Ohio Gadfly Daily

The passage of comprehensive charter school reform in the form of House Bill 2 was supposed to move charters past the controversies that had overshadowed the excellent work of good schools. The new era promised to be focused less on audits and academic failings and more on how charters can create more high quality education options for families in the Buckeye State. Unfortunately, a series of troubling recent developments involving online charter schools threatens to undermine the progress that Ohio has made. Rather than waiting until the clarion call for change is deafeningly loud, Ohio charter advocates should once again step up and lead the effort to improve their sector.

Online charters in the spotlight

While the academic performance of online charter schools has been criticized before, a national study released in October by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University provided the most compelling—and shocking—data to date showing the lackluster academic achievement of online charter school students. In Ohio, for example, the CREDO study indicated that online students lost seventy-nine days of learning per year in reading and 144 days in math compared to their peers in traditional public schools....

National education reform leader and author Kevin P. Chavous will visit central Ohio to headline the June 10 event with his presentation Building a Learning Culture in America. Through personal stories of his work as an educator, advocate, and change agent, Chavous will share his vision of how to reclaim a positive learning culture and to regain international leadership in education.

The program will also feature Ohio school leaders sharing their strategies for creating a culture of learning and engagement in their classrooms. Jim Mahoney, Ph.D., executive director of Battelle for Kids, will provide the closing keynote on Creating Highly Effective Teachers.

The OAPCS Charter School Leadership Event

Friday, June 10, 2016, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

The Conference Center at OCLC, Lakeside Room

6565 Kilgour Place

Dublin, Ohio 43017

Register today by clicking here....

Since their inception in 1999, Buckeye charter schools have grown rapidly. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), Ohio had just over fifty-nine thousand charter students in 2004–05; ten years later, that number had more than doubled to 122,000 students, representing 7 percent of the public school population. These statistics demonstrate the impressive and sustained growth of the charter movement in Ohio; but where do most charters students live? Are they evenly distributed throughout the state or heavily concentrated in a few areas? Which cities have the largest charter “enrollment share,” and what areas of the state have very few charter students? Answers to these questions can help us identify opportunities for growth and partnership—and even make the case for policy change.

To conduct this analysis, I use the enrollment data from the state’s District Payment Reports (FY 2015: Final #3 payment). These reports display the number of charter students who live within the jurisdiction of each district (on a full-time equivalent basis), so we can count students by their districts of residence.[1] This analysis of charter enrollment yields three main takeaways.

The majority of charter students live in urban areas...

  1. Have you all been following the Proper Perspective series in Ohio Gadfly Daily? If not, you should. In it, our own Jamie Davies O’Leary exchanges views on important education topics with Innovation Ohio and KnowYourCharters guru (and former state legislator) Steve Dyer. And now one of those Proper Perspective entries – on the topic of testing opter-outers – has spawned a commentary piece by Jamie and Steve in the ABJ. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/29/16)
     
  2. The state board of education added three more folks to the list of finalists for permanent state supe, bringing the total of candidates to be interviewed to eight. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/28/16). Interviews will start soon, which is good because the person holding the seat on an interim basis is actively looking for another job closer to home. Just like he said he would. (Toledo Blade, 4/28/16)
     
  3. I think we may be able to move Groveport-Madison schools from “maybe challenging” the Win-Win Agreement to “definitely challenging” the Win-Win Agreement. But I could be wrong. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/28/16)
     
  4. As our own Jessica Poiner has told us previously, Ohio’s new-ish College Credit Plus program – to give kids access
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Since the passage of House Bill 2, much attention has been paid to how Ohio’s charter sector can build on policy reforms and improve itself. With the imminent (we hope) arrival of federal Charter Schools Program grant dollars, Ohio has a better opportunity than ever to raise its charter game. There are already several charter networks and schools doing great work, but the Buckeye State still has tens of thousands of students, especially in urban areas, enrolled in low-quality schools. It’s time for Ohio to start recruiting top-notch charter management organizations (CMOs) to increase the number of high-quality seats. But how?

Enter a recent report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) that examines the best way for state and local leaders to recruit high-performing CMOs. The report is based on a 2015 survey conducted by NAPCS and the Foundation for Excellence in Education of over twenty high-performing CMOs. Authors compiled the results and pinpointed the elements that CMOs consider when deciding whether and where to expand.

One of the most useful aspects of the report is its analysis of the three types of charter markets: “emerging,” “risk-reward,” and...

  1. We’ve mentioned previously that Ohio’s “value added” measure is going to undergo some scrutiny in the state legislature. The first round took place this week as “placeholder” HB 524 got its first hearing in the House Education Committee. Prior to the hearing, Fordham was namechecked in this piece looking ahead to the value-added hearing. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/25/16) Additionally, Chad was actually quoted in this piece from The D, summarizing previous discussions about value added and what if anything might augment or replace it. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/26/16) Both the House and Senate Education Committees got a presentation from the Ohio Department of Education on value added – what it is, how it’s calculated, and how its been used on state report cards in the past. Gongwer has a good summary of the presentation and of the testimony from House Ed. More to follow. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/26/16)
     
  2. What’s that they say about a free lunch never really being free? Having made the district 100% free lunch last year, Columbus City Schools are now choking down a big old irony burger. They have erased a long-standing deficit in their food service budget (replaced with a healthy surplus thanks
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  1. Andy Boy, Founder and CEO of United Schools Network here in Columbus, had a great commentary piece in the Dispatch this weekend on how high-quality schools like his can help close achievement gaps for poor and minority students. And I don’t just say it’s great because Fordham sponsors USN’s schools. I say it because Andy knows what he’s talking about from long and successful experience. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/23/16)
     
  2. Patrick O’Donnell continued his profiles of the top five candidates for state superintendent. That’s right, we’re back to five again, as noted peripherally in this profile of Dayton’s Tom Lasley. Quite a career, I’d say. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/22/16)
     
  3. No one is saying that there is a direct line from Reynoldsburg City Schools to the upper echelons of the Ohio Department of Education… Well, maybe Patrick is saying it a little bit in this profile of current Reynoldsburg supe Tina Thomas-Manning, another of the top five candidates for state superintendent. There’s lots to dig into here, but I would draw your attention to two of Thomas-Manning’s reference letters, among the application materials posted on the PD website. One is from former Reynoldsburg supe (and current Fordham board
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  1. The PD continued its series profiling the top candidates for state superintendent. Candidate Bob Sommers’s profile notes (among other things that are probably more important) that his application contained a reference letter from former Fordhamite Terry Ryan. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/20/16)
     
  2. Speaking of Mr. Sommers, the proposed additional location for his Carpe Diem charter school at the Underground Freedom Museum in Cincinnati is a no-go due to a lack of sufficient space. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/20/16)
     
  3. Staying in the Queen City for a moment, we’ve told you about changes afoot in Cincinnati City Schools before: moves, expansions, grade band changes in buildings, scuffles between district and arts agency, etc. Here is a more detailed look at the seven affected buildings which gets a little “turf-y” for lack of a better word. Hannah Sparling’s occasionally-disdainful tone (also evident in the above piece) doesn’t aid in following the details. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/21/16) P.S. – I think this future piece will probably explain the “turfiness” in more detail for us outsiders.
     
  4. The official job description for the new CEO of Youngstown City Schools has been posted, with a very short deadline for applications as expected. The
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  1. Editors in Columbus opined once again this week in favor of SB 298, the e-school accountability bill, and lamented its assignment to the Senate Finance Committee’s education subcommittee. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/19/16) Meanwhile, Mansfield City Schools announced it is going to be contracting with an outside company (go ahead, look them up by name) to provide online schooling to district students and others from outside the district (wait, does that math even add up?) in an attempt to “win back” kids from those dastardly online charter schools. The ironies in this story are not limited to online schooling either. Read on about the extra test-prep period that freshmen will be getting every day next year and how the district is petitioning to get out from under state fiscal oversight after proposing thousands of dollars of new personnel expenditures. (Mansfield News Journal, 4/19/16)
     
  2. Remember those Top 5 state supe candidates we told you about last week? Before poor Patrick O’Donnell could even do his first profile, the list was cut to 4 as one of them withdrew to take another job and that “profile” turned into a “see ya later” piece. Was it something we said? (Cleveland Plain
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When Mayor Nan Whaley came into office in 2014, she showed great political courage in making education a top priority, something no Dayton mayor in memory had done. To galvanize public support for change, she formed a broadly-representative City of Learners Committee, held “listening sessions” throughout the city, and published two reports updating citizens on the committee’s progress. The committee—and Mayor Whaley—have rightly identified preschool, afterschool and summer learning, business partnerships, mentoring, and (as discussed below) high-quality schools as urgent needs that, if successfully tackled, would definitely improve education in Dayton. That’s something just about everyone living in or near the Gem City recognizes as a grave shortcoming in our community.

For this to happen, more high-quality schools are absolutely essential; but this is where the City of Learners Committee hasn’t gotten it quite right. Its newest report, published earlier this month, uses 2013-14 state data to rank Dayton’s district and charter schools in three categories: high, intermediate, and struggling. Unfortunately, it paints a rosier-than-reality picture of actual school performance, thus giving a misleading impression of the depth of today’s school-quality problem.

Last year (2014-15), the Dayton Public Schools were the lowest performing of 610 Ohio school districts on the...

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