What of test integrity?

The Atalanta Constitution Journal has a detailed report on the integrity of tests now being used to make high stakes decisions. Their findings are torubling.

The stain of cheating spread unchecked across 44 Atlanta schools before the state finally stepped in and cleaned it up. But across the country, oversight remains so haphazard that most states cannot guarantee the integrity of their standardized tests, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.

Poor oversight means that cheating scandals in other states are inevitable. It also undermines a national education policy built on test scores, which the states and local districts use to fire teachers, close schools and direct millions of dollars in funding.

The AJC’s survey of the 50 state education departments found that many states do not use basic test security measures designed to stop cheating on tests. And most states make almost no attempt to screen test results for irregularities.

The whole article is well worth a read. We have long held that the increased stakes tied to test scores can only increase the incidence of cheating - it happens in every corporate system.

you can see the ACJ survey results here, which include Ohio.

Charters omitted from evaluation

When it comes to charter schools the playing field isn't just unlevel, there are 2 different fields. A report from Gongwer

Majority Republicans imposed new requirements in the budget bill for public schools to regularly evaluate teachers and principals, but in a little-noticed twist to the hotly debated policy change, many charter schools ended up with an exemption.

The budget language, which is supported by Gov. John Kasich, gives more than 130 charter schools a pass from instituting teacher performance evaluations, which critics say creates unequal accountability among public schools.

So what are both sides saying about this?

Ohio Association of School Business Officials Associate Executive Director Barbara Shaner said the performance evaluation requirement should be applied uniformly.

"We feel like there does need to be the same level of accountability, and if the evaluations are meant to improve student achievement and improve the effectiveness of school districts then I guess our view would be that it should apply to all schools," she said.

That would seem like the common sense response. We hear continually from corporate education reformers how imperative it is that teachers are accountable for their results, and that the continued lack of accountability is causing a crisis in education.

Apparently, when it is suggested to corporate education reformers and their benefactors that charts should be held to similar standards, the story changes

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools President Bill Sims said he understands the motivation for the budget language. "I think that the rationale there was that in keeping with the original intent or precepts of charter schools was to give them as much autonomy as is possible," he said.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols agreed, saying the language reflects that charter schools operate under different oversight than traditional schools do.

But, but but, charters are different!

Yes, yes they are. Let's compare the 2011 state report card for traditional schools and charters. We'll note in red the worst performing of the two

Designation Charters Traditional Schools
Academic Emergency 20.9% 4.4%
Academic Watch 16.8% 5.6%
Continuous Improvement 28.9% 12.1%
Effective 11.8% 23.2%
Excellent 7.4% 40.1%
Excellent with Distinction 1.5% 8.7%
Not Rated 12.7% 5.9%

The governor's spokesperson continued

"From the administration's perspective, charter schools by definition operate outside the tentacles of state regulation, which is in part why they've been very, very successful; unsuccessful ones are simply shut down," he said.

That's a lot of red for something that's been very, very successful, don't you think? So much red you might be excused for thinking more oversight is needed, not less.

Charter schools funneling vast sums of money to Turkey

Here's the blockbuster report from WEWS into 16 Horizon Science Science Academies across Ohio that were funneling vast sums of money to Turkey

Outsourcing education to Turkey and low paid Turkish teachers, with so little oversight it has been able to go on for over a decade.

We send letters

We just sent the following letter to each of the 33 Ohio State Senators. We'll report their answers as we receive them.

Dear State Senator,

With the Ohio House of Representatives passing HB153 and the debate moving to the Senate, I am writing you to enquire what your position is on a number of items in this bill. Specifically

(1) Do you support or oppose the expansion of charter school provisions and the easing or oversight?

(2) Do you support or oppose the teacher merit pay provisions that eliminate the current framework of compensation and contracts and replace it with an untried evaluation system?

(3) Do you support or oppose the cuts in over all funding levels for K-12 public education?

I would be very interested to learn your thoughts on these important issues.

Many thanks,
Join the Future