Ohio Gadfly Daily

Ohio’s 2014–15 report cards are now fully available for all schools and districts except dropout prevention and recovery programs (due at the end of March). With ten graded measures and several ungraded components as well, there are dozens of ways to parse the data to learn how well Ohio public schools are performing—and more importantly, how well equipped students are for later life success. (Performance on the report cards is not the same as true college and career readiness; check out our recently released statewide report card analysis, Facing Facts, for more about that.)

Much of Ohio’s high school data is relatively new and merits exploration. High school report cards include traditional graduation rates as well as additional measures intended to gauge students’ college and career readiness. These “Prepared for Success” measures (rolled out in 2013–14) remain ungraded until next year, but they yield valuable information in six categories: 

  • College admission tests (participation rates on ACT/SAT, mean scores, and percentage receiving remediation-free scores),
  • Dual enrollment (specifically, the percentage of students earning at least three dual enrollment credits while in high school),
  • Industry credentials,
  • Honors diplomas awarded,
  • Advanced Placement (participation rates and test results), and
  • International Baccalaureate (participation
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  1. The 2014 CREDO report “Charter Performance in Ohio”, paid for by Fordham, is cited and our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this Politico piece on the education record of presidential candidate (and Ohio Governor) John Kasich. (Politico, 3/14/16)
     
  2. Our “Facing Facts” report analyzing Ohio’s report card data garnered a couple more notices. The folks at Gongwer took a long look at the report and seem to have found it interesting and informative. Not sure what’s up with that urban district teacher job fair notice tacked on at the bottom. Probably meant to be a separate story, but you have been informed. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/11/16) With journalist Doug “Dog” Livingston off dogging politicians instead of education folk these days, it falls to the ABJ editorial staff to “report” on K-12 issues. This includes editorial page editor Michael “Dog” Douglas, who perused our “Facing Facts” report before opining positively on the value of Ohio’s report card data. Maybe he was so positive because of the relatively-high value added scores of some otherwise-maligned Akron schools. Or maybe it was something Aaron said. Whatever the reason, new “Dog” is definitely going against the prevailing narrative on Ohio’s report cards
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  1. Some nice coverage of Fordham’s new state report card analysis “Facing Facts” in the Dispatch this morning. Definitely a case of good news/bad news for central Ohio. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/11/16)
     
  2. The ironies in this brief piece about yet another online school forced to pay back money for kids unable to be accounted for are so loud that the outrage is being drowned out. Surely that’s why I can’t hear it. (Newark Advocate, 3/8/16)
     
  3. Speaking of technology, the Dayton Daily News is really really excited about the start of a pilot program giving a small group of Dayton City Schools’ students Chromebooks. How excited? They even note in this brief “breaking news” piece the time that the distribution will happen: 9:45 am. No mention of what time the boys are going to have to give them back (3:15? 3:45?); also no mention of what they’re going to do when Ohio gives up on computers in schools and heads back to slide rules and abaci. Stay tuned. (Dayton Daily News, 3/11/16)
     
  4. Speaking of avid journalism, the Enquirer has been avidly following (perhaps even stoking) the furor over the School for Creative and Performing Arts in the
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  1. Editors in Toledo opined on the subject of state report card results, looking to outside analyses of those results to bolster their point. Fordham’s first-blush mini-analysis of the report card data from last week is one of those outside sources. Just wait gang, there’s more where that came from! (Toledo Blade, 3/9/16)
     
  2. The Blade must have written its editorial a few days ago, because there is no mention of the other shoe. That is, the growing hubbub over a “huge disparity” in value-added results for schools who took PARCC tests online vs. those who took PARCC tests via pencil and paper. We brought you the PD version of the story on Monday. Here it is from the D. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/8/16)
     
  3. The above-referenced failure of Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips was front and center at this week’s state board of education meeting. You can read coverage of this specific issue in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/8/16) and the AP (Dayton Daily News, via AP, 3/7/16). In other state board of ed news, far less interesting other stuff was discussed. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/7/16)
     
  4. At the other end of the wire,
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Management sage Peter Drucker once said, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” In recent years, policy makers have turned the page on Ohio’s old, outdated standards and accountability framework. The task now is to replace it with something that, if implemented correctly, will better prepare Buckeye students for the expectations of college and the rigors of a knowledge- and skills-driven workforce.

While the state’s former policies did establish a basic accountability framework aligned to standards, a reset was badly needed. Perhaps the most egregious problem was the manner in which the state publicly reported achievement. State officials routinely claimed that more than 80 percent of Ohio students were academically “proficient,” leaving most parents and taxpayers with a feel-good impression of the public school system.

The inconvenient truth, however, was that hundreds of thousands of pupils were struggling to master rigorous academic content. Alarmingly, the Ohio Board of Regents regularly reports that 30–40 percent of college freshman need remedial coursework in English or math. Results from the ACT reveal that fewer than half of all graduates meet college-ready benchmarks in all of the assessment’s content areas. Finally, outcomes from the “nation’s report card”—the National Assessment...

The White House has selected Columbus, along with nine other cities, as a focus site for two newly launched campaigns to address and eliminate chronic student absenteeism. The first is the My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors Initiative, the “first-ever effort to scale an evidence-based, data-driven mentor model to reach and support the highest-risk students.” The program will connect over one million students across the ten cities with trained mentors, including coaches, administrative staff, teachers, security guards, AmeriCorps members, tutors, and others. The second initiative is a multi-million-dollar parent engagement campaign through the Ad Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the Mott Foundation, to “elevate the conversation about the devastating impact of chronic absenteeism.” The initiative will target K–8 parents through a campaign website with downloadable resources, billboards, and Public Service Announcements on bus shelters and in doctors’ offices and schools. Chronic absenteeism—missing more than 10 percent of a school year—is a strong predictor of low performance and eventual dropping out. Research shows that when at-risk students have caring adults in their lives, their likelihood of dropping out decreases. We’re pleased to see the campaigns’ selection of Columbus, a city whose district has the second-lowest attendance...

  1. In a leftover from late last week, our own Chad Aldis was talking to public media about the challenges facing e-schools in developing a system to take attendance and how he believes it can be done. Which is good, because they have to. (Statehouse News Bureau, others via public media, 3/4/16)
     
  2. Speaking of e-schools in Ohio, the D gave us tons more dirt on Provost Academy, an online school which – it was announced last week – was ordered to pay back something like 80% of the state funding it had received due to attendance discrepancy (see above for more on that “taking attendance” conundrum). And by “dirt”, I mean texts of emails and audio-recorded meetings. Ugh. Didn’t I see this on “The Good Wife”? (Columbus Dispatch, 3/6/16) Today, editors in Columbus put it all together for us re: the importance of not watering down e-school attendance tracking and reporting requirements. Helpful. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/7/16)
     
  3. In other news, Dayton City Schools is pushing back a bit on a couple of dings (yes, that is the technical term) in its most recent state audit. (Dayton Daily News, 3/6/16) Meanwhile, staffers from the Ohio Department
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  1. Our own Aaron Churchill pushed a Kardashian off the front page of the 74 Million’s blog yesterday, talking about the “dismal democracy” that often is the local elected school board in Ohio. (The 74 Million education blog, 3/2/16)
     
  2. Our own Chad Aldis had no measurable influence over the Kardashian kabal while talking about some of the dismal demagoguery that attends charter school issues in Ohio. (Politico Pro Education Report, 3/2/16)
     
  3. Keeping up with the theme, editors in Nordonia Hills (no, I don’t either) opined against the “slimy influences” of “scoundrels” trying to undermine or even reverse charter school accountability measures in Ohio. (Nordonia Hills News-Leader, 3/2/16)
     
  4. Back in the real world, Dayton City Schools announced a new initiative that will give Chromebooks to every student in grades 3 through 8 during the school day, starting next year. A pilot program kicks off at one school this month. (Dayton Daily News, 3/3/16) Ditto for the kids (and teachers) at the Chaney High School campus in Youngstown, although YCS is going with Apple products. Interesting to note that the district received a grant from Apple for this tech two years ago, and it included
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This piece was first published on the education blog of The 74 Million.

William Phillis, the director of a lobbying group for Ohio’s school systems, recently stated in his daily email blast: “Our public school district is operated in accordance with federal, state and local regulations by citizens elected by the community....Traditional public schools epitomize the way democracy should work.” The email then went on to criticize charters for having self-appointed governing boards.

Setting aside charter boards for a moment, let’s consider the statement: Traditional public schools epitomize the way democracy should work. To quote tennis legend John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious.”

As observers of American politics would quickly point out, elections at any level of government aren’t perfect. One common concern in representative democracy is electoral participation. Approximately 40–50 percent of the electorate actually votes in midterm congressional races, and roughly 60 percent vote in presidential elections.

With only half of adults voting in some of these races, many have expressed concerns about the vibrancy of American citizenship.

But in comparison to school board races, national elections are veritable models of participatory democracy. In the fall of 2013, I calculated turnout rates in Franklin...

In a previous post, I outlined the current landscape of teacher policy in Ohio and pointed out some areas in need of significant reform. The largest problem—and perhaps the most intractable—is teacher preparation. Despite consensus on the need for reform, some solid ideas, and an abundance of opportunities over the last few decades, schools of education have changed very little. Ohio is no exception, and many of the Buckeye State’s teacher preparation programs are in need of an overhaul. Here are a few recommendations for how policy makers and preparation programs in Ohio can start making progress in the impervious-to-change area of teacher training.

Rethink ways of holding teacher preparation programs accountable 

Uncle Ben may not have been thinking of education when he said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” but the shoe certainly fits. Teachers have an enormous impact on their students, and it makes sense that taxpayers, parents, and policy makers would want to ensure that the programs entrusted with training those teachers are accountable for their performance. Ohio leaders recognize this and have already taken some tentative steps toward judging teacher preparation programs on the performance of their graduates. Unfortunately,...

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