Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 4, Number 7
March 24, 2010
Common Core standards are a smart move for the Buckeye State
By Colleen Grady , , ,
News and Analysis
Gap still persists between Ohio reading scores and NAEP, proficiency still flat
From the front lines
Columbus Collegiate Academy wins prestigious national award, will share best practices
Who Benefits from KIPP?
Update: Can Race to the Top decisions really be politics-free?
Drew Carey cares
Interesting news from the pod-waves, the blogosphere, and Romania
Award well deserved
Ohio has positioned itself to be among the first states to adopt the “common” academic content standards, created through a state-led process coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. These standards – known as the “Common Core” – were released in draft form (for math and English-language arts) earlier this month, and Ohio has already set about offering technical assistance to guide school districts through the implementation process.
Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have signaled their intent to adopt the voluntary common standards. The aspiration behind common standards is that all American students will receive a high standard of education. The Common Core should make transitions easier for students who move between states and should ensure that high-school graduates from across the country are on equal footing when they enter the workforce or matriculate to college. Ohio’s adoption of the Common Core standards (in conjunction with the existing Ohio Core graduation requirements) would raise minimum expectations and result in more students engaging in rigorous academic work by the time they graduate from high school.
In an analysis released yesterday, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute issued grades of “A-” and “B” to the Common Core math and English-language arts drafts respectively. By comparison, in 2006, Ohio’s math standards earned a “D” from Fordham and its English standards garnered a “C.”
Improved academic standards are important
Chester E. Finn, Jr. / March 24, 2010
For five good reasons, conservatives should take seriously the potential of the newly released (in draft form) “common” education standards to strengthen U.S. education.
First, they’re good, solid — indeed very ambitious — academic standards for primary and secondary schooling, at least in the two essential subjects of English and math. Students who attained them would be better off — readier for college, readier to get good jobs, readier to compete in the global economy — than most are today. (An overwhelming majority of states, according to analyses by my own Fordham Institute and other organizations, currently rely on standards that range from mediocre to abysmal.)
Second, they respect basic skills, mathematical computation, the conventions of the English language, good literature, and America’s founding documents. That’s why they’ve been endorsed by the likes of E. D. Hirsch and his Core Knowledge Foundation, and Lynne Munson of Common Core.
Third, they emerged not from the federal government but from a voluntary coming together of (most) states, and the states’ decision whether or not to adopt them will remain voluntary. Each state will determine whether the new standards represent an improvement over what it’s now using.
Fourth, they do not represent a national curriculum — though to gain traction they’ll need to be joined by solid curricula, effective instruction, and quality testing.
Fifth, one little-noted benefit of properly implemented common standards is
E.D. Hirsch, Jr. / March 24, 2010
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) publicly released its 2009 reading scores today, and there will likely be little fanfare in Ohio over the results. The NAEP is a biennial test administered to fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders by the U.S. Department of Education and is frequently billed as “the Nation’s Report Card.” We noted in a previous Ohio Gadfly article that the Buckeye State’s NAEP math results remained stagnant throughout the past decade, and today’s results continue that trend in reading.
The 2009 NAEP scores for Ohio students are virtually the same as in previous years. In 2009, 36 percent of fourth graders and 37 percent of eighth graders were considered proficient or better in reading, compared to 36 percent of both fourth and eighth graders earning a proficient rating in 2007. The graph below illustrates Ohio’s lackluster performance on the NAEP over the past 10 years.
As we also previously noted, Ohio’s own measure of student proficiency (the Ohio Achievement Test, or OAT) appears drastically inflated in comparison to the NAEP. According to 2009 OAT results, 72 percent of eighth graders and 82 percent of fourth graders were considered proficient in reading. The graph below highlights the performance gap of Ohio students between NAEP and OAT results.
This gap certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed, as The Columbus Dispatch covered this disconnect between state test scores
Jamie Davies O'Leary / March 24, 2010
Columbus Collegiate Academy, one of six charter schools authorized by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, was recently awarded the “silver-gain” EPIC prize by New Leaders for New Schools for dramatic gains in student achievement.
New Leaders for New Schools launched EPIC — the Effective Practice Incentive Community – in 2006 to link principal and teacher incentive pay to the wide-scale sharing of effective educational practices. EPIC works with public schools in Memphis, Denver and the District of Columbia, as well as with charter schools in the National Charter School Consortium. Funded primarily through the federal Teacher Incentive Program (TIF), EPIC gives performance bonuses to school leaders and teachers in partner schools that are driving dramatic student achievement gains, and creates comprehensive case studies of their successes so that others can learn from them.
This open sharing of information among high-performing schools is the one of the most exciting components of the program, according to Andrew Boy, founder and co-director of Columbus Collegiate Academy.
Boy attributes much of his school’s success to borrowing from other top-performers and using what works. “We’re not about reinventing the wheel,” he said. “We’re always looking for best practices.”
Columbus Collegiate Academy, one of just 22 charter school winners nationwide, will share the ingredients of its success via written documents, interviews, and videotapes, all which will be made available via EPIC’s web-based professional development platform to all participating schools.
There is plenty
March 24, 2010
Alliance for Excellent Education
Bob Wise & Robert Rothman
In this issue brief by the Alliance for Excellent Education, former West Virginia governor Bob Wise makes the case for online learning as a solution to the “perfect storm” brewing within K-12 education. The three major crises pushing us toward our tipping point are: the need for an increasingly skilled workforce contrasted by the U.S.’s lagging college graduation rates; threats to school funding caused by depressed tax revenues at all levels of government; and the shortage of highly-qualified and capable educators.
Wise argues that only by doing more with less will schools and districts successfully navigate these crises, and advocates specifically for embracing technological advances and adapting them for the purposes of K-12 education. Online learning, either entirely virtual or blended teacher-online classrooms, is a significant part of the solution. First, fostering students’ familiarity with cutting-edge technology would prepare them better for success in the 21st century workforce. Second, technology could help streamline the development and implementation of curricula, monitor teacher effectiveness, and track student success in the face of tighter school budgets. Finally, new online models of learning would address the teacher (and budget) shortages faced by some districts by providing a pathway for in-demand teachers of special subjects to teach at many different schools simultaneously.
Wise’s call for online learning is germane to Ohio. The state faces an impending $8 billion dollar budget deficit in 2011. The
Jamie Davies O'Leary / March 24, 2010
National Bureau of Economic Research
J. Angrist, S. Dynarski, T. Kane, P. Pathak, & C. Walters
This working paper presents findings from a study comparing academic gains between students who won and lost the lottery to attend KIPP Academy Lynn (a KIPP charter school in Lynn, Massachusetts). KIPP Lynn students have significant gains (if you like statistics, one year at KIPP Lynn translates into .35 and .12 standard deviations in math and reading). One year at KIPP Lynn reduced by 10 and eight percentage points (in math and reading, respectively) the probability that students would perform at a “warning level.” There was an equal increase in the probability that students would move up a performance level.
Given what we know about the culture of KIPP schools, i.e. extended school days and years, rigorous behavioral management, such results aren’t totally surprising. But here’s the catch: KIPP Academy Lynn has a high concentration of limited English proficient (LEP) and special education students, subgroups for whom charter schools are frequently criticized for under serving. Further, when the researchers break the data down by subgroups, special education and LEP students at KIPP Lynn achieved greater gains than other students at the school. Contrary to criticisms aimed at charters, it appears that KIPP Lynn serves the “weakest” students the best.
The study only examines one school, but the researchers point out that all KIPP schools employ a similar model; thus, the findings might be generalized across
Terry Ryan / March 24, 2010
Almost since the contest was announced,????those of us working in Ohio have????wondered whether Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's Race to the Top decisions could really be politics-free. You don't have to be a????cynic to agree that in the Buckeye State (and likely other states), a battery of forces are paving the way for political horse-trading around RttT funding ???????? incumbent Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland is trailing Republican challenger John Kasich in the polls, the unemployment rate continues creeping upward, and commentators wonder if Ohio is heading for a budgetary ???????Day of Reckoning??????? the likes of what's happening in New Jersey.
And it hasn't helped that the USDOE has been cryptic about who the Race to the Top reviewers actually are and what they are actually looking for in their applications. Rick Hess's call for greater transparency during the review process and the kinds of questions he raises ???????? e.g. ???????What criteria were used to select reviewers? How committed is Sec. Duncan to abiding by reviewer recommendations???????? echoed even more loudly when a whopping 16 finalists were announced, including Ohio, New York, and Kentucky.
Enter in the recent wheeling and dealing to garner votes for the health care bill, highlighted in today's Wall Street Journal piece detailing the deals that representatives scored for their districts in exchange for their yes votes and local
March 24, 2010
When asked how he would go about improving Pittsburgh, Frank Lloyd Wright offered a simple solution: “Abandon it.” But that Price-is-Right hosting, Michael Moore look-a-like (minus the baseball hat and hammer-and-sickle) Drew Carey won’t drop the commitment to his hometown Cleveland that easily. Carey recently teamed up with the Reason Foundation to offer solutions for revitalizing his city going bust. Read more here.
Terry M. Moe / February 24, 2010
- Education Next featured TBFI president Chester E. Finn, Jr. in its newest podcast, in which he explains that the ESEA is unlikely to face complete reauthorization this year. Aside from five or six main No Child Left Behind problems to be resolved, more than 1,100 pages of federal education programs remain to be fought over.
- This Intelligence Squared podcast (transcript) asks panelists to debate the statement “Don’t blame teachers’ unions for our failing schools.” Panelists include AFT president Randi Weingarten in support, with former U.S. Education secretary (and TBFI board member) Rod Paige opposed. Don’t miss this feisty debate—the full audio version is free at the iTunes online store.
- Following recent articles on friction against charter schools in Harlem, the NYTimes’ blog Room for Debate recently examined “The Push Back on Charter Schools,” which highlights pockets of resistance to charter schools throughout the country.
- Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced, on the 45th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights protest, that his department’s Office of Civil Rights will be stepping up efforts to ensure discrimination isn’t taking place in America’s public schools. The announcement revisits the debate over “disparate treatment” (i.e. intentional discrimination) versus policies that have a “disparate impact on minorities,” as George Will recently argued. Also, see the Flypaper blog for more commentary.
- In this report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, two researchers investigate the impact of computer access
March 24, 2010
March 24, 2010
In our last issue, Gadfly erroneously reported that GE Lighting is based in Cincinnati, when any student of Ohio history should know that the Lighting & Electrical Institute is housed at the historic Nela Park in Cleveland. And because tarsi make typing tricky, we reported that Richard Stoff of the Ohio Business Roundtable said the state is a leader in “technology-based education” when in fact he said the state leads in “technology-based economic development.”