Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 6, Number 16
August 29, 2012
How to guarantee the reading guarantee
The policy can benefit kids, but only if the schools and state do things differently
By Emmy L. Partin
In Case You Missed It
Dayton Daily News Q&A: Fordham working to improve our schools
Terry Ryan talks about Fordham's work in the Gem City and education issues facing Dayton and the state
From the Front Lines
Cincinnati is a leader in Common Core implementation
Cincinnati Public Schools is well into the nitty gritty of implementing the new Common Core academic standards in English language arts and mathematics
News & Analysis
On the horizon: harder tests
Common Core’s aligned assessments will be more difficult for Ohio students
A serious mess: Ohio's school-data scandal has profound ripple effects
The state board's decision to delay report cards has widespread ramifications for Ohio
Public Education in the United States: A Nation Divided
This Phi Delta Kappan (PDK)/Gallup survey provides some tantalizing and provocative results regard public education
Ohio: The Condition of College & Career Readiness, 2012
Buckeye State high-school students slightly outperformed their national peers in all tested subjects
Compulsory School Attendance: What Research Says and What It Means for State Policy
Can stricter compulsory school attendance (CSA) laws improve high school graduation rates?
Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School
The Civil Rights Project at UCLA looks at the rates of suspension for K-12 public school students on the national, state, and district level
The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City
Report examines the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment rates of students who were entering grades one through five
New hires, new tools, new results…?
Emmy L. Partin / August 29, 2012
Students entering third grade a year from now (this year’s second graders) will be allowed to advance to fourth grade only if they achieve a minimum score on the state’s third-grade reading assessment. The third-grade reading guarantee applies to all public schools — including charter schools — and seeks to ensure that all students are prepared for the academic challenges of fourth grade and beyond.
Reading is the foundation for all learning, and research shows that not learning to read well in the early grades affects students in later years. The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that students who aren’t proficient in reading by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than students who can read at grade level.
Other states have enacted third-reading guarantees, Florida being the most notable example. The Sunshine State has had a guarantee in place for a decade, and the research on its impact is positive. In a study released earlier this year, Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute found that the benefits of Florida’s remediation were still apparent and substantial through seventh grade (which was as far as the data could be tracked).
A new Brookings Institution paper by Martin West of Harvard confirms these findings and shows that retaining students in the third grade who aren’t proficient in reading has long-term benefits for students, and little in terms of downsides for student achievement.
Ohio’s new law has ample critics, from
Terry Ryan / August 29, 2012
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has a long history in Dayton – our roots in the city date back to the founding of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in 1959. The August 16 Dayton Daily News includes an interview with our Ohio Vice President Terry Ryan about Fordham’s work in the Gem City and the pressing education issues facing Dayton and the state. Read the interview here.
Jeff Murray / August 29, 2012
Cincinnati is a Buckeye State leader when it comes to implementing the Common Core. This became clear yesterday during a conversation with national, state and local leaders in education, philanthropy and business. Cincinnati Public Schools is well into the nitty gritty of implementing the new Common Core academic standards in English Language Arts and mathematics. Teachers across the district are already receiving substantial support from the district, from the local teachers’ union and from the General Electric Foundation and other supporters on how to change their classroom practices to meet the higher and more rigorous academic standards that will be implemented across the state during the 2014-15 school year.
Nearly one hundred education stakeholders from across the Queen City heard from leaders in the Common Core effort. Mike Cohen, president of Achieve (one of the national organizations leading the multi-state standards initiative), shared information on the how states across the country are working to implement the Common Core. Bob Corcoran, President and Chairman of the GE Foundation, spoke of the global marketplace in which GE competes and of how students need to be prepared for the jobs and opportunities of the future. Corcoran shared his view that successful implementation of the Common Core is critical for the success of the country and its students. Former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education (and Fordham Board member) David Driscoll shared implementation lessons from the Massachusetts’ miracle, and pointed out that high standards and aligned assessments
Aaron Churchill / August 29, 2012
Harder tests are coming to the Buckeye State.
Starting in the 2014-15 school year, Ohio will replace its current K-12 academic standards in math and English language arts, along with the aligned standardized tests, with the Common Core academic standards and their aligned tests. In Ohio, these exams will be the PARCC exams.
The Common Core standards will differ significantly from Ohio’s current academic standards in content, emphases, and cognitive demand. These standards promise greater rigor in what students are expected to learn and how their learning is applied; therefore, we can also expect that the Common Core’s aligned assessments—again, the PARCC exams—will be more difficult.
How much harder should we expect the PARCC exams to be? Take a look for yourself.
Figure 1 shows two sample questions from Ohio’s current seventh-grade math exam. (The Ohio Department of Education provides practice tests, which are accessible via the source link below the figure.) The questions are relatively simple: the first question tests whether a student understands ratios; the second question tests whether a student understands a basic algebraic equation. Although I wouldn’t suggest that the questions are necessarily “easy” (it took me a few minutes to calculate the answers), they are straightforward—and are basically one-dimensional (testing one concept at a time).
Figure 1: Sample test questions from practice exam, Ohio’s seventh grade math test. Source: Ohio Department of Education
Figure 2 shows two prototype problems for the seventh-grade math PARCC assessment. The first question
Emmy L. Partin / August 29, 2012
Last week, Ohio’s State Board of Education voted unanimously to delay the release of annual school performance report cards as state officials investigate allegations of data-tampering. It came to light this summer that some Ohio school districts (Auditor of State Dave Yost is working to determine just how many) retroactively un-enrolled and re-enrolled truant or low-performing students in order to break the students’ enrollment records with the district. Those students’ test scores and attendance records would then not count toward the district’s overall report card rating because the students hadn’t been continuously enrolled from October to spring testing. (To be clear, there is no evidence yet that data-tampering was taking place in all, or even most, of the state’s 600+ districts, and there is conflicting opinion about whether the data changes were actually on the up and up.)
The state board’s decision was the right one. They simply cannot make public extensive data about school performance unless they have faith in the accuracy of that information. However, the decision has widespread ramifications for Ohio’s districts, schools, and students. There are a number of policy provisions triggered by the annual report cards and the test data they are based on that will now be put on hold while the state awaits Auditor Yost’s findings.
Five major accountability policies are affected:
- Which schools are subject to mandatory turnaround: Public schools are ranked annually based on student achievement on state tests. Schools
Chester E. Finn, Jr. / August 29, 2012
Results from the umpty-fourth Phi Delta Kappan (PDK)/Gallup survey of Americans regarding public education released today, and they include some important revelations.
- Support for the Common Core academic standards is strong and opposition weak (50 percent believe the standards will improve the quality of education; 8 percent hold they will decrease it).
- The public divides right down the middle (a 52-48 split) over including students’ academic results in teacher evaluations.
- For the first time, support for charter schools declined a bit since the previous survey (70 percent in favor in 2011, 66 percent this year), and it’s more partisan than before, with Republicans in favor at the 80 percent level, Democrats at 54.
- At the same time, support for vouchers is rising, with 44 percent now positive even though the PDK/Gallup folks relentlessly phrase their voucher question in the most off-putting way possible: Do you “favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?”
- Almost two thirds say they’d be willing to pay higher taxes to improve urban public schools. And a plurality (for the first time) says that “lack of financial support” is the biggest problem facing public schools. Yet when it comes to Uncle Sam solving that problem, a whopping majority (60 percent) says that balancing the federal budget is more urgent than improving the education system.
- But not for illegal immigrants! Almost three in five Americans oppose providing them with public education.
- Compared with four years ago,
Aaron Churchill / August 29, 2012
If you have a high schooler at home, are a high school student yourself, or graduated from high school, you know these acronyms: SAT and ACT. These are, of course, the standardized tests juniors and seniors take in order to apply to college. In Ohio, over 92,000 college-seeking students took the ACT exam during the 2011-12 school year. Recently, ACT, Inc., the Iowa-based company that administers the exam, reported national and state-by-state results for the ACT test.
Ohio’s 2012 results, which can be found here, show that Buckeye State high-school students slightly outperformed their national peers in all tested subjects (English, reading, math, and science). The percent of Ohio students reaching the ACT benchmarks outpaced the national percentage by three (science) to six (reading) percentage points. Ohio’s ACT results, therefore, seem to correspond well to its NAEP results—another nationally administered exam—which also indicate that Ohio students do slightly better than the national average.
While Ohio’s above-average performance on ACT exams may trigger small celebrations, a closer examination of the data should cause concern. The more-rigorous Common Core academic standards in English language arts and math and its aligned assessment, the PARCC exam for Ohio, will arrive in the 2014-15 school year. If the PARCC exams mirror the ACT exams in content and difficulty—a strong possibility—Ohio may be in for a rude awakening when it reports how many of its students “pass” the PARCC exam.
For example, of Ohio’s ACT
August 29, 2012
Grover Whitehurst and Sarah Whitfield of the Brookings Institution present a cost-benefit style analysis on whether stricter compulsory school attendance (CSA) laws improve high school graduation rates. Compulsory attendance laws vary state-to-state, with respect to the mandatory age of attendance—some require students to attend to sixteen, some seventeen, and others eighteen. In Ohio, the mandatory age of attendance is eighteen years old. But in this year’s State of the Union, the president recently argued for national unity on the age of CSA, stating that “every state [should] require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.”
Is the president’s proposal good policy? When the authors analyzed the cost of CSA laws, they found that costs are low. Based on the authors’ analysis of 2009 research by Phillip Oreopoulos on the cost impact of compulsory attendance on disadvantaged youth, raising the CSA age to eighteen would not impose significant additional cost to the K-12 school system.
However, despite the low cost of CSA laws, benefits are low. Why? The authors find that, when comparing coded National Center for Education Statistics Averaged Freshman Graduation Rates from 1994-95 to 2008-09, states did not increase graduation rates after increasing the CSA age to eighteen. This means that there is no relationship between raising the CSA age and higher graduation rates.
Overall, the report suggests that even though a tougher CSA policy would not put a dent in
David Zheng / August 29, 2012
Misbehaving students can create disruptions in the classroom and undermine the integrity of a school. The common policy of punishing students who are misbehaving with out-of-school suspensions is ironic as these students are the ones who most need additional class time and adult supervision.
A recent report by the Center of Civil Rights Remedies at The Civil Rights Project at UCLA looks at the rates of suspension for K-12 public school students on the national, state, and district level. It compares rates by among races and students with disabilities. The U. S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights collected data from 6,835 school districts which included 85 percent of all U.S. students attending public school in the 2009-2010 school year.
Significant findings on the national level in the report include:
- In 2009-2010, 7 percent of all students were suspended at least one time
- Black students have about three times the risk of being suspended compared to white students
- Students with disabilities have twice the risk of suspension compared to their non-disabled peers
There is much variation in these percentages in the state and district level. For example, the range of the difference in the rate of suspension between black and white students on the state level is from 21 percent in Illinois to 0 percent in Montana. Because of the large variation of suspension rates, Losen and Gillespie suggest that “what drives the use of out-of school suspension is not a constant or predictable
David Zheng / August 29, 2012
Ohio is one of the few states that currently provide publicly funded private-school vouchers. Families may be eligible through one of four programs: the Autism Scholarship Program and the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program programs for students who require a special education program; the EdChoice Scholarship Program for K-12 students in underperforming school districts throughout the state; and Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program for students in that district.
For the 2012-13 school year, Governor Kasich increased the cap for the EdChoice vouchers to 60,000 for students who would likely attend underperforming K-12 public schools. Vouchers are worth up to$4,250 or $5,000 for elementary and high school students, respectively. There is only an income-eligibility consideration if there are more applicants than funding would allow.
A joint report by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution and the Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance examines the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment rates of students who were entering grades 1 through 5 as a measure of educational attainment. A two-stage lottery was implemented to assign vouchers to the children of half of 1,000 low-income family study participants in New York City. When the students were expected to graduate high school, college enrollment rates were obtained for the participants from the National Student Clearinghouse using student identifiers.
The authors of the study find no impact of vouchers for the overall group (about half the overall group was Hispanic and
August 29, 2012
This school year is shepherding in lots of changes in Buckeye state schools! Vacancies in Central Ohio have allowed districts to hire more entry-level teachers. More than two-thirds of new hires in the Hilliard, Westerville, and Worthington districts are first-year teachers; administrators in these districts are looking forward to professionals who are versed in “the latest trends in education with best practices and new technology.”
Southwest Ohio is sending out its first class of Teach For America corps members this year. They will serve schools in greater Cincinnati, Dayton, and northern Kentucky, where everyone in the classroom is sure to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the face of the new school season.
Classrooms are getting tech savvy in Maumee Valley Country Day School, where $156,000 will be spent to expand its one-to-one technology program and purchase 360 Apple iPads. Students will use the tablets to take notes, learn geography with Google Earth, make video homework projects, and much more.
Many school districts this year are replacing chalk boards and overhead projectors with laptops and interactive white boards in alignment with the upcoming Common Core State Standards. Students will be tested online starting in 2014-15, and districts are getting their technology up to par for what one Kettering administrator calls a “greener, paperless” future.