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

Deep Red Opposition to Kasich Funding Plan

As the 130th General assembly gets underway and begins its hearings on the Budget, questions from law makers and superintendents are already starting to heat up - and not from your typical quarters.

the most eye opening example is Superintendent of Franklin City Schools, in deep red Warren county who sent out a letter to residents calling John Kasich a liar, and asking for citizens to join him in removing him from office.

Governor John Kasich was untruthful last week, and in doing so, finally clarified that kids in poor school districts don't count.
As parents and friends of our district, I hope you will do two things: First, please join me in an active campaign to ensure that Gov. Kasich and any legislator who supports him are not re-elected. Second, I hope you will contact our state officials and urge them to ask Gov. Kasich to return to the drawing board on his school funding proposal.

Here's the full letter

Letter to Residents-Mr. Elam

Further difficult questions were posed to the Governor's education advisors during a House education committee hearing. Plunderbund captures on such exchange by Rep Smith (a Republican who won his district with over 65% of the vote in 2012)

During the hearings [video available here at 137:53] Smith asked a very moving question of Richard A. Ross, head the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education. He simply wanted to know what, if anything, this budget would do to help the severely underfunded schools in his district, schools that are laying off teachers and other vital staff and can’t afford to provide simple classes in art of music. Ross compared his schools to the fast growing Olentangy school district in Central Ohio.

“Olentangy schools have German 1,2 and 3, Jewelry 1, Ceramics 1, Sculpture 1, Stage Craft 1, Concert Orchestra,” said Smith. ”These are things that children of Appalachia don’t get exposed to.”

“I’m not asking for synchronized swimming or a swimming pool or anything extra. I’m not asking for violin lessons or cello lessons. What I want for is my kids is music. And art… just give them a basic education,” pleaded Smith.

State Rep Smith also tells the story of Symmes Valley School District where the Superintendent had to layoff his board secretary, transportation director and curriculum director and is now doing all of those jobs himself. Another school district in Smith’s area has lost 40 teachers and the rest have had no raises in four years.

Smith ends by asking Ross asking if there is any “special sauce” in this budget that will help superintendents just provided a basic education to the kids in his district?

the Governor's advisors told Rep Smith that perhaps students in his poor district could learn music online. Then they laughed. They may not be laughing much longer, as opposition to the second worst school funding plan (The worst being their previous plan that cut almost $2 billion from school budgets) is increasing and hardening even in red corners of the state.

Stephen Dyer notes that Governor Kasich ought to be worried. We agree.

Education News for 12-06-2012

State Education News

  • Senate will redo bill on grading districts (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Republican leaders in the Senate say the goal of a new A-to-F report-card system and tougher school-accountability system is to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college…Read more...

  • Educators open to stricter standards (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • If making teachers take a rigorous exam to get their license, similar to the way lawyers take the bar exam in order to practice law…Read more...

  • Educators debate proposed exam (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Ohio educators responded with tempered support to the American Federation of Teachers’ call for a more stringent exam…Read more...

  • Political Fight Threatens To End Funding For Autism Treatment In This Session (WBNS)
  • The state education department spends over $250 million dollars annually in special education costs for children with autism…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Many kids miss school as 'stomach flu' spreads in Ross County (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Several local schools reported a large number of students out sick Wednesday, one day after health officials said the so-called “stomach flu” appears to be fairly widespread…Read more...

  • Licking Heights school copes without busing (Columbus Dispatch)
  • There were a lot of whistles and hand signals, a few kids wandering through the parking lot yesterday with their cellphones pressed to their ears…Read more...

  • Schools create rainy day fund (Newark Advocate)
  • Granville school officials have established an emergency “contingency” fund that is dependent in part upon how quickly the Granville Inn is sold…Read more...

  • Custodians, groundskeepers laid off at Heights (Newark Advocate)
  • Licking Heights Board of Education last week moved forward with another round of reductions, laying off custodians and reducing the hours of dozens of bus drivers…Read more...

  • Teachers get STEM training (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Some teachers were a little overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available in the new Defined STEM program…Read more...


  • Short takes (Columbus Dispatch)
  • KIDS OFTEN are involved with activities at school beyond the traditional school day, and often when it’s dark. Combine poor visibility with a lack of sidewalks and well-marked or well-lit crosswalks…Read more...

  • Better busing (Findlay Courier)
  • Earlier this year, Gov. John Kasich's administration introduced "Beyond Boundaries," a program to help school districts, local governments and state agencies deal with less state funding…Read more...

A narrative path forward for teachers

One of the best responses to the corporate education reformers we've read in a long time.

In every country in the world, poverty impedes educational success. Our biggest education problem is that more of our kids are in poverty than any other developed nation. When America's public school teachers get kids who are well-fed and healthy and live in stable homes with parents who have good jobs, those kids do better in school than any other children in the world.

But a group of people who do not teach (or taught for a short while and not very well) have decided to blame teachers - teachers! - for all the problems in our country. They say that "choice" will save our schools, but the "choice" they offer is between underfunded, crumbling public schools and corporatized, autocratic charter schools that they admit they will never serve all children. These schools cherry-pick their students and then falsely claim they have the secret for success. Their inability to educate all students proves that public schools are not the problem - poverty is. 

Why do these people sell this snake oil? Three reasons:

1) Many of them are looking to make money - a lot of money - off of education. They want to do to our schools what they did to our military, turning them into a bunch of Haliburton Highs.

2) They want to finally and completely break the unions. Once the teachers fall, it's all over for the middle class.

3) They need a scapegoat. Teachers didn't create these problems: the corporate titans of Wall Street did. These plutocrats are now paying a gang of carnival barkers a big bunch of money to blame teachers - teachers! - for the problems they themselves made.

10 most inaccurate ed reform axioms

The Washington post has a list of the 10 most inaccurate and damaging statements that some school reformers toss around.

Here’s the list:

1. High-stakes standardized test data produce the fairest, most reliable, and least expensive evidence of student comprehension as well as teacher ability.

2. High-stakes standardized tests are updated routinely to eliminate confusing and/or culturally biased aspects, and questions on these tests are comprehensible by any child who can read on grade level.

3. Testing anxiety is rare, affects mostly low-achieving students, and has a minimal impact on test results.

4. High-stakes tests do not take an unreasonable amount of time for students to complete and test preparation does not take an unreasonable amount of instructional time throughout the year.

5. We would coddle and ultimately damage kids who receive special accommodations if we taught and/or tested them according to their ability to read and comprehend English. The fairest way to teach and test high-needs kids is in the same classroom, with the same curriculum, and with the same high-stakes tests (in addition to other high-stakes tests) as kids who don’t receive any special accommodations.

6. Poverty and high class size don’t matter when you have high standards.

7. The Common Core State Standards will significantly increase student achievement while saving taxpayer money.

8. Charter schools are more effective at instructing kids than nearby public schools and can do so for less money without putting financial burdens on nearby public school districts.

9. Parents have more decision-making power at charter schools than at public schools and the upcoming feature film, “Won’t Back Down” accurately depicts how parents are empowered to fix failing schools once parent trigger laws are in place.

10. Business leaders should run public schools and school systems because they are usually successful when permitted to apply a corporate model to public education.

Education News for 06-11-2012

State Education News

  • Ohio schools prepare for another budget hit (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Therese Konrad, who has taught in the Rocky River School District for 24 years, says her students always rise to the challenges she presents them. Read more...

  • State may add schools for gifted (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Should Ohio have special schools for smart kids? Advocates for gifted students say a new proposal for regional schools would ensure the students have access to more rigorous courses and learning opportunities that keep Read more...

  • School rating plan minds achievement gaps (Columbus Dispatch)
  • For years, Ohio educators have struggled to close the gaps. White students perform much better than their black and Latino peers in most of the state’s school districts. Poor students generally do worse than their wealthier Read more...

  • Schools' summer slide’ worse for poor kids (Dayton Daily News)
  • American students in grades one through nine reportedly lose one month of learning, on average, during a typical three-month summer break — which is often referred to as the “summer slide” — Read more...

  • Needy kids can get summer lunches (Dayton Daily News)
  • Forty-five percent of Ohio children were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches this past school year through the National School Lunch Program. Read more...

Local Education News

  • Summer reading program combines major Summit County entities (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Reading and exercise will be key parts of a summer reading program for adults and children at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Read more...

  • Private company disrupts status quo at South High, renews student (Columbus Dispatch)
  • There were classes, and there were sports. But there was little else at South High two years ago. The couple of lunchtime clubs barely attracted students’ attention. Read more...

  • Tech-savvy South Range grads get age-old advice (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The new high school is surrounded by wide-open spaces, split-rail fences, horses and cows. Read more...

  • School board OKs placing 5.9-mill levy on Nov. ballot (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • POLAND The Poland board of education has agreed to place a five-year, 5.9-mill emergency operating levy on the Nov. 6 general-election ballot. Read more...


  • City teachers mistakenly dig in against proposed concessions: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • It will take more than two to tango if the Cleveland schools hope to banish a looming $19 million deficit. Read more...

  • Let Local Schools Make the Decisions (Wheeling Intelligencer)
  • A federal program intended to help students doing poorly in school turned into a fiasco in Ohio. Now the state is doing what should have been done all along - Read more...

  • Legislating in Ohio for the kids -- yeah, sure: Brent Larkin (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • When it comes to charter schools, Republicans who control the Ohio House don't lie all the time. Only when their lips move. Read more...

  • Charter schools get short end of the funding stick (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The Sunday Dispatch article “Residents carry more school costs” highlighted the need for school districts to keep going back to the levy well to cover costs Read more...

  • Don't punish the kids because they can't read (Columbus Dispatch)
  • To improve the teaching of reading, we’re now going to flunk third-graders that districts haven’t taught to read. Somehow, this latest magic bullet seems aimed more at the victims than the culprits. Read more...