Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 5, Number 6
March 28, 2012
Doing “more with less” demands partners, K-12 sector is finding them
Fewer state tax dollars for Ohio’s local governments and schools have public administrators talking, in the light of day no less, about mergers and shared services.
Praise, caution for Harrison pay-for-performance plan
The Harrison (CO) School District’s compensation plan, profiled in a recent Fordham report, represents another of yet a few compensation plans that totally redesign the actual teacher salary schedule.
Strange political bedfellows coming together around Cleveland’s school-reform efforts
The bold Jackson Plan is bringing together strange political bedfellows.
Governor Kasich’s mid-biennium education proposals focus on performance, transparency
In a nutshell, it is fair to say that all of the governor’s major education proposals are aimed at making sure everyone – educators, parents, and the public – has a clearer and more accurate understanding of how well Ohio’s schools are doing in preparing students for college and the workforce.
News and Analysis
Ohio’s “dropout factories”
In 2009, 135 Ohio high schools were identified as “dropout factories” – schools that fail to graduate more than 60 percent of their students on time.
From the front lines
Two education gems in the Gem City
Two outstanding high schools will be featured in a report looking at high-performing, high-poverty high schools: Dayton Early College Academy (a charter school) and Stivers Schools for the Arts (a district-operated magnet school).
Primary Sources: 2012 America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession
Ever wonder what teachers think about issues such as student and teacher performance and how teachers should be evaluated, rewarded, and supported?
U.S. Education Reform and National Security
The claim that our nation’s schools too often fail to educate enough students to high levels of achievement is a bit of a broken record.
March 28, 2012
Fewer state tax dollars for Ohio’s local governments and schools have public administrators talking, in the light of day no less, about mergers and shared services – topics long taboo in the Buckeye State’s public sector. Most public officials fear the former and suspect that the latter is just a catchy phrase that stands for comingling their funds for the benefit of others.
Elected officials can be forgiven for their reluctance to discuss mergers and service consolidations. They didn’t create this maze of public service delivery; and until stagnant population growth, aging Babyboomers, and weakening soft economy caught up with Ohio, the status quo seemed sustainable. Citizens also have misgivings about consolidation and sharing. They view merging their local governments as a potential loss of identity and fear their sense of community will be sacrificed in the process. In Ohio, all politics really are local, and local control has been a sacred cow.
The reality is that public institutions have long succeeded in gaining taxpayers’ approval to dig deeper in their wallets because citizens fear that doing otherwise will result in bad schools, crumbling infrastructure, community decay, and lower property values. Times have changed. The economy tanked in 2008 and is only slowly recovering, state government is cutting back on local funding, property values have fallen, and it is increasingly difficult to pass school levies and other local tax increases even in the high-wealth suburbs. Local officials – and citizens – are
March 28, 2012
The Harrison (CO) School District’s compensation plan, profiled in a recent Fordham report, represents another of yet a few compensation plans that totally redesign the actual teacher salary schedule. In this way, it joins Denver and Washington, D.C. in designing and implementing complete overhauls in how teachers are paid. These three districts are different from the dozens and dozens of other teacher compensation changes, most supported by the federal TIF program, which simply left the old schedule in place and added bonuses on top of them for teachers who worked in high poverty schools, in subjects where there are shortages (e.g., math and science) or for improving student achievement. Though such bonuses programs are needed and represent augmentations to how teachers are paid, the real breakthroughs will come when the overall salary schedule is redesigned, as Harrison has done.
The Harrison plan reflects the kind of new teacher salary schedule I have been recommending for nearly two decades – one that drops the current years of experience that trigger the bulk of salary increases and replaces them with metrics that reflect a teacher’s instructional expertise and impact on student learning (see my new book, Improving Student Learning When Budgets Are Tight, Corwin, 2012). Cincinnati was the first district to try such a new schedule, but the program collapsed as glitches in the new evaluation system emerged. It proposed to pay teachers largely on the basis of a performance-based evaluation score;
Terry Ryan / March 28, 2012
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is seeking to remake and refashion the city’s long-suffering schools through a series of bold reforms that include making significant changes to the district’s collective bargaining agreement, passing a school levy for the first time in more than 15 years, and sharing public dollars with high-performing charter schools. As bold as the Jackson Plan is, however, even more audacious is the political coalition that seems to be coalescing around it.
Controversial components of the mayor’s plan include basing pay, layoffs, and rehiring decisions on performance and specialization instead of traditional factors like seniority and credentials; replacing the current 304-page collective bargaining agreement, when it expires in 2013, and using a “fresh start” to renegotiate a new and far more streamlined contract; and providing high-performing charter schools with local levy dollars to support their day-to-day operations.
The Jackson Plan’s labor flexibility and levy support for high-performing charter schools are ideas that have long been anathema to statehouse Democrats and their union supporters. Not surprisingly, more than a few legislative Democrats and union officials have noted in recent weeks that some of the proposed changes in the mayor’s plan to the Cleveland teacher union collective bargaining agreement mirror those that were in the contentious and voter rejected Senate Bill 5. Democrats in both the House and Senate vehemently opposed Senate Bill 5 from its introduction to its demise (as did Mayor Jackson) in November. Further, organized labor, led by
Emmy L. Partin / March 28, 2012
The education provisions of Governor Kasich’s “mid-biennium review” (Senate Bill 316) had their first hearing in the Senate education committee yesterday. The proposals range from small, administrative fixes to sweeping policy changes. There had been much speculation that November's sound defeat of S.B. 5 by Ohio voters would cause Kasich and fellow Republicans to shy away from tough or controversial measures; a quick review of SB 316 shows that isn't the case.
In a nutshell, it is fair to say that all of the governor’s major education proposals are aimed at making sure everyone – educators, parents, and the public – has a clearer and more accurate understanding of how well Ohio’s schools are doing in preparing students for college and the workforce. For example, SB 316 would shine more light on the performance of Ohio’s schools by:
- Putting in place a new A-F school-rating system that is easier for parents and the public to understand and which more accurately reflects schools’ and districts’ true performance. This change is part of an overall effort to prepare Ohioans for the more rigorous academic standards and assessments that are coming down the pike in the form of the Common Core academic standards.
- Requiring performance standards for drop-out recovery charter schools and career-technical schools that recognize the differences between these schools and “traditional” district and charter schools. Drop-out recovery schools have been exempted from Ohio’s charter school academic death
Emmy L. Partin / March 28, 2012
In 2009, 135 Ohio high schools were identified as “dropout factories” – schools that fail to graduate more than 60 percent of their students on time. Further, despite an increase in the state’s overall graduation rate, Ohio saw a greater increase in the number of dropout factories than any other state from 2002 to 2009 (jumping from 75 to 135). These troubling findings come from the annual Building a Grad Nation report, issued this week by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, America’s Promise Alliance, and the Alliance for Excellent Education.
New York and Tennessee lead the nation in their overall increase in graduate rates, which have jumped 13 and 18 percentage points respectively from 2002 to 2009. (Ohio’s rate increased 2.1 points in that time.) Nationally, the number of dropout factories has declined by 457 since 2002 (to 1,550 such schools today). Texas leads the nation in moving schools off the list, with 122 fewer dropout factories in 2009 than 2002. Another seven states moved more than twenty schools off the list.
But back to Ohio… what schools are the Buckeye State’s dropout factories? The report doesn’t list them, but using publicly available graduation rate data we can get an idea of what buildings they are and where they are located.
In 2009-10, 805 Ohio public high schools received a graduation rate calculation from the state. (Ohio, like many states, provided two graduation rates for that
March 28, 2012
Our May 2010 report Needles in a Haystack: Lessons from Ohio’s high-performing, high-need urban schools profiled successful elementary schools that serve challenging populations. Due to the overwhelming positive response, we have commissioned a follow-up report that looks at high-performing urban high schools. Peter Meyer – journalist, author, and senior policy fellow at Fordham – has been traveling to the selected schools to chronicle what makes them work. (He wrote a bit about his experiences at these schools in January.)
We’ve been working to improve the education landscape in our hometown of Dayton for nearly twelve years. The work is never easy and often frustrating. We were disappointed two years ago not to be able to feature a Dayton elementary school in our report. Thus we are pleased to be featuring two outstanding high schools there in this edition: Dayton Early College Academy (a charter school) and Stivers Schools for the Arts (a district-operated magnet school).
The charts below compare DECA’s and Stivers’ tenth-grade students’ performance on the math section of last year’s Ohio Graduation Test to their peers in the Dayton Public School district. The OGT certainly isn’t known for its rigor and we don’t want to overstate a school’s excellence based on its performance on that test. But these results do make clear that DECA and Stivers are delivering their students to far higher levels of achievement than the district as a whole. We’re pleased by their successes and
March 28, 2012
Ever wonder what teachers think about issues such as student and teacher performance and how teachers should be evaluated, rewarded, and supported? A recent report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Primary Sources: 2012 America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, attempts to answer those questions and more. Over 10,000 teachers responded to online survey aimed at identifying the supports and tools that directly impact student achievement, the way teacher’s benchmark their success, and the tools necessary to retain good teachers.
The results can be summed up into four beliefs:
- Raising student achievement requires the work of many. Teachers know that they are the single most important factor in raising student achievement, 99 percent of teachers responded saying that “effective and engaged” teachers are absolutely essential. Teachers also identified the importance of setting the bar high and creating high expectations for all students as an essential component to moving the achievement needle- 71 percent of teachers said that “high expectations for all students” make a very strong impact. Family involvement and effective school leaders also ranked significantly high as having an impact on student achievement.
- Teaching and learning are too complex to be measured by one test. Teachers understand and value the importance of measuring student achievement but clearly stated that standardized test are not the best tool to do so- only 26 percent of teachers believe that standardized tests are an accurate reflection of student achievement. Teachers also recognize
March 28, 2012
The claim that our nation’s schools too often fail to educate enough students to high levels of achievement is a bit of a broken record. The “U.S. Education Reform and National Security” report by the Council on Foreign Relations puts a new spin on that tune. The report details why a poor public education system is a threat to U.S. national security and the actual and potential impact our schools have on our nation’s future.
The report finds five major threats an inadequate K-12 education system poses to national security:
- Threats to economic growth and competitiveness – Today, only about 75 percent of Americans graduate from high school. With only semi-skilled citizens, the fully developed workforce is not consistently renewing and expanding itself, leaving the U.S. quality talent pool stagnant or declining while other countries’ work forces are progressing.
- Threats to U.S. physical safety- About 75 percent of young Americans are not qualified to join the military because they dropped out of high school, are obese or have other physical constraints, or have criminal records. Of those eligible to apply to the military, 30 percent fail the Armed Services Aptitude Battery, a test that anticipates a person’s service success based on verbal, math, science, and technical skill.
- Threats to intellectual property- Sensitive U.S. documents are constantly under attack from foreign hackers. There are not enough technologically qualified candidates to help protect the data systems from these hackers.
- Threats to U.S. global awareness- The Government
March 28, 2012
- Birthdays, dinosaurs, and other potentially frightening or exclusive topics are now banned from NYC tests.
- AT&T Aspire, specifically launched to confront high school dropout rates, is going beyond charitable giving and using a “social innovation” approach. This practice uses technology to develop atypical approaches to help prepare students at-risk of dropping out of high school for the workplace or college. AT&T Aspire is encouraging Ohio organizations demonstrated to improve graduation rates to apply for funding.
- The report “What Kids are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools” by Renaissance Learning states that the average reading level of the books read by 9-12 graders is a little above 5th grade. There is featured commentary from teachers, librarians, authors, and university professors with their opinion on what students today should be reading and the banned book list.
- Black Eyed Peas front man Will.i.am coauthored an article about STEM schools. His goal is to celebrate and draw attention to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in order to expose these subjects to young kids. He has started his own program, i.am.FIRST, and, in collaboration with other philanthropies, launched the children’s contest Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…
- Dayton Public Schools are the first of six major urban districts to complete its Ohio School Facilities Commission master facilities plan. The OSFC approved $488 million for Dayton school building improvement in 2002.