Ohio Policy

Columbus Collegiate Academy (CCA) epitomizes the relentlessness and vision necessary to close achievement gaps in urban education. Started in the basement of a church with 57 students in 2008, CCA evolved into one of the city’s top-performing middle schools. That success jump-started the United Schools Network, now serving 600 students in four buildings.
 
Through this profile of one CCA eighth-grader, you can clearly see the benefits of the school’s relentless focus on academics and high expectations both academically and behaviorally. We hope her story reminds you what is possible when we invest in and empower high-quality charter schools and what is at stake when we don't.

Shortly after Ohio lawmakers enacted a new voucher program in 2005, the state budget office wrote in its fiscal analysis, “The Educational Choice Scholarships are not only intended to offer another route for student success, but also to impel the administration and teaching staff of a failing school building to improve upon their students’ academic performance.” Today, the EdChoice Scholarship Program provides publicly funded vouchers to more than eighteen thousand Buckeye students who were previously assigned to some of the state’s lowest-performing schools, located primarily in low-income urban communities. Yet remarkably little else is known about the program.

Which children are using EdChoice when given the opportunity? Is the initiative faithfully working as its founders intended? Are participating students blossoming academically in their private schools of choice? Does the increased competition associated with EdChoice lead to improvements in the public schools that these kids left?

Fordham’s new study utilizes longitudinal student data from 2003–04 to 2012–13 to answer these and other important questions. 

Three key findings:

  • Student selection: The students participating in EdChoice are overwhelmingly low-income and minority children. But relative to pupils who are eligible for vouchers but choose not to use them, the participants in EdChoice are
  • ...

Too much of what we hear about urban public schools in America is disheartening. A student’s zip code—whether she comes from poverty or economic privilege—often predicts her likelihood of educational (and later-life) success. Motivated by this unacceptable reality, some schools have worked relentlessly against the odds to deliver excellent educational opportunities to students no matter their background. The Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) is an island of excellence in one of Ohio’s poorest and most academically challenged districts. The unique opportunities and supports it provides to students—both academic and personal—are showcased briefly through the story of Khadidja, an inspiring young woman whose experience at DECA has helped forge a very different future than the one facing many of her urban peers.

On February 25, 2016, Ohio released report cards for the 2014-15 school year—the first in which the state administered next generation assessments. In conjunction with these new exams, state officials raised the minimum test score needed for students to be deemed “proficient.” As a result of these transitions, proficiency and achievement-based ratings fell across the state—a necessary reset of basic accountability measures in a time of rising expectations. This year’s report provides an overview of these changes, along with a presentation of data from national exams, suggesting that policymakers should go further to match Ohio’s definition of proficiency with a true college and career ready benchmark.

Since 2005, the Fordham Institute has conducted annual analyses of Ohio’s school report cards, with a particular focus on the performance of urban schools, both district and charter. This year’s analysis again takes a deep-dive look at the student achievement and school quality in the Ohio Big Eight areas. The key findings are as follows:

  • College and career readiness rates are extremely low in Ohio’s high-poverty urban areas—in the Big Eight cities, roughly 10 to 25 percent of students are reaching rigorous benchmarks.
  • According to the state’s achievement-based school ratings,
  • ...

The 2015 Fordham Sponsorship Annual Report is our opportunity to share the Fordham Foundation’s work as the sponsor of eleven schools serving approximately 3,200 students in five cities, and our related policy work in Ohio and nationally.

Charter school policy took a giant leap forward in Ohio in 2015 with the passage of HB 2. The road to a high-quality charter school sector has been laid out. If we want high-performing schools and networks to grow and replicate in the state, it is time to turn our attention to the human capital, facilities, and funding issues that have dogged the sector here for far too long.

We urge you to read this report to learn of Fordham’s commitment to quality schools for all children. 

Though charter schools are fiercely debated in Ohio, too rarely are the voices of charter leaders actually heard. This report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute surveys the leaders of the highest-performing Buckeye charters to take stock of their views on sector quality, accountability, and replication and growth.

The survey, conducted by the nonpartisan FDR Group, was fielded to the principals of 109 charter schools, yielding a 70 percent response rate. 

We hope that Quality in Adversity will help lift these leaders' voices, so that their firsthand knowledge can overcome counterproductive rhetoric and entrenched positions.

Like other states, Ohio has over the past few years put into place a standards and accountability framework with the clear goal of readying every student for college or career when she graduates high school.
 
Given the difficulty and the outcry as a result of these changes, one may ask why we conducted an overhaul in the first place. Why must states, including Ohio, see through the full and faithful implementation of educational change? Some of the answers rest in the pages of Fordham's latest report.
 
Research conducted by Public Impact shows the stark reality that too many Ohio students have not been fully prepared for their next step after high school—whether college or career.
 
The data in this report mark a starting point by which Ohio leaders can track our state’s progress going forward.

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If you have questions about the book, please email Aaron Churchill....

For the past year, Ohio policymakers have been grappling with the issue of deregulating public schools. But what does deregulation mean--and how should policymakers go about doing it?

In this new report--authored by Education First’s Paolo DeMaria, Brinton S. Ramsey, and Susan R. Bodary--the Fordham Institute calls for a sweeping deregulation agenda. By cutting through the red tape, on-the-ground leaders will be empowered to recruit, develop, and manage a high-performing staff; innovate new models for education; and custom-tailor their educational approach to the unique needs of students.

The suggestions for commonsense reform include:

  • Eliminate seniority as a consideration in layoffs of nonteaching employees;
  • Expand opportunities for schools to use non-licensed individuals;
  • Eliminate districts’ ability to collectively bargain away inherent management rights, including the right to assign staff;
  • Eliminate any structural requirements on teacher salary schedules; and
  • Allow districts to remove teachers, including tenured ones, if they are evaluated ineffective for more than two years.

The report also recommends the creation of a simple process that allows district boards to waive certain state regulations and the formation of a high-level working group that would identify and evaluate ideas for further...

Recently I had the privilege of listening to practitioners from Ohio’s high-performing districts who shared how they’re achieving success. These districts are earning A grades on their state report cards in notoriously difficult areas such as closing achievement gaps, effectively serving gifted students and students with disabilities, and increasing student achievement across the board. 

The series of events was hosted by Battelle for Kids in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Education, and I was able to hear from five of the exemplary districts: Marysville, Orange City, Oak Hills Local, Solon City, and Mechanicsburg. Here are the important commonalities I found among the strategies discussed.

1. Plus time

This strategy goes by a different name depending on which district you visit: “no-new-instruction time,” “flex time,” “plus time,” and “support classes” were all terms I heard, but the basic idea was the same. Each of these high flyers altered their daily schedule so that students received around forty minutes a day of either enrichment or remediation. To be clear, this isn’t an additional class in which students learn new information; instead, this is a...

Editor's note: On May 6, Fordham contributor Andy Smarick delivered testimony before an Ohio education subcommittee on Senate Bill 148, a critical piece of legislation that would help clean up the state's troubled charter sector. With his permission, we're reproducing his remarks.

Thank you Chair Hite, Vice Chair Sawyer, and subcommittee members for allowing me to offer some thoughts on your ongoing efforts to improve charter schooling in Ohio. Congratulations and thank you for the important progress that’s reflected in the legislation being considered here today.

My name is Andy Smarick, and I’m a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization committed to improving K–12 schooling, especially for high-need students. I’ve worked on education policy for most of my career—at the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. House of Representatives, a state department of education, and a state legislature.

I’m also a strong advocate for high-quality charter schooling. I helped start a charter school for low-income students, I helped found the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and I’ve written extensively about charter schooling, including a book on how—when done right—it can dramatically improve student results in cities.

I was a coauthor of the report published late...

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