From left: Marty Bowe, Bill Hayes, Carol Lockhart, Ann Sheldon, Checker Finn and Jennifer Smith Richards
Why are so many gifted students in Ohio not receiving education services catered to their needs? How can we support them to reach their full potential? These were the questions asked at today’s Educating Our Brightest event, hosted by the Fordham Institute and the Ohio Association for Gifted Children.
Fordham's Checker Finn kicked off the event with a recap of the Institute’s studies of the impact of No Child Left Behind on gifted students (hint: it’s not good). He then presented findings from his recent book, Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools (of which Ohio has four). He was quick to point out that these students don’t serve a different population of students than their peers, nor do their teachers necessarily have different or higher credentials.
After Checker’s presentation, a panel, moderated by the Columbus Dispatch’s Jennifer Smith Richards, talked about the state of gifted education in Ohio and how to improve it. Here’s a recap of their comments:
Ann Sheldon, Executive Director, Ohio Association for Gifted Children: Ann pointed out there has been a tremendous decline in gifted services in Ohio over the past decade. Currently just 18 percent of gifted students received specialized gifted services in our state. Ohio needs more gifted-specific schools as part of the
The Advanced Placement (AP) exams have become an iconic institution in American high school education. Administered by the College Board since 1955, the AP courses and accompanying exams have given precocious high-school students the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college credit. In spring 2012, over 2 million students in the U.S. took at least one of the thirty-four exams offered by the College Board. In Ohio alone, over 53,000 high-school students took an AP exam in 2012, more than double the number of students in 2000 and nearly five times the number of students in 1990.
As a growing program, in Ohio and nationally, AP scores should provide an increasingly accurate picture of the college-readiness of high school students, while also providing a comparison to their peers in other states. So how are students in Ohio measuring up to their counterparts in other states?
Consider the chart below, which shows the 2012 average scores for AP Biology, U.S. History, Calculus AB, and English Literature. Of the AP exam offerings, these four exams are among the most popular exams—both nationally and within each of these states. The results for Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and the United States are displayed. AP exams are scored on a scale of one to five, five being the highest score possible. A score of three or higher is generally considered sufficient to receive college credit (though, university policies on granting AP credit vary
How could cities see their charter school sectors take off in quality, matching or besting the performance of their district schools, and the state? Public Impact researchers working with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute on a new study found that replacing low-performing charter schools while replicating high-performing ones could dramatically improve quality within just a few years. (For Fordham’s take on this, see the Ohio Gadfly Daily.)
Searching for Excellence: A Five-City, Cross-State Comparison of Charter School Quality, with research by Lyria Boast, Gillian Locke, and Tom Koester, and foreword and Fordham analysis by Terry Ryan and Aaron Churchill, considered charter schools in Albany, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, and Indianapolis—all of which have a decade-long history of charter schools and relatively large market shares of charter school students.
The study shows that the charter school sectors in five cities outperformed their home districts’ schools, which had similar levels of student poverty.
The study points the way to improving the quality of charter schools overall
But within each district, quality varied widely, from very high-performing charter schools to dismal ones.
The study also compared charter performance to average statewide performance—admittedly, a higher bar, as schools statewide had significantly lower levels of poverty than the charters (and their urban districts). Charters in all five cities trailed the state overall—often by a wide margin.
Clearly, something needs to change in cities’ stance toward both their lowest-performing and high-performing charters. And that’s where the study has
Governor Kasich’s budget plan, now being debated in the House, calls for expanding the state’s Educational Choice Scholarship program. This statewide voucher program is one of four public voucher programs currently available to parents and students in the Buckeye State. Together these programs allow about 22,500 students to use publicly funded vouchers to attend a private or parochial school of their choice. The governor’s proposal would provide, on a first come first serve basis, vouchers starting in 2013-14 for any kindergartner with a household income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level – about $46,000 a year for a family of four. Voucher amounts would be up to $4,250 a year, and participating schools could not charge tuition above this amount.
In 2014-15, voucher eligibility would extend to all students in grades K-3 in a school building that gets low marks in the early literacy measure on the state’s new report card. The funding for the voucher will not be deducted from a school district’s state aid, but rather be paid out directly by the state. Kasich’s budget allocates $8.5 million in fiscal year 2014 for 2,000 new vouchers and $17 million in 2015 for up to 4,000 new vouchers.
Despite the modest scale of this proposed growth, and the fact the state will cover the voucher amounts, district educators are up in arms about the expansion. Yellow Springs’ Superintendent Mario Basora captured the view of many district officials across