, 7/13/16) Gongwer also seems to get the pluses and minuses in the findings, getting quotes from a couple other Ohio voucher supporters to bolster their analysis. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/12/16) The D covers the report for a second time today, in their Education Insider column. I don’t think we’re particularly “bummed” around here by the report’s findings, but I personally am bummed that they chose a sports analogy to try and illustrate their case. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/13/16)
  3. We told you on Monday about the state’s largest online charter school suing the state to block the final stage of an attendance audit which was to
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  1. A little more coverage of our new report evaluating the EdChoice Scholarship Program. First up, Jeremy Kelly visited a couple of local Catholic schools that take voucher students and the new superintendent of Dayton City Schools to get their take on the research, along with questioning our own Chad Aldis further. Nicely nuanced discussion. Both school leaders More on Figlio report. (Dayton Daily News, 7/10/16) Also finely-nuanced is Patrick O’Donnell’s look at the report. Which is really nice because the program doesn’t actually impact many Cleveland kids, one of several facts seemingly missed by some folks in the active online PD comments section. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/11/16)
  2. The state’s largest online school sued the state late on Friday in an effort to stop the Ohio Department of Education from obtaining login records if its students. We’ll let you know how it all turns out. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/8/16)
  3. I don’t know if Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip is a competitive runner, but if he is, he sounds like he’d be the kind who would help a fallen runner up and finish strong, even if it meant not coming in first himself. Why do I think this?
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  1. Only 30 students nationwide were chosen to be pages in the U.S. Senate this year. Dayton Early College Academy junior Jocelyn Martin was one of them. She’s just finished her term (which she could not talk about while it was ongoing) and is now allowed to tell all. The work sounds fascinating, and she sounds like a rock star. Awesome! (Dayton Daily News, 7/1/16)
  2. It’s week two for Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip. On his agenda this week was a community meeting to gather input to inform his school improvement plan – due to the Academic Distress Commission within 90 days of his start date. Seems like the attendee list for this week’s meeting was a bit heavy on school employees, but I’m sure they had plenty to say. (Youngstown Vindicator, 7/6/16)
  3. Speaking of noobs, the newest state board member is no stranger to state government in Ohio. But she’s got an unusual and interesting take on the education needs of her rural and Appalachian constituents. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/1/16)
  4. The New Beginnings dropout prevention program in Lorain City Schools looks likely to stay in business for the 2016-17 school year. The board approved a
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  1. Remember the charter school sponsor evaluations in Ohio from last year? The ones that ended up being rescinded due to questions over online school sponsors? Well, the Ohio Department of Education is still required to evaluate sponsors and the new framework has been in place since around May. The academic portion of those evaluations turned out to be not so great at first blush and now there are questions about the compliance portion. There is a list of 329 state laws and rules that sponsors have to confirm compliance on for every one of their schools. (Number 209: does the school have a flag that is no more than 5’ x 5’ in size?) Some sponsors are complaining already about how hard it is, how ridiculous some of the rules are, and how much freakin’ work it is to document all of this. Worst of all is that sponsors worry they may get dinged for not documenting compliance (due to the complexity) when their schools are actually complying. Fordham’s not complaining, mind you. Our intrepid sponsorship team is soldiering on and our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece as well: “I think it's important we probably don't
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If you still think the education beat is where cub reporters cut their teeth, writing up summaries of tedious school board meetings and biding their time until something opens up on the metro desk, think again. This illuminating study by the Education Writers Association (EWA) and the Education Week Research Center suggests the beat is now more likely to be viewed as “a capstone, not a stepping stone” for journalists. Moreover, four out of five ink-stained wretches (a notoriously cranky lot) report that they are “very satisfied” or “fairly satisfied” with their jobs covering education. They even believe their reporting is “making a difference in their communities.”

The standard narrative holds that the typical education reporter is twenty-two years old with twenty-two minutes on the job. Not so. The four hundred respondents in the survey average thirty-six years of age with eleven years of experience. And if teaching is a “pink” profession, so is covering it: “Seventy-one percent of education journalists are female, compared with 38 percent of journalists as a whole,” the report finds. Also, one in five education journalists are non-white, “compared with 9 percent for the profession at large.” And—popular complaints notwithstanding—they actually talk to teachers. Asked...