Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 3, Number 22
August 5, 2009
Feature Q & A
It's deja vu for Bob Taft
By Mike Lafferty
News and Analysis
Grad-rate debate and the Buckeye State
News and Analysis
National charter alliance unveils model charter school law
Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow
The Qualifications and Classroom Performance of Teachers Moving to Charter Schools
Mike Lafferty / August 5, 2009
Ohio's budget problems and efforts to reformulate education policy reminded former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft of his days as the state's chief executive from 1999 to 2007. Like Gov. Ted Strickland, Taft had his own economic and education pains that included disagreements with members of the Ohio General Assembly. As governor, he led efforts to reform standards and accountability in Ohio schools and to direct more state money to the neediest classrooms. He also launched a massive school building effort. As he points out in the following interview with the Ohio Education Gadfly's Mike Lafferty, Gov. Taft learned a lot about education in the process. Since leaving office, Taft has been on the faculty of the University of Dayton, where he has continued a close interest in state and national education issues.
Are you glad you're not governor right now? Do you have some sympathy for Gov. Strickland?
I miss some of the action -- not all of it -- and I miss the people I worked with. But 30 years in elective office is plenty. I'm glad not to have to campaign and raise money. It's no fun to close institutions and cut budgets. We went through some very tough times. We did that temporary tax increase. Those are painful decisions.
Was Gov. Strickland staking his governorship on education a smart move?
I don't want to comment on that but I do commend Gov. Strickland for putting education high on his agenda, overall,
Emmy L. Partin / August 5, 2009
President Obama put the graduation-rate debate front and center in March, when he noted that the nation's high-school dropout rate had tripled since the 1970s (see here). The media and education community scrambled to react to the president's claim. Some pointed to data showing that graduation rates had remained steady over the past 30 years while others claimed that rates have actually improved. Depending on how you calculate graduation rates, they are all correct.
This variance has been at the crux of the grad-rate debate for the past decade. In 2005, all 50 state governors agreed to move toward a National Governors Association-recommended method for calculating graduation rates. Today, 42 states are either using the method or are rapidly moving to implement it.
Then, in late 2008, the Bush administration issued regulations putting in place a common graduation-rate measure for all states to be used for accountability purposes under Title I by 2011-2012. The Obama administration expressed its support of this common measure earlier this year.
Beginning in 2010, states will use a four-year adjusted cohort rate that is calculated by dividing the number of students who graduate by the number of students who form that class's "adjusted cohort" (an adjusted cohort is the number of students who entered ninth grade four years prior, plus any students who transferred in, minus any students who were removed from the cohort). Students who are held back from advancing a grade level because they
Kathryn Mullen Upton, Esq. / August 5, 2009
In June 2009, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) released A New Model Law For Supporting The Growth of High-Quality Public Charter Schools. The model charter law does what a good "model" document should: strike the balance between articulating a basic set of principles or guidelines (a "floor," so to speak) while remaining flexible enough to be applicable and relevant across multiple states. Indeed, the authors state that their intent was to provide the tools to strengthen existing charter school laws (40 states and the District of Columbia) and set forth a foundation for new charter school laws in jurisdictions that don't currently have them (10 states).
The model law covers student enrollment; authorizers (known in Ohio as "sponsors"); the charter application process; accountability; operations and autonomy; and funding and facilities. An important area not covered is conflict of interest. Additionally, one aspect of the model law that seems too prescriptive is a provision giving enrollment preference, limited to 10 percent of students, to children of the school's founders, governing board members, and full-time employees. Although well-intended (the rationale is that these individuals devote much time and effort to the school), a charter school is a public school and should be open to all students equally.
Ohio policymakers should take note of the following components of the model law when considering improvements to the state's charter policies:
- All charters - even those affiliated with school districts - should
August 5, 2009
Executive Office of the President, Council of Economic Advisers
This report from President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers finds education and economics to be deeply entwined. The council believes America should prepare its workforce for the future, for example in promoting the development of critical-thinking abilities over specific technical skills. But the path to gaining these skills does not lie solely in the direction of what we now know as "21st Century" skill-based standards and their ilk. Rather, the report recommends that high-quality, primary and secondary education must focus on strong basic skills, quality instruction, high standards, rigorous assessments, and strong accountability. The report also expects the education sector to contribute to substantial job growth with more jobs in teaching and administration. A Fordham Institute study released in June supports this. That study found that many science and math majors in Ohio's top universities would consider jobs in education (see here).
Though the council's report devotes the majority of its pages to post-high school training, the bottom line is that our economic crisis should be addressed from the bottom up -- and the bottom starts young. It's an important reminder from a new administration that strong standards, teacher quality, and accountability reform are not only beneficial to the individual student, but to the nation as a whole. Read the report here.
Jamie Davies O'Leary / August 5, 2009
Celeste K. Carruthers, Urban Institute & National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research
Do charter schools siphon good teachers from mainstream public schools, or is it an unfounded accusation that we've all just grown used to hearing? This working paper by Celeste Carruthers, an economics graduate student at the University of Florida, examines data on North Carolina public school teachers (from 1997-2007) who transferred either to charter schools or to other mainstream public schools, to determine how the two teacher pools might differ. Amidst a broken record of charges against charters for "cream skimming" funds and talent from mainstream public schools, this paper prefers empirical evidence over rhetoric.
Unfortunately, like many statistical analyses comparing teacher qualifications and effectiveness, the data are mixed. On average, teachers who moved to charters were less experienced and less likely to be certified than other mobile teachers-a fact that lines up with the anecdotal evidence that young, often non-traditional educators staff many charter schools. Yet charter movers were also more likely to have at least 25 years of experience, so senior teachers were motivated to join charters, albeit probably for different reasons than younger teachers. Among certified, regularly licensed teachers, those moving to charters typically had higher licensure test scores than their colleagues moving to mainstream schools. Licensed charter movers even had higher test scores than non-mobile colleagues in mainstream schools.
The paper goes on to analyze the achievement of sub-groups of