Pathway to Success: Columbus Collegiate Academy embodies high expectations for all students
Enrollment and Achievement in Ohio's Virtual Charter Schools
- E-school students are mostly similar in race and ethnicity to students in brick-and-mortar district schools. But e-school students are lower-achieving (and more likely to have repeated the prior grade), more likely to participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, and less likely to participate in gifted education.
- Students taking online math courses are more likely to enroll in basic classes relative to students taking face-to-face courses. Almost no students take advanced math courses (like AP Statistics, Calculus, or Algebra II) online, especially compared to students who take face-to-face classes.
- Across all grades and subjects, students who attend e-schools perform worse on state tests than otherwise-similar students who attend brick-and-mortar district schools, even accounting for prior achievement. In contrast, students in grades 4–8 who attend brick-and-mortar charter schools perform slightly better than their district school counterparts in both reading and math. Results are mixed but modest for students in grade ten.
- Findings also suggest that e-schools drag down the performance of the entire charter sector.
In the Media
Evaluation of Ohio’s EdChoice Scholarship Program: Selection, Competition, and Performance Effects
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 somewhat higher-achieving and less economically disadvantaged.
- Competitive effects: EdChoice modestly improved the achievement of the public-school students who were eligible for a voucher but did not use it. The competition associated with the introduction of EdChoice appears to have spurred these public-school improvements.
- Participant effects: The students who used vouchers to attend private schools fared worse on state exams compared to their closely matched peers remaining in public schools. Only voucher students assigned to relatively high-performing EdChoice eligible public schools could be credibly studied.
Dr. David Figlio, Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and of Economics at Northwestern University, led the research.
In the Media
Common Core Math in the K-8 Classroom: Results from a National Teacher Survey
In Common Core Math in the K-8 Classroom: Results from a National Teacher Survey, Jennifer Bay Williams, Ann Duffett, and David Griffith take a close look at how educators are implementing the Common Core math standards in classrooms across the nation. A nationally representative survey of over one thousand teachers reveals that they are increasingly familiar with the Common Core and believe that it will benefit students. Yet our findings also point to several areas that warrant mid-course corrections if we’re going to fulfill the standards’ more rigorous expectations.
Here are a few key takeaways:
- Teachers like the Common Core but they don’t think all of their students and parents are equally enamored. Most teachers view the standards positively, believing that they will enhance their students’ math skills and prepare them for college and beyond. But they add that students’ and parents’ views are considerably less rosy. Some of their students have “math anxiety,” they say, and 85 percent believe that “reinforcement of math learning at home is declining because parents don’t understand the way that math is being taught.”
- Teachers know what’s in the Common Core—and they’re teaching it at the appropriate grade level. Though it may seem unsurprising, it is notable that teachers are able to identify from a list of topics (some of which are “decoys”) those that reflect the standards—and they report teaching them at the grade levels where they’re meant to be taught. Once upon a time, teachers shut their doors and did their own thing. Now we have many instructors teaching to the same high standards nationwide.
- Further, they’re changing how they teach. More teachers report incorporating the standards into their teaching, including the 64 percent of teachers who say they increasingly require students to explain in writing how they arrived at their answers.
- But teaching multiple methods can yield multiple woes. The Common Core math standards require that students “check their answers to problems using a different method.” And sure enough, 65 percent of K–5 teachers are teaching multiple methods more now than before the standards were implemented. But 53 percent of teachers also agree that students are frustrated when they are asked to learn different ways of solving the same problems.
- Teachers need support. While most teachers view the standards optimistically, some also report that their math materials are not aligned to the Common Core. What’s more, teachers with students below grade level tend to be more pessimistic about Common Core’s impact on their students. Finally, striking the right balance between conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and application has not been easy; teachers need more guidance about how to do so.
Now is not the time to grow weary, but to roll up our sleeves and help teachers succeed.
Can you correctly identity some of the key findings from our report?
Click the graphic above to enlarge its size.
In the Media
Pathway to Success: DECA prepares students for rigors of college, realities of life
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.
A Policymaker's Guide to Improving School Leadership
Whether the goal is to enhance instruction, create a culture of excellence, or broaden education options for parents, it’s nearly impossible to improve schools without strong leaders. This is hardly news; much evidence has indicated the importance of effective principals for decades. Yet reform strategies have largely lacked a coherent plan to upgrade leadership, even though it’s clearly a fundamental piece of the school improvement puzzle. This neglect is likely unintentional. Many states simply don’t know how to strengthen their cadre of leaders.
This is understandable. Most of the action around school leadership happens at the local level, far from state capitals. It is, after all, districts (and charter schools) that recruit, select, and place school leaders, and develop their expertise (or not). It’s easy for state officials and advocacy groups to prioritize leadership. Knowing which policy levers to pull is a lot harder.
That’s where A Policymaker's Guide to Improving School Leadership comes in. This online resource was designed to help policymakers and advocates focus on what makes a great principal—and how to get more of them in the schools that need them most.
We teamed up with our friends at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) to produce the toolkit and recruited author Eric Lerum—an experienced education reform analyst and advocate—to generate the content.
Explore the website to see how states are developing their own strategies to strengthen leadership, as well as model legislation drafted by experts in the field.
The solutions presented in A Policymaker's Guide to Improving School Leadership are organized around five key policy areas:
- Pathways and Pipelines – How do principals become principals? What do preparation programs look like? What does it take to become a principal? How do districts and schools grow and recruit school leaders? How can states influence all of this for the better?
- Distributed Leadership – How can teachers lead from within their schools? How can principals delegate some of their authority to teachers? What role might states play?
- Autonomy and Empowerment – What authority do principals have to make decisions regarding personnel and budgets? Are principals empowered to move quickly and flexibly to meet the needs of their students, educators, and families? Which state policies might be standing in the way?
- Principal Evaluation – How are principals evaluated by district leaders? Is their performance measured by multiple indicators of school success, including the student progress and staff growth and satisfaction? Should states encourage a particular approach?
- Retention and Compensation – How are districts incentivizing the best principals to continue to lead? Do districts have the flexibility and tools to make school leadership an attractive long-term career prospect? How can states help?
Have we piqued your interest? You can find A Policymaker's Guide to Improving School Leadership here.
- Quality in Adversity: Lessons from Ohio's best charter schools (Fordham Institute, 2016)
- Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement (Fordham Institute, 2014)
- Missing Out on Strong School Leaders? A Survey of Principal Hiring and Support in Washington State (CRPE, 2014)
- Principal Concerns: Leadership Data and Strategies for States (CRPE, 2012)
In the Media
Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?
Fordham’s latest study, by the University of Connecticut's Shaun M. Dougherty, uses data from Arkansas to explore whether students benefit from CTE coursework—and, more specifically, from focused sequences of CTE courses aligned to certain industries. The study also describes the current landscape, including which students are taking CTE courses, how many courses they’re taking, and which ones.
Key findings include:
- Students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages.
- CTE is not a path away from college: Students taking more CTE classes are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers.
- Students who focus their CTE coursework are more likely to graduate high school by twenty-one percentage points compared to otherwise similar students (and they see a positive impact on other outcomes as well).
- CTE provides the greatest boost to the kids who need it most—boys, and students from low-income families.
Due to many decades of neglect and stigma against old-school “vo-tech,” high-quality CTE is not a meaningful part of the high school experience of millions of American students. It’s time to change that.
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- Shaun Dougherty's presentation of findings (.pdf)
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In the Media
Education for Upward Mobility
In Education for Upward Mobility, editor Michael J. Petrilli and more than a dozen leading scholars and policy analysts seek answers to a fundamental question: How can we help children born into poverty transcend their disadvantages and enter the middle class as adults? And in particular, what role can our schools play?
Everyone agrees that expanding educational achievement is a clear route to expanding economic opportunity. Yet much of our public discourse ends there. Of course more young Americans need better education in order to succeed. But what kind of education? Is the goal “college for all”? What do we mean by “college”? Do our young people mostly need a strong foundation in academics? What about so-called “non-cognitive” skills? Should technical education make a comeback?
Education for Upward Mobility provides fresh ideas for policymakers at every level of government; for leaders and policy analysts in education reform organizations; for philanthropists and associations; and for local superintendents and school board members. It combines the latest research evidence on relevant topics with in-depth explorations of promising practices on the ground, in real places, achieving real successes.
- “Education and the ‘Success Sequence,’” by Ron Haskins
- “Big Payoff, Low Probability: Postsecondary Education and Economic Mobility in America,” by Andrew Kelly
- “The Certification Revolution,” by Tamar Jacoby
- “How Apprenticeship Approaches Can Spur Upward Mobility in the United States,” by Robert Lerman
- “Small High Schools of Choice,” by Peter Meyer
- “College-Prep High Schools for the Poor,” by Joanne Jacobs
- “High-Quality Career and Technical Education,” by Robert Schwartz and Nancy Hoffman
- “Starting at Five is Too Late: Early Childhood Education and Upward Mobility,” by Elliot Regenstein, Bryce Marable, and Jelene Britton
- “Poverty-Fighting Elementary Schools: Knowledge Acquisition is Job One,” by Robert Pondiscio
- “Tracking in Middle School,” by Tom Loveless
"Education for Upward Mobility: The Reform Conservative's Education Agenda"
In the Media
Facing facts: Ohio's school report cards in a time of rising expectations
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, urban schools almost universally receive low ratings (Ds and Fs). But when examining results from Ohio’s student growth measure (value added), variation in school quality emerges. Both urban charter and district schools receive high value added ratings, indicating the presence of schools that are helping students catch up with their peers.
- Still, too many students in urban areas are trapped in low quality schools (receiving poor ratings on both the performance index and value added). Taken together, approximately 150,000 students in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton attend a low-quality school.
Download the report to learn more about the performance of Ohio’s public schools, statewide and in its eight largest urban areas.
2015 Fordham Sponsorship Annual Report
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.