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Study: Ohio charter schools are worst in nation

The Center for Research on Education Issues (CREDO) has just published its 2013 report, "National Charter School Study". CREDO Researchers looked at test data from charter schools in 26 states plus DC. Ohio was one of the 26 states. This study follow up on their 2009 study which garnered a lot of attention for bringing to light the poor quality of the nations charter schools.

This new study finds, despite charter schools being able to screen for the best students, only marginal improvement over the past 4 years
25 percent of charters outperformed traditional public schools in reading while 29 percent of charters delivered stronger results in math. That marked an improvement over a similar 2009 study by the same research team.

But 56 percent of the charters produced no significant difference in reading and 19 percent had worse results than traditional public schools. In math, 40 percent produced no significant difference and 31 percent were significantly worse than regular public schools.
The marginal improvement comes not from improved quality of charter schools in general, but in the closure of more poor performing charter schools lifting the over all average performance.

In Ohio, the charter school experiment is failing miserably. According to the study, Ohio's charter schools got worse over the last 4 years, and now dwell at the bottom of the performance tables. Ohio students who attend charter schools are losing the equivalent of almost 3 weeks of instruction in reading, and an entire grading period in mathematics. That is astonishingly bad news for the 5% of Ohio's students who attend charter schools.

The following table was taken from table 14 (pg 52 of the study)

State Reading Days Math Days
Rhode Island 86 108
DC 72 101
Tennessee 86 72
Louisiana 50 65
New York 36 79
New Jersey 43 58
Massachusetts 36 65
New York City 0 94
Michigan 43 43
Indiana 36 14
Illinois 14 22
Missouri 14 22
California 22 -7
North Carolina 22 -7
Minnesota 14 -7
Georgia 14 -14
Colorado 7 -7
Florida -7 0
New Mexico 0 -29
Arkansas -22 -22
Utah -7 -43
Arizona -22 -29
Texas -22 -29
Ohio -14 -43
Oregon -22 -50
Pennsylvania -29 -50
Nevada -108 -137

You can see from the following graphs of performance in 2009 vs 2013 that Ohio's charters are getting worse, and in math, much worse.

It is time to reassess Ohio's 15 year, billion dollar, charter experiment in light of these results and put an end to boosting charter schools at the expense of public schools. The experiement has not only failed, it is getting worse.

Budget conference committee take backward steps

If one had hoped that the budget conference committee would take the Governor, House and Senate education policy plans and blend them into a better product, those hopes were dashed yesterday.

The budget continues to disinvest in Ohio's public education system to the tune of $532.7 million compared to 2010-2011 funding levels. To add further insult to that injury, in order to pass along income tax cuts to Ohio's wealthiest citizens, the GOP controlled legislature is also eliminating the 12.5% property tax rollback. A homeowner would face paying an additional $4.38 per mill for every $100,000 in taxable property value on new levies - making those levies a tougher sell for struggling schools.

In other areas of education policy, the conference committee failed too. The Senate had proposed to reduce the weight of a teachers evaluation using value-added from 50% to 35%. However, the conference committee reversed that policy improvement leaving the absurd over-reliance of value-add in place at 50%. Furthermore, the Senate had proposed eliminating the scores from teachers evaluations of students who were unexcused absent for 30 days or more. This would have been down from the current law of 60 days. The Conference committee reset that to an objectionable 45 days. For reference, Ohio Revised Code states that a student is chronically truant after only 15 days of unexcused absence - so why any teacher should be evaluated based on chronically truant students can only be explained by the legislature wanting to be punitive towards educators.

According to Gongwer
Conferees did adopt some last minute tweaks to the school funding that Republicans said would steer some additional money to poorer urban and rural districts.

One amendment would shift some funding from the K-3 literacy fund for all schools to economically disadvantaged districts and charter schools, according to House Republican policy aide Colleen Grady. However, the revision would not significantly alter the bottom line on K-12 spending.
So in order to more adequately fund rural school districts the legislature decided not to add more money to the put but to shift money from their own 3rd grade reading guarantee. This isn't education policy, it is madness.

Other notable changes
  • Revise the enrollment count for funding traditional school districts by switching to an annualized processed that would be updated three times a year starting in 2015.
  • Remove a funding guarantee for charter schools rated "excellent" for three years consecutively.
  • Subject private school students to state testing requirements if more than 65% of the population uses state vouchers, while allowing pupils not on scholarships to opt out of the exams.
  • Specify that homeschooled children and students moving into Ohio could obtain for EdChoice vouchers if they live in an eligible school district.
  • Ensure that students attending a STEM school can participate in extracurricular activities in their resident schools.
  • Create an advisory committee to guide distribution of the Straight A grant program funds and advise the governing board.
  • Cap Straight A fund awards at $5 million for a single grantee and $15 million for a consortium, while allowing the Controlling Board to approve higher amounts.

The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do

Via
This piece was inspired by a heated discussion I had with a man who believes that teachers have an easy job. Please feel free to share it with others if you agree with the message.

I used to be a molecular biologist. I spent my days culturing viruses. Sometimes, my experiments would fail miserably, and I’d swear to myself in frustration. Acquaintances would ask how my work was going. I’d explain how I was having a difficult time cloning this one gene. I couldn’t seem to figure out the exact recipe to use for my cloning cocktail.

Acquaintances would sigh sympathetically. And they’d say, “I know you’ll figure it out. I have faith in you.”

And then, they’d tilt their heads in a show of respect for my skills….

Today, I’m a high school teacher. I spend my days culturing teenagers. Sometimes, my students get disruptive, and I swear to myself in frustration. Acquaintances ask me how my work is going. I explain how I’m having a difficult time with a certain kid. I can’t seem to get him to pay attention in class.

Acquaintances smirk knowingly. And they say, “well, have you tried making it fun for the kids? That’s how you get through to them, you know?”

And then, they explain to me how I should do my job….

I realize now how little respect teachers get. Teaching is the toughest job everyone who’s never done it thinks they can do. I admit, I was guilty of these delusions myself. When I decided to make the switch from “doing” science to “teaching” science, I found out that I had to go back to school to get a teaching credential.

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Common Core Implementation

We've outsourced this post on Common Core State Standards to guest contributor Christina Hank. Christina is a Curriculum Coordinator for Medina City Schools. You can read more of her work at turnonyourbrain.wordpress.com, and you should definitely follow her on Twitter at @ChristinaHank

There’s been a lot of confusion around what’s happening to curriculum in Ohio education. Let’s break it down into two pieces: standards and assessments.

STANDARDS

Standards are the platform for everything that is taught in a school district, we go above and beyond I the standards to address all the needs of children, such as social and emotional growth. By themselves, standards do not impact anything in our classrooms; they are documents that sit on shelves. It is in how we implement the standards and integrate their intent into our teaching practices that they have any role in teaching and learning.

So, what are the standards in Ohio?

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—The CCSS are a set of standards in grades kindergarten through twelve in English language arts and mathematics. Many states have adopted this as a common set of standards.

Are included in…

Ohio’s New Learning Standards—Ohio’s New Learning Standards is the title given to all of Ohio’s standards in all contents (including the CCSS in English language arts and math).

ASSESSMENTS

Standards are not the same as their assessments, even though we are seeing “Common Core” used interchangeably with everything that is happening right now. Though the assessments of our new learning standards are rooted in the standards and attempting to assess the intent of these standards, the assessments are a separate piece of educational reform.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)—PARCC is one of two national testing consortia develop assessments for the CCSS in English language arts and math. Ohio and 21 other states belong to this consortium, which means Ohio’s students will be taking the same test as students in all of those other states (unlike Ohio’s current assessments with are only taken by students in the state). In each subject (English language arts and math), the test is structured to have two optional tests in the fall (may not be finished by 2014-2015) and two tests in the spring. The first of these spring tests in each subject will be around March and will be a performance-based assessment. The second of these will be in May and will be an End of Year test.

Are included in…

Next Generation Assessments—This all-encompassing term includes both Ohio-developed tests in social studies and science as well as the PARCC tests in English language arts and math.

TIMELINE

As it is almost the start of the 2013-2014 school year (where is the summer going?!), we’re entering the final year of Ohio Achievement/Graduation Assessments and getting ready for our first year of Next Generation Assessments in 2014-2015.

Assessments
English 2014-2015:
  • MS: PARCC Tests for grades 3-8 (National)
  • HS: PARCC End of Course exams (National)
Mathematics 2014-2015:
  • MS: PARCC Tests for grades 3-8 (National)
  • HS: PARCC EOC in Alg 1, Geo, Alg 2 OR Math 1, Math 2, Math 3 depending on student track (National)
Social Studies 2013-2014:
  • MS: Continue with OAA in MS.
  • HS ONLY: our self-created EOC Assessment in U.S. History and Government
2014-2015:
  • MS: Grade 4 and 6, grade-level tests (not cumulative). New SS tests will be "Next Generation Assessments" reflective of PARCC tests
  • HS: State created EOC in U.S. History and Government
Science 2014-2015:
  • MS: Grade 5 and 8, grade-level tests (not cumulative). New science tests will be "Next Generation Assessments" reflective of PARCC tests
  • HS: State created EOC in Biology and Physical Science

Budget boosts private & charter schools at the expense of public schools

Innovation Ohio has taken a close look at the public education implications of the budget bill making its way through the legislature

In particular, we find that HB 59:

  • sends more money to charters, regardless of performance
  • lowers standards for charter schools, exempting them from accountability expected of Ohio’s traditional public schools
  • continues the push to privatize our public schools by union-busting and outsourcing
  • sends more taxpayer money to fund private schools, and
  • forces traditional schools to do more with less
They further found that the senate budget
  • Cut 3 in 4 school districts compared to 2010-2011 funding levels, to the tune of $532.7 million.
  • Cut 1 in 4 school districts compared to 2012-2013 funding levels.
  • Continued the need for an unprecedented $1.3 billion in new school levies for operations that have appeared on local ballots since Kasich took office, and causing 82 percent of school districts to cut staff positions last year.

You can download their report, here.

Why such inequity? Some reason it is because for-profit charter school operators such as David Brennan and William Lager are such huge contributors to the very politicians making these inequitable decisions
Brennan and Lager are the top individual contributors to the Republican leadership in the House and Senate (or close to it) . And they're no slouches when it comes to Gov. John Kasich either. They've given nearly $1 million to politicians since 2008.
It should come as little surprise then, that even though Brennan and Lager operate some of the worst charter schools in the state, they are receiving some of the largest increases in state spending - even more than some of their higher performing charter school peers.

As Poverty Increases, Reformers Cling to the “New Status Quo”

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education released new data that confirms what every advocate of public education has been trumpeting for years: poverty is a growing scourge on public schools. According to its 2013 Condition of Education report, one in five schools in the United States are considered high poverty. Twenty percent of public school students attended these schools in 2011, considerably more than the 12 percent who did in 1999–2000. That year, 45 percent of students attended a low-poverty school. Now only 25 percent do. Overall, approximately 10.9 million school-age children are from families living in poverty, a four percent increase from a decade earlier.

The trend is stark – poverty is affecting more and more students. And yet, the debate over education – at least how it plays out in the national media and many legislatures across the country- continues to freeze out substantive discussions about poverty and its obvious impact on student achievement. The ongoing fascination with market-driven education reform proposals and their media-savvy boosters leaves room for little else, although recent scrutiny over faulty standardized tests is reason for encouragement.

For years now, the American people have been told that the key to close achievement gaps is to use high-stake stest scores to evaluate teachers and schools, and close schools that are deemed “under-performing” and replace them with charter schools. Obviously it’s easier to champion these ideas once the discussion of poverty and its consequences for millions of students is severed from the equation.

The stakes are high. There is, after all, a lot of money to be made. Reform has become an industry.

“There are people who look at our investment in public education, and they see a treasure chest,” National Education President Dennis Van Roekel recently wrote in The Huffington Post. “Their first thought is, how can they tap into those funds for their own private gain? If just one percent of education spending were diverted to private profit, it would mean $5 billion a year in someone’s pockets.”

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