Ohio Policy

OhioFlypaper

Fordham's annual charter school accountability report, "Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity," is now out! As many of you know, Fordham authorizes (called "sponsoring" in Ohio) six charter schools in Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Springfield. Each year we release a report outlining how Fordham-sponsored schools are doing, and contrasting them with charter schools statewide and schools within their home districts. The report also weighs in on timely political and legislative developments impacting charter schools in the Buckeye State. Highlights include:

  • - A recap on why Ohio charters faced such a tough year in 2008-09 (politically, legislatively, financially, you name it)
  • - A look at charter school growth since caps were placed on sponsors (unsurprisingly, fewer charter schools opened during 2007-09 than during 2005-07 period, and the sector as a whole is growing at a slower rate)
  • - A summary of the financial predicaments faced by charters in Ohio, including dwindling state and federal start-up dollars, and funding inequities between districts and charter schools that amount to charters receiving roughly $2000 less per pupil (see graph below)
  • - A brief narrative on Fordham's youngest charter schools, KIPP: Journey Academy and Columbus Collegiate Academy (a Building Excellent Schools affiliate)
  • - An academic snapshot of Fordham-sponsored schools, including the good (almost 70 percent of students in Fordham-sponsored schools achieved "above expected growth" on Ohio's value-added measure) and the bad (students in Fordham-sponsored schools still don't make the state proficiency goal of 75 percent in reading and math, similar to their district
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As a charter school sponsor (authorizer), Fordham submits an accountability report to the Ohio Department of Education at the end of November each year. The report includes profiles of each Fordham-sponsored school, as well as graphics comparing the achievement data of our schools, their home districts, and statewide averages. You'll also find pertinent information on Ohio charter school spending over the last decade, and in the introduction, a timely analysis of the political and legislative environment impacting Ohio charters in 2008-09 that explains why the title, "Seeking Quality in the Face of Adversity," is befitting.

One week from today shoppers across the nation will prepare for the madness known as Black Friday. Consumers will ready themselves for a labyrinth of lines, often queuing up at odd hours of the night to be among the first to stampede toward special bargains and giveaways. Such is the American way.

This week the Cincinnati Enquirer highlighted another unique American phenomenon involving long lines and midnight campers - parents lining up as far as two and a half days in advance in order to win their child a spot in one of the city's elite public magnet schools. The Enquirer writes:

"Despite attempts from Cincinnati Public Schools to discourage camping, parents once again formed a long queue outside Fairview Clifton German Language School - the earliest will wait for more than 2.5 days before submitting their applications.

The first parents arrived by about 10 a.m. Sunday morning, and the crowd quickly grew. By 5 p.m. Monday, about six dozen people stood in line and some were erecting tents on school property."

And

"In Clifton, Winton Hills parent Carmen Pitts had the No. 1 spot in line and on a list parents hope will be enforced Tuesday night. Her daughter is currently in preschool at Winton Hills Academy, a school in Academic Watch. Fairview is rated Excellent, one of just a few CPS schools to earn that rating.

??"To make sure that my...

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OhioFlypaper

The deadline for the first round of Race to the Top applications is just two months away.?? How does Ohio stack up???We??analyzed Ohio's current education policies and reform climate against the criteria of the recently released Race to the Top application.??

What did we discover? See here to find out.

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OhioFlypaper

Last week, Laura flagged a useful interactive map that grades states on their level of educational innovation in areas ranging from school finance to a state's reform environment. The map accompanies the recently released report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card of Educational Innovation. The second of its kind, this edition of Leaders and Laggards grades states not only according to how they are performing currently, but also on the basis of groundwork they are laying to address impending challenges and fuel innovation in the years to come.

For the most part, Ohio's results are disappointing. The Buckeye State scores a "C" and a "D" respectively in two staffing areas: "hiring and evaluation" and "removing ineffective teachers." (All the more disappointing when considering that Race to the Top's final priorities gives the most weight to great teaching and leadership.) Ohio ranks average ("C") in technology and school finance, and gets a "B" for its data, and having a solid pipeline to postsecondary education.

However, we are happy to report that despite Ohio's mixed results, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is highlighted as a group that contributes positively to the state's reform environment:

"There are few reliable state-by-state data on local education advocacy and research efforts-a reflection of the lack of overall commitment to this issue. As a result, we are...

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For the last month, we've been wondering whether Ohio would truly adopt the NGA/CCSSO Common Core State Standards , or whether the Ohio Department of Education would forge its own path in revising academic content standards so as to meet the June 2010 deadline. The issue was one of timing, as Common Core Standards won't be finalized until January, and this didn't give Ohio enough time to meet its June 2010 mandate.

Given that Fordham gave Ohio a "D+" in our last State of the State Standards report, and that we think the Common Core Standards are substantially better (see our latest report, "Stars by Which to Navigate"), the possibility of Ohio reneging on the Common Core Initiative was worrisome. Emmy wrote on Flypaper:

"What's the Buckeye State to do??? Should the state board of education risk non-compliance with state law and wait for the Common Core work to be finished??? Should state lawmakers revisit the law and extend the deadline for updating the standards??? Are other states in similar predicaments??? If so, what becomes of the Common Core Initiative?"

This week we got our answer, as state education officials announced that Ohio is fully committed to pursuing the Common Core Standards. According to the Columbus Dispatch:

"This decision means the department won't be releasing its own draft standards in English and math this month as planned, because most, and possibly all, of those updates will be scrapped."

...

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Eric Ulas

The latest issue of the Ohio Education Gadfly came out yesterday, and features an excellent piece by Terry on the stark decline in student enrollment in Fordham's hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

Over the last decade the Dayton Public Schools (DPS) have contracted by more than 10,000 students; seeing enrollment decline from 24,916 students in 2000 to 14,393 students in 2009. During this same period Dayton has become one of the country's leading charter school markets.

Over the years such numbers and ratings have triggered angst and anger among district officials and their supporters, and even some hostility toward charters. However, while charters have played a role in draining DPS of students, a significant amount of the attrition can be attributed to an exodus to suburbs, other states, and private schools, Terry argues.

As illustrated by the chart below, the combined enrollment of Dayton public and charter schools has slumped over the last decade. Charter school enrollment peaked in the 2006, but has continued to decline steadily thereafter.

Source: Ohio Department of Education interactive local report card

For more on the incredible shrinking Dayton, you can read Terry's full piece here .?? And be sure to check out the rest of the Ohio Education Gadfly -- we feature a guest editorial by Courter Shimeall, a Teach For America recruiter who is witnessing Ohio's brain drain firsthand; optimistic news that Ohio is planning to adopt ...

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OhioFlypaper

On October 29, the Ohio Grantmakers Forum, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Frank M. Tait Foundation, and the Fred and Alice Wallace Memorial Charitable Foundation hosted an education forum in Fordham's hometown of Dayton to talk about the state of education in that city as well as Ohio and the nation.?? Our Terry Ryan was a participant in the panel discussion ???Making a Difference: What's Been Accomplished and What Needs to be Done,??? along with Tom Lasley, University of Dayton; Kurt Stanic, Dayton Public Schools; Margy Stevens, Montgomery County Educational Service Center; and moderator Scott Elliott of the Dayton Daily News.?? The following are selected segments of that panel.

Terry Ryan on Data Policies and Availability in Ohio

??

??Dayton Education Panel - Terry Ryan on Performance Data and Teacher Evaluation

??...

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An editorial in today's Columbus Dispatch hits the nail on the head. Ohio's South-Western City Schools shouldn't forget the fiscal crisis (we've blogged about the district's cuts here and here) that consumed them prior to the narrow levy passage this week. Instead, district leaders in South-Western and elsewhere across the state should confront the patterns that put them on a "collision course":

"For most school districts, more than 80 percent of the operating budget goes to salaries and benefits, yet when deficits loom, cuts are made to the 15 to 20 percent devoted to transportation, sports, the arts and other highly visible programs. When personnel costs are cut, the reductions come in the form of positions axed, not salaries or benefits trimmed.

The tightening American economy has made voters less and less willing to accept that they should pay proportionally more of their income each year to support school salaries and benefits more generous than their own.

South-Western is well-managed; it has seen academic progress with spending and tax rates below the average for Franklin County. Its personnel spending isn't unreasonable when compared with other school districts; its salaries are in the lower half for Franklin County. But if voting taxpayers aren't willing to accept the bottom line, it has to change.

South-Western's leaders have said they intend to seek salary and benefit concessions in future contracts with teachers and administrators. They're wise to do so, and school districts...

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Standards-based reform in education is imperfect. The ways that states and districts assess kids, design tests, and attempt to hold teachers and schools accountable are bound to be flawed, lead to unintended consequences, and create many enemies along the way. But I wish the opponents of standards-based reform in Ohio would at least get a little more creative.

You may recall from a few months ago that Karl Wheatley, Cleveland State University ed professor, said the best way to improve education would be to "stop focusing on student achievement ." I outlined why I thought that was a bad idea here . The gist of his argument, believe it or not, was that because standardized testing creates "collateral damage," perverse incentives, etc. the best thing to do is to stop trying to raise student achievement.

Yesterday's op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch from another education professor, Thomas Stephens of Ohio State, comes from the same predictable script (aka "we don't like the focus on standards/testing/accountability so let's call for its demise-or at least replace it with a nebulous emphasis on problem solving and innovative thinking"). In "Standards obstruct education," Stephens argues that Ohio's decision to revise academic standards is a waste of time and money because, among other things, it "doesn't consider the needs of... children." This commentary uses the same creepy factory language intended to pit "standards-teach-and-test fanatics" against reasonable, warm-hearted education professors - e.g. "assembly-line-atmospheres" and the metaphor of children as widgets....

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