Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 1, Number 18
August 23, 2006
Ohio Students Make the Grade
By Susan Tave Zelman
Implementing Value-Added Assessment: Challenges and Opportunities
By Deborah Owens Fink
Education Funding Follies
By Quentin Suffren
Reviews and Analysis
Dayton's Children Making Gains in Reading and Math
Reviews and Analysis
A Promise Made
Susan Tave Zelman / August 23, 2006
Each day in Ohio's classrooms, great things happen that can't be tested. Caring teachers help reserved children build self-confidence, school administrators challenge at-risk students to continue their education, and students learn the value of cooperation and respect for others.
While we can't directly measure all these wonderful things, the recently released state and local report cards for every district and school in Ohio show the positive impact of teachers' efforts on student learning.
Their hard work--along with the efforts of superintendents, principals, school staff, parents, students and community members throughout the state--is making a difference.
Test scores are up. Over the past seven years, the statewide average of all students' test scores has increased by more than 19 points, up to 92.9.
Our schools continue to improve. Eight out of ten school districts earned Excellent or Effective ratings on the report cards. For the first time, Ohio has no districts in Academic Emergency.
More students are graduating each year. For the eighth year in a row, Ohio's graduation rate increased, up to 86.2 percent.
But we have some tough challenges ahead. We still see unacceptable achievement gaps between groups of students, especially for students with disabilities, students from low-income families and students of color.
Ohio had 19,000 students drop out of high school last year, many from high-poverty school districts. Those young Ohioans may now be destined for low-paying, dead-end jobs at best, or incarceration and generational poverty at worst.
There's a cost to
Deborah Owens Fink / August 23, 2006
With last week's release of Ohio's report card data, many teachers, school leaders, and district officials are reflecting on accomplishments well-earned, and charting a course to raise student achievement this school year. In the same spirit, the State Board of Education is studying the current achievement data with a close eye on the future. Beginning in 2007-08, Ohio's educational measurement system will incorporate a "value-added" model, one that will offer parents, teachers, and students a clearer understanding of student gains from year to year.
Value-added assessment measures individual student academic progress over the course of time. Currently, Ohio's accountability system measures individual student achievement at one moment in time rather than over the course of a school year or years. And the state's temporary growth calculation is only an aggregate measure of school and district progress over a two year span.
As a growth model, value-added also more accurately measures the specific impact that a school, teacher, or curriculum has on individual student learning over time. For example, consider a class of freshman at Harvard. After four years of instruction, one might find that upon graduation each student is an excellent writer, scoring well on a writing test. This could be due to the great education they received. Or, it could be that the students were already excellent writers when they entered Harvard. If the latter is true, then Harvard most likely contributed little to the students' being good writers. Which is
Quentin Suffren / August 23, 2006
It's no secret that the state's education funding system is broken--the Ohio Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional four times. But how to fix it?
Both of the state's gubernatorial candidates had a chance to answer that question last week at a meeting of the Ohio School Boards Association. Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell reiterated his devotion to the 65 Percent Solution, which would require districts to spend at least that much on classroom instruction--as opposed to administrative costs. He also called for reforming collective bargaining and outsourcing some administrative duties.
And Democrat Ted Strickland? He won't say. "I will do that if I win this election," he insisted (and still managed to be the darling of the crowd). Nevertheless, Strickland is confident that his "secret plan" would satisfy the Supreme Court's concerns.
"Strickland Mum on Details of His School-Funding Plan," by Jim Siegal, The Columbus Dispatch, August 18, 2006.
"Blackwell Gets Cold Reception, Strickland Applauded," by Patrick Cain, The Akron Beacon Journal, August 18, 2006.
Terry Ryan / August 23, 2006
Parents, teachers, and school administrators in Dayton are no doubt confused over the state report card results and the paradoxical message they convey. While Performance Index scores are rising--along with some charters' and Dayton Public's ratings--the number of area schools meeting Average Yearly Progress (AYP) targets is declining.
Fortunately, reading and math scores offer two clear indicators of student achievement in the Gem City.
Overall, Dayton's public school children-both district and charter-made significant gains in reading and mathematics as measured by the state's 2004-05 and 2005-06 achievement tests. Over the course of one year, scores for both district and charter sixth and eighth grade students rose, while third grade reading scores declined slightly for students in both types of schools (see Graph I). Fourth grade reading scores rose for Dayton's charter students but declined slightly for district fourth graders.
In math, charter school students showed marked improvement from 2004-05 to 2005-06, posting significant gains in third, fourth, sixth, and eighth grades. District students scored higher in third, fourth, and eighth grades, while sixth grade results showed a slight decline from the previous year (see Graph II).
Charter school students scored particularly well in both reading and mathematics. Fourth graders in 2005-06 scored 8 percentage points higher in reading and 21 percentage points higher in math than the class before them. Last year's sixth graders
Quentin Suffren / August 23, 2006
Ohio's largest cities are rapidly shrinking. According to recent U.S. Census figures, Cincinnati was the biggest loser, hemorrhaging 6.8 percent of its total population--over 22,000 residents--from 2000 to 2005, a larger percentage than any other city in the nation.
To repopulate urban neighborhoods and boost enrollment in local schools, a coalition of Cincinnati-area leaders are launching "Strive," a growth plan based on the "Kalamazoo Promise"(see here) that would guarantee college scholarships to regional universities for students completing their education in Cincinnati or nearby Covington and Newport, Kentucky. Kalamazoo's program, funded by anonymous donors, is credited for raising home values and generating inquiries about the city from all over the country.
Area education and civic leaders are sanguine about the plan's potential benefits. CPS Superintendent Rosa Blackwell said, "It's all about giving students and their families great hope." Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory was even more enthusiastic, insisting the program could usher in a "new way of life" in the city.
But there's a problem. Strive doesn't detail the necessary steps districts and schools must take to raise the level of classroom instruction and adequately prepare students for college. CPS currently rates in Continuous Improvement on the state's report card and graduates just 77 percent of its students.
That figure does not account for the number of students actually prepared for college. ACT recently found that just 24 percent of Ohio's tested high school graduates from the class of 2006 were adequately prepared for
August 23, 2006
The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a statewide charter school association now in the planning stages, is conducting a survey of Ohioans active in education to develop its service offerings for the coming years. The Ohio Alliance is an effort supported by three national foundations, Ohio donors, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. If you are a supporter of charter schools or a charter school principal, the Alliance would very much appreciate your input.
The survey should take about 15-20 minutes to complete. Please complete the survey no later than Friday, August 25.