Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 4, Number 13
June 9, 2010
Education debate in Ohio is picking up steam
Common Core academic standards: Moving beyond adoption in the Buckeye State
Districts can breathe easier thanks to change in state rating system
Are We Beginning to See the Light?
TFA, teacher pay, and funding inequities in CA
Congratulations to Andrew Boy for prestigious award
What a difference a year makes. This time last year Ohio was in the midst of a heated battle to approve the state's FY2010-2011 budget. House Bill 1 passed in mid-July but its trek through the legislative process was marked more by sniping and political horse-trading than thoughtful policy debate.
As Ohio was considering the most extensive changes to its public education system since the 1990s, there was scant public discussion among state leaders about what all these changes would actually mean for public policy - whether they were affordable and what their impact would actually be on schools, children, and taxpayers. The political debate continues, but Ohio seems to be moving toward a more thoughtful discussion about the future of its schools.
Consider just a few examples.
Funding & spending: Governor Strickland's evidence-based model of school funding relies on a ten-year phase in of billions of dollars in new state spending in education, at a time when the country is slowly emerging from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. As the budget passed last summer, the governor and his allies refused to acknowledge that such a funding increase was unlikely, or that the mandates of the funding model would be deferred indefinitely. Objections to the model itself and its costs, from experts like the Center for Reinventing Public Education's Paul Hill to newspaper editorial boards, were largely dismissed by policy leaders last year.
Today, everyone from local teachers and
Kathleen Porter-Magee / June 9, 2010
The Common Core standards have spurred controversy in other states, so it’s encouraging to see Ohio recognizing the importance of rigorous common standards and swiftly approving the Common Core – especially as state education leaders previously feared that Ohio wouldn’t have adequate time to adopt new standards.
One consequence of moving quickly toward adoption has been surprisingly little public discussion of what state-level implementation of these standards will entail. Yet this topic should concern everyone in the Buckeye State who wants to see the new standards actually drive improvements in student performance.
To date, most of the discussion around implementation of the Common Core has consisted of simple platitudes such as “we will, of course, need to adequately support teachers by providing rigorous new curricula and targeted professional development and training.” That’s simplistic and glib, for it masks innumerable specifics that will make the difference between these standards being a primary driver of student achievement or little more than laudable goals.
The next steps in implementing the Common Core are creating model curricula and instructional guides based on the standards, and a system of assessments tightly aligned to them. These are no small tasks to be looked past, but ones that will likely be best achieved by groups
Jamie Davies O'Leary / June 9, 2010
A change has been made to a provision of Ohio’s school rating system that caused otherwise high-performing districts to see their ratings plummet when they failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) with particular student subgroups. Case in point: Kettering City Schools met 29 out of 30 academic indicators last school year but didn’t make AYP in reading with students with disabilities and those that are limited English proficient. This was the third year in a row the district failed to make AYP with any two subgroups, so the state bestowed a “C” or Continuous Improvement on it. (Without the AYP provision, Kettering would have earned an A+.)
By comparison, Ohio’s rating system also awarded a “C” to Marion City Schools, even though that district met none of the state’s 30 academic indicators. In order to restore legitimacy and fairness to the rating system, State Senator Gary Cates proposed a bill (SB 167) last fall that intended to provide a safeguard to those districts, like Kettering, against falling swiftly from great heights.
The bill stipulated two things: a district could only fall in ratings if it missed AYP with the same two subgroups (not just any two subgroups) for three consecutive years, AND it would only fall one category (in Kettering’s case, down to Effective or “B.”) These provisions were recently tucked into another piece of legislation, which has been approved by both houses of the Ohio General Assembly
Opportunity at the Top: How America's Best Teachers Could Close the Gaps, Raise the Bar, and Keep our Nation Great
Jamie Davies O'Leary / June 9, 2010
Bryan Hassel and Emily Hassel
What if we could close the achievement gap in five years? The Hassels think it can be done and in this paper they explain how. It builds upon their earlier report, 3X For All, which explained how we could take better advantage of the 800,000 or so most effective teachers by extending their reach (number of children served) and touch (direct interaction with students). But while that one explained how to do that—mostly through expanded use of technology—this report explains what would happen if we did. The top 25 percent of teachers typically advance their students through a full six months more material during the course of a year than the average teacher, and as much as a year more material than a bottom quartile teacher (in whose classroom students would lose ground). Thus every two years a child spends with a top quartile teacher typically yield three years of academic growth. The average black student is two years behind a white peer. So, if you put that black student in a top quartile teacher’s classroom for four years in a row, you have eliminated the achievement gap. Five years and the black student is ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, the way we recruit, compensate, and evaluate teachers makes this nigh impossible. The Hassels explain this in considerable detail, but they stop short of saying how to actually eradicate such counterproductive
Emmy L. Partin / June 9, 2010
Jean Johnson, Jon Rochkind, and Amber Ott
June 2, 2010
Americans are sold on the idea that math and science skills are increasingly important and that the future workforce will hold more jobs that utilize these skills. But don’t mistake this sentiment as a call for improved science and math education, says a new survey from Public Agenda, because more than half of parents believe their child’s math and science schooling is “fine as it is.” (The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development disagrees – it says American youngsters rank 25th internationally in math and 21st in science.)
Parents also expressed a general desire for their children to take more advanced math and science classes in high school (60 and 54 percent, respectively), but few want an emphasis in specific areas like physics and calculus (42 percent each). In fact, most people don’t think it’s essential for students to understand advanced science (28 percent) and math (26 percent) at all – even as 84 percent of Americans agree that students with advanced math and science skills will hold a competitive advantage over their peers in terms of jobs and future earnings.
Most troubling, says Public Agenda’s Director of Education Insights Jean Johnson, is that nearly 70 percent of Americans think science education can wait until middle or high school. “Many parents don’t realize the importance of starting children in science early on. Many think it can easily wait until high school,”
June 9, 2010
Shannon Marsh and Paul Hill
Center on Reinventing Public Education
Urban districts across the country have long been exploring alternative approaches to identifying, retaining and graduating their students most at risk of dropping out. What has emerged in recent years in a handful of districts is known as a Multiple Pathways to Graduation (MPG) approach. This working paper from the Center on Reinventing Public Education draws on interviews from several districts with MPG strategies and provides an overview for districts interested in implementing such programs.
The report provides a good overview of the three types of MPG programs: The Targeted Population approach is the most popular and is widely seen in East Coast urban districts. This approach uses data segmentation analysis to identify students most at risk and match them to a program that meets their specific needs. District-Wide and Linked Learning pathways are rarer and confined to single districts on the West Coast. Portland Public Schools has opted for the District-Wide model while Sacramento City Unified School District has opted for the Career and Technical Education-focused Linked Learning model.
The most useful aspects of the paper are short analyses that would help interested districts identify which models of MPG would best suit their needs. Also of use are the basic startup requirements, benefits, and challenges of each model.
All in all, this is a good primer for any administrator who is considering a Multiple Pathways to Graduation program. This paper would
- When it comes to performance in the classroom, Teach For America corps members measured up well against traditionally prepared teachers who had graduated from the University of North Carolina, according to a UNC study released in April. At every grade level and subject studied, TFA grads did “as well as or better than” the UNC-prepared teachers. Check the report out here for detailed Powerpoint and PDF versions of the findings.
- In his new blog for Catalyst Ohio, Scott Stephens evaluates arguments for performance pay for teachers. High on his list of concerns: the quality of the tests.
- Ohio has more charter school authorizers than all of its surrounding states combined! Find this and other useful information in this handy interactive map from the National Association for Charter School Authorizers.
- A new report from the Center for American Progress highlights spending inequities within school districts in California. (See some Ohio examples in our 2007 report on weighted-student funding, here.) As veteran teachers move out of poor-performing schools, they take their higher salaries with them. The sum effect is more spending in better performing schools and less spending in poorly performing ones. As EdWeek points out, this study of schools in California may foreshadow the results of comprehensive data due this winter from the U.S. Department of Education.
June 9, 2010
Andrew Boy, founder and co-director of Columbus Collegiate Academy (one of Fordham’s six sponsored schools), was recently selected for Columbus Business First’s “Forty Under 40,” a highly selective award that recognizes young professionals who are not only outstanding at their jobs, but have also made a difference in their communities and/or in the lives of others.
As Columbus Collegiate’s sponsor, we’re intimately aware, and proud, of Andy’s excellent work with his students, 94 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged. In a single year, Andy and his exceptional team of teachers moved their inaugural class of sixth graders from 35 percent proficient in reading and 41 percent proficient in math (as fifth graders) to 74 percent and 82 percent proficient in reading and math, respectively. These results helped the school earn an EPIC (Effective Practice Incentive Community) Award from New Leaders for New Schools earlier this year.
Andy’s work at Columbus Collegiate, and as a mentor and community volunteer, earned him a place in the 2010 class. Andy was the only school leader represented; other professions included law, finance, public relations, medicine, government, and technology. We were proud to attend the dinner and awards presentation May 27 to support Andy and his fellow honorees.