At the most recent State Board of Education meeting, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) reported preliminary test results from the 2017–18 school year. The numbers still need to be verified by districts before they can be used to calculate report cards, which will include more detailed data and be disaggregated by subgroup. But the early results are promising.

In grades three through eight, proficiency rates went up in math and English language arts (ELA) in every grade except third. Third grade rates dropped by 3 percentage points in math and 2 points in ELA—but were still higher than rates from 2016, the first year that Ohio’s current state tests were administered. See table 1.

Table 1. The percentage of students who scored proficient or above in math and English, 2016–18 



% proficient or above 2016

% proficient or above 2017

% proficient or above 2018

2017-2018 Increase/Decrease

Grade 3 Math






I won’t lie: I was disappointed to see so many education-reform leaders and organizations sign onto a letter circulated by Educators for Excellence and the Discipline Revolution Project urging the administration to keep the Obama-era school discipline policy in place. But I remain optimistic that a commonsense resolution can be found—and implemented. That might sound naïve, given today’s deeply divided politics, but in this case it’s because the common ground is so capacious. Namely: Secretary DeVos and Attorney General Sessions should keep the bulk of the policy put forward by their predecessors but strike the language around “disparate impact theory.” (Here’s what that would look like.)

Such an approach would keep the feds on board with efforts to reduce the (over)use of out-of-school suspensions and the like, while steering away from quotas in the meting out of student discipline.

This approach won’t make either side entirely happy, but conservatives are never going to accept disparate impact theory, and liberals are never going to acknowledge that student behavior is a major factor driving discipline disparities. Yet we can make plenty of progress anyway.

Namely, the Administration should keep these parts of the Obama “Dear Colleague” letter:

  • Reminders
  • ...

With summer vacations now in full swing, the Ohio legislature is taking a breather after an eventful first half of 2018. The sudden resignation of House speaker Cliff Rosenberger and a contentious battle for his replacement stalled legislation for weeks. But once new speaker Ryan Smith was elected in early June, a flurry of bills passed. Let’s recap what the General Assembly has (and hasn’t) done so far this year on the most talked about education issues.

Online schools

Fallout from the mid-year collapse of ECOT continues to unfold. The legislature, undoubtedly sensing the need to ensure a debacle like this never occurs again and worried about its impact on the fall elections, passed several provisions aimed at improving online education. Some of them were introduced in House Bill 707 and later enacted as amendments to House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 216. Our more detailed comments on e-school policy are here, but three important provisions that passed last month are well worth a review.

First, e-schools are now required to withdraw students who fail to participate in learning opportunities without excuse after 72 instead of 105 consecutive hours. This change will...

  1. The Dayton Daily News has, it seems, decided to spearhead an all-out effort to help Dayton City Schools. It is part of their “The Path Forward” initiative which highlights different problem areas in the city. Not sure how extensive this series of articles will ultimately be, but it begins with three pieces published yesterday. First up, a manifesto that asserts Dayton City Schools are not as bad as the perception of them would suggest. Yet there is a lot to do to improve them – complete with data. (Dayton Daily News, 7/15/18) Second, brief profiles of five young people who “represent the best” of Dayton City Schools. I won’t quibble about the awesomeness of the kids – they seem great – but it seems fairly clear to me that the best of what goes on related to those kids has very little to do with Dayton City Schools, unless it’s extracurricular, the responsibility of the state (“Dunbar’s college credit plus program” indeed!), or something that rhymes with the word “strivers”. (Dayton Daily News, 7/15/18) Finally in this first salvo, many families supposedly love Dayton City Schools, yet even some of those who supposedly do are tepid in
  2. ...
Leila Walsh

Those of us who read Fordham’s Flypaper blog spend a lot of time thinking about how to boost student achievement, and we all have ideas about the best ways to improve America’s schools. But the state and district education leaders who are members of Chiefs for Change believe there’s a lever that deserves greater attention: curriculum. After all, if we want to help children learn, we should pay careful attention to what we put in front of them. We may think we know, but that’s not always true. 

A case in point is Baltimore City Public Schools. Shortly after joining the district, CEO Sonja Santelises wanted to find out what students were studying, the depth of their knowledge, and whether the content provided, as she says, “mirrors and windows.” In other words, could students see themselves in the content? And did it give them opportunities to discover new things while relating those lessons to their own interactions with the world?

To help answer those questions, Dr. Santelises partnered with several experts, including David Steiner and Ashley Berner at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. They conducted a district-wide curriculum audit that looked at what students would learn if...

  1. Not much to cover in education news today, but half of what there is includes quotes from our own Chad Aldis! So there’s that. First up, Chad is among the folks discussing A-F school report cards. Good? Bad? Informational? Punitive? Everyone has something to say, but that particular legislative train seems to be staying in the station for a while yet either way. (Dayton Daily News, 7/12/18) Secondly, Chad is less the talker than the subject of talk in this piece about Ohio’s graduation requirements. Which is really sad, since the Plain Dealer has done what ODE has not: crunched some vitally important numbers on graduation rates across the state. But by all means, please just keep talking about Chad instead of who got a free graduation pass. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/13/18)
  2. Three small school districts in Trumbull County are looking into the possibility of sharing services in an effort to save money. One of the three is Liberty Local Schools, which recently made headlines by banning white students from leaving the district via open enrollment for nearby Girard City Schools. Girard City Schools is not among the three looking into the possibility of sharing services.
  3. ...

In the waning days of June, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions advanced a bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. A similar bill passed the House over a year ago.

Career and technical education (CTE) enjoys broad bipartisan support, and reports say that the White House has already put its stamp of approval on the Senate version. Nothing is certain, but states could soon be implementing a new law that would meaningfully alter the CTE landscape. Based on the marked-up version of the Senate bill, here’s a broad overview of some of the biggest potential changes.

New terminology

It adds or updates the definitions of many terms, including career pathways, industry sector partnerships, recognized postsecondary credentials, and more. Some of this is meant to match the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2014. And some terms are particularly noteworthy, such as the bill’s definition of a “CTE concentrator” and a “CTE participant,” which are slightly different depending on whether the student is at the secondary or postsecondary level. At the secondary level, concentrators are students who...

Peter Cunningham

Mike Petrilli’s next steps for the education reform movement essentially boil down to staying the course on choice and accountability, improving curriculum, and reworking the career track in high schools. There’s more nuance, of course, but in a nutshell that’s it.

I say go big. It’s time for a new civil rights movement with educational equity as the centerpiece.

We will never close achievement gaps under the current framework. Low-income kids will always start school further behind than their middle-class counterparts, they will always get shafted on funding, and they will never catch up in the vast majority of schools.

Setting aside politics for the moment, what is really needed to dramatically change outcomes is much more learning time and much more investment in teachers.

Start at the beginning—literally—with programs providing support for low-income kids from birth through preschool. There is no better investment than strong early learning programs. If we really want to make a difference, that’s the place to start.

Second, radically reduce class size in the lower grades. Let’s get K–3 teacher-student ratios down to fifteen-to-one or less in schools serving poor children, and then we will find out if we can teach them all to...



Ohio charter school success story

Yesterday, the Fordham Institute released their latest Pathway to Success profile that’s part of a series dedicated to highlighting how charter schools are helping students and families across Ohio thrive. This profile features a student at Near West Intergenerational School in Cleveland, a charter that emphasizes relationships and rigor to ignite lifelong learning. If you (or someone you know) would like to have a school or student featured in Fordham’s Pathway to Success series, please contact [email protected].

Big changes to Newark, Ohio, charter schools

Newark City Schools has decided, for now, to stop sponsoring charter schools. The two schools it sponsored, Newark Digital Academy and Par Excellence Academy, will continue serving students but with new governance structures. The district will take over Newark Digital Academy, while Par Excellence will be sponsored by the Ohio Department of Education. For Par Excellence, this means the school is now accepting more students for K-5 and is expanding to include two sixth grade classrooms (much to the delight of many parents who have pushed for the expansion for years).


New Orleans becomes first district in U.S. to oversee a...


(This is a long-form article that we've hosted on an external website. Read it here.)