Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 5, Number 9
May 11, 2011
What would be the impact of the governor's school turnaround plan?
By Jamie Davies O'Leary
"State of Preschool" report doesn't paint whole picture for Ohio
By Jamie Davies O'Leary
Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems
Budget comparisons, unionism lessons, and rutabaga fries
Jamie Davies O'Leary / May 11, 2011
When Gov. Kasich first introduced his biennial budget for Ohio over a month ago, it was quickly apparent that he and his administration were serious about overhauling the state’s poorest-performing schools. Fordham has long advocated for applying sanctions to not only poorly performing charter schools but chronically troubled district ones as well. In the governor’s budget, and left completely intact in the version reported out by the Ohio House, is a provision that would require districts to reconstitute schools that rank in the bottom five percent of all public district schools statewide (according to Performance Index (PI) scores, weighted averages of a school’s students’ performance on the state’s exams across all tested subjects and grades) for three consecutive years and are rated “D” or “F” by the state.
In similar fashion to the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, districts with such schools could opt to:
- close the school and reassign students to higher performing buildings;
- contract with another district, non-profit, or for-profit entity with a track record of success to operate the school;
- replace the principal and all teaching staff (far more stringent than SIG’s “transformation” option, which would leave half of a school’s teachers in place); or
- re-open the school as a conversion charter school.
Kasich’s budget also imposed other sanctions for chronically underperforming schools, including testing all teachers’ content-area knowledge in such schools (which we caution against) and allowing parents to “trigger” a turnaround (which has since been removed by the House and turned into a small pilot program).
The closure provisions for chronically troubled district schools seem fair and up-to-the-challenge.
Jamie Davies O'Leary / May 11, 2011
Ohio recently received distinction from the National Institute for Early Education Research in its State of Preschool 2010 report, but not in a good way. As the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, the co-director for institute issuing the report said of the Buckeye State:
For a couple of years, [Ohio] was moving up [in the rankings], but last year the state eliminated a major program. Enrollment went way down and spending per child went way down. The program the state does have meets only two of 10 benchmarks for state standards for quality. That puts Ohio in last place. Nobody has a program that is that weak, except for 10 states that don’t have any program at all.
According to The State of Preschool, funding for public preschool dropped by almost $30 million nationally (funding would have fallen by another $49 million if not for federal stimulus dollars). In Ohio, state spending per child dropped by almost half (from almost $7,000 per child to $3,900), and access to preschool, especially among four-year-olds, puts Ohio among the worst in the nation (the Buckeye State ranks 36 out of 40 states with public preschool programs).
At first glance, such statistics are alarming. Funding early learning programs, especially for low-income children who otherwise come to kindergarten ill-prepared and already behind their wealthier peers, is a worthwhile (and preemptive) investment that reaps long-term gains not just for students but society at large.
However, it’s worth considering several factors and trends before sounding the alarms on Ohio’s preschool landscape. First, as the Enquirer rightly points
Chester E. Finn, Jr. / May 11, 2011
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute (and its sister organization, the Fordham Foundation) has worked in its home state of Ohio since the late 1990s on a range of school-reform issues, focusing much time and attention on the state’s charter school program. For the past decade, we have worked with Buckeye State charter schools in a variety of ways: as a donor, as a source of technical assistance, and most notably, as a charter school authorizer. While we are unabashed supporters of charter schools as options for students in need and catalysts for improving urban education, we believe strongly in the need for accountability and quality-control mechanisms for the charter sector (and all publicly funded schools). This position isn’t a new one. We’ve been advocating for strong charter-school accountability since the first charters opened their doors in Ohio in 1998 and we’ve issued multiple policy reports recommending accountability improvements (and other needed changes) to Ohio’s charter law (see here, here, here, and here) to name just a few). The following editorial is a continuation of our advocacy toward improving charter schools in the Buckeye State.
If the Ohio House's version of the biennial budget makes its way into law, the state's mish-mash of a community-school (i.e. charter school) program will become a full-fledged contender for America's worst. It's up to the Senate and Gov. John Kasich to forestall that dire development - and subject this worthy program to the thorough housecleaning and comprehensive makeover it sorely needs.
Ohio's 300-plus charter schools now serve more than 100,000 youngsters, most of them
Steve Farkas / May 11, 2011
Steve Farkas is veteran public opinion researcher, co-founder of the FDR Group, and author of the Fordham Institute’s recent report, Yearning to Break Free: Ohio Superintendents Speak. The following was written in response to a review of the report by the Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center.
The FDR Group’s recent survey of Ohio’s school district superintendents, Yearning to Break Free (online here), conducted on behalf of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found these local education leaders eager to overhaul the collective bargaining process and to increase their authority over staff and money. “Give us autonomy,” they said, “and hold us accountable for getting results.” Easy to understand, right? Well, two unhappy University of Houston professors reviewing the study for the National Education Policy Center’s “Think Tank Review Project” had a lot of trouble comprehending it.
From the get-go in their review, the professors failed to realize that the study was giving voice to the opinions of these school leaders – not our opinions as researchers or even Fordham’s but those of Ohio superintendents. The professors say, “the authors of the study recommend [emphasis added] that ‘two promising ways to save districts money are to give superintendents greater control over combined state revenue streams and to mandate a statewide health insurance plan…’” But the report itself stated “Ohio’s superintendents think [emphasis added] two promising ways…” We (neither the FDR Group nor Fordham) didn’t recommend anything. Yearning to Break Free is a study of perceptions so the whole report is filled with such modifiers as “superintendents believe, say, think.” It’s
Update with 2009-10 Data and Five-year Trends: How Many Schools Have Not Made Adequatae Yearly Progress?
May 11, 2011
This report from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) is an update to previous research that tracked the number of schools that had not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as outlined in NCLB. Achieving AYP has proved increasingly difficult as many states require schools to meet progressively higher standards each year leading up to 2014, the year by which NCLB requires that 100 percent of students in every state reach proficiency on state assessments. The CEP has been tracking state and national AYP levels annually since 2005, and this report provides estimates for 2010 data. The previous four years of AYP data come from State Consolidated Performance Reports submitted to the Department of Education. These reports are not yet available for 2010, but CEP created an estimate for 2010 numbers: The number of schools not reaching AYP has risen to 38 percent nationally, the highest percentage since CEP began tracking this data.
Over the last five years, the number of schools not reaching AYP has steadily increased, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently warned that in 2011 the number of schools labeled “failing” by NCLB may skyrocket to 82 percent. In order to meet the “100 percent proficient by 2014” goal, many states have ratcheted up their achievement targets each year. Schools have found it difficult to keep pace, and even many high-performing schools with a few below-proficient students are receiving NCLB’s “failing” label.
In Ohio, CEP estimated that 39 percent of schools did not make AYP in 2010. However, the current AYP rating system provides limited
Kathryn Mullen Upton / May 11, 2011
The KIPP Foundation recently released a study of college completion rates of early KIPP students and the results are both good and bad. The good news is that 33 percent of KIPP students that completed eighth grade 10 or more years ago have gone on to graduate from a four-year college. This may strike readers as low, but in context it illustrates a remarkable achievement: Only 30.6 percent of Americans ages 25-29 have a four year degree as do only 8 percent of such students from low-income families. Thus, KIPPsters are four times more likely to complete college than their peers from similar demographics. The bad news is that KIPP falls dramatically short of its goal that 75 percent of its students earn a four-year degree, and readily admits that the goal has been harder to achieve than anticipated. The report acknowledges that the number of kids these findings apply to is small: they come from the first two KIPP schools that were opened in Houston and New York, the only ones open long enough to have college graduates. (The Fordham Foundation is the authorizer of KIPP Journey Academy in Columbus, which was not included in this report.)
The report sets forth several action steps that KIPP will take to try to meet their 75 percent goal, including a continued focus on academics and character education; evolving their focus from just middle schools to pre-K through 12 broadly; and improving college support to KIPP graduates (i.e., helping kids find a college that is the right fit, offering social
May 11, 2011
It is no surprise that the Latino population in the United States is growing rapidly. Between 2000-2010 the national Latino population increased by 15.2 million people, more than half of the overall population growth during that time period. The Latino community is also young on average. There are 17.1 million Latinos under the age of 17, and they comprise 22 percent (one in five) of all prek-12 students currently enrolled in America’s public schools. This rise in population combined with the youthfulness of the Latino population makes them a vital component to our future success as a nation. However, educational statistics among the Latino population are troubling: Latinos have low participation in early childhood education programs; subpar graduation rates; and less than 15 percent of them go on to receive their bachelor’s degree.
A recent report by the Department of Education highlights the state of education in the Latino community, drawing attention to areas that must improve:
- Early childhood education: Future success in education is often contingent on the educational experience that children receive at an early age. Latino children represent the largest segment of the early childhood population, however less than half of Latino children are enrolled in an early childhood program.
graduation rates: One of the main goals of the public education system is
to see that all students graduate from high school equipped with necessary
skills to enter college. Currently one in five students in the public school
system is Latino, yet almost half of them never graduate from high school.
Latino students also participate less frequently in Advanced
Nick Joch / May 11, 2011
In state capitals across the nation, policy makers and education reformers are calling for more rigorous teacher evaluation systems. In its latest report, Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems, the Brookings Institution describes a mathematical framework for assessing the effectiveness of evaluation systems. The report accompanies and explains the reasoning behind an evaluation system effectiveness calculator developed by the Institution. The calculator assesses teacher evaluation systems that use student value-added data, based on five criteria:
- Differentiation. The evaluation system should rate teachers so that a meaningful spectrum of teacher effectiveness can be observed (e.g. 99% of teachers rated effective is not acceptable).
- Correlation. Differentiation should be based on teacher characteristics that are likely to significantly influence student achievement.
- Consistency. Evaluations provided by the system should be predictable from year to year: A teacher rated “highly effective” in one year should receive a similar rating in future years.
- Diverse methodology. The evaluation system should not use value-added data alone, but should also use classroom observations and/or other methods to produce a more complete picture of a teacher’s effectiveness.
- Universality. Because of diverse methodologies, all teachers, even those for whom no value-added data is available, should be able to be evaluated by the system.
Many states and districts do not favor a universal teacher evaluation system and would prefer to develop their own systems instead. The report proposes that this calculator be used to set standards for such localized systems, thereby creating a national standard by which to judge teacher evaluation systems but not mandating a national system. The report suggests that this might be accomplished by including the calculator
Nick Joch / May 11, 2011
- On the hunt for timely lesson plans? The April issue of Ohio Schools, the OEA’s monthly newsletter, recommends lessons on unionism, but the Buckeye Institute’s write-up is more than a little skeptical of using the classroom to enlist student support for the labor movement.
- The latest contribution to research on what works in the classroom comes from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Victor Lavy. In his paper What Makes an Effective Teacher? Quasi-Experimental Evidence, Lavy finds that Israeli students receive striking benefits from both “traditional” (knowledge-focused) and “modern” (analysis-focused) teaching styles, and opines that the two styles be specifically targeted to particular types of students for the greatest gains in achievement.
- Ever wonder how Governor Kasich’s school funding budget stacks up against proposals in other states? Bruce Baker of School Finance 101 takes on the question, comparing Kasich’s budget with Andrew Cuomo’s (New York) and Tom Corbett’s (Pennsylvania) and concludes that the Ohio governor’s cuts, though at first glance progressive, will be regressive (i.e. the neediest districts get hit the hardest) in the long term.
- In response to the debate over the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of our nation’s ed schools, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has created a new site called “Transparency Central” to make public the curricula and requirements of teacher preparation programs across the nation. The site is part of NCTQ and US News and World Report’s larger project of evaluating these programs, a project that hasn’t exactly received rave reviews from teacher colleges.
mystery meat and vegetable mush. The New