Ohio has gotten a lot of feedback on its education system in
the past few weeks. On January 10, the U.S. Department of Education released a
progress report detailing the Buckeye State’s accomplishments and challenges
with Race to the Top funds. (Here
is Fordham’s take on the report.) On January 12, Education Week released the
national report card Quality Counts 2012: The Global Challenge
–Education in a Competitive World

Each year, Education Week chooses a theme that serves as the
underlying narrative for the report, this year’s being “American Education from
a Global Perspective.” The report “takes a critical look at the nation’s place
among the world’s public education systems, with an eye toward providing
policymakers with perspective on the extent to which high-profile international
assessments can provide valid comparisons and lessons.”

States are graded on six criteria:
for Success:
Looks at the broader educational environment: from family
income and parent English proficiency to adult educational attainment, and
takes into account the lingering effects of the ongoing recession. Ohio’s Score: C+ (78.4); Nation’s Score: C+

Examines school achievement: 4th and 8th
grade scores on math and English tests, the influence of the poverty gap on
test scores, and high school graduation rates. Ohio’s Score: C- (71.2); Nation’s Score: C- (69.7)

Looks at school funding equity across the state: the correlation
between school funding and property-based wealth, per-pupil expenditure, and
the percent of total taxable resources dedicated to K-12 education. Ohio’s Score: C (76.0); Nation’s Score: C

Assessments, & Accountability:
Reviews a state’s course- and
grade-specific standards (including the Common Core math and ELA standards for
those states that have adopted them), types of test items, assessments aligned
to standards, and school accountability systems. Ohio’s Score: A (96.1); Nation’s Score: B (85.3)

Assesses teacher quality initiatives, including coursework
requirements for licensure, alternative licensure programs, merit pay, and
professional development programs. Ohio’s
Score: C (76.4); Nation’s Score: C (72.5)

& Alignment:
Was not updated in 2012 Ohio’s Score: C+ (78.6); Nation’s Score: C+ (78.3)

Ohio ranked 10th nationally with an overall grade
of C+ (79.5); slightly ahead of the U.S. average of C (76.5). While Ohio should
be applauded for ranking 10th, a C+ is an average score that most
states also received. It seems the Buckeye State is simply the best of the mediocre
states. Results ranged from first place Maryland, B+ (87.8), to last place
South Dakota, D+ (68.1), and a majority of the states fell into the C range.

Ohio’s best performance was in the category “Standards,
Assessments, & Accountability.” This should come as no surprise. Ohio has
long been a leader in the standards and accountability realm, and while many
(Fordham included) have lamented that Ohio fell behind other states in recent
years when it came to reforms like adopting a strong teacher evaluation system,
our Race to the Top grant has helped spur changes.

Ohio’s worst performance was in the “K-12 achievement”
category. And again, this shouldn’t surprise many – the state’s performance on
NAEP (aka the Nation’s Report
) has been stagnate, and unimpressive, for years now. Preschool-going
rates are a factor in the K-12 achievement section as well, and State
Superintendent Stan Heffner told the Hannah
that he hopes more students from underserved families will be able
to attend preschool and kindergarten with the help of Ohio’s $70 million grant
from the Race to the Top Early Learning program.

As Ohio looks to improve its education deliver systems in
times of tight budgets, it is important that the efforts focus on policies and
programs known to help advance student achievement. This report is useful in
helping Ohioans understand where we currently stand and where we need to go.

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