Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 6, Number 3
February 29, 2012
NPR’s “math guy” on video gaming as the future of math education
Is video gaming the future of math education?
By Mike Lafferty
Purists vs. hawks in the charter debate
Ohio’s charter school community has been split into two camps since the inception of the state’s first charter law in 1997.
More lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer for Ohio students?
A bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly would make it possible for students to spend far less time in school than they do now.
State rejects White Hat applications
The rejection of the White Hat applications will come as a surprise to many observers because ODE has rarely challenged large, not to mention politically well-connected, operators.
Ohio seeks waivers from federal education law
Ohio is one of 26 states, along with the District of Columbia that applied for a second-round waiver. If approved (and most observers believe it will be), what will the waiver mean for the Buckeye State?
Measuring up to the model: A ranking of state charter school laws
Regardless of rankings, Ohio policymakers should continue to seek improvements to Ohio’s charter school program.
2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook
Ohio ranked seventh in the nation with an overall grade of C+, beating the national grade of D+ by a whole letter grade.
Embracing the Common Core: Helping Students Thrive
Watch a replay of the entire event!
In Case You Missed It
State of State Science Standards 2012
Ohio came in 13th in the nation with an overall grade of B. While that is better than the majority of other states, it’s nothing to brag about.
Arne Duncan RESPECT-ing plastic surgery?
Announcement- Big changes are coming are you ready?
Mike Lafferty / February 29, 2012
The only issue more worrisome than the agonizingly slow improvement in the math achievement of American students is what to do about it. Abandoned solutions to this decades-old challenge litter the educational roadmap like so many wrecks. Remember “New Math” in the 1960s?
The experts aren’t necessarily running short of ideas, but, like many experiments for improving education, new schemes often work best in small, intensive classroom situations then fall apart when they leave the hothouse for larger-scale application.
The latest idea gaining traction is using computer video games to teach mathematics. Educational technology companies are pushing specially developed games. But popular and big-name gaming staples like “World of Warcraft” may be effective research templates for teaching math concepts to elementary and secondary students. For the ignorant, like me, this hugely popular computer video game is played online and involves many players at once, with each player controlling a character that explores the landscape, fights monsters, completes quests, and interacts with other players. Some teachers have been experimenting with the game in math classes for the last four or five years and there are websites designed to help teachers adapt the game (see here).
Stanford University mathematician Keith Devlin is a “World of Warcraft” believer. America now has the know-how to develop computer games and puzzles to teach math, as well as other subjects, he believes. In less than a generation, American students could once-again shine. Devlin is a prolific author and is Stanford’s Carl Sagan Prize winner and executive director of the university’s Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute (see here). The institute
Terry Ryan / February 29, 2012
Ohio’s charter school community has been split into two camps since the inception of the state’s first charter law in 1997. The first camp – I’ll call free-market purists – believes that charter schools should be afforded the same rights as private schools and as such be given maximum freedom of operations. The free-market purists argue that when it comes to charter schools the role of the state is little more than to distribute public dollars for a child’s education. As long as parents decide to send children to a school, no more “accountability” is necessary for performance.
In short, if there is market demand for a school – and the school is in compliance with basic regulations like fire and health and safety codes – then no more evidence is needed to keep the state dollars flowing. Free-market purists believe that school choice is an end in itself. If public policy creates a marketplace of school options then issues of school quality will work themselves out as parents will naturally seek quality and abandon failure. Free-market purists believe school operators know best what families and children need and that the state should have no say in matters of school “quality” and academic performance.
The second camp of school-choice supporters – I’ll call accountability hawks – believes that market demand for schools is important (no child should be trapped in a failing, monopolistic school system), but of equal importance is holding schools that receive taxpayer dollars accountable for their academic and fiscal performance. Accountability hawks – of which I am one –
Emmy L. Partin / February 29, 2012
In the ed reform world, we’re accustomed to hearing, and making, calls for students to spend more time in school -- especially those students who are lagging behind their peers academically. But a bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly would make it possible for students to spend far less time in school than they do now.
House Bill 191, co-sponsored by Rep. Patmon (a Cleveland Democrat) and Rep. Hayes (a Republican representing rural east-central Ohio), would change the definition of a school year from 182 days (of roughly 5.5 hours in length) to 960 hours for K-6 (excluding half-day kindergartners) and 1,050 for 7-12, define a school week as five days in length, and eliminate calamity days.
The bill would also make true for Buckeye teachers the old joke that “there are three good reasons to become a teacher: June, July, and August” by prohibiting schools from operating between Memorial Day and Labor Day and banning extracurricular activities over Labor Day weekend. Such proposals are offered in the legislature here every year or two, pushed by the state’s two large amusement parks and other summer tourist destinations that want cheap, teenage labor available for the full summer, not to mention more summer days when families can visit. (Rep. Hayes readily admits he sponsored the bill in order to boost the state’s tourism industry.)
Kathryn Mullen Upton, Esq. / February 29, 2012
White Hat Management has been the Goliath of Ohio’s charter school operators since its first schools opened in 1999. The company currently operates 33 schools in the Buckeye State. White Hat’s CEO David Brennan was a pioneer in Ohio’s school-choice movement and his efforts in this realm have long faced criticism– some deserved and some not. In recent years White Hat’s schools have faced a series of legal and academic problems. Among them, the fact that none of White Hat’s schools are rated above a C on the state report card, increased competition resulting in lower enrollment, legal action brought against the company by the governing boards of some of the schools it operates, and a related fight over the disclosure of certain financial records.
These issues have made White Hat a fixture in the press, most recently with a report that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) rejected four of six White Hat applications to the department to authorize new schools that were slated to open in the fall of 2012. (ODE is allowed to sponsor up to five new charter schools a year as part of a compromise in the biennial budget that made the department a charter authorizer almost a decade after being forced from that role by an earlier General Assembly.)
The rejection of the White Hat applications will come as a surprise to many observers because ODE has rarely challenged large, not to mention politically well-connected, operators. It appears, however, that the department has committed itself to quality and performance. Its rejection of the
February 29, 2012
Since the birth of the No Child Left Behind Act more than a decade ago, state and local education officials have not kept quiet their disdain for the federal law. So when President Obama announced in September that his administration would offer states freedom from components of the law it is no surprise that states around the country jumped on the chance. Ten states (Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oklahoma) have already been granted waivers from the Obama Administration with the understanding that they must demonstrate how they will prepare children for college and careers by setting new academic targets to improve achievement among all students, reward high-performing schools, and help those that are falling behind.
Ohio is one of 26 states, along with the District of Columbia that applied for a second-round waiver. If approved (and most observers believe it will be), what will the waiver mean for the Buckeye State? What changes will it bring about in the coming months and years? The chart below breaks down some of the biggest changes and outlines what Ohio schools can expect to see under the plan. (Please see chart below)
State Superintendent Stan Heffner hopes that the proposed changes will result in more students being prepared for either college or the workforce when they leave high school and help end the academic disparity among students. According to the most recent achievement data from the Ohio Department of Education the graduation gap between white and black students is 24 percentage points, a gap of 26 percentage points exists
Kathryn Mullen Upton, Esq. / February 29, 2012
Need a handy nutshell summary of state charter school laws and how they stack up against the Model Charter School Law developed by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS)? Then check out the third edition of NAPCS’s Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws.
The report highlights the gains and losses of each state’s ranking against the Model Law, and contains capsule summaries of existing state provisions and how they measure up (or not). While Ohio made some positive changes to certain charter school provisions in the most recent budget bill (e.g., improvements to authorizer accountability, lifting outdated moratoriums, expanding the areas in which new start-up schools may open), other states made more substantial changes and, as a result, Ohio ranks 28th out of the 42 states with charter laws.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, approximately 106,534 Ohio students attend charter schools as of February 2012. Regardless of rankings, Ohio policymakers should continue to seek improvements to Ohio’s charter school program. Removing the two school limit on board membership for trustees of high performing schools, scrutinizing transportation funding to ensure that charter schools that choose to transport their own students are funded fairly, examining potential conflicts of interest between sponsors (aka authorizers) and updating existing Ohio law to align with federal language regarding single gender charter schools would be a solid start.
In addition to the written report, NAPCS also provides an interactive, state-by-state map, available here.
February 29, 2012
There has been much discussion recently about teacher effectiveness: can it be measured, how much of it should depend on student outcome, and what are the consequences of these evaluations. The Obama administration placed its seal of approval on teacher evaluations by releasing yet another round of Race to the Top, this one aimed at improving teacher effectiveness. Leading up to the U.S. Department of Education’s release of RESPECT, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released the 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook.
The 2011 release makes the fifth edition of the State Teacher Policy Yearbook, in which NCTQ takes a look at the laws and policies concerning teacher quality in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state receives a grade for five specific goal areas, and an overall grade that summarizes how the state matched up against the five goals. The goal areas are:
- Delivering well prepared teachers
- Expanding the teaching pool
- Identifying effective teachers
- Retaining effective teachers
- Exiting Ineffective teachers
Ohio ranked seventh in the nation with an overall grade of C+, beating the national grade of D+ by a whole letter grade. The Buckeye State’s best score, a B-, was in “Expanding the teaching pool”. In this goal area, our policy strengths are alternative licensure routes that require evidence of content knowledge, flexibility for nontraditional students, and licensure for content experts to teach part-time. Ohio ran into trouble with “Delivering well prepared teachers,” receiving a meager D+ grade. Our policy weaknesses are in that category are generic K-12 special education licensure, no requirement of proof of effectiveness for those
February 29, 2012
Did you miss February 15’s “Embracing the Common Core: Helping Students Thrive,” an important conversation about Ohio’s adoption and implementation of the Common Core academic content standards? No need to worry because you can watch a replay of the event in its entirety and access all the event materials simply by clicking here.
February 29, 2012
Last month, Fordham released the State of State Science Standards 2012. The first State of State Science Standards report was released in 1998; it was revisited in 2005 (and again this year). While the national average remained the same in 2012 as it did in 2005 (a dismal C), some states changed grades drastically. Kansas moved from an F to a B, and Colorado, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia dropped from Bs to Ds.
The study’s methodology worked like this: experts in different scientific fields evaluated all 50 states’ and the District of Columbia’s science standards. The grading falls into two parts. The first score is on a scale from 0-7 that analyzes the “content and rigor” of each state’s science standards; the second score is on a scale from 0-3 that analyzes the “clarity and specificity” of each state’s standards. These two grades are combined to give the state an overall number grade (up to 10) and then converted into a letter grade (A through F). California and D.C. tied for first place, both with 10 out of 10 points and an A. In last place is Wisconsin with 0 out of 10 and an F.
Ohio came in 13th in the nation with an overall grade of B. While that is better than the majority of other states, it’s nothing to brag about. As report co-author Lawrence Lerner said, “When it comes to academic standards… even a ‘B’ ought not be deemed satisfactory. In a properly organized education system, standards drive everything else. If they
February 29, 2012
- The U.S. Department of Education announces another round of Race to the Top, this one aimed at RESPECT-ing teachers.
- Teach for America is finally making the move to Ohio. Cincinnati Public Schools are allowing TFA candidates to interview for one position: an elementary school Spanish teacher. Right now, it’s just one position, but it allows TFA candidates to interview for other openings in the greater southwest Ohio area.
- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has taken his speaking engagements all the way to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Arne also proved he is well-versed in two types of schooling: Ed Reform and basketball.
- To make up for low salaries, the Buffalo Teachers Federation has an insurance plan that covers cosmetic surgery.
February 29, 2012
The Ohio Department of Education, along with the State Board of Education, The Ohio Educational Service Association, and the Ohio School Boards Association will host thirteen two-hour meetings across the state to outline the changes coming and what schools can be doing now to prepare. Attend one of these meetings to learn firsthand about these important changes that will impact all public schools. See a complete list of available meetings here.
Also, don’t miss the official Ohio Department of Education Ohio Teachers' Facebook Room page. The page is intended for all teachers in Ohio PreK-12 public schools, as well as those interested in Ohio education as a way to share news and information that impact the success of every student.