Battelle Blasts Papers decision

From our mailbag, Battelle for Kids condemns the Plain Dealer and NPR's decision to publish teacher's value-added scores, calling it "the poster child for name, blame, and shame and the antithesis of our approach to using value-added data"

To: All SOAR districts
From: Jim Mahoney and Bobby Moore
Date: June 17, 2013

Yesterday, a three-part series on value-added was launched by The Cleveland Plain Dealer and State Impact Ohio. It includes both articles and radio segments specific to value-added analysis as a measure of teacher effectiveness. Highlighted in the articles is a link to a database of teacher ratings, hosted by The Plain Dealer and the State Impact Ohio partnership.

Currently, Ohio laws governing the release of teacher records would apply to teacher value-added results. Thus, teacher level value-added information is subject to public records requests through ODE. Through The Plain Dealer and State Impact Ohio database, the general public can now access a teacher's overall composite rating derived from two years of his/her results in grades 4-8 math and reading. These data reflect information for less than 1/3 of the math and reading, grades 4-8 teachers in Ohio.

Battelle for Kids was not aware these ratings would be published in this way, at this time.

While Battelle for Kids does support the use of value-added information for school improvement and as one of several components of a multi-measures evaluation system, value-added should NOT be used in isolation to draw conclusions about a teacher's effectiveness.

Multiple data points over time from multiple perspectives are crucial because teaching and learning and the evaluation of teaching and learning are complex.

Therefore, we are NOT supportive of these ratings being publically available and discourage promoting the use of this public database.

Talking points and articles, to support your local conversations, are available on the Ohio Student Progress Portal.

Obviously, this is the poster child for name, blame, and shame and the antithesis of our approach to using value-added data.

Please call if you have any questions.

Thank you for all you do for Ohio's students!

-Jim and Bobby

Kasich education team is out of control

A week after the Governor's orchestrated school funding plan announcement, we are still waiting on him to release his actual school funding numbers

Ohioans still can’t see how their tax dollars will be divided among local school districts under Gov. John Kasich’s school-funding plan.

Although Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols had said on Friday that the information likely would be released yesterday, it turns out there was a problem with some of the data and “it’s still being worked on.”

Kasich adviser Barbara Mattei-Smith compiled and used the data to help the administration formulate its funding plan, which was released on Thursday, Nichols said.

The administration initially said such a record didn’t exist, then said it was merely her “notes” and didn’t have to be made public, before now saying the information Kasich relied on in the $15.1 billion education plan apparently was wrong.

Perhaps if his hand picked Superintendent wasn't fired for serious ethics violations, and his hand picked President of the State Board of Education spent less time comparing her ideological enemies to genocidal maniacs, and perhaps if his acting State Superintendent and his deputy weren't both looking for new jobs, we might have had the numbers by now. But if all that wasn't enough, news breaks today of even more shocking failure of leadership at the Ohio Department of Education

The Ohio Department of Education said it fired its chief operating officer after learning he was under investigation for possessing child pornography and then finding such images on his work computer.

John T. Childs, 47, of 2239 Planetree Court on the Northwest Side, was fired on Nov. 2, said John Charlton, an Education Department spokesman. Childs had been on paid administrative leave since around Oct. 15.

“He was under investigation by local law enforcement for child pornography on his home computer. We put Childs on paid administrative leave until we could investigate the alleged charges and we could look at his work computer as well,” Charlton said.

The department turned Childs’ work laptop computer over to the State Highway Patrol, which found thumbnail images "of pornographic nature."

The Governor's education team is out of control. We wish we were just talking about bureaucratic incompetence, but sadly we are now well into the realm of serious failures of ethics and criminal behavior.

The Educational Path of Our Nation

Education plays a fundamental role in American society. Here we take a look at school enrollment, costs and educational outcomes. How does school enrollment today compare with 1970, when the baby boom generation was in its prime years of school attendance (age 6 to 24) and made up 90 pecent of all student enrolled in schools? The American Community and other Census Bureau survey provide us with information to answer these other valuable questions. Education statistics are vital to communities in determining funding allocations and guiding program planning.

education infographic image [Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

UPDATED: Auditors Interim Attendance Report Released

The Auditor of State has released his interim report on the school attendance erasures issue.

The first observation from reading this 57 page document, is that very few schools have been completely investigated, and of those that have, little if any wrong doing has been found.

Instead what has been discovered are significant levels of bureaucratic oversights, in many cases excused by the complexity of the system designed by multiple layers of state and federal law.

The practices of Toledo are a good example

After news reports that Columbus CSD altered student attendance data, Toledo CSD publicly announced they too scrubbed attendance data. Toledo CSD officials indicated they understood these practices (i.e., removing students with a high number of absences) to be allowable. AOS met with representatives of Toledo at which time Toledo CSD explained its practice of removing students with five consecutive days of unexcused absences and a total of 20 unexcused absences throughout the school year. Toledo CSD has been using the “5/20” rule for withdrawing students since 2001. However, until 2005, Toledo CSD actively removed these students throughout the school year. In 2005, Toledo CSD lost several high‐level administrators to Cleveland MSD. Toledo CSD subsequently hired new administrators and in 2006 the local report card ratings fell since the “5/20” rule for withdrawing students was no longer in place. After realizing lower report card rankings, Toledo CSD administrators decided to reinstitute the “5/20” rule for withdrawing students in the following school year. However, instead of withdrawing students throughout the school year, Toledo CSD waited until after they received the first report from the Secure Data Center from ODE during the reporting period projecting the district’s report card rankings. Toledo CSD informed AOS that they removed all students that met the 5/20 criteria, regardless of assessment test score results for the affected students. However, AOS is still investigating these claims and will report its results later.

Cleveland's prevalent practices of removing truants also appears to fall into this category of bureaucratic non compliance, rather than "cheating"

Based on the information gathered to date, it appears evident that none or virtually none of the student files previously requested will include necessary supporting documentation related to the attendance event causing the student to be pushed to the State during the 2010‐2011 school year. Additionally, it appears Cleveland MSD potentially removed truant students under code 71 without full completion and documentation of truancy due process.

Again, the auditor has yet to fully complete an investigation of this district, noting "AOS is currently obtaining electronic data in an attempt to determine the impact of Cleveland MSD processes and procedures on accountability reporting and we will report results in a later report."

In Marion, another district the Auditor looked at, again no wrong doing was found

During the course of testing, AOS noted numerous instances of students being automatically transferred to the Marion Digital Academy during the 2010‐11 school year. As such, these students were included on the list of those students being pushed to the State and excluded from District report card results.
AOS identified 46 students transferring to Marion City Digital Academy during the 2010‐2011 school year with no parent or guardian initiation or approval included in Marion CSD’s student files.

Just more bureaucratic mis-steps. And more in Campbell City Schools

AOS tested Memorial High and Campbell Middle Schools at Campbell CSD (Mahoning County), identifying 11 (High School) and 29 (Middle School) students, respectively, that did not have supporting documentation available in the student files to support breaks in enrollment related to the following withdrawal reasons: Verified Medical, Truancy, Expulsion, and Homeschool.

And once again the Auditor notes, "AOS is continuing to investigate these retroactive withdrawals and will report further results later."

Forgive us for being unimpressed both with the how these interim findings are not matching up with a lot of the breathless allegations of "cheating" claimed by some in the media, and also by the sloth like progress being made by the Auditor of state.

It appears that the vast number of attendance erasures might in fact be legitimate, but simply not supported by documentation, as districts had poor policies and procedures in place to record and store the documentation. Furthermore, ODE, despite it's claims to the contrary have not been clear on what is required

The results of our statewide assessment indicate that there are a number of areas requiring centralized, improved ODE guidance and immediate clarification. ODE should use this report as a management tool to identify critical Accountability systems and weaknesses requiring enhancement to aid Ohio schools in Accountability determinations and reporting.

The Auditors list of recommendations is replete with calls for legislative changes, indicating that the current system is inadequate, and not the fault of districts

To strengthen and foster consistency in the reporting of approved homeschooling, ODE should consider requesting the General Assembly to amend the authorities and powers of ESC’s to approve homeschooling for all Ohio school districts, including city and exempt village districts.
The General Assembly should provide authority for ODE to collect personally identifiable information, such as student names, to enable ODE to work cooperatively with the Ohio Juvenile Court system and DYS tracking and reporting truant students.
The General Assembly should establish a single statewide student information system so that all data is uniform, uniformly reported, and accessible for data mining. Alternatively if such is not feasible the General Assembly should require ODE to approve the Student Information System used by each district in the state to ensure it meets requirements.
EMIS monitoring functions should be performed by an independent agency or commission appointed by the General Assembly.

Not mentioned anywhere in this report - how any of this has adversely affected student education. Neither does the Auditor indicate what the cost might be both to districts and to the state if full compliance and his recommendations were implemented.


Acting State Superintendent Sawyer just released the following statement

Good morning:

As anticipated from our communication yesterday, here is a link to the Auditor of State’s Interim Report on Student Attendance Data and the Accountability System released this morning. The report also is available here on our Quick Links page. We are pleased that the report shows that most districts visited to date by the auditor’s staff are compliant with legal and reporting requirements. However, as the report indicates, the investigation is ongoing and the Auditor’s Office will continue to review attendance data for all schools. Regardless of your participation to date in the ongoing investigation, I encourage you to read the interim report to reinforce the attendance policies, administrative guidelines and reporting requirements required by your school or district.

Next Monday during their regularly scheduled meeting, the State Board of Education will hear a report from the Auditor of State’s Office, which will result in discussion related to the impact of the interim report findings and the Local Report Cards. I will update you next week on the status of the Local Report Cards and access to the Secure Data Center.

Thank you,

Michael L. Sawyers
Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction

Final Interim ADM Report 10052012

Education News for 07-25-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • Educators hope to clarify Ohio Lottery profits for schools (News-Herald)
  • Record earnings for the Ohio Lottery have educators worried about public perception of that news. While it is required by law that all earnings from the Ohio Lottery be distributed to K-12 education, the Ohio Department of Education says the breakdown of where that money goes isn’t as simple. According to ODE, there are many possibilities for the extra revenue, and they all depend on state legislators. For instance, a spokesman for ODE said that although the extra money is guaranteed to be given to Ohio education. Read more...

  • 150 Ohio Schools Out Of Compliance With Safety Information (WBNS 10 CBS)
  • COLUMBUS - State law requires schools to turn in safety blueprints to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. According to Attorney General Mike DeWine, more than 150 schools are out of compliance with the law. There are no penalties for schools that do not submit their safety information. DeWine said that prevention is on the top of his safety list. “Law enforcement does not have access to this information,” DeWine said. “Fire and rescue do not have access to this information.” Representatives from more than 250 Ohio schools and communities gathered. Read more...

  • Toledo schools join Columbus in attendance data trouble (Dispatch)
  • Toledo City Schools leaders were wrong to think that they were allowed to “scrub” attendance records to improve their state report-card numbers, a state spokesman said. “We do not allow school districts to manipulate that data to improve attendance rates or test scores,” Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton said. “Districts may correct data that they entered incorrectly, but only under a specific set of rules and state laws.” Read more...

Local Issues

  • Court upholds Granville teacher license suspensions (Newark Advocate)
  • Licking County Common Pleas Judge David Branstool upheld a decision by the Ohio Department of Education to suspend the teaching licenses of two Granville teachers accused of falsifying state test scores. In a decision rendered Friday, Branstool affirmed the state board’s decision to suspend for one year the licenses of English language learner teachers Jane Pfautsch and Mary Ellen Locke, over irregularities involving state testing procedures in 2010. Read more...

  • Northeast Ohio schools might be insulated from falling residential property values (Plain Dealer)
  • CLEVELAND — Home values in the Cleveland school district have fallen more than 21 percent in the last few years. They're down 26 percent in the Euclid school district and 33.5 percent in Maple Heights, which had the largest fall in Cuyahoga County. Those drops will mean a tax bite for those districts, but not the budget disaster you might think. The falling values won't bring real tax relief for homeowners, either. The Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office on Tuesday released changes in the residential property values for all school districts in the county after its reappraisal. Read more...

  • Youngstown school board OKs 2 new contracts (Vindicator)
  • Youngstown - The school board approved two new contracts with two unions, both calling for no cost-of-living increases and an increased health-care contribution from employees. The board approved the three-year agreements at a regular meeting Tuesday with the five building-trade unions and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1143. Both pacts run through Jan. 31, 2015. The contracts call for the employees to pay 10 percent of the health-care premium cost. Read more...

  • Marietta board discusses 3rd grade mandate (Marietta Times)
  • Questions and concerns about the state's recently passed third-grade reading guarantee were heard at the Marietta City Board of Education meeting Monday. Director of teaching and learning Jason Smith explained that portions of the guarantee - which requires children to meet a certain level of proficiency in reading or face repeating the third grade - will go into effect in the upcoming school year. However, it is unlikely any students would face retention at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Read more...

  • Middletown school’s pay more for BCESC services (Middletown Journal)
  • MIDDLETOWN — The Middletown City School District’s Board of Education entered into a contract Monday night worth more than $1 million with the Butler County Educational Service Center. The total contract is is approximately $140,000 higher than last year’s contract partly because it includes the salary of a new, shared business manager with Monroe. However, it will amount to a savings in the long run, according to Middletown superintendent Greg Rasmussen. Read more...

  • USV to pay former superintendent $39,000 (Lima News)
  • MCGUFFEY — The Upper Scioto Valley school board has come to an agreement with former Superintendent Rick Rolston, who the board fired in January. The board will pay Rolston $39,000. It is his per diem rate from Jan. 5, when the board voted to begin proceedings to terminate him, to April 25, when the board hired Dennis Recker to assume the position. Rolston, who came to the district in late 2008, demanded a hearing on the termination. A referee appointed by the state department of education recommended that Rolston’s contract not be terminated. Read more...

  • OAPSE union files grievance against Dawson-Bryant district (Ironton Tribune)
  • COAL GROVE — This year’s free summer lunch program was not a success for the Dawson-Bryant Local School District and the local Ohio Association of Local School Employees (OAPSE) union has filed a complaint with the district claiming the program displaced its workers, Superintendent Dennis DeCamp said at Monday’s board of education meeting. In past summers, DeCamp said, the school district offered summer meals to students in need, but the turnout was so low, thousands of dollars was lost on the project. Read more...

Choosing blindly

As we continue to explore areas of education reform currently under discussed, we wanted to bring this recently released study from the Brookings Institute's Brown Center on Education Policy, titled "Choosing Blindly: Instructional Materials, Teacher Effectiveness, and the Common Core", to your attention.

Students learn principally through interactions with people (teachers and peers) and instructional materials (textbooks, workbooks, instructional software, web-based content, homework, projects, quizzes, and tests). But education policymakers focus primarily on factors removed from those interactions, such as academic standards, teacher evaluation systems, and school accountability policies. It’s as if the medical profession worried about the administration of hospitals and patient insurance but paid no attention to the treatments that doctors give their patients.

There is strong evidence that the choice of instructional materials has large effects on student learning—effects that rival in size those that are associated with differences in teacher effectiveness. But whereas improving teacher quality through changes in the preparation and professional development of teachers and the human resources policies surrounding their employment is challenging, expensive, and time-consuming, making better choices among available instructional materials should be relatively easy, inexpensive, and quick.

Administrators are prevented from making better choices of instructional materials by the lack of evidence on the effectiveness of the materials currently in use. For example, the vast majority of elementary school mathematics curricula examined by the Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse either have no studies of their effectiveness or have no studies that meet reasonable standards of evidence.

Not only is little information available on the effectiveness of most instructional materials, there is also very little systematic information on which materials are being used in which schools. In every state except one, it is impossible to find out what materials districts are currently using without contacting the districts one at a time to ask them. And the districts may not even know what materials they use if adoption decisions are made by individual schools. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which has the mission of collecting and disseminating information related to education in the U.S., collects no information on the usage of particular instructional materials.

This scandalous lack of information will only become more troubling as two major policy initiatives—the Common Core standards and efforts to improve teacher effectiveness—are implemented. Publishers of instructional materials are lining up to declare the alignment of their materials with the Common Core standards using the most superficial of definitions. The Common Core standards will only have a chance of raising student achievement if they are implemented with high-quality materials, but there is currently no basis to measure the quality of materials. Efforts to improve teacher effectiveness will also fall short if they focus solely on the selection and retention of teachers and ignore the instructional tools that teachers are given to practice their craft.

The full report can be read here.