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 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).


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.


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.

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


  • 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

Why are we investing more in a failed experiment?

By Maureen Reedy, former teacher of the year and candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

History seems to be repeating itself in the Statehouse. Once again, legislators are poised to pass a state budget bill that continues to take billions of our tax dollars out of traditional public schools to fund for-profit charters that have produced dismal results after two decades of experimentation in our state.

“Let the money follow the child,” is a favorite phrase of Gov. John Kasich and his fellow charter-school fans to craft legislation that diverts more and more of our public funds to charter schools each year.

For two decades, the money has been following Ohio’s children out of the doors of our public schoolhouses and through the doors of charter schools. Despite losing over $6 billion to charters during the past 15 years, traditional public schools continue to vastly outperform their charter-school counterparts.

While 77 percent of Ohio’s public schools were successful last year (rated Excellent with Distinction, Achieving or Effective), only 23 percent of Ohio’s charters were successful (rated Effective or Achieving). So 77 percent of Ohio’s public schools are receiving A’s, B’s and C’s while 77 percent of Ohio’s charter schools are receiving D’s and F’s. And the bottom 111 performing schools last year? All were charter schools.

Graduation rates also should give our legislators reason to put the brakes on funneling dollars to charters: 81 percent of Ohio’s students graduate from their public high schools as compared to a 30 percent to 40 percent high-school graduation rate for charter-school students.

“Following the money” also leads us to family-run charter-school operations with hefty salaries and few education credentials, including multimillion-dollar salaries for the CEOs of Ohio’s two largest charter-school chains, David Brennan of White Hat Management Co. and William Lager of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. Our tax dollars also are going to pay for advertising campaigns to recruit students to attend their underperforming charter schools.

Also perplexing are the two sets of rules that seem to exist for public schools and charter schools. Apparently, once public money goes into a charter-school operation, it ceases to be public and belongs to the charter-school corporation.

Brennan of White Hat has refused to open his books to the state auditor for the third consecutive year. We are still waiting to hear exactly what percentage of public tax money is being spent on instructional resources and supports for educating children verses top-level multimillion-dollar administrative salaries, advertising and recruitment efforts in the corporate headquarters of White Hat.

In addition, while Lager of ECOT receives millions of dollars for his annual salary from public funding, his private software company has enjoyed profits of over $10 million in just a single year selling products to his ECOT schools, paid for by our public tax dollars.

Charter schools also are permitted to close their doors and shut down operations when cited for multiple violations, only to re-open the next day under a different sponsor, in a different building under a different name and continue to receive our tax dollars.

As charters close, oftentimes at mid-year, hundreds of children are shuffled back to their public schools without adequate records and a significant loss of instructional time. Just as tragic is the students’ loss of community and social connections, which contributes to academic deficits and delays.

As a parent, taxpayer and 30-year public-school teacher, I have to ask: Why are legislators proposing a budget that does nothing to restore funding for our public schools, but instead increases funding to charter schools? Why are we continuing to invest billions in a failed experiment that weakens our stronger-performing traditional school system and risks the future of Ohio’s children?

Education News for 04-03-2013

State Education News

  • Educators line up to tour Reynoldsburg (Columbus Dispatch)
  • If you’re an educator who wants to tour Reynoldsburg schools, you’re going to have to wait until fall. The district leads about two tours a week for educators from around the country and across the world, and they’re booked for months…Read more...

  • Ohio’s bookkeeping improved, 2012 audit finds (Columbus Dispatch)
  • If not for the state’s massive Medicaid health-care program, there would be little to talk about in this year’s annual audit of Ohio’s financial records…Read more...

  • Area schools named Schools of Promise (Lima News)
  • Many pieces go into determining whether a pupil finds academic success, and Superintendent Dale Lewellen believes it’s why both Bath's elementary and high schools landed on the state’s…Read more...

  • 21 Mahoning Valley schools designated Schools of Promise (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Twenty-one Mahoning Valley schools have earned the designation “School of Promise” for the 2011-12 school year from the Ohio Department of Education…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Ashtabula City Council tweaks curfew laws (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • The children spoke and City Council heard them…

  • Huron school board upholds firing former Superintendent Fox (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • A majority of Huron School Board members voted last night to uphold their firing of former Superintendent Fred Fox, despite a mediator’s report last month that said Fox should be reinstated with back pay…Read more...


  • Out of Akron (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • For the past several years, Akron Public Schools administrators have been engaged in an exercise they refer to as “right-sizing” the district. They have closed several school buildings and laid off staff members, including principals, teachers…Read more...

  • Clarity on school funding urgently needed (Canton Repository)
  • Nothing about Gov. John Kasich’s proposed two-year budget is simple. It’s filled with fundamental changes in the way state government operates, and he faces opposition…Read more...

Education News for 04-01-2013

State Education News

  • Catholic schools embrace Common Core (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • The Common Core isn’t just for public schools anymore. These days, private schools across the country are jumping on the public education standards bandwagon…Read more...

  • Lawmakers aren’t near a school-funding resolution (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Faced with an unpopular formula, a fast-approaching deadline, and an uncertain amount of money, Rep. Gerald Stebelton doubts a final school-funding plan can be crafted by the time the two-year state budget is approved…Read more...

  • Reports of child abuse, neglect increase (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Reports of possible abuse or neglect of children continue to rise in Franklin County, driven in part by more notices from schools, day-care centers and others who work with kids…Read more...

  • Ohio’s new chief educator is expected to seek change (Columbus Dispatch)
  • People who know Ohio’s new state school superintendent have called him provocative, direct and impatient…Read more...

  • Charter schools would receive 'F' in new standards (Newark Advocate)
  • Seven in 10 Ohio charter schools wouldn’t make the grade under Ohio’s new school rating system, which will replace ambiguous terms with an A-F scale…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Treasurer predicts fewer students will leave Akron for charter, private schools (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Each year in May, Treasurer Jack Pierson prepares a five-year financial forecast for Akron Public Schools…Read more...

  • Lobbying not part of education panel’s expenses (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The Columbus Education Commission had spent just under $360,000 through February and had about $640,000 in city cash and pledges from the business community, officials said last week…Read more...

  • Campus Impact program helps students cope with bullying (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • In light of reports of bullying involving children, preventative programs such as Campus Impact are being sought locally to help students deal with the issue of bullying…Read more...

  • Linkage coordinators reflect on three years helping students stay in school (Newark Advocate)
  • In July 2010, Josh Devoll and Dava Kaltenecker became linkage coordinators…Read more...

  • Mathews teachers, board OK contract (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Mathews schoolteachers and the board of education have ratified a three-year contract containing no salary increases for the duration of the contract and increased medical premiums in the third year…Read more...

  • Youngstown board members sound off on supt., each other (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • “Fractured” and “strained” are some of the adjectives city school board members used to describe their relationships with one another and with Superintendent Connie Hathorn — but so are “cordial” and "professional."…Read more...


  • Medina situation in a word: Disconnect (Canton Repository)
  • Medina residents are rightly upset about their school board’s lax policies on spending. They aren’t likely to rest until they’re satisfied that the board and administration are making resolution of this issue a top priority…Read more...

  • Give consideration to school consolidation (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette)
  • This past week, we raised the question: Does Ohio need 612 school districts? There is no clear-cut answer, but we believe it’s a question worthy of closer scrutiny…Read more...

Education News for 02-04-2013

State Education News

  • Governor’s office says school funding plan is a redistribution of wealth, not attempt at adequacy (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • On Thursday, Gov. John Kasich’s education experts stood in front of images on a screen and said they had arrived at a school funding formula that ends the inequity among Ohio’s richest and poorest districts…Read more...

  • Gov. John Kasich's school funding plan might hold little new money for many Northeast Ohio districts (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Northeast Ohio may not benefit as much as other parts of the state from Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to overhaul school funding, a Plain Dealer analysis shows…Read more...

  • Officials seek details of Kasich plan for gifted (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Compared to other states, Ohio’s support for gifted students has been among the best: Only one other state with comparable data gave more money for gifted programs in 2011…Read more...

  • Rules vague on suspending teachers for misconduct (Columbus Dispatch)
  • After being arrested and charged with assault, domestic violence and disorderly conduct, a Westerville teacher paid bond and left jail. Eight days later, when students returned to school from winter break…Read more...

  • Only limit on new voucher is the budget (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Nearly half of Ohio’s 1.8 million elementary and secondary students could qualify in the coming years for tax-funded tuition to private schools under Gov. John Kasich’s plan to expand the state’s voucher program…Read more...

  • Incentives plan raises questions (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The same component of Gov. John Kasich’s school-funding plan that would empower districts to add performance pay incentives for teachers also could push districts to trim teachers from the payrolls…Read more...

  • Public schools would incur some cost of voucher expansion (Dayton Daily News)
  • An adviser for Gov. John Kasich on Friday provided more funding details about his controversial plan to expand the school voucher program in Ohio…Read more...

  • Area school chiefs greet Kasich plan with optimism (Findlay Courier)
  • Gov. John Kasich's school-funding plan was met with optimism and apprehension Friday as area superintendents said they are eager to find out the specifics of the overhaul, which will see the state spend $15.1 billion on schools over the next two years…Read more...

  • Should schools consider arming staff? (Marion Star)
  • Imagine this scenario. A man with a gun enters a school, intent on killing. A locked door doesn’t stop him. He gets through security efforts and starts shooting…Read more...

  • Bullying study: It does get better for gay, bisexual teens (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • It really does get better for gay and bisexual teens when it comes to being bullied, although young gay men have it worse than their lesbian peers, according to the first long-term scientific evidence…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Ex-cop ready to serve if schools sign on to his idea (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • There has been plenty of talk but little else since Butler County’s sheriff publicly floated the idea of retired cops working as armed substitute teachers…Read more...

  • Groveport schools could try new option for levy (Columbus Dispatch)
  • To solve long-term budget problems, Groveport Madison school leaders have proposed a tax-levy approach that few districts in the state have pursued…Read more...

  • Schools ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Kasich’s funding plan (Middletown Journal)
  • While Butler County school officials are still awaiting more detailed figures next week, overall reaction has been positive to Gov. John Kasich’s new model for school funding…Read more...

  • Tecumseh teachers earn grant support (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Eleven Tecumseh teachers will receive grants to assist with innovative projects for their classrooms that don’t fit in the district’s budge…Read more...


  • Finally, a real response to DeRolph (Canton Repository)
  • Mountains of number crunching will necessarily follow the unveiling of Gov. John Kasich’s school funding plan…Read more...

  • Call for early learning funding is good news - and good business (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • About 90 percent of a child’s brain development happens by the age of 5. About 90 percent of public spending on education goes to the years after age 5…Read more...

  • A Playbook For Ohio Education Initiatives (I Teach Bay)
  • This is Super Bowl Weekend. Analysts have spent two weeks dissecting every possible factor that could impact the performance of either team in the big game…Read more...

How charter operators evade Ohio’s automatic closure law

Policy Matters Ohio issued a report on the failure of Ohio's Charter school accountability laws. The full report can be found at this link. Here's their executive summary.

Ohio law requiring the automatic closure of charter schools that consistently fail to meet academic standards has been showcased by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers in its “One Million Lives” campaign, which calls for tougher state laws to close failing charter schools. Key findings

  • Ohio law requires automatic closure of academically failing charter schools.
  • Loopholes in the closure law allow sponsors and charter management organizations (CMOs) to keep failing schools open despite orders to close.
  • Seven of 20 closed schools are still operating, with five run by the same CMOs that first opened them.
  • An eighth school avoided mandated closure by shutting down a year early, but reopened with much of the same staff.

The widespread attention given the NACSA campaign has pushed Ohio’s closure law into the spotlight as a model of accountability. Unfortunately, loopholes weaken Ohio law. Since the charter-closure law went into effect in 2008, 20 schools across the state have met closure criteria, and all are currently listed as closed by the Ohio Department of Education.

But Policy Matters Ohio has documented that of those 20 schools, seven have essentially remained intact, effectively skirting the automatic-closure law. In some cases, charter management organizations (CMOs) have expanded the charters of other schools to incorporate grade levels served by closed schools. In other cases, CMOs replaced schools facing automatic closure with nearly identical schools, managed by the same company with much of the same staff. An eighth school, Hope Academy Canton, was ordered closed by its sponsor a year before it would have been shut down by the state. Our investigation showed that by closing early and opening a new school in the same location with much of the same staff, Hope Academy’s for-profit operator, White Hat Management, bought five additional years of life – and revenue – for a low performing school. In more than half the cases we examined, the new schools’ academic performance remained the same as that of the old schools; five of the eight schools are still ranked in Academic Watch or Emergency, while their management companies and sponsors continue to take in millions of dollars in public funding. For-profit management companies – the Leona Group, White Hat, and Mosaica Education – run six of the schools, the non-profit Summit Academies runs one, and the last is independently operated. The table on the next page provides an overview of these schools.

Automatic closure Ohio’s charter-closure law, which became effective in 2008 and was revised in 2011, calls for automatic closure of schools rated in Academic Emergency for at least two of the three most recent school years. To be subject to the law, charters serving grades four through eight also must show less than one year of academic growth in either reading or math in that time period.

Ohio law holds charter school boards legally responsible for a school’s academic and financial performance, but places no penalty on CMOs when their schools meet closure criteria, even though these companies are often in charge of hiring and firing teachers, assessing academics, contracting vendors, budgeting, developing curriculum, and providing basic classroom materials. This creates a loophole to keep “closed” schools open and to continue to direct public funds to failing schools.

Weak accountability Since the Ohio legislature first established charters, the state has taken a quantity-over-quality approach to approving new schools and allowing troubled schools to continue. The closure law was meant to deal with the glut of ineffective charters that have for too long betrayed the promise of charters in Ohio. But our investigation shows that despite its seemingly strict closure law, Ohio still falls short of the meaningful oversight and accountability needed to improve the state’s charter sector. The repeal in 2011 of Ohio’s “highly qualified operator” provision gives new start-up charter schools the option of contracting with management companies that do not meet performance standards. Similarly, aside from losing revenue, sponsors are not penalized when schools are closed under their watch. Sponsors are coming under increasing oversight, and some are now prohibited from authorizing new schools, but the effectiveness of these efforts remains to be seen.

Recommendations Based on this study, Policy Matters Ohio recommends that legislators revamp the closure law, strengthen ODE’s capacity to oversee charter schools, direct ODE to refuse the kind of expansion of charter contracts that has allowed schools and management companies to skirt the law, and hold charter management companies accountable for the academic performance of their schools. Charter law in Ohio remains ineffective and weak. Until Ohio gets serious about quality in the charter sector – both by preventing operators with weak track records from opening new schools, and by creating a more meaningful charter-closure law – Ohio will continue to fall short of the goal of strengthening its public education system so that it can serve everyone.