Ohio Policy


Fordham's annual charter school accountability report, "Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity," is now out! As many of you know, Fordham authorizes (called "sponsoring" in Ohio) six charter schools in Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Springfield. Each year we release a report outlining how Fordham-sponsored schools are doing, and contrasting them with charter schools statewide and schools within their home districts. The report also weighs in on timely political and legislative developments impacting charter schools in the Buckeye State. Highlights include:

  • - A recap on why Ohio charters faced such a tough year in 2008-09 (politically, legislatively, financially, you name it)
  • - A look at charter school growth since caps were placed on sponsors (unsurprisingly, fewer charter schools opened during 2007-09 than during 2005-07 period, and the sector as a whole is growing at a slower rate)
  • - A summary of the financial predicaments faced by charters in Ohio, including dwindling state and federal start-up dollars, and funding inequities between districts and charter schools that amount to charters receiving roughly $2000 less per pupil (see graph below)
  • - A brief narrative on Fordham's youngest charter schools, KIPP: Journey Academy and Columbus Collegiate Academy (a Building Excellent Schools affiliate)
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One week from today shoppers across the nation will prepare for the madness known as Black Friday. Consumers will ready themselves for a labyrinth of lines, often queuing up at odd hours of the night to be among the first to stampede toward special bargains and giveaways. Such is the American way.

This week the Cincinnati Enquirer highlighted another unique American phenomenon involving long lines and midnight campers - parents lining up as far as two and a half days in advance in order to win their child a spot in one of the city's elite public magnet schools. The Enquirer writes:


"Despite attempts from Cincinnati Public Schools to discourage camping, parents once again formed a long queue outside Fairview Clifton German Language School - the earliest will wait for more than 2.5 days before submitting their applications.


The first parents arrived by about 10 a.m. Sunday morning, and the crowd quickly grew. By 5 p.m. Monday, about six dozen people stood in line and some were erecting tents on school property."



"In Clifton, Winton Hills parent Carmen Pitts had the No. 1 spot...


The deadline for the first round of Race to the Top applications is just two months away.?? How does Ohio stack up???We??analyzed Ohio's current education policies and reform climate against the criteria of the recently released Race to the Top application.??

What did we discover? See here to find out.


Last week, Laura flagged a useful interactive map that grades states on their level of educational innovation in areas ranging from school finance to a state's reform environment. The map accompanies the recently released report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card of Educational Innovation. The second of its kind, this edition of Leaders and Laggards grades states not only according to how they are performing currently, but also on the basis of groundwork they are laying to address impending challenges and fuel innovation in the years to come.

For the most part, Ohio's results are disappointing. The Buckeye State scores a "C" and a "D" respectively in two staffing areas: "hiring and evaluation" and "removing ineffective teachers." (All the more disappointing when considering that Race to the Top's final priorities gives the most weight to great teaching and leadership.) Ohio ranks average ("C") in technology and school finance, and gets a "B" for its data, and having a solid pipeline to postsecondary education.

However, we are happy to report that despite Ohio's...

For the last month, we've been wondering whether Ohio would truly adopt the NGA/CCSSO Common Core State Standards , or whether the Ohio Department of Education would forge its own path in revising academic content standards so as to meet the June 2010 deadline. The issue was one of timing, as Common Core Standards won't be finalized until January, and this didn't give Ohio enough time to meet its June 2010 mandate.

Given that Fordham gave Ohio a "D+" in our last State of the State Standards report, and that we think the Common Core Standards are substantially better (see our latest report, "Stars by Which to Navigate"), the possibility of Ohio reneging on the Common Core Initiative was worrisome. Emmy wrote on Flypaper:


"What's the Buckeye State to do??? Should the state board of education risk non-compliance with state law and wait for the Common Core work to be finished??? Should state lawmakers revisit the law and extend the deadline for updating the standards??? Are other states in similar predicaments??? If so, what becomes of the Common Core Initiative?"

This week we got our answer, as state education officials announced that...

Eric Ulas

The latest issue of the Ohio Education Gadfly came out yesterday, and features an excellent piece by Terry on the stark decline in student enrollment in Fordham's hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

Over the last decade the Dayton Public Schools (DPS) have contracted by more than 10,000 students; seeing enrollment decline from 24,916 students in 2000 to 14,393 students in 2009. During this same period Dayton has become one of the country's leading charter school markets.

Over the years such numbers and ratings have triggered angst and anger among district officials and their supporters, and even some hostility toward charters. However, while charters have played a role in draining DPS of students, a significant amount of the attrition can be attributed to an exodus to suburbs, other states, and private schools, Terry argues.

As illustrated by the chart below, the combined enrollment of Dayton public and charter schools has slumped over the last decade. Charter school enrollment peaked in the 2006, but has continued to decline steadily thereafter.

Source: Ohio Department of Education interactive local report card

For more on the incredible shrinking Dayton, you can read Terry's full...


On October 29, the Ohio Grantmakers Forum, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Frank M. Tait Foundation, and the Fred and Alice Wallace Memorial Charitable Foundation hosted an education forum in Fordham's hometown of Dayton to talk about the state of education in that city as well as Ohio and the nation.?? Our Terry Ryan was a participant in the panel discussion ???Making a Difference: What's Been Accomplished and What Needs to be Done,??? along with Tom Lasley, University of Dayton; Kurt Stanic, Dayton Public Schools; Margy Stevens, Montgomery County Educational Service Center; and moderator Scott Elliott of the Dayton Daily News.?? The following are selected segments of that panel.

Terry Ryan on Data Policies and Availability in Ohio


??Dayton Education Panel - Terry Ryan on Performance...

An editorial in today's Columbus Dispatch hits the nail on the head. Ohio's South-Western City Schools shouldn't forget the fiscal crisis (we've blogged about the district's cuts here and here) that consumed them prior to the narrow levy passage this week. Instead, district leaders in South-Western and elsewhere across the state should confront the patterns that put them on a "collision course":


"For most school districts, more than 80 percent of the operating budget goes to salaries and benefits, yet when deficits loom, cuts are made to the 15 to 20 percent devoted to transportation, sports, the arts and other highly visible programs. When personnel costs are cut, the reductions come in the form of positions axed, not salaries or benefits trimmed.


The tightening American economy has made voters less and less willing to accept that they should pay proportionally more of their income each year to support school salaries and benefits more generous than their own.


South-Western is well-managed; it has seen academic progress with spending and tax rates below the average for Franklin County. Its personnel spending isn't unreasonable when compared with other school districts; its...

Standards-based reform in education is imperfect. The ways that states and districts assess kids, design tests, and attempt to hold teachers and schools accountable are bound to be flawed, lead to unintended consequences, and create many enemies along the way. But I wish the opponents of standards-based reform in Ohio would at least get a little more creative.

You may recall from a few months ago that Karl Wheatley, Cleveland State University ed professor, said the best way to improve education would be to "stop focusing on student achievement ." I outlined why I thought that was a bad idea here . The gist of his argument, believe it or not, was that because standardized testing creates "collateral damage," perverse incentives, etc. the best thing to do is to stop trying to raise student achievement.

Yesterday's op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch from another education professor, Thomas Stephens of Ohio State, comes from the same predictable script (aka "we don't like the focus on standards/testing/accountability so let's call for its demise-or at least replace it with a nebulous emphasis on problem solving and innovative thinking"). In "Standards obstruct education," Stephens argues that Ohio's decision to revise...


By guest blogger and Fordham's Director of Charter School Sponsorship Kathryn Mullen Upton

The Columbus Dispatch writes today that "the truth about Columbus middle schools is brutal." More than 70 percent of the district's middle schools are rated "D" or "F" by the state and none of them met federal Adequate Yearly Progress targets.

A bright spot in this urban education landscape is the new Columbus Collegiate Academy (which the Fordham Foundation authorizes ). In 2008-09 (the school's first year), CCA was the highest performing middle school in Columbus. Of its inaugural class of sixth graders, most of who were performing well below grade level when school started in August 2008, 74 percent met reading proficiency and 82 percent met math proficiency on the state achievement tests. These are amazing results, especially for a first year start-up, ??and are not an aberration: NWEA MAP data (a nationally-norm referenced assessment) corroborate CCA's stellar state test results. (You can watch a video about Columbus Collegiate Academy's first official day of school in 2009.)

But it's been a brutal ride for CCA and other start-up charter schools in Ohio, including the Buckeye State's first KIPP...