Ohio House charter school reforms do detriment to state's charter program
E. Finn, Jr.
The Thomas B. Fordham
Institute (and its sister organization, the Fordham Foundation) has worked in its
home state of Ohio since the late 1990s on a range of school-reform issues,
focusing much time and attention on the state’s charter school program. For the
past decade, we have worked with Buckeye State charter schools in a variety of
ways: as a donor, as a source of technical assistance, and most notably, as a
charter school authorizer. While we are unabashed supporters of charter schools
as options for students in need and catalysts for improving urban education, we
believe strongly in the need for accountability and quality-control mechanisms
for the charter sector (and all publicly funded schools). This position isn’t a
new one. We’ve been advocating for strong charter-school accountability since
the first charters opened their doors in Ohio in 1998 and we’ve issued multiple
policy reports recommending accountability improvements (and other needed
changes) to Ohio’s charter law (see here, here, here, and here) to name just a few). The
following editorial is a continuation of our advocacy toward improving charter
schools in the Buckeye State.
If the Ohio House's version of the biennial budget makes its
way into law, the state's mish-mash of a community-school (i.e. charter school)
program will become a full-fledged contender for America's worst. It's up to
the Senate and Gov. John Kasich to forestall that dire development - and
subject this worthy program to the thorough housecleaning and comprehensive
makeover it sorely needs.
Ohio's 300-plus charter schools now
serve more than 100,000 youngsters, most of them low-income refugees from the
state's worst district-operated schools, kids in urgent need of a top-notch
A handful of charters provide exactly
that. Far too many of the state's community schools, however, are as
educationally moribund as the district schools to which they're supposed to be
alternatives - and a sizable subset of these appalling schools are run by
for-profit operators more concerned with their bottom lines than with children.
In many places across the U.S.,
including a few in Ohio, profit-seeking firms operate first-rate schools. But
the freedom that makes it possible must be balanced by the public's legitimate
interest in whether the pupils in those schools are gaining all the skills and
knowledge they need.
It's called "accountability,"
and getting the freedom-accountability balance right is key to every successful
charter-school program. Some Ohioans find it hard to believe that more than a
dozen states have really strong charter programs. But they do. And several -
e.g. Florida and Indiana - have recently taken bold legislative steps to
rebalance laws that had gotten out of whack.
Ohio's law has been out of whack for
years, partly because of provisions inserted on behalf of special interests,
partly because both legislators and the executive branch have failed to grasp
which kinds of freedom and accountability benefit kids, and partly because too
many school operators and authorizers either haven't known what they're doing
or have placed other interests ahead of students.
The result is overregulation where
autonomy is needed, slackness where results-based accountability is essential,
restrictions on the growth of quality programs and skimpy funding of worthy
schools combined with a whopping waste of tax dollars on poor performers.
That's why almost no top-notch national
charter operator wants to come to Ohio. That's also why so many Buckeye
charters post dismal scores on state tests every year.
|| A thorough overhaul is needed, freeing schools from silly rules while holding everyone's feet to the fire for academic results.
A thorough overhaul is needed, freeing
schools from silly rules while holding everyone's feet to the fire for academic
results. But the budget passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday
would push the state's charter program from mediocre to awful. Its various
- Invite creation of more schools by
charter operators with abysmal track records.
- Encourage "authorizing" of
more schools by sponsors whose existing portfolios are riddled with failing
- Renew the monopoly enjoyed by current
"cyber schools" - several are fine but others are pathetic - so
quality outfits from other states cannot enter Ohio.
- Reinstate the Ohio Department of
Education as a direct school sponsor despite that agency's dismal performance a
How to make the state's charter program
great is no mystery.
Indeed, Kasich's own budget plan was a
solid start. Crucial elements include encouraging successful operators to clone
good schools; leaning hard on authorizers to fix or close bad schools and
banning the replication of failure; placing schools' ostensibly independent
governing boards in clear charge of any outside organizations that they engage
to run their education programs; creating professional and ethical norms for
all parties; insisting on transparency around academics, governance, and
finances; channeling fairer funding into successful schools; and introducing
best practices and expert advice into every step of the process.
That's what Ohio needs. But that's not
what the House has given it.
piece originally appeared in the Columbus
Terry Ryan's testimony to the Senate on HB 153
Fordham’s Vice President for Ohio Programs and Policy Terry
Ryan will testify to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee later today about HB
153, the pending biennial budget bill.
You can read his full prepared remarks online here. In short, he – and the Fordham
Institute – is supportive of much of the education reforms included in Governor
Kasich inaugural budget.
In a brutal economic environment
the Governor’s budget properly focused on the dual goals of improving K-12
education in the Buckeye State while helping schools adjust to doing more with
less. The budget pushes reforms that seek to free up school districts to in
fact do more with less.
For example, Ryan will testify that:
Probably the most significant item
in the budget that has the potential to lead to significant cost savings over
the long haul is language that promotes the expansion of innovative and
cost-conscious educational service centers (ESCs), while reducing their state
subsidy. HB 153 sets the conditions for ESCs to compete in offering
professional services statewide not only to school districts, charter and STEM
schools, but to other political subdivisions such as municipalities, townships,
counties, and other public entities. This should help expand successful
educational service centers while also facilitating economies of scale and
consolidation of services and service providers. Ohio has built up an
overcapacity of government service providers and support agencies over the
decades, and HB 153 sets the conditions for right-sizing both the education
sector and local government.
|| ... It is then impossible to turn around and say that charter school operators should be free of accountability beyond whether or not kids show up at their door.
Despite the good things in HB 153, Ryan argues that watering
down charter school accountability is troubling because it sets a
double-standard that hurts children and families. Ryan told the Senate Finance
There is a
matter of fairness here that is important if we want good public policy around
education. This budget deals aggressively with district schools ranked in the
lowest five percent of performance index scores for three or more consecutive
years. This budget seeks to hold teachers accountable for the performance of
their students. This budget provides a “parent trigger” for families in
troubled Columbus City Schools. If one supports these policies, as I do, it is
then impossible to turn around and say that charter school operators should be
free of accountability beyond whether or not kids show up at their door.
children’s education is paid for with public dollars, no matter what sort of
school those children attend, the public has the right, even the obligation, to
know how well those children are learning the skills and knowledge that they
need to succeed in further education and in life. All schools that take public
dollars to educate children but that cannot demonstrate their educational
efficacy in transparent ways should be put on notice. If they can’t fix
themselves in a reasonable period of time, this situation must be addressed for
the good of the children and the sake of the taxpayer. No school operator, no
school district, no teacher should be above accountability for results. This is
what we owe our children.
Critics of Fordham's superintendents survey missed their mark
Steve Farkas is
veteran public opinion researcher, co-founder of the
FDR Group, and author of the
Fordham Institute’s recent report, Yearning to Break Free: Ohio
Superintendents Speak. The following was written in response to a review of the report by the Think Tank Review Project at the
National Education Policy Center.
The FDR Group’s recent survey of Ohio’s school district
superintendents, Yearning to Break Free (online
conducted on behalf of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found these local
education leaders eager to overhaul the collective bargaining process and to
increase their authority over staff and money. “Give us autonomy,” they said,
“and hold us accountable for getting results.” Easy to understand, right? Well,
two unhappy University of Houston professors reviewing the study for the
National Education Policy Center’s “Think Tank Review Project” had a lot of
trouble comprehending it.
From the get-go in their review, the professors failed to
realize that the study was giving voice to the opinions of these school leaders
– not our opinions as researchers or
even Fordham’s but those of Ohio superintendents. The professors say, “the authors of the study recommend
[emphasis added] that ‘two promising ways to save districts money are to give
superintendents greater control over combined state revenue streams and to
mandate a statewide health insurance plan…’” But the report itself stated “Ohio’s superintendents think [emphasis
added] two promising ways…” We (neither the FDR Group nor Fordham) didn’t
recommend anything. Yearning to Break
Free is a study of perceptions so the whole report is filled with such
modifiers as “superintendents believe, say, think.” It’s hard to see how the
professors missed that.
The professors had other troubles. They didn’t understand
why we would force superintendents to choose between what they called
“inappropriate dichotomies.” They balked when we asked superintendents what
would be more likely to lead to improved student achievement: “significant
expansion of management authority over staff” or “significant increases in
school funding.” But the dichotomy is valid and interesting – and it pushes
respondents to think harder and prioritize. (By the way, the result was 50
percent to 44 percent.) I’ve got a really unrealistic question for the
professors: If you had to choose, would you rather have lunch with President
Obama or Lady Gaga? See, even a far-fetched dichotomous question can tell you
something interesting about your preferences.
I have my own complaints about what the professors say. The
professors said the study aggregates responses for superintendents and charter
leaders. That’s just plain wrong – it doesn’t. They talk about a poor response
rate when the response rate was very high for a study of this type – 40 percent.
Real-world survey researchers – myself included – dream of getting such high
response rates on a regular basis. The professors say we don’t know how the
superintendents who didn’t answer the survey differ from the people who did.
Well, by definition that’s almost always the case. We made extraordinary efforts
to get non-respondents to take the survey (see the appendix of the report for
more on those efforts). That’s how we got such a high response rate.
Perhaps most amazing to me: in the end, after all the
mistruths and mistaken comprehensions, the professors agree that the survey correctly captures the attitudes of
superintendents! They say: “some aspects of the report are not surprising…it is
entirely predictable that superintendents would like to have greater control
over both teachers’ salaries and state regulations.” Oh. So this survey that
they claim is badly designed, badly worded, not representative, biased, and
narrow somehow got the right answer? Now that is interesting.
What would be the impact of the governor's school turnaround plan?
By Jamie Davies O’Leary and Bianca Speranza
When Gov. Kasich first introduced his biennial budget for
Ohio over a month ago, it was quickly apparent that he and his administration
were serious about overhauling the state’s poorest-performing schools. Fordham
for applying sanctions to not only poorly performing charter schools but
chronically troubled district ones as well. In the governor’s budget, and left
completely intact in the version reported out by the Ohio House, is a provision
that would require districts to reconstitute schools that rank in the bottom
five percent of all public district schools statewide (according to Performance
Index (PI) scores, weighted averages of a school’s students’ performance on the
state’s exams across all tested subjects and grades) for three consecutive
years and are rated “D” or “F” by the
In similar fashion to the federal School Improvement Grant
(SIG) program, districts with such schools could opt to:
- close the school and reassign students to higher
- contract with another district, non-profit, or
for-profit entity with a track record of success to operate the school;
- replace the principal and all teaching staff
(far more stringent than SIG’s “transformation” option, which would leave half
of a school’s teachers in place); or
- re-open the school as a conversion charter
Kasich’s budget also imposed other sanctions for chronically
underperforming schools, including testing all teachers’ content-area knowledge
in such schools (which we caution against) and allowing parents to “trigger” a
turnaround (which has since been removed by the House and turned into a small
The closure provisions for chronically troubled district
schools seem fair and up-to-the-challenge. Yet which schools would be affected
by this? How many students would possibly be displaced? Are the schools slated
for overhaul according to this provision really the state’s most troubled schools? How many of them
are already receiving federal SIG dollars for turnaround?
To answers these questions, we analyzed PI score data of all
public district schools in Ohio from the last three school years (2007-08 to
2009-10), as well as school rating and other demographic data. PI scores range
from 0-120. (Note: we pulled out those schools receiving a “zero” PI score, as
many of them appear to have received that score for some other reason than legitimately
scoring zero. For instance, many zero-PI schools previously had scores of above
100 or 90, illustrating that they were actually high-quality schools and not
representative of the lowest 5 percent. Re-pulling the data with zero-PI
schools would result in a different list of schools.)
slated for turnaround
Under the turnaround provision, schools will be closed based
on rankings relative to other schools
– a metric that some might argue is unfair (why not use an absolute achievement threshold to sanction schools?). However, the
list of schools that are in the bottom five percent and rated “D” or “F” is a
fairly accurate portrait of the lowest performers in Ohio. The list below
includes 93 schools located across 16 different districts, collectively serving
It’s also worth noting that of the 93 schools on the turnaround list, 41 are
located in Cleveland, with Columbus coming in second with 13 schools slated for
Table 1: Ohio district schools with PI scores in the bottom 5% for the
past three years and rated D or F
Department of Education: Interactive Local Report Card
The average growth in PI over the last three years among
these 93 schools is actually negative – overall, the schools slated for
turnaround had PI scores fall by 1.4
percent since 2007. In other words, poorly performing schools tend to stay poorly performing or even get
worse. Only 39 of the schools experienced positive growth in scores, but except
in a few instances, that growth was minimal. Math and reading proficiency
averages for these schools are also telling about why they’re in need of a
turnaround, with the lowest proficiency rates for third grade reading and math
tests at 20.6 percent and 8.7 percent respectively.
Overlap with School
Of all the schools listed for closure, 13 have been awarded
SIG grants totaling $37,546,632 (over three years). Table
1 above highlights the schools (in yellow) that will receive SIG money and that
also would be slated for turnaround status under the governor’s new plan. This
overlap raises serious questions around how the state’s turnaround proposals and
schools’ existing turnaround plans (funded through SIG) would coincide. Would
schools using SIG money get a chance to turn themselves around via their
current plans (many of which are “transformation” – a less rigorous option not
even included in the governor’s turnaround agenda), or would they be forced
into immediate action according to the governor’s plan?
In conclusion, the list of district schools slated for
turnaround according to Kasich’s budget seems like a fair representation of the
state’s truly troubled schools – though obvious questions remain around the
interaction of SIG turnaround plans and the options according to this new
provision. While the diagnosis of these schools seems right – they are
chronically failing and students attending them deserve better – it also begs
other policy questions around human capital. Does Ohio have enough teaching and
leadership talent willing to take over 93 schools, or charter management groups
capable of taking some of them on? Do neighboring schools have space for an
influx of students should they be reassigned? These questions merit serious
consideration should the state school turnaround provision get passed in the
final iteration of the budget.
"State of Preschool" report doesn't paint whole picture for Ohio
Ohio recently received distinction from the National
Institute for Early Education Research in its State of Preschool 2010 report, but
not in a good way. As the Cincinnati
the co-director for institute issuing the report said of the Buckeye State:
For a couple of years, [Ohio] was
moving up [in the rankings], but last year the state eliminated a major
program. Enrollment went way down and spending per child went way down. The
program the state does have meets only two of 10 benchmarks for state standards
for quality. That puts Ohio in last place. Nobody has a program that is that
weak, except for 10 states that don’t have any program at all.
According to The State
of Preschool, funding for public preschool dropped by almost $30 million
nationally (funding would have fallen by another $49 million if not for federal
stimulus dollars). In Ohio,
state spending per child dropped by almost half (from almost $7,000 per child
to $3,900), and access to preschool, especially among four-year-olds, puts Ohio
among the worst in the nation (the Buckeye State ranks 36 out of 40 states with
public preschool programs).
At first glance, such statistics are alarming. Funding early
learning programs, especially for low-income children who otherwise come to
kindergarten ill-prepared and already behind their wealthier peers, is a
worthwhile (and preemptive) investment that reaps long-term gains not just for
students but society at large.
However, it’s worth considering several factors and trends
before sounding the alarms on Ohio’s preschool landscape. First, as the Enquirer rightly
points out in the same article, many of Ohio’s preschool programs are
licensed and funded via the Department of Job and Family Services and thus are
not included in The State of Preschool,
which only looked at those programs licensed and funded through departments of
education. Thus Ohio’s less-than-stellar profile is based on an incomplete
portrait of early learning initiatives.
Second and more importantly, as Fordham President Chester E.
Finn, Jr. pointed
out in the Education Gadfly in
his review of the report:
NIEER’s definition of ‘quality’
preschool, while faithful to widely held views in the early-childhood field,
continues to emphasize inputs and processes, not outcomes…. Of their ten big
‘quality standards,’ at least eight are mainly about spending, credentials,
ratios, and services, not about kindergarten readiness and other (increasingly
measurable) signs that such programs are actually preparing their wee charges
to succeed in school.
Especially during times of austerity, Ohio has to do a
better job measuring quality than just counting dollars and inputs. This
sentiment was captured
well recently by the Columbus
Dispatch’s Jennifer Smith Richards, who compared the number of poor
children and non-poor children in various central Ohio districts scoring in the
bottom range on the state’s kindergarten readiness assessment (KRAL). In every
district studied there was a significant gap in readiness between poor kids and
non-poor kids, with the largest gap at 35 percent. Based on these trends,
several central Ohio groups are focusing on increasing readiness in
high-poverty areas and even plan to track effectiveness
(by examining kindergarten test results of the students who attended their
early learning program).
Cynics might argue that advocating for more preschool
funding should be paramount to parsing through kindergarten test data (then
again, cynics would argue we shouldn’t even bother to test children at such a
young age). But given Ohio’s fiscal reality, and the fact that enormous gaps in
readiness persist between poor and non-poor kids, the state should focus less
on NIEER’s rankings on universal access and spending and more on developing
creative initiatives to improve effectiveness for the kids who need early
learning programs the most.
Update with 2009-10 Data and Five-year Trends: How Many Schools Have Not Made Adequatae Yearly Progress?
By Andrew Proctor
This report from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) is an update to previous research that
tracked the number of schools that had not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress
(AYP) as outlined in NCLB. Achieving AYP has proved increasingly difficult
as many states require schools to meet progressively higher standards each year
leading up to 2014, the year by which NCLB requires that 100 percent of
students in every state reach proficiency on state assessments. The CEP has
been tracking state and national AYP levels annually since 2005, and this
report provides estimates for 2010 data. The previous four years of AYP data
come from State Consolidated Performance Reports submitted to the Department of
Education. These reports are not yet available for 2010, but CEP created an
estimate for 2010 numbers: The number of
schools not reaching AYP has risen to 38 percent nationally, the highest
percentage since CEP began tracking this data.
Over the last five years, the number of schools not reaching
AYP has steadily increased, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently warned
that in 2011 the number of schools labeled “failing” by NCLB may skyrocket to
82 percent. In order to meet the “100 percent proficient by 2014” goal, many
states have ratcheted up their achievement targets each year. Schools have
found it difficult to keep pace, and even many high-performing schools with a
few below-proficient students are receiving NCLB’s “failing” label.
In Ohio, CEP estimated that 39 percent of schools did not
make AYP in 2010. However, the current AYP rating system provides limited (at
best) information on a school’s performance and is in dramatic need of reform.
Fordham’s Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael Petrilli provide their own
recommendations in their recent ESEA Briefing Book, advocating that
AYP be eliminated, while allowing states to design transparent, data-based
information systems for schools. With ESEA up for reauthorization this year,
Congress has the opportunity to create a metric that replaces AYP and provides
a better representation of whether or not a given school is performing
The Promise of College Completion: KIPP's Early Successes and Challenges
The KIPP Foundation recently released a study of college completion rates of early
KIPP students and the results are both good and bad. The good news is that 33
percent of KIPP students that completed eighth grade 10 or more years ago have
gone on to graduate from a four-year college. This may strike readers as low,
but in context it illustrates a remarkable achievement: Only 30.6 percent of Americans ages 25-29
have a four year degree as do only 8
percent of such students from low-income families. Thus, KIPPsters are four
times more likely to complete college than their peers from similar
demographics. The bad news is that KIPP falls dramatically short of its goal
that 75 percent of its students earn a four-year degree, and readily admits
that the goal has been harder to achieve than anticipated. The report
acknowledges that the number of kids these findings apply to is small: they
come from the first two KIPP schools that were opened in Houston and New York,
the only ones open long enough to have college graduates. (The Fordham Foundation is the authorizer of
KIPP Journey Academy in Columbus, which was not included in this report.)
The report sets forth several action steps that KIPP will
take to try to meet their 75 percent goal, including a continued focus on academics
and character education; evolving their focus from just middle schools to pre-K
through 12 broadly; and improving college support to KIPP graduates (i.e.,
helping kids find a college that is the right fit, offering social and academic
support to students during their college years, etc).
Perhaps the biggest lesson to draw from this report is that
much of KIPP’s success lies in the fact that it is self-reflective,
transparent, and holds high expectations internally. As many know, KIPP schools serve a high
percentage of minority and low-income students, so considering that only 8
percent of these kids would otherwise graduate from a four year college, KIPP’s
33 percent college completion rate is impressive. It’s likewise impressive that
33 percent is unacceptable for KIPP, despite the fact that KIPP has much to
celebrate -- recent data show that 89 percent of kids who completed a KIPP
middle school went on to enroll in college, compared with 62 percent of
students nationally and 41 percent of low-income students. Kudos to the KIPP
Foundation for its honest self-critique and for its position that simply doing
better than the status quo is not good enough.
Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community
By Bianca Speranza
It is no surprise that the Latino population in the United
States is growing rapidly. Between 2000-2010 the national Latino population
increased by 15.2 million people, more than half of the overall population
growth during that time period. The Latino community is also young on average.
There are 17.1 million Latinos under the age of 17, and they comprise 22
percent (one in five) of all prek-12 students currently enrolled in America’s
public schools. This rise in population combined with the youthfulness of the
Latino population makes them a vital component to our future success as a
nation. However, educational statistics among the Latino population are
troubling: Latinos have low participation in early childhood education programs;
subpar graduation rates; and less than 15 percent of them go on to receive
their bachelor’s degree.
A recent report by the Department of Education highlights
the state of education in the Latino community, drawing attention to areas that
childhood education: Future success in education is often contingent on the
educational experience that children receive at an early age. Latino children
represent the largest segment of the early childhood population, however less
than half of Latino children are enrolled in an early childhood program.
graduation rates: One of the main goals of the public education system is
to see that all students graduate from high school equipped with necessary
skills to enter college. Currently one in five students in the public school
system is Latino, yet almost half of them never graduate from high school.
Latino students also participate less frequently in Advanced Placement courses.
English Learners: English learners comprise 10 percent of the Nation’s
students in grades K-12. Sadly, more than two thirds of ELLs score below basic
proficiency in reading and math.
Ohio is also experiencing Latino population growth, and
educational underperformance of this subgroup.
According to the recent 2010
Census data the Latino population in Ohio increased by 63 percent since
2010, and they now represent 3.4 percent of Ohio’s total population. Academic performance for Latino students in
Ohio is also cause for concern. Graduation rates for Latino students are 61.4
percent, compared to 88.6 percent for white students. Proficiency rates are also subpar for K-12
Latino students, with only 63.4 of third grade students proficient in
reading. As the Latino population
continues to grow nationally and in Ohio, policy makers and educators must find
ways to improve their educational attainment.
Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems
By Nick Joch
In state capitals across the nation, policy makers and
education reformers are calling for more rigorous teacher evaluation systems. In its latest report, Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher
Evaluation Systems, the Brookings Institution describes a mathematical
framework for assessing the effectiveness of evaluation systems. The report
accompanies and explains the reasoning behind an evaluation system
developed by the Institution. The calculator assesses teacher evaluation
systems that use student value-added data, based on five criteria:
The evaluation system should rate teachers so that a meaningful spectrum of
teacher effectiveness can be observed (e.g. 99% of teachers rated effective is
Differentiation should be based on teacher characteristics that are likely to
significantly influence student achievement.
Evaluations provided by the system should be predictable from year to year: A
teacher rated “highly effective” in one year should receive a similar rating in
methodology. The evaluation system should not use value-added data alone,
but should also use classroom observations and/or other methods to produce a
more complete picture of a teacher’s effectiveness.
Because of diverse methodologies, all teachers, even those for whom no value-added
data is available, should be able to be evaluated by the system.
Many states and districts do not favor a universal teacher
evaluation system and would prefer to develop their own systems instead. The
report proposes that this calculator be used to set standards for such
localized systems, thereby creating a national standard by which to judge
teacher evaluation systems but not mandating a national system. The report
suggests that this might be accomplished by including the calculator or a
similar tool in a reauthorization of ESEA.
The Passing Muster
model may prove problematic in some ways, as some critics contend,
but the report raises important issues regarding the creation and
implementation of effective teacher evaluation systems. In Ohio, recent
amendments to HB 153 (Governor Kasich’s budget bill) would require
districts to use student value-added data as at least 50 percent of teacher
evaluations and to lay off teachers in order of evaluation rating, not
seniority. These reforms are certainly a much-needed
improvement, but implementation will be the deciding factor in whether or not
the new evaluation systems will actually be effective.
A selection of the finest offerings from Fordham's blog, Flypaper.
Akron's school turnaround plan sounds unconvincing
An article in the Akron Beacon Journal about school turnaround
caught my eye. Butchels High School and Perkins Middle School both received the
second lowest rating (Academic Watch) on last year’s report card and as a
result will merge into one school (Butchel- Perkins) in hopes of better
performance starting in the fall of 2012. The schools have been trying to
turn themselves around for some time, to no avail… While the reform intentions
here should be applauded the plan is problematic for a couple of different
reasons. How are school officials determining who will teach in the new
school versus who will be placed elsewhere? Is it seniority-based? Or do they
have other metrics for determining who goes where? Simply pushing
teachers around – some of who might be ineffective – from one school to the
next won’t solve the problem. Furthermore, if the same leaders are simply
transferred over to the new school will anything really improve? Finally, the
New Tech approach is costly to implement and sustain. The district will have to
pay $500,000 up front to set up the new school and train the staff. They are
also applying for several grants and hope to receive $5 million over the next
three years to help sustain the new school. What happens when the funds
dry up, or if they don’t get the grants at all? Read the full post here.
TFA legislation gets signed by Gov. Kasich
Gov. Kasich signed long-awaited legislation to enable Teach For America
to have a home in the Buckeye State. Now that legislation is official –
and TFA can place teachers across all grades and subjects (the
primary barrier for the last two decades) – several important questions
are cropping up. With which districts will TFA partner? How can it
expect to place teachers as districts – especially large urban ones like
Cleveland that are likely TFA partners – are laying off veterans? How can Ohio avoid headlines like this, and avoid tossing new corps members into a controversial thicket like what’s happening in Kansas? Read the rest of this post here.
Budget comparisons, unionism lessons, and rutabaga fries
By Nick Joch
- On the hunt for timely lesson plans? The April
issue of Ohio Schools, the OEA’s monthly
newsletter, recommends lessons on unionism, but the Buckeye Institute’s write-up
is more than a little skeptical of using the classroom to enlist student
support for the labor movement.
- The latest
contribution to research on what works in the classroom comes from the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem’s Victor Lavy. In his paper What Makes an Effective Teacher?
Quasi-Experimental Evidence, Lavy finds that Israeli students receive striking benefits from
both “traditional” (knowledge-focused) and “modern” (analysis-focused) teaching
styles, and opines that the two styles be specifically targeted to particular
types of students for the greatest gains in achievement.
- Ever wonder
how Governor Kasich’s school funding budget stacks up against proposals in
other states? Bruce Baker of School Finance 101 takes on the question, comparing Kasich’s budget with Andrew
Cuomo’s (New York) and Tom Corbett’s (Pennsylvania) and concludes that the Ohio
governor’s cuts, though at first glance progressive, will be regressive (i.e.
the neediest districts get hit the hardest) in the long term.
- In response
to the debate over the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of our nation’s ed
schools, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has created a new site
called “Transparency Central” to make public the curricula
and requirements of teacher preparation programs across the nation. The site is
part of NCTQ and US News and World Report’s
larger project of evaluating these programs, a
project that hasn’t exactly received rave reviews from
mystery meat and vegetable mush. The New
York Times reports that the prep school taste for
academic distinction has carried over to the cafeteria at many New York private
schools, where lunch menus include “turkey-and-ricotta piadina with arugula”
and “oven-roasted rutabaga fries”, among other gourmet creations. In other
news, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Healthy-living initiative has recently brought professional chefs to several
central Ohio schools in hopes of making healthy eating palatable and fun.