Education News for 02-11-2013

State Education News

  • Attendance investigation to cite errors (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Officials with the Cincinnati and Winton Woods school districts say they will be dinged for improper procedures and other errors, including missing documents and clerical issues …Read more...

  • GED test for high school equivalency degree will be more expensive and harder in 2014 (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Adults without high school diplomas will find it harder and more expensive to earn their equivalency degrees next year, another obstacle for people…Read more...

  • Auditor’s report on ‘scrubbing’ due today (Columbus Dispatch)
  • When state Auditor Dave Yost releases results today of his statewide investigation into whether schools “scrubbed” students from their books, the list of rule-breakers will be short…Read more...

  • New reading requirements could cost schools millions (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • It could potentially cost Miami Valley school districts millions of dollars annually to meet the requirements of the new state Third Grade Reading Guarantee…Read more...

  • Stakes high for new teacher evaluation system (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • School districts across Ohio are preparing to implement the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System next school year, which will rate teachers based on how well their students learn…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Project Excellence accepting nominations of outstanding Warren County teachers (Dayton Daily News)
  • The Area Progress Council’s Project Excellence program is seeking teacher nominations as it enters its 26th year of honoring public educators in Warren County…Read more...

  • Digital learning put on display (Marion Star)
  • Marion Harding High School students and teachers put digital learning on display Wednesday as part of the second national Digital Learning Day…Read more...

  • Local Catholic high schools see enrollment increases (Middletown Journal)
  • Two local Catholic high schools are bucking the trend of falling enrollment at schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati…Read more...

  • Schools, parents team up to fight pill abuse (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Nearly one in every five high school students in Clark County has taken medications not prescribed to them, a local health district survey found…Read more...

  • Area high school teachers tackle technology (Willoughby News Herald)
  • Technology evolves so quickly that it can be hard enough for the average consumer to keep up…Read more...


  • Uncertain schools (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • An irony confronting school officials across Ohio is that a Statehouse that requires them to project district budget plans five years into the future itself shuffles the deck once or twice every two years…Read more...

  • Board game (Toledo Blade)
  • The Toledo Board of Education faces a long, tough, urgent agenda that would tax the skills of a highly effective governing body…Read more...

Gates Foundation Wastes More Money Pushing VAM

Makes it hard to trust the corporate ed reformers when they goose their stats as badly as this.

Any attempt to evaluate teachers that is spoken of repeatedly as being "scientific" is naturally going to provoke rebuttals that verge on technical geek-speak. The MET Project's "Ensuring Fair and Reliable Measures of Effective Teaching" brief does just that. MET was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

At the center of the brief's claims are a couple of figures (“scatter diagrams” in statistical lingo) that show remarkable agreement in VAM scores for teachers in Language Arts and Math for two consecutive years. The dots form virtual straight lines. A teacher with a high VAM score one year can be relied on to have an equally high VAM score the next, so Figure 2 seems to say.

Not so. The scatter diagrams are not dots of teachers' VAM scores but of averages of groups of VAM scores. For some unexplained reason, the statisticians who analyzed the data for the MET Project report divided the 3,000 teachers into 20 groups of about 150 teachers each and plotted the average VAM scores for each group. Why?

And whatever the reason might be, why would one do such a thing when it has been known for more than 60 years now that correlating averages of groups grossly overstates the strength of the relationship between two variables? W.S. Robinson in 1950 named this the "ecological correlation fallacy." Please look it up in Wikipedia. The fallacy was used decades ago to argue that African-Americans were illiterate because the correlation of %-African-American and %-illiterate was extremely high when measured at the level of the 50 states. In truth, at the level of persons, the correlation is very much lower; we’re talking about differences as great as .90 for aggregates vs .20 for persons.

Just because the average of VAM scores for 150 teachers will agree with next year's VAM score average for the same 150 teachers gives us no confidence that an individual teacher's VAM score is reliable across years. In fact, such scores are not — a fact shown repeatedly in several studies.

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Education News for 09-18-2012

State Education News

  • State to review deal in audit (Columbus Dispatch)
  • School officials changed their minds about hiring state auditors to examine an exotic financial deal in the New Albany-Plain district…Read more

  • Area high school students in college classes has doubled in past five years (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • Students who take college courses while in high school are expected to increase dramatically in the next decade, education experts say…Read more

  • State to talk about money at Mathews (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Ohio Department of Education representatives are scheduled to visit Mathews Schools officials on Wednesday to discuss the district's finances…Read more

Local Education News

  • North Fork fills vacant position after tight vote (Newark Advocate)
  • The North Fork Board of Education approved a Columbus administrator as its new activities director and assistant principal…Read more

  • Driving the point home (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • It's one thing for an adult, including a law enforcement officer, to talk to teens about the importance of safe driving…Read more

  • Former Northland High School Athletic Director Admits To Stealing Thousands (WBNS)
  • The former athletic director at Northland High School pleaded guilty to theft in office. Ramani Hunter was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence if she follows all the rules during a year of court…Read more

  • Columbus Schools Face Lawsuit Over Planned Renovation Project (WBNS)
  • Columbus City Schools is facing a $41 million lawsuit over its renovation project at Indianola Middle School…Read more

  • Board member calls for sup’t to resign (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • An emotionally charged email from school-board member Harold Porter calls for the resignation of Superintendent Vince Colaluca. Porter, who was elected to the board in November 2011, sent the email to Colaluca and other school-board members…Read more

Education News for 09-07-2012

State Education News

  • State might delay planned letter grades for schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Plans to create a new rating system for Ohio schools should be delayed until the investigation into whether districts altered attendance data…Read more... for-schools.html

  • Project targeting school violence (Findlay Courier)
  • Findlay City Schools and seven Hancock County schools have begun a project to prevent one of the biggest threats to students today: school violence…Read more...

  • Nearly 40 Ohio School Districts Plan to Apply for $400-Million (State Impact Ohio)
  • Thirty-nine Ohio school districts, charter schools and other groups have said they plan to apply for some of the $400 million the federal U.S. Department of Education…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Columbus City Schools’ closed meetings questioned (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The Columbus Board of Education and other district officials have gone into super-secret mode since news broke in June that employees…Read more...

  • Teen sentenced to four years for bomb threat to Lima schools (Lima News)
  • Lima Schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said Thursday the four-year sentence a teenager received in adult prison for calling in a false bomb threat…Read more...

  • Johnstown bus route timing set to begin (Newark Advocate)
  • Johnstown-Monroe Local Schools will begin timing the routes it uses to take students to private schools next week…Read more...

  • Teaching the teachers (People's Defender)
  • Agricultural education and science teachers from Ohio comprehensive high schools and career technical schools recently participated in the first-ever Ohio Ag-Biotechnology Academy…Read more...


  • A privilege to help (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Any parent who has ever gone back-to-school shopping knows how picky kids can be: Shoes and outfits have to be just right. It’s all about looking good and fitting in…Read more...

  • District ready for state education reforms (This Week News)
  • Ohio's education system is experiencing an unprecedented number of proposed and soon to be implemented reforms. Our district welcomes tougher academic standards and higher expectations…Read more...

Studies Give Nuanced Look at Teacher Effectiveness

The massive Measures of Effective Teaching Project is finding that teacher effectiveness assessments similar to those used in some district value-added systems aren't good at showing which differences are important between the most and least effective educators, and often totally misunderstand the "messy middle" that most teachers occupy. Yet the project's latest findings suggest more nuanced teacher tests, multiple classroom observations and even student feedback can all create a better picture of what effective teaching looks like.

Researchers dug into the latest wave of findings from the study of more than 3,000 classes for a standing-room-only ballroom at the American Educational Research Association's annual conference here on Saturday.

"The beauty of multiple measures isn't that there are more of them—more can be more confusing—these need to be alligned to the outcomes we care about," said Steve Cantrell, who oversees the MET project for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Existing teacher evaluation systems often use indicators that are not effective at guaging student achievement, and moreover that lump teachers into too-simplistic categories.

"The middle is a lot messier than a lot of state policies would lead us to believe," Cantrell said. "Teachers don't fall neatly into quartiles. Based on the practice data, if I look at the quartiles, all that separates the 25th and 75th on a class (observation) instrument is .68—less than 10 percent of the scale distribution. In a lot of systems, the 75th percentile teacher is considered a leader and the 25th percentile considered a laggard. ...This would suggest they're a lot closer than being off by two categories."

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Education News for 03-20-2012

Statewide Education News

  • ‘Dropout factories’ grow in state (Dispatch)
  • WASHINGTON — A new report says the number of Ohio high schools considered “dropout factories” jumped from 75 to 135 during the eight years ending in 2010, an increase that far outpaced those of other states. The data are part of research presented yesterday at the Grad Nation summit in Washington. The summit was organized by the children’s advocacy group America’s Promise Alliance, founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The group defines dropout factories as schools that fail to graduate more than 60 percent of students on time. Read More…

  • In Ohio school shooting case, judge refuses to release documents that may involve T.J. Lane (Plain Dealer)
  • CHARDON - A Geauga County judge today refused to release any documents that may relate to abuse, neglect, dependency or custody issues involving T.J. Lane, the 17-year-old accused of killing three classmates at Chardon High School last month. In a 13-page decision, Juvenile Judge Timothy Grendell declined to say whether such records exist. But the court's docket shows there was a case involving the youth. He said the release of such records, if they exist, could potentially skew the jury pool if the youth is bound over to Common Pleas Court. Read More…

  • Ohio has more 'dropout factories' (Enquirer)
  • The number of “dropout factory schools” in Ohio shot up by 80 percent between the 2001-02 school year and 2009-10, according to a new national report. “Dropout factories” is a term for schools with a graduation rate of 60 percent or less. Ohio is among 35 states in which the number of these schools has increased, according to the report, Building a Grad Nation, which was released Monday. The report does not list schools by name, although state data shows two Cincinnati Public schools and several Cincinnati charter schools likely would fall into this category. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Granville school board to eliminate positions (Newark Advocate)
  • GRANVILLE - A somber Granville Board of Education Monday night unanimously, and reluctantly, agreed to a Reduction in Force resolution that would eliminate 22 positions, full and part-time, and reduce two other full-time posts by one-quarter each next school year. The move is the latest to reduce general operations spending by $1.5 million next school year and to readjust staff in the face of a declining enrollment. Read More…

  • Poland voters’ rejection of tax levy for schools paves way for pay-to-play (Vindicator)
  • POLAND - The school board met for more than two hours Monday to discuss fallout from the March 6 levy defeat and appeared to reach two short-term conclusions: All-day kindergarten will remain through next school year, and pay-to-participate athletics are on the way. All board members said they would vote “no” to cut kindergarten to half-day and agreed that pay-to- participate athletic fees are necessary, though the proposed amounts range from $150 per high-school sport to $300 or $500 per high-school sport. Read More…

  • School buildings under budget (Findlay Courier)
  • Crediting this year's uncharacteristically warm winter, Touchstone CPM Project Manager Chris Moore announced Monday that the project to build Findlay's three new school buildings is $2.6 million under budget. "We've had so few hurdles," Moore told Findlay's school board Monday. "From a financial standpoint, that's very good news." Moore said the $2.6 million is a part of the project's contingency, or emergency, fund. And although District Treasurer Mike Barnhart said that total will most likely decrease by the time the project is completed. Read More…