Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 5, Number 18
November 2, 2011
Ohio needs a reading guarantee
News & Analysis
Putting Ohio's teacher evaluation reforms in a national context
News & Analysis
Ohio's NAEP results no surprise
News & Analysis
Voucher student performance promising, better data needed
Teacher accountability making strides
Emmy L. Partin / November 2, 2011
Ohio needs an elementary school “reading guarantee.” This was one of several recommendations for improving student achievement in Ohio that were pitched last week by School Choice Ohio at its event highlighting the research of Matt Ladner (senior advisor of policy and research to the Foundation for Excellence in Education). Ladner noted that Florida has embraced a reading guarantee as a key to helping improve student achievement (see Jamie’s blog for more about his research and SCO’s policy recommendations).
Ladner attributed Florida’s success to a set of reforms, one of which was the reading guarantee. In other words, Florida third-grade students cannot advance to fourth grade if they do not pass the state’s third-grade reading assessment. The logic behind this policy is that if students aren’t competent readers by fourth grade, they will struggle to comprehend tougher subject matter in late elementary and middle school and beyond, and will fall further behind academically. A report out last year from the Annie E. Casey Foundation supports this argument. It stated that while the failure to read is consistently linked to higher rates of dropping out of school, “of the fourth graders who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test in 2009, 83 percent of children from low-income families—and 85 percent of low-income students who attend high-poverty schools—failed to reach the ‘proficient’ level in reading.”
Ohio should embrace Ladner’s recommendation, and in fact we already have. We just haven’t earnestly implemented it yet.
The Buckeye State has a history with a “reading guarantee” that goes back to 1997 and the
Terry Ryan / November 2, 2011
Earlier this year I testified in both the Ohio Senate and the House in support of the education provisions embedded in the highly contentious Senate Bill 5. SB5, now known as Issue 2, is up for referendum next Tuesday and current polls show the bill will very likely be overturned. If that happens, it would be a shame because there are reforms in SB5 that education in Ohio needs to not only become more efficient and sustainable, but to become better for children.
As I shared in my legislative testimony, “Nothing matters more to student learning than teacher quality. The fact is that highly effective teachers routinely propel students from below grade level to advanced levels in a single year. The significant of this finding can’t be understated.” I went on to argue, “Ohioans, for the most part, understand that strong teachers and good schools are a critical investment in our children’s and our state’s future. Consider that in 2010, the state invested more than $18.3 billion in K-12 public education – roughly $2,078 for every adult living in the Buckeye State. In fact, school funding in Ohio has steadily increased over the past three decades. Just since 1991, when the first DeRolph lawsuit was filed, per-pupil revenue for Ohio’s public schools has risen 60 percent (even accounting for inflation.)”
This growth in spending saw the number of K-12 public employees statewide grow 35 percent (from about 181,000 to 245,250), while K-12 enrollment in the state actually declined about 1.5 percent. The math didn’t add up when I testified and
November 2, 2011
Can we work smarter together? That was the question on people’s minds at a forum last week sponsored by Fordham, the Nord Family Foundation, Ohio Grantmakers Forum, ESC of Central Ohio, Ohio Education Matters, and Public Performance Partners. The event, Working Smarter Together: Enhancing savings and performance for local schools and governments, featured several keynote speakers (including Auditor of State Dave Yost), and a panel discussion about real-world examples of efficiency and cooperation in local government.
C. Jack Grayson, founder and chairman of the American Productivity and Quality Center, kicked off the event with a discussion about the need to increase efficiency and productivity in the public sector, and especially in education. Grayson stressed that local governments and school systems must think differently when it comes to operating more efficiently. Grayson argued that the commonly used across the-board cuts hurt both efficiency and effectiveness, and more times than not lacks a thoughtful process as to who to cut and why, resulting in a loss of talented people and critical organizational knowledge. Instead, Grayson advocated for the need to focus more on process and performance management (PPM). "You cannot improve results by looking at results. You have to look at processes," Grayson said. "Whether you are the CEO or the custodian who cleans the toilet, you have a process, and you can improve it."
Grayson said that everything involves a process and in order to improve outcomes we must evaluate the entire organizational process from the beginning to the end. He also discussed the need to reduce functional silos and the tremendous amount of waste
Jamie Davies O'Leary / November 2, 2011
The State Board of Education has just eight weeks left to develop a model framework for teacher evaluations that will be used or adapted by over 1000 local education agencies (LEA) by July of 2013. (Ohio’s biennial budget – HB 153 – stipulated that the Board come up with a model by December 31 of this year.) Skeletal requirements are spelled out in state law. Evaluations must: include measures of student growth (50 percent); be based on multiple measures; rate teachers according to four tiers of effectiveness (accomplished, proficiency, developing, and ineffective); and inform other personnel decisions, particularly layoffs (strict seniority-based layoffs were struck from state law).
But what else will the model framework include, especially for that remaining - and some would argue more important - 50 percent of a teacher’s rating? To what degree will districts and charter schools need to enact a replica of the state’s forthcoming model, or something closely resembling it, instead of merely repackaging their current systems? And how will teacher evaluations impact other key personnel decisions, if at all? Despite the fact that legislation clearly spells out a handful of requirements surrounding Ohio’s new teacher evaluations, the answers to these questions aren’t as straightforward as one might think.
In Fordham’s analysis of Ohio’s education legislation from the first half of 2011 (primarily the biennial budget, HB 153), we observed that when it comes to teacher evaluations, “the budget leaves many decisions to local districts.” Depending on whom you ask – this can be a recipe for watering down evaluations or it could be a
November 2, 2011
The 2011 NAEP results for reading and mathematics were released yesterday - see here for our DC colleague Mike Petrilli’s take on it. Nationally, fourth-grade reading scores remained the same from 2009, while eighth graders achieved a small increase in reading performance. Students from around the country continued the upward trend in math, with increases in both the fourth and eighth grade. Ohio’s state-specific results were more of the same, mostly stagnant performance compared to past years.
Chart 1 below shows that reading results for fourth and eighth graders in the Buckeye State haven’t budget for the last decade or so. In 2011, 27 percent of fourth-grade students scored at the proficient level or higher, unchanged from 2009. Only 7 percent of fourth graders scored at advanced proficiency, down from the 9 percent that did so in 2009. Breaking down the data by racial subgroups, only 13 percent of Black students were proficient on the fourth-grade assessment, and 1 percent scored at an advanced level.
The results from the eighth-grade reading assessment paint a very similar story. The percent of students proficient in eighth-grade reading has remained virtually unchanged since 2002, with only 33 percent of students scoring at or above the proficient level in 2011. The achievement gap between Black and White students, as well as White and Hispanic students has not narrowed since 2009.
It is disappointing to see a continuing weakness in reading, but Ohio’s math results are slightly more encouraging. Chart 2 below shows Ohio’s fourth- and eighth-grade math
November 2, 2011
Ohio currently has a basket full of publicly funded, private-school voucher programs, making it unique in America’s school choice landscape. Ohio has three separate programs for students in failing districts, students with autism, and students living in Cleveland. A voucher program for students with disabilities launches next year. Further, the EdChoice Scholarship program (which provides private school scholarships for students in failing public schools) was recently expanded to 30,000 scholarships statewide this school year and 60,000 next year.
A new choice bill is now being debated in the House that would vastly expand the number of students eligible to receive a voucher. HB 136 would create the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Scholarship (PACT) Program and give children who come from families with annual incomes of up to $62,000 a year a voucher worth up to $4,563. Furthermore, 25 percent of families in the state could be eligible for smaller vouchers awarded on a sliding scale for families with incomes up to $95,000. This expansive growth in school choice options via vouchers is contentious to say the least.
A myriad of opinions offering both support and opposition to the expansion of vouchers have been voiced over the past several months (see Terry’s recent op-ed here); however, one criticism in particular warrants a response. An October 12 Columbus Dispatch editorial, “Many Questions,” stated that “advocates should be able to show that students who go to private schools using vouchers do better than their peers who remain at the public schools they left. So far no one has collected such data.” While better data
Daniela Fairchild / November 2, 2011
While adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have spurred a hailstorm of activity across educator and policy circles alike, the general public remains clueless even as to what the standards are—never mind how they are being implemented or what the long-term implications of their adoption might be. Through this national poll (given to 800 registered voters), the folks at Achieve find that a whopping 60 percent of Americans have never heard of the Common Core standards—and another 21 percent have heard “not much.” Further, among voters who have heard peep about the Common Core, impressions are mixed: Thirty-seven percent view them favorably while 34 percent hold an unfavorable opinion (the rest are undecided). Despite this mixed reaction to the CCSS specifically, Americans overwhelmingly approve of the idea of common academic standards for all states: sixty-six percent support vs. 31 percent opposed. (Even a majority of Republicans like the notion of common standards.) But with so few people in the know, it’s clear that Common Core remains fragile politically. The good news, however, is that public-school teachers (most of whom have heard “a lot” about the Common Core) like the idea of common standards: Sixty-five percent of them are in support. That’s a promising indication that these standards might actually have some staying power in the classroom—if the public doesn’t come to dislike them first.
“Strong Support, Low Awareness: Public
Perception of the Common Core State Standards”
November 2, 2011
Strong teachers and leaders are undoubtedly critical to the success of any school system; research has repeatedly suggested that school leadership is second only behind classroom instruction in its impact on student learning. The autonomous nature of charter schools makes the need for strong school leadership even more crucial. Charter school advocates who are trying to increase the number of quality charter schools and replicate high-performing schools must consider not only how they are going to retain talented individuals, but also how to support a talent pipeline.
A recent report by Public Impact, with the help of Foundation Strategy Group (a social impact consulting firm), identifies six indicators that have the biggest impact on recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers and leaders. The report draws from two cities, New Orleans and Indianapolis, to demonstrate how these indicators are being used successfully in practice:
- A facilitator that focuses specifically on the talent pipeline: A strong facilitator that is a locally-based entity can help to identify gaps in the talent supply for charters and determine ways to fill those gaps. Examples of facilitators include New Schools for New Orleans and the Mind Trust in Indianapolis.
- Local and national talent providers: Organizations such as Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, and New Leaders for New Schools provide help in recruiting highly effective teachers and leaders, and also provide them with ongoing development and support.
- Political support: Having political
supporters who will advocate on behalf of human resource policies and equal
funding for charter schools is a crucial piece in order to create a
November 2, 2011
- Over the last decade poverty levels in American suburbs have increased by more than 50 percent. As two-thirds of this dramatic increase came recently during 2007-2010, suburban communities have had to re-evaluate their community identities including how they fund local schools particularly in areas surrounding Cleveland.
- Recent data on 8th grade achievement in math and reading compares the United States and the states individually to other countries around the world who also participate in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Results show that the United States as a whole lags behind in reading achievement (17th) but much more so in math achievement (32nd). Meanwhile, Ohio is doing better compared to other states, ranking above the U.S. average for both reading and math. However, 25 other nations and 16 states are ranked ahead of Ohio in math while 10 countries and 10 states rank ahead of Ohio in reading.
- While challenging traditional models and expanding student options, public charter schools are changing the national landscape of education. However, charter schools are constantly facing funding and political challenges. In this report, the Center for American Progress identifies methods and solutions as to how the federal government can best support public charter schools.
- In Washington D.C. the new IMPACT program
for measuring teacher effectiveness is making great strides in properly
rewarding effective teachers while also working to improve struggling teachers. In the last year, 58 percent of teachers that
were considered “minimally effective” improved displaying the program’s ability
to provide valuable feedback to motivate teacher improvement. IMPACT uses multiple measures to