Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. I’m just catching up to this story from last week, but it’s not often you get a state board of education member on the record, so here it is. District 1 Rep Ann Jacobs discussed Common Core, charter schools, urban schools, education for special needs students, and the Straight A Fund, among other topics.  (Lima News)
  2. As we have mentioned before, Lorain City Schools are currently being overseen by an Academic Distress Commission. Well, it's progress report time, including a review of governance, leadership, curriculum instruction, professional development, assessments, fiscal management, and student support, among other topics.  (Northern Ohio Morning Journal)
  3. We’ve reported this already, but I think it bears mentioning again, especially after yesterday’s frankly ridiculous story from Zanesville: only minor bugs were evident in the first PARCC field tests across Ohio earlier this month. And the results don’t count because it was a system test. (WKSU-FM, Kent)
  4. You've got to dig to get to the main point here, but there’s a lot to it if you do. We have reported on the education of juvenile prisoners before, and because Common Core is the law of the land around here, aligned materials are making their way behind bars also. The story is about the bid/buy process that the DRC has to go through for educational
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  1. Checker is quoted in a Dispatch editorial opining against parents boycotting standardized testing. Hope both of Columbus’ opter-outers are paying attention. (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. Common common common Core! The PD takes a look at Cuyahoga County’s high-flying suburbs to see what they thought of recent PARCC practice tests. Hint: they have concerns. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  3. I’m sure they’ve covered this in plenty of detail already, but the PD wants you to see more sample PARCC test questions. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  4. The PARCC field tests are on the minds of some school districts in the Zanesville area as well, although far from others: “As soon as they make us do it, then we’ll do it.” Great. (Zanesville Times Recorder)
  5. As expected, the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Committee’s Education Subcommittee has thoroughly and efficiently agitated some folks from their very first efforts. Dispatch editors opine on the need for caution. (Columbus Dispatch)
  6. As you may know, I don’t usually link to letters to the editor, but when one is presented by the Senate Minority Leader on Ohio – and on charter school accountability no less – well, I pay attention. (Toledo Blade)
  7. The next round of third grade reading tests in Ohio
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For millions of Americans, yesterday was tax day. One of the major uses of those tax dollars is K-12 public education; in fact, Ohio spends approximately $20 billion per year on its public schools. Those funds are generated through state income and sales taxes, local property taxes, and to a small extent, federal taxes.

On a per-pupil basis, that amount equals an outlay of $13,000 per child. Chart 1 shows that spending has risen from $10,682 to $13,063 from 2000 to 2011—an increase of 22 percent—after adjusting for inflation. The chart also shows that Ohio’s per-pupil expenditures are slightly above the national average, and that the state’s spending trend has generally mirrored the national average.

Despite the murmurs of inadequacy from a few interest groups, the fact of the matter is that Ohioans generously fund its public schools and the students who attend them. Given this, the state’s public schools need to be good stewards of those tax dollars by demonstrating that tax payers’ hard-earned dollars are working to lift student achievement.

Chart 1: Ohio’s per-pupil (K-12) spending on the rise and above the national average – expenditures per pupil, 1999-00 to 2010-11

Source: U.S. Department of Education Note: There were no data reported for 2000-01. Expenditures exclude debt service (both principal and interest payments), Title I expenditures, and a few other expenditure categories or sources of revenue (e.g., textbook revenues, tuition payments). The inflation adjustment is...

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NOTE: The Ohio Gadfly Daily News is going on spring break for the rest of this week. Back on Monday with a full roundup. 

  1. Chad’s Ohio Gadfly piece this week on the state of play in Cleveland has drawn quite a bit of interest from Northeast Ohio. You can check him out talking about that very subject at StateImpact and hear the audio from IdeaStream here. (StateImpact Ohio/WCPN-FM Cleveland)
  2. A 24-year veteran teacher in Avon tells it like it is. She has seen many changes in students, curriculum, testing, everything. But her eye is on the prize all the time: “My hope for the future is that my students’ love of learning continues throughout their whole lives. It’s why I teach and it’s what Avon Schools are all about.” Fantastic. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal)
  3. There are two pieces in today’s Education Insider from the Dispatch. The first one is slightly interesting, but my concern is with the second one. A Columbus parent sued the district in regard to the well-publicized data scrubbing, alleging that the scrubbing - and subsequent change in school report card rating - resulted in his own child being unable to obtain a voucher. He got his first day in court…and lost. He has vowed to appeal. (Columbus Dispatch)
  4. Ohio currently has a half dozen standalone (i.e. – non-district) STEM schools
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  1. Several folks have a big problem with changes to value-add calculations proposed in the education MBR bill which passed the House last week and now heads to the Senate. We couldn’t agree more, as we noted in this week’s Ohio Gadfly. (Gongwer Ohio)
  2. The MBR is also on the minds of folks in Cleveland; specifically, a provision that would extend EdChoice Scholarship eligibility to some Cleveland students for the first time under specific conditions. We’ll see if that one survives the Senate. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  3. Budget forecasting in Akron is complicated by two factors: the state’s new counting methods, going into use next year, and the continued loss of students to vouchers/charters/etc. Still no one asking why the kids are leaving in the first place and what might be done to stop it. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  4. Very twisty story here regarding the impending closure of a charter school in Akron. White Hat/former White Hat/copywriting of names/moving from building to building/the impending Ohio Supreme Court case/etc. Why did it close? Very simple: not enough students to remain financially viable. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  5. The influence of the Beacon Journal is outsized these days in the Ohio ed reform world. This observation is reinforced by this editorial from the Salem News, a paper
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  1. We’ve heard a lot about parents opting their kids out of testing. In Columbus, that number is now up to two. Yes, two parents. (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. Two down, two to go. Governor Kasich has appointed a new member of the state board of education. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  3. “It is astonishing that we can predict so well in Kindergarten how well kids will be able to read in third grade.” So says a researcher from Ohio State University, sounding what might be a new salvo in the arguments about Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Fascinating (Dayton Daily News)
  4. This is a fascinating dig into data on enrollment changes in districts all around the larger central Ohio area. Open enrollment openings and closings are mooted as big motivators on the changes, but surely population fluctuation and the economy have got to play larges part here. Don’t they? (Columbus Dispatch)
  5. This story has more twists and turns than an O. Henry story. Less than a week after the approval of a use permit that would allow Horizon Science Academy to buy and move to the Toledo YMCA building, Toledo Public Schools has come out of left field to propose to locate not only a currently non-existent Head Start program to the Y building, but
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No one said it would be easy. Two years ago, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, along with the city’s business, philanthropic, and education leaders, came to Columbus and asked Governor Kasich and the General Assembly to help them with legislation to reform the city’s long-struggling school system. The result, the “Cleveland Plan,” has drawn attention from around the state and across the nation.

The effort held promise that it would allow Cleveland to emerge from the bottom of the national heap in student achievement. The summer legislative victory in Columbus was followed by a successful levy campaign in Fall 2012, and the school district was off to the races busily trying to implement the components of the plan.

Reform plans, if they’re actually going to work, change the way a school district does business—and as anyone who follows education reform knows, that’s hard to do. It should come as no surprise, then, that Cleveland Schools CEO Eric Gordon’s implementation of the plan has come under fire. Let’s take a look at some of the most recent challenges.

Impatience

Rising expectations are essential for a struggling school district trying to improve its academic performance, but when the improvement plan requires additional local support from the community through a property-tax levy, those expectations extend beyond the schools and to every corner of the community. As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, test scores in Cleveland’s investment schools (the lowest-performing schools “targeted for extra attention for improvement”)...

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Last week, I attended a forum at the Columbus Metropolitan Club, hosted by our friends at KidsOhio.org, which showcased efforts in the city of Columbus to meet the challenge of Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. The district’s work thus far is impressive: multiple citywide family literacy events held over the last four months, recruitment of “literacy-buddy” volunteers for in-school service, extensive training for reading interventionists, and even mustering the support of school-bus drivers to encourage reading every day. Is all of this effort going to make every third grader pass the reading test before the start of fourth grade? No. Is it going to improve upon the 48 percent passing rate achieved in the district last fall? Yes—and when it does, one long-standing barrier to achievement in my hometown schools will be overcome for hundreds of children.

And as for the mighty Columbus Metropolitan Library, voted more than once the number-one library system of its size in the country? Well, they’re trying really hard. Panelist Alison Circle noted several times that she and her staff are “out of their comfort zone” in an effort of this type. Nevertheless, they should be applauded for supplying books, recruiting volunteers, and making sure that schools and families know their doors are open to all in support of this “all-hands-on-deck moment” in our community.

It is fitting that attendees seemed most impressed with the stories told—of Columbus superintendent Dan Good’s mother joining him at a family literacy event and...

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The House Education Committee tucked two provisions into the Mid-Biennium Review bill that would alter the state’s calculation of student progress. They both relate to the value-added model (VAM), the state’s method for computing a school or district’s impact on student-learning progress over time.

Value added is a statistical model that uses student-level data, collected over time, to isolate the contribution of a school on learning. This calculation is a noble and necessary undertaking, given what research has shown, time and again, about the significant influence of out-of-school factors on students’ educational success (e.g., parents, tutoring, private art and music lessons, faith-based education, etc.).

If the objective is to gain a clearer view of the true effectiveness of a school—its educators and their approach to curriculum, behavior, scheduling, and so forth—we want to minimize the influence of the out-of-school factors. Increasing clarity to school performance applies both to high-wealth schools, which can skate by on the backs of upper-middle-class parents, and to low-wealth schools, which can be handicapped in an accountability system based on raw proficiency measures.

I believe—and yes, to a certain extent, based on faith—that the state is moving in the right direction with its approach to value added.[1] But in my view, the House is making two missteps in its proposed changes to VAM. The following describe the provisions and why the state legislature should remove them as the bill heads to the Senate.

Provision 1: Changes value added from...

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Most of us are aware by now that Franklin Regional High School, near Pittsburgh, was recently the site of a terrible act of violence. That district also happens to be my home school. There, I had the good fortune to learn under the tutelage of many superb educators. The tragic consequences of the human condition struck home for me, as I’m sure they have for the families of Chardon, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and just last week for the parents and students of Liberty Elementary in Columbus. 

Yet I also caught a glimpse, through the news feeds, of humankind at its finest and bravest: Principal Sam King—a good man whom I remember from my high-school days—helping to disarm the assailant and young men and women casting themselves into harm’s way to save each other’s lives. The light of men shone through, even in the darkest moment. My prayers and best wishes go out to my alma mater.

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