Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 5, Number 14
August 10, 2011
Importing Leaders for School Turnaround
Student Teaching in America
Inside IMPACT: D.C.'s Model Teacher Evaluation System
Terry Ryan / August 10, 2011
I had the good fortune to spend time last week with Stan Heffner, Ohio’s new
state superintendent of public instruction. I enjoyed the conversation mightily
because it mostly focused on two things that don’t usually get enough attention
in education policy conversations – teaching and learning.
Specifically, Heffner shared with me his ideas and concerns for making sure Ohio’s schools and teachers successfully implement and take ownership of the Common Core academic standards in English language arts and mathematics. (Ohio is one of 46 states that have adopted these common standards, which are slated to come online in 2014.)
The state will have to make some serious implementation decisions in the coming months and years around the Common Core, including which assessment consortium to join (right now, the Buckeye State has a foot in both the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and how to adapt the state’s accountability system to the new tests and tougher standards.
But where Heffner
sees the most potential, both positive and negative, is around the practical
implementation issues that will face schools and school districts. This is because,
as a lifelong educator, he clearly understands that at the end of the day what
matters most for public education is student learning and that teachers are key
to facilitating it.
Heffner argued to me (and previously had written in a February 2011 paper for the Council of Chief State Schools Officers) that the successful implementation of the Common Core,
Emmy L. Partin / August 10, 2011
Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at stemming Ohio’s brain drain and keeping college graduates in the state after they earn their degrees. The legislation would allow Ohio college graduates, whether they are Ohio natives or not, who obtain a job in the Buckeye State to have their earned income exempted from state income tax for up to five years.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Cheryl Grossman, says 40 percent of Ohio’s college graduates leave the state after graduation. That figure could be much higher, depending on the particular college and community. For example, a 2009 Fordham Institute survey of students at top Ohio colleges found that 58 percent of students planned to leave the state after graduation (a whopping 79 percent of out-of-state students said they intended to leave Ohio, and 51 percent of native Ohio students were set on departure).
But that same survey also showed support for incentives like the one proposed in House Bill 258. When offered a menu of incentives designed to encourage college graduates to stay in Ohio, respondents to our survey found “A state income tax credit of up to $3,000 per year for 10 years for college graduates who stay in Ohio” most appealing (65 percent).
The bill, which is currently pending in committee, has the support of the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents Jim Petro. Petro cites (subscription required) the economic benefit of keeping graduates in the state:
It’s a simple calculation. Right now Ohio has 26% of its workforce with baccalaureate degrees. Across the country, the higher the portion of the baccalaureate
Jamie Davies O'Leary / August 10, 2011
With Ohio’s biennial budget (HB 153) now in effect, it’s time to get into the details to figure out precisely how Ohio’s schools, educators, and students will be affected. Consider two education policy changes included in HB 153 that are aimed at providing more education options for students in low-performing district schools: increasing eligibility for the EdChoice Scholarship and expanding districts in which new charter schools may open.
Expanded voucher eligibility and access
HB 153 increased the number of slots available for the EdChoice scholarship from 15,000 to 30,000 this year and 60,000 next year and beyond. Access to publicly funded vouchers has always been limited to students attending chronically failing schools, specifically students in district public schools rated D or F by the state for two or more of the last three consecutive years. This year, lawmakers broadened that eligibility to include not just D/F schools, but school buildings ranked in the bottom 10 percent of performance (according to Performance Index, an average of students’ proficiency in tested grades and subjects) for two of three consecutive years.
This expansion may seem broad, but it is actually just a drop in the bucket. Using current school performance data (and updated data will be released at the end of this month), students from just 31 schools statewide enrolling a total of 8,700 youngsters would be newly eligible. To put this in perspective, this is less than one half of one percent of Ohio’s public student population (1.9 million).
Below is the list of schools newly eligible to lose students to the voucher program (highlighted schools
August 10, 2011
An effective leader is vital to an effective school, especially when that school is a turnaround. Unfortunately, those equipped to lead rapid change in consistently low-performing schools are in short supply. In this report, Public Impact suggests that school leaders be imported from untapped pipelines of talent lying outside of the education sector. Instead of adhering to traditional practice of recruiting from within, schools can replenish the dwindling principal pool and revive turnaround schools by selecting leaders from other areas.
In looking for a new leader, the report recommends that schools select for a number of qualities. Those best suited to lead turnarounds possess the unique ability to motivate, problem-solve, and confidently lead students and staff. The report also outlines key areas in which non-traditional candidates should be trained. To ensure that a new hire is quickly brought up to speed, a clear action plan should be put in place that allows a new school leader and his or her staff to hit the ground running. Leaders coming from outside education should also be trained in the elements of highly effective, high-poverty schools.
In Ohio, where 42 schools are already beginning turnaround efforts under the federal School Improvement Grant program (to say nothing of the list to be overhauled under recently passed provisions in Ohio’s budget), most of the schools must replace top leadership. Where will these high-capacity school leaders come from? Simply rotating the existing pool of principals is ineffective and previous attempts at overhaul among Ohio schools illustrated that without real leadership change, turnarounds are largely meaningless. Some schools got
August 10, 2011
Every year some 200,000 teacher candidates from 1,400 higher education institutions complete their student teaching requirement. In theory, student teaching is an opportunity for students to combine everything they’ve learned about the profession over the course of their training, and walk away prepared for the classroom. But in reality, how well are teacher-prep programs equipping teachers for their futures in the classroom? A recent study by NCTQ attempts to answer this question.
The report ranked 134 schools (69 percent public and 41 percent private) according to these standards of quality: whether student teaching lasts at least 10 weeks; whether the teacher preparation program selects the cooperating teacher (the primary classroom teacher); whether cooperating teachers have at least three years of experience; and whether they have the capacity to mentor an adult and provide feedback and support. To rate schools, NCTQ collected numerous documents, including those that outline the selection process of cooperating teachers; surveyed principals from elementary schools who participated in the student teaching experience; and conducted several site visits.
The findings are shocking, and shed light on many ways in which student teaching experiences are inadequate. They include:
- School districts often do not have enough highly qualified cooperative teachers to keep up with the supply of student teachers. NCTQ estimates that a school of 25 teachers only yields on average one qualified and willing cooperating teacher.
- Too many elements
of student teaching programs are left to chance. While a number of
programs observe NCTQ’s standards, only 75 percent require that student
teachers share all of the cooperating teacher’s responsibilities, and only 68
percent require that
Jamie Davies O'Leary / August 10, 2011
Outsiders have envied, emulated, and damned D.C.’s acclaimed teacher-evaluation system, IMPACT. But what is the insiders’ perspective? This report from Ed Sector delivers the answer. Author Susan Headden, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, presents a thorough and balanced perspective on this revolutionary (but still emergent) system. She explains the core elements of IMPACT (the classroom observations, instructional buckets against which teachers are measured, etc.), and weaves a narrative that effectively captures the experience of (a sample of) observed teachers, “master educators” (the ones conducting the observations), as well as principals, union leaders, and District staff responsible for developing the system. She notes a few red flags (the distribution of IMPACT’s large performance bonuses are concentrated in already high-performing schools, for example) and details a few places where IMPACT could be improved, notably by doing more to help develop educators rather than simply reward or punish them. But progress is being made on that front. Based on our own interviews, we found that, overwhelmingly, teachers saw monumental improvements in professional development, and that the new system gave them specific, tangible ways to enhance instruction.
Inside IMPACT: D.C.’s Model Teacher Evaluation System
by Susan Headden
August 10, 2011
This report begins with a Cinderella story: high school (the infamous Locke in Los Angeles) meets charter management organization, is taken over, transforms from drop-out factory to a high-performing charter. How widespread should the involvement of charter management organizations be in turning around the nation’s lowest performing high schools? CAP takes on this question in its latest report.
Low-performing district schools opting to become charters are rare; only five percent of schools awarded a federal School Improvement Grant have chosen to restart as charter schools, and very few of those are high schools. But the report argues that the use of Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) in school overhauls is an area ripe with opportunity. This policy paper offers observations, largely based on conversations from charter operators and district leaders in two cities, on how district-charter partnerships are taking shape.
CMOs attempting to turn around failing schools face different obstacles than those working solely with start-ups. Money and resources are obviously a key component in the district-charter relationship. The ability and willingness of school districts to invest funding into facilities and maintenance, and to provide human capital resources, can create a great support system for a failing school. Administrative barriers and issues of autonomy are cited as the largest hurdles for districts becoming charters under the CMO direction. CAP’s anecdotal evidence confirms what we already knew: CMOs undertaking turnaround projects are forced to grow in new directions.
These are fine “first looks” at the role of CMOs in district schools turned to charters. However, CAP’s paper shows little information on the advancement of student performance in
August 10, 2011
- How does your opinion compare to the average teacher’s? The fifth annual survey conducted by Harvard’s Program on Education and Governance and Education Next covers a wide variety of education policy issues and found a growing disparity between the views of teachers and the general public. Take a look at the survey here.
- TIME columnist and Eduwonk blogger Andrew Rotherham encourages parents to “kick a school’s tires” when choosing a school in his latest post. He suggests that shoppers look beneath the label, go for a test-drive, be diligent (but not overboard), follow their instincts, and keep pushing for more choices.
- Gamers rejoice! Quest to Learn, a public middle school in New York City, and is revamping classroom instruction with the help of game designers. Modeled loosely after video games like FIFA Soccer and Halo that require players to collect and use knowledge to accomplish various goals, the school crafted ten-week long “missions” that connect multiple subject areas and deliver a comprehensive lesson. Katie Salen, leader of the team that founded Quest to Learn, blogs about the school here.
- The scene has been set for a raging debate in Springboro, Ohio. The hot topic: creationism. The Springboro school board is just one vote away from getting the support of the five-member board to push creationism curriculum in schools- an initiative that, not surprisingly, is facing strong opposition.