Ohio Policy

Though it serves the same challenged population as many urban schools, Citizens' Academy in Cleveland boasts an outstanding academic track record. Check out our video to learn what the school's teachers and leaders believe are the keys to the school's extraordinary success.

Citizens' Academy and seven other Ohio schools will be featured in Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio's high-performing, high-need urban schools, due May 2010 from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

--Eric Ulas

Eric Ulas

Duxberry Park Arts IMPACT Alternative Elementary is an arts magnet program in Columbus that delivers impressive academic results for its students, 84 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, and 16 percent of whom have disabilities. Part of what makes Duxberry Park unique ??? beyond its emphasis in art, music, and drama throughout the curriculum???is the extent to which such programming fosters intense collaboration among staff across all subjects. Check out our video here to see what the school's leaders and teachers believe are the keys to its success.

Duxberry Park Arts IMPACT Alternative Elementary and seven other Ohio schools will be featured in Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio's high-performing, high-need urban schools, due May 25th from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

???Eric Ulas


Just a reminder that today is the last day to vote for the White House's Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. The winning high school will receive a visit from President Obama where he will speak at their commencement.

Despite Mike's urging to send Obama back to Denver, our Ohio staff is rooting for Clark Montessori Junior and Senior High School in Cincinnati. You could call us somewhat biased ??? but as we've mentioned before the school boasts some pretty darn amazing stats. (100% of their 2010 graduating class is going on to college.)

The top three schools with the most votes will advance to the final round, where the President himself will select the winning school. A final announcement is expected Tuesday.

Online voting closes tonight at midnight. You can vote for your school of choice here.

-Fordham's Ohio Team


Congratulations to Andrew Boy, the co-director and founder of Columbus Collegiate Academy, one of the six charter schools Fordham authorizes. Andy was just selected as a 2010 recipient of Columbus Business First's highly prestigious ???40 under 40' award. The award recognizes outstanding Columbus area leaders under the age of 40 who have demonstrated a high measure of success and are making a positive contribution to the community.

Andy stands among the few leaders in Ohio urban education committed and able to give disadvantaged students what they deserve ??? a top-notch education that prepares them for success in college. As a young teacher in Cincinnati, Andy improved the science proficiency scores of his fourth and sixth graders by 60 and 80 percentage points in three years, respectively. Today, Columbus Collegiate Academy ranks as one of the top performing schools in Columbus while serving a student body that is 94 percent economically disadvantaged.

Andy has achieved this success despite the serious challenges his charter school faced from the outset (opening in a time of budget cuts to charter schools, encountering obstacles related to school facilities, and dealing with tough student transportation issues). His school's recent selection as...


Check today's Ohio Education Gadfly for a special Race to the Top analysis recommending strategies for the Buckeye State as it heads into round two of the competition. Ohio has exactly one month (that's when districts and charter schools must sign on) to improve its application. Fordham recommends that Ohio:

  1. Address the state's round-one areas of weakness directly. Ohio shouldn't just resubmit the same package of proposals but should be sure that its second-round application reflects substantive changes to the areas it scored lowest in. This will show Sec. Duncan and reviewers that the state can take constructive criticism seriously and change course when necessary to improve student performance.
  2. Pay particular attention to the ???Great Teachers and Leaders??? section. Ohio scored second to lowest of the 16 finalists states in this category. Compared to winning states (Tennessee and Delaware) and those scoring highest in this section (Rhode Island and Louisiana), Ohio hasn't enacted the type of bold reforms related to teachers and leaders that it needs to. Not sure what those reforms look like? Ohio Education Gadfly synthesizes six of the boldest teacher-related reforms and provides examples of each.
  3. Be aware that other states are moving quickly to improve
  4. ...
Eric Ulas

Today's Dayton Daily News featured an op-ed by Fordham's Terry Ryan on what Ohio can do to win in the next round of Race to the Top. In the op-ed, he provides three actionable points for moving forward:

1. Get more buy-in from districts and the teachers' unions.

2. Show bipartisan support for the state's application.

3. Improve the overall quality of Ohio's proposal.

Terry also reminds us not to lose sight of true purpose of Race to the Top:

???Too much of the conversation around Race to the Top has been about getting the money, when the real issue is launching sustainable reforms that can make a difference in the lives of children.???

-Eric Ulas

This article is the reason I continue to hammer that states need to worry about reform substance not union support when crafting round two RTT applications.

Reading this, you'd think that the reason Connecticut lost in round one was because it had insufficient stakeholder buy-in. The truth is CT had among the worst proposals I've seen. It was weak from top to bottom, especially in the key section on teacher reform.

If CT roped in all of its districts and unions, it might collect another 20 points or so.

But it lost a total of 155 points.

If CT wants to win, it needs to get bold not acquiescent.

--Andy Smarick


Be sure to check out this week's Ohio Gadfly for a Q&A with Rick Hess, who divulges his thoughts on Race to the Top, educational entrepreneurship, Ohio's budget constraints, and why the notion of ???best practices??? in education makes him ???nauseous.??? But don't worry, Rick isn't sick-- he just recognizes the flaws of trying to import good practices, impose them on other organizations, and then assume the same level of effectiveness (*cough??? Ohio's evidence-based model, anyone?).

Also check out a detailed breakdown of Ohio's Race to the Top application and its areas of weakness. Lots of states did poorly on ???Great Teachers & Leaders,??? but Ohio performed second to worst in this area and will have to improve this first and foremost if the state hopes to be competitive.

Definitely don't miss Fordham Ohio's first of several videos in our ???Needles in a Haystack??? series, which features one of Cleveland's top charter schools,?? Citizens' Academy. You'll learn more about Ohio's ???Needles schools??? (e.g., high-performing, high-needs schools that are very hard to find) in May when our report comes out, but stay tuned for video previews by Fordham's Eric Ulas.

On tap for Capital Matters...