Ohio Education Gadfly
VOLUME 7, NUMBER 2
January 23, 2013
FROM THE FRONTLINES
Nurturing a school where it's cool to be smart: Q&A with DECA's Judy Hennessey
Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) thrives and its school leader plays a major role
By Ellen Belcher
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Charters didn't seek exemption from new restraint rule
Fordham’s Terry Ryan talks on the record about charters and seclusion rooms
By Mark W. Sherman
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Do Ohio’s teacher preparation programs attract the best and brightest?
At long last, the Board of Regents unveils data on teacher preparation programs. The news isn’t great for ed schools
NEWS & ANALYSIS
Toss the bad apples, but not the barrel
For low-performing charters, yes, we need tough charter closure laws. But let’s not overlook great charters either
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
What makes Needles schools special? A recap of Fordham's Needles event in Dayton
Leaders from two Dayton high schools divulge the special sauce
A Wealth of Words
Why English language arts matters, according to E.D. Hirsch
Along for the Ride: Best Friends' Resources and Adolescents' College Completion
Does it matter whether your best friend's parents are wealthy and educated?
SAVE THE DATE
Student mobility: A community discussion in Cleveland
Join us on February 6 in Cleveland for this exciting event
Riding off into the sunset: Retirements at a high in one Ohio district
Recent news from around Ohio
Ellen Belcher / January 23, 2013
There is no harder job than running a successful school building for high-poverty students; nor a more important job. Yet, there are school leaders across the state and the nation who do it day-in and day-out, and too few get recognized for their great work. We are fortunate that some of these leaders work in the charter schools that Fordham sponsors and it is our privilege to tell a little bit of their stories and the impact they are having on students in Ohio. This Q&A with Judy Hennessey, the superintendent of Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) and DECA Prep, is the third of our seven-part series on school leadership. (Please see our previous Q&As with Dr. Glenda Brown and Andy Boy.) Hennessey leads two high-performing charter schools in Dayton, one a high school, the other an elementary school. Together, these schools serve over 600 inner-city students from Dayton. We featured DECA in our high school edition of Needles in a Haystack, released earlier this month.
There isn’t much Judy Hennessey hasn’t done at Dayton Early College Academy or the newly created DECA Prep elementary school. She is the superintendent and CEO of the two schools, but, in addition, Hennessey currently is the acting principal at DECA Prep. There was no one to step in when the school’s first principal resigned for medical reasons.
On a recent weekend, Hennessey, 60, and husband Mark were at
Mark W. Sherman / January 23, 2013
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Special Ed Connection.
Charter school operators treasure their autonomy from the regular public school system. Thus, one might suppose that charter school officials in Ohio were glad that the state board of education's new policy on restraint and seclusion does not apply to them.
The policy was adopted January 15 by a vote of 12-4. An accompanying rule is now being reviewed by a legislative committee.
In fact, charter schools didn't ask to be exempted and were surprised the board left them out, according to Stephanie Klupinski, vice president for legislative and legal affairs at the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
"It's not entirely clear to me why charters were not included in the policy," she said. "It could be just an oversight."
Charter schools weren't looking for an out, agreed Terry Ryan, vice president for Ohio programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
The institute is a supporter of the charter schools movement and a sponsor, i.e., authorizer, of several Ohio charters.
Adopting limits on the use of restraint and seclusion by districts "was the proper and appropriate move for the state board to make," Ryan said, and "as a matter of principle, it should extend to the charter schools."
Any such extension should take into account the particular needs of the charter school community, Ryan said.
For example, it is not clear how such a policy would work at a charter school that serves children at a juvenile justice facility,
Aaron Churchill / January 23, 2013
Ohio’s teacher preparation programs, especially those run by public universities, select mediocre students. So say the data from the Ohio Board of Regents recent release of data on the performance of Ohio’s teacher preparation programs. This is the first publication of data on teacher preparation programs (or “ed schools”) that is required under House Bill 1 (2009).
Among the data released are admissions data, value-added scores of teachers who graduated, and teacher licensure exam scores. These data vastly improve the information we have about the quality of teacher preparation programs—and the students who attend them.
One indicator of the quality of the preparation program is the average ACT scores of admitted students. A higher average ACT score indicates greater selectivity and, most likely, higher program quality. The chart below ranks the average ACT scores of students who were admitted in fall 2012. I exclude three universities because they have less than ten students in their teacher preparation program. In addition, 16 universities didn’t report an average ACT score and one ACT score appears to be an error. These teacher preparation programs vary in size, enrolling anywhere between 13 and 1,687 students.
Source: Ohio Board of Regents. Note: Public institutions are colored in red; private institutions are colored in blue. The range of ACT scores is 1 (low) and 36 (high). The statewide average ACT composite score for
Emmy L. Partin / January 23, 2013
Earlier this month, Policy Matters Ohio released a short report examining how some charter schools evade Ohio’s academic accountability sanctions. Ohio has an academic “death penalty” for charter schools – if a school performs too poorly for too long, the state mandates its closure. The law is heralded as the toughest of its kind in the nation.
Since the law took effect in 2008, twenty charter schools have been subject to automatic closure. Yet, as Avoiding Accountability: How charter operators evade Ohio’s automatic closure law reveals, eight of these schools closed only on paper and soon after merged with other schools or reopened under new names, retaining the same physical address, much of the same staff, and the same operator. Two of the schools were closed for one year before reopening; six closed in May or June, at the end of a school year, and reopened in time for the start of the following school year. The report details the cases of each school’s “closure” and rebirth and provides information about their sponsors, operators, and academic performance.
Charter schools avoiding accountability is absolutely not okay, and Policy Matters is right to shed light on the issue. Many of the report’s recommendations are on the mark, and mirror recommendations Fordham (both as a policy advocate and authorizer of charter schools) has made over the years:
- The state should tighten closure laws so that sponsors, school boards, and operators cannot enter into new
Aaron Churchill / January 23, 2013
Is there a special sauce that makes an urban high school great? This question and more were discussed at a community conversation on urban education at Dayton’s Stivers School for the Arts last week.
Some 150 or so Daytonians turned out to listen to the school leaders of Stivers and Dayton Early College Academy, who shared their thoughts on what makes their schools great. Both Stivers and Dayton Early College Academy were featured in Fordham’s Needles in a Haystack. Needles schools are high-minority, high-poverty urban public schools that produce uncommon results for their students. The Seedling Foundation helped to organize the event.
Needles panel discussion (from left to right): Dayton Public Schools superintendent Lori Ward, Erin Dooley and Liz Whipps of Stivers School for the Arts, Fordham's Checker Finn and Needles author Peter Meyer, Dave Taylor and Judy Hennessey of Dayton Early College Academy.
According to these school leaders, the recipe for a great urban school goes something like this:
3 cups of sense of purpose; 2 cups of enthusiasm; 1 cup of committed, talented teachers; 1 cup of high expectations; ½ cup of making learning “cool”; a dash of community support and a dash of parental engagement; and finally, a bowlful of “spit”—a “whatever it takes” attitude (in the words of Stivers principal Erin Dooley).
Yet this recipe isn’t identical for both schools. In fact, there are differences. Stivers, an arts magnet for the Dayton Public Schools, uses the
Jeff Murray / January 23, 2013
Why the shrinking middle class? According to E.D. Hirsch, the explanation is short and simple: Declining educational opportunity leads to fewer high-achieving students, which leads to greater income inequality, which leads to the decline of the middle class. Educational opportunity for only the privileged, therefore, polarizes a nation’s population and creates a society of haves and have-nots.
In his new article “A Wealth of Words”, Hirsch attempts to pinpoint where America’s education system has failed—and left in its wake, increasing income inequality. He identifies poor language arts instruction as the culprit. As evidence, Hirsch points to America’s history of declining and now stagnant SAT verbal scores. Starting in the mid-60’s, SAT verbal scores declined precipitously, reaching their nadir in the early 80’s and persisting at low levels until today. Citing a number of studies, Hirsch insists that changes in language arts teaching beginning in the mid 1940’s diluted students’ knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. These instructional changes, Hirsch suggests, correlate to falling SAT verbal scores.
To improve students’ verbal skills, Hirsch argues that we need to reform language instruction. As models of effective language instruction, he looks at, for example, the use of content-based instruction in second language instruction and how French preschools teach their youngsters language skills. Based on these examples, he offers three practical recommendations: Improve language instruction starting in preschool, classroom instruction that focuses on content knowledge, and a systematic approach to vocabulary growth across all grades and
Angel Gonzalez / January 23, 2013
Having the right friends is important for a child’s development. In this study, Hua-Yu Cherng, Jessica Calarco, and Grace Kao examined whether students gain academic benefits when they have high-achieving best friends. Specifically, they investigate the impact of a best friend’s parent’s wealth and educational attainment on the likelihood of completing college. The researchers found mixed results. They found a small correlation in parental wealth and college completion, but a more significant correlation between parent’s educational attainment and college completion. The researchers are able to show that the relationships students develop with their peers can produce positive effects, when their peers come from families with a college education. Unfortunately, the researchers also conclude that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds do not always benefit from this peer effect because they are often segregated by academic track or school. High-performing urban schools like Dayton’s Stivers School of the Arts, however, have been able to bring together like-minded students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. To do this, school leaders have been able to create a culture where peers collaborate and build close relationships through their work.
SOURCE: Cherng, Hua-Yu Sebastian, Jessica McCrory Calarco, and Grace Kao. "Along for the Ride: Best Friends' Resources and Adolescents' College Completion." American Eduactional Research Journal 50, no. 1 (2013): 76-106.
January 23, 2013
Last fall, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Columbus-based Community Research Partners (CRP), and nine other Ohio-based funders released a statewide study of student mobility in Ohio. This ground-breaking research is the first of its kind in the country and uses student-level data, provided by the Ohio Department of Education, to examine mobility patterns and implications across all of Ohio's public schools, both district and charter.
CRP tracked student mobility across and between every school in the state and also did deep dives into five metro areas, including Cleveland. The findings provide a revealing glimpse into the scale of "churn" in Ohio's schools; illustrate the impact of mobility on student achievement; show just how much school choice there is in the Buckeye State through open-enrollment, charter policies, and the like; and provide some important insights into the mobility of students into and out of drop-our recovery schools and e-schools.
Access the full mobility study findings online: www.edexcellence.net/publications/student-nomads-mobility-in-ohios-schools.html.
You’re invited: The Fordham Institute, Nord Family Foundation, and Community Research Partners are convening a free, public discussion in Cleveland about what this research means for northeast Ohio’s school districts, charter schools, and communities as they all work to better serve the educational needs of children.
Ohio Student Mobility Project: A Community Discussion
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Registration begins at 9:30 AM · Event is 10-11:30 am
Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre · Idea Center at Playhouse Square
1375 Euclid Avenue · Cleveland
Angel Gonzalez / January 23, 2013
- With classrooms nationwide emphasizing nonfiction work thanks to the Common Core, teachers and book lovers are asking what will happen to the instruction of novels and other pieces of literary work.
- The State Board of Education voted 12-4 to pass policy that would only allow teachers and administrators to place students in seclusion roomsif they were posing a physical danger to themselves or others. Along with this, parents will have to be contacted within 24 hours about the incident in the form of a written report.
- Changes to the cost-of-living rules for the State Teachers Retirement System will force many teachers who are at the age of retirement to make a decision before the end of the year. In only the month of January, Groveport Madison schools have had 17 out of the 27 eligible teachers announce retirement, surpassing the 16 that declared all of last year.
- Amidst the continuing controversy over data rigging, school districts in Ohio are approving whistle-blower policies that would allow workers to report illegal activity. State Auditor David Yost and school board leaders, however, believe that many of these policies are not sustainable because they do not protect anonymity and require the worker to report wrongdoing to their employer.