Ohio Gadfly Daily

The high cost of college attendance can be overwhelming for students and families. Recognizing this, Ohio policy makers have continually sought opportunities to provide alternate routes to careers and to drive down the cost of a university education. Recently, Ohio leaders have put a significant emphasis on career and technical education (CTE)—and research suggests that such a move can benefit high school students opting into a CTE pathway of study. In addition, the recent implementation of College Credit Plus (CCP) has widened student access to college credit opportunities and made it easier than ever for students to knock out general education requirements before stepping foot on campus.

But perhaps the state’s most creative program is GIVE Back, GO Forward, a pilot launched in partnership between the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Department of Aging. The program links public service to college credit by offering citizens aged sixty and above the opportunity to earn college credit hours—or “gift” the equivalent amount of tuition associated with those credits—for volunteer work. As a pilot, the program is limited to Trumbull and Mahoning counties in Northeast Ohio. GIVE Back, GO Forward has the potential to be a huge...

  1. For the first time in a long time, the sitting governor won’t send a representative to the interviews conducted by the state board of ed with finalists for state superintendent. Read into that what you will; others are already doing so. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/7/16) Those interviews will take place this week and will be a little shorter than originally planned since the list of the top 8 candidates is now down to 7 after another withdrawal. Speaking of the folks being interviewed for state supe, Patrick O’Donnell seems to have abandoned his plans to profile every candidate once prior to the interviews. In favor of doubling up on one particular person. Can you guess who? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/7/16)
     
  2. Perhaps to make up for the April e-schools piece that never made it to the online version of The D for some reason, here is a somewhat-belated take on testimony heard last week critical of the attendance practices of a particular online school. While the testifier is noted as being a former employee of the school, her level of “gruntledness” is frustratingly not noted. Surely that’s Journalism 101, isn’t it? (Columbus Dispatch, 5/9/16)
     
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President Obama signed the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), in December 2015. Since then, there’s been a flurry of discussion around rule making and the differences between ESSA and NCLB. One new feature is a provision that permits states to award money to districts for direct student services (DSS), an umbrella term that includes a wide range of individualized academic services intended to improve student achievement.

Starting in 2017–18, ESSA permits states to reserve up to 3 percent of their Title I funds to distribute to districts interested in providing direct student services. A recent report from Chiefs for Change estimates that, based on fiscal year 2017 Title I estimates, the funding available for direct student services ranges from just over $1 million in Wyoming to over $54 million in California. There are, of course, a few stipulations: If states opt to reserve these funds, 99 percent of the total must be distributed directly to districts (presumably through a competitive grant program). Districts are empowered to choose whether or not to apply for a grant and how to spend any awarded dollars, though state-created grant applications could allow states to nudge districts in certain directions. States must also prioritize districts...

In K–12 education, states have historically granted monopolies to school districts. This tradition has left most parents and students with just one public school option—their local districts. Families seeking something different have had to pay handsomely (on top of their existing school tax obligations): They could pay for private school tuition, make a residential move, or homeschool. Recognizing the lack of school choices (and high-quality ones, too) facing many parents, Ohio policy makers have opened the school market to competition, whether through charter schools, inter-district open enrollment, or vouchers allowing students to attend private schools.

But tens of thousands of Buckeye families remain stuck with slim pickings when it comes to school choice. In rural, suburban, and small-town communities, most families don’t have charter school options (save for online schools, whose track record has been poor); and they are usually ineligible for vouchers that could open private school options, where available. Meanwhile, in Ohio’s urban areas, parents often have a fair number of choices. But as has been documented time and again, the quality of inner-city schools (district and charter) has not been consistently strong.

Ohio policy makers still have much work ahead to create a healthy, competitive...

  1. It may be said that our own Chad Aldis keeps some odd company from time to time. Probably just a hazard of the job. Case in point: his comments in this piece that reads generally like a “greatest hits” from the early days of Common Core hit jobs. Mind you, Chad’s comments were totally reasonable and show a thorough understanding of Common Core, Ohio’s actual learning standards, and the surprisingly rational review process currently underway in the Buckeye state. The same cannot be said about the rest of the piece. (Heartland Institute blog, 5/6/15)
     
  2. Some folks in Cleveland appear to be observing National Charter Schools Week by celebrating a successful unionization vote in another I Can Network school there. Or maybe they were celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Who can tell? (ClevelandScene, 5/5/16)
     
  3. Ohio’s Supreme Court ruled this week that the state legislature can retroactively rescind funding from schools or other funded entities if some “discrepancy” pops up after funding has been received. The case stems from just such a “discrepancy” which occurred in a number of school districts in 2005 with regard to district-resident students who attended charter schools. Neither the widely-distributed AP version of
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  1. I’m sorry to say that I missed this piece when it first ran last week. Sorry Jeremy! Redressing the balance now because it is a very interesting and detailed peek into the variations in teacher pay schedules among Dayton-area school districts. Since all of these variations are the result of collective bargaining over the years, it is interesting to see what is more valued (high starting salary vs. longevity pay, holding veteran transfers to the 10-year level regardless of experience, etc.) from district to district. (Dayton Daily News, 4/29/16) Apparently, DDN readers were equally interested in the piece. So much so that Jeremy Kelly researched and published an addendum with more information related to questions on pay schedules raised by readers. Also an interesting read. (Dayton Daily News, 5/2/16)
     
  2. A new new member should join the state board of ed at its meeting next week, and she’s no stranger to state government in Ohio. Why do we need a new new member? Because the old new member, appointed in March, withdrew before being sworn in. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/3/16)
     
  3. Also happening next week: the state board will interview the top 8 candidates for state superintendent. One
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The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP), which provides seed money for charter start-ups primarily through competitive state grants, got an upgrade in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December. Around the same time, CSP got a 32 percent funding boost from Congress. At its highest funding level ever, the program is primed to help states grow their charter sectors—a worthy goal considering that over a million students nationally wait for open seats in charter schools. The new program prioritizes strong authorizing practices and equitable funding for charters, and it attempts to influence state policies toward those ends.

Background

Formed just three years into the nation’s charter movement, CSP embodies Washington’s bipartisan commitment to charters and is responsible for helping launch or expand over 40 percent of today’s operational charter schools. CSP was first created in 1994 as an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 via the Improving America’s Schools Act. At its outset, it was a bare-bones initiative that made competitive grants available to states to host their own sub-grant competitions (for which new start-ups or conversion schools could apply). Requirements were minimal: State applicants merely had to have a charter law, and school applicants had to adhere to the...

Auditor of State Dave Yost

I am a conflicted man.

Professionally, I lead Ohio’s auditing staff, a team of financial experts whose job it is to verify that tax dollars are being properly spent and to root out any misuse or theft of public money. That includes charter schools.

Yet personally, I’m a strong proponent of the charter school movement. I believe in the lifetime benefits of school choice and affording every parent the ability to choose the school that will best serve their children.

My friends sometimes question how I can be so tough on charters when I personally support them.

The answer, I tell them, is simple: We don’t play favorites. We can’t. We shouldn’t. Doing so would erode the public’s trust in our office, which we must faithfully and ardently protect. To ignore the misdeeds of the few problem charters would stain the great work of many. Turning a blind eye to the problems in a charter school, or any school, would mean that we failed our children, which is never an option.

It’s a conflict public officials often face when their official duties require them to make decisions that run counter to their personal beliefs.

The mission of the Auditor of...

Previous research has found that oversubscribed urban charter schools produce large academic gains for their students. But are these results related to test score inflation, defined by one assessment expert as “increases in scores that do not signal a commensurate increase in proficiency in the domain of interest”? To explore this question, a recent study examines state testing data from 2006 to 2011 at nine Boston middle school charters with lottery-based admissions. By exploiting the random nature of the lottery system, prior studies have found that these schools produce substantial learning gains on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).

To carry out the analysis, author Sarah Cohodes breaks down the learning gains by the various components of the state assessment—akin to how one might disaggregate overall gains by student subgroup. For example, a math assessment contains several different testing domains (e.g., geometry versus statistics), with some topics being tested more frequently than others. The hypothesis is as follows: If the gains are attributable to score inflation, we might expect to see stronger results on frequently tested items relative to obscure ones. In line with their incentives, teachers might strategically focus instruction on items with the highest odds...

  1. The Akron Beacon Journal’s former education reporter Doug Livingston, current state Rep. Kristina Roegner, and others participated in a panel discussion last week on how awful charter schools are at the behest of the Hudson League of Women Voters. Nice summary article on the manifest evils of charter schools from the paper. No charter school supporters were invited to participate, for which Aaron is grateful. (Hudson Hub Times, 4/27/16) If you think that description of the event overblown on my part, I encourage you to check out edited video of the panel on YouTube. The well-timed gasps from the audience will tell you all you need to know.
     
  2. Back in the real world, Tornado pride is on the rise again, y’all! West Muskingum’s school board voted unanimously to eliminate pay to play fees for all middle and high school sports. I’m not sure from what new pot of money this largesse is emanating but lots of folks are happy about it. Honestly, reading some of those quotes from community members and staffers makes it sound like the old fees were really divisive on a very personal level. Perhaps the folks in West Muskingum need some perspective.
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