Too many of our schools dramatically shortchange students by advancing them on to higher grades without the ability to read. Ohio lawmakers took action last year to finally curtail this practice. Sadly a group of misinformed people have announced their intention to undo this literacy improvement strategy before it has even had a chance to take effect. Ohio’s most disadvantaged children will suffer terrible harm if they succeed.
Every child has a window of opportunity in the critical early years. It’s not impossible to learn to read once aging out of this window any more than it is impossible for you to become fluent in a foreign language as an adult, but it becomes increasingly difficult as you get older.
For too long, and despite earlier efforts to provide a third-grade reading guarantee, the state’s children simply get passed on to the next grade. Each year, the curriculum becomes more challenging, but students lack the skills to rise with it. Children going through this cruel farce will describe themselves as bored, and they often become disruptive. They know they will never be going to college, and they inevitably start to wonder why they go to school at all.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released a study that tracked a cohort of students through their entire K-12 careers. The study found that 88 percent of 19-year-old dropouts had failed to score as proficient readers as third graders. Ohio schools
In May 1953, Edmund Hillary and his trusty sherpa Tenzing Norgay stood on the top of the world. They had conquered the impossible: climbing Mount Everest and all 29,000 feet of it. Later on Hillary would look back on his accomplishment with pride, saying that, by climbing Everest, "the unattainable had been attained."
Like Hillary and Norgay in the spring of 1953, Cleveland's schools face a long, uphill climb to reach the summit of educational excellence. Is the summit unattainable? It'll be hard at least. Consider Cleveland's 2010-11 academic performance data: Approximately one in two of Cleveland’s students failed their math exam and two in five failed their reading exam. More than 35,000 public school students, or 60 percent of all of Cleveland's public school students, attended a failing district or charter school.
Mount Everest: The mountain Cleveland's schools face
Despite the glum achievement results, there are a few rays of hope for Cleveland. The city has 16 district and charter school buildings rated A or A+ by the state. These include the high-flying John Hay high schools (part of Cleveland Municipal School District) and the Constellation group of charter schools. But high-quality schools are in short supply: In 2011-12, only 7 percent of Cleveland’s public school students attended one of these highly-rated district or charter school buildings.
The following report
Dayton has a long tradition of innovation (think airplanes, pull-tabs, electric starters, cash registers, and even teacher unions). Yet, as the innovations of one era slip into obsolescence in the next, it should come as no surprise that the Gem City has struggled economically in recent decades. The hope for Dayton’s revival comes from innovation. And this time the innovation is in education—how we prepare people for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
By 2018, it is estimated that almost two-thirds of jobs in America will require at least a sub-baccalaureate credential. A sub-baccalaureate credential is a post-secondary credential that includes awards like certificates, associate degrees, state-issued education credentials, corporate certificates and badges among others. Dayton, according to a fantastic piece in the Lumina Foundation’s fall edition of Focus Magazine, is quickly becoming a national leader in preparing “sub-baccalaureate graduates.”
Dayton’s economic struggles peaked in 2009 and the scale of the pain was captured by The New York Times, which reported that the area faced a vortex of “economic and social change.” The Times continued, reporting that “the area’s job total has fallen 12 percent since 2000, while about half of its factory jobs – 38,000 out of 79,000 – have disappeared this decade. Not only have large G.M. and Delphi plants closed, but NCR, long the city’s corporate jewel, recently announced that it would move its headquarters to the Atlanta area.”
The jobs of Dayton's past: The
On Wednesday this week, the Ohio Department of Education released "preliminary" school district data for 2011-12 that included all major achievement data components for a district. This is the most complete release of 2011-12 school data to date. However, the data remain "preliminary" until the State Auditor completes his investigation of districts and school buildings who are suspected of tampering with student attendance records. When the investigation is complete, ODE will issue official Report Cards for each distirct.
In this post, and in forthcoming posts, we'll take a look at the ODE data for Ohio's three largest districts: Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, and for Dayton--Fordham's hometown. We assume that the preliminary data (the release of unofficial, unverified data in June, the September release, and the October release) are sufficiently reliable for an analysis of public schools' data. In addition to an analysis of the 2011-12 data, we also provide a forecast of what proficiency rates for school districts will be when Ohio transitions to the Common Core and its aligned assessment, the PARCC exams, for English language arts and math in 2014-15.
In Columbus, good, bad, and worse news can be found in its district and charter schools’ academic results for 2011-12.
The good news first: As a group, charter school proficiency rates continued their steady climb upwards. Fourth and sixth grade math proficiency rates, for example, gained nearly 10 points compared to the year prior—and this year’s charter proficiency rates a