Poll - Ohioans Reject Recent Education "Reforms"

16 Superintendents, along with community members, joined together and commissioned a poll to gauge the publics perception on a range of education policy topics. The results should give corporate reformers serious pause. You can see the entire survey results here.

Despite the focus on teacher quality by politicians and corporate reformers, citizens continue to see that school funding is the biggest problem schools face. Indeed, they view teacher quality as the least problematic area to be concerned with

Citizens reject other corporate and political reforms too. When asked what the most important indicator of school quality is, the newly revamped report card comes in dead last. Citizens just don't find it relevant.

Further blows are cast, as citizens continue to reject the use of high stakes testing, recognizing that it is not healthy for students and not appropriate for evaluating the quality of teachers.

Profiteers have little to cheer about as citizens reject the use of tax dollars for being used to support charter schools and private schools.

Finally, it is very clear who people view as the real problem - politicians.

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Ohio charter high schools lowest ranked in state

Via 10th Period US News & World Report's rankings of the country's best high schools provides another sobering picture of Ohio's 16-year-old charter school experiment.

Not a single one of Ohio's 97 charter high schools outperformed the state average in reading and math. Meanwhile, 167 traditional public high schools did that. So that's an amazing 167-0 score. Not a single charter high school in Ohio rates in the top 115 high schools in the state -- the lowest rank given by U.S. News.

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Short-Changed: How Poor-Performing Charters Cost All Ohio Kids

Innovation Ohio has published a new report, titled "Short-Changed: How Poor-Performing Charters Cost All Ohio Kids", their principal findings were these:
  • The flawed way in which charter schools are funded in Ohio will result in traditional school students receiving, on average, 6.6% less state funding this year (around $256 per pupil) than the state itself says they need;
  • The table below, from the report, highlights this issue

  • Well over half of all state money sent to charters goes to schools that perform worse than traditional public schools on one or both of the state’s two major performance measurements (the Report Card and the Performance Index);
  • Below is just a selection of some of the traditional public schools that are losing vast amounts of money to lower performing charter schools

  • A number of high-performing suburban school districts are now among the biggest losers in per pupil funding;
  • On average, Ohio charters spend about double (23.5% vs. 13%) on non-instructional administrative costs than do traditional public schools;
  • 53% of children transferring into charter schools are leaving districts that perform better;
  • In 384 out of Ohio’s 612 school districts, every dime “lost” to charters went to schools whose overall performance was worse on the State Report Card.

We encourage you to read and share the entire report, found below

IO Report Short Changed

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Same Teachers, Similar Students, Similar Tests, Different Answers

Via Vamboozled

One of my favorite studies to date about VAMs was conducted by John Papay, an economist once at Harvard and now at Brown University. In the study titled “Different Tests, Different Answers: The Stability of Teacher Value-Added Estimates Across Outcome Measures” published in 2009 by the 3rd best and most reputable peer-reviewed journal, American Educational Research Journal, Papay presents evidence that different yet similar tests (i.e., similar on content, and similar on when the tests were administered to similar sets of students) do not provide similar answers about teachers’ value-added performance. This is an issue with validity, in that, if a test is measuring the same things for the same folks at the same times, similar-to-the-same results should be realized. But they are not. Papay, rather, found moderate-sized rank correlations, ranging from r=0.15 to r=0.58, among the value-added estimates derived from the different tests.

Recently released, yet another study (albeit not yet peer-reviewed) has found similar results…potentially solidifying this finding further into our understandings about VAMs and their issues, particularly in terms of validity (or truth in VAM-based results). This study on “Comparing Estimates of Teacher Value-Added Based on Criterion- and Norm-Referenced Tests” released by the U.S. Department of Education and conducted by four researchers representing Notre Dame University, Basis Policy Research, and American Institutes of Research, provides evidence, again, that estimates of teacher value-added as based on different yet similar tests (i.e., in this case a criterion-referenced state assessment and a widely used norm-referenced test given in the same subject around the same time) yielded moderately correlated estimates of teacher-level value added, yet again.

If we had confidence in the validity of the inferences based on value-added measures, these correlations (or more simply put “relationships”) should be much higher than what they found, similar to what Papay found, in the range of 0.44 to 0.65. While the ideal correlation coefficient is a, in this case, r=+1.0, that is very rarely achieved. But for the purposes for which teacher-level value-added is currently being used, correlations above r=+.70/r=+.80 would (and should) be most desired, and possibly required before high-stakes decisions about teachers are to be made as based on these data.

In addition, researchers in this study found that on average, only 33.3% of teachers’ estimates from both sets of value-added estimates positioned them in the same range of scores (using quintiles or ranges including 20% bands of width) on both tests in the same school year. This too has implications for validity in that, again, teachers or teachers’ value-added estimates should fall in the same ranges, if and when using similar tests, if any valid inferences are to be made using value-added estimates.

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Class Size Matters

A report recently published by the National Education Policy Center, titled "Class Size Matters" found that:
  • Class size is an important determinant of student outcomes, and one that can be directly determined by policy. All else being equal, increasing class sizes will harm student outcomes.
  • The evidence suggests that increasing class size will harm not only children’s test scores in the short run, but also their long-run human capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future.
  • The payoff from class-size reduction is greater for low-income and minority children, while any increases in class size will likely be most harmful to these populations.
  • Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against other potential uses of funds. While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall.

Read the entire report below

Pb - Class Size by National Education Policy Center

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Failing Charter Schools Dine at the Straight A Fund Trough

The Ohio Department of Education released the list of Straight A applicants that will be moving on to the next scoring phase, as schools are pitted against each other for a chance to win $150 million dollars in the Kasich education funding lottery.

Of those applicant, 17 are charter schools (though some of these are part of a larger consortium, so the true number of charter schools is much higher) making a combined request of $31,397,903.35.

Let's take a closer look at some of these applicants.

The first on the list is Achieve Career Preparatory Academy, a drop out recovery school in Toledo, making a buzzword packed ("3-dimensional learning tools", "focus on student engagement") request for almost $200,000. Not mentioned in the request is that this dropout recovery school only graduates 14.3% of its students according to the latest ODE data. This school needs to be closed down, not handed more money via the Kasich education funding lottery.

Next on our list is the Buckeye On-Line School for Success, which is requesting close to $1 million for an IT system called "Virtualized Operations for Independent and Collaborative Education". The ironically named Buckeye On-Line School for Success is rated F for both performance and Value Add according to the latest ODE data. another example of a charter school that ought to be closed, not handed more taxpayer money.

The Lake Erie Academy is next in the spotlight, with a request for $116,000 "to improve the reading ability of K-8 students at Lake Erie Academy using the computer-based program, Read Naturally Live." This charter school has a D rating for performance and an F for value-add.

More troubling given the nature of this request, is that this charter schools reading performance has declined in each of the last 3 years. in 2010 3rd grade proficiency was 70%, in 2011 56% and in 2012 it was a paltry 25%. 8th grade reading proficiency decline from 61% in 2010 to 41% in 2012. Here we have a low performing charter school in serious decline. Rather than hand more money over so they can continue to fail in their mission, they also need to be closed down.

It should come as little surprise that one of the biggest requests comes from a charter school operated by the politically connected a David Brennan. The White Hat management ran school - Summit academy Secondary in Akron is requested in $6.2 million. As with all White Hat schools, this one is a low performer, meeting just one of its possible standards and receiving a D for performance. They want this $6.2 million to "leverage the power of technology and teacher training to show teachers how to address all student needs in an individualized way". That they are not already doing that is one indication of why these White Hat schools perform so badly.

Throughout this list of Straight A Fund charter school applicants is evidence of why Ohio's charter school experiment is failing. Already an almost $1 billion industry, it needs to be reigned in, not have more money wasted on failure, especially when so many more higher performing traditional public schools have been starved by the governors' education funding policies and forced to fight over scraps via a funding lottery.

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