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

Education News for 10-05-2012

State Education News

  • No local districts cited in state auditor's report (Findlay Courier)
  • The state's auditor on Thursday announced his office has found that five Ohio school districts have used questionable attendance policies and practices…Read more...

  • Toledo schools cited for attendance practices (Toledo Blade)
  • Eight Toledo Public Schools improperly "scrubbed" truant students from attendance rolls, according to a preliminary report…Read more...

  • Parents concerned about manipulated school records (WKYC)
  • The Ohio State Auditor says Cleveland and four other districts in Ohio appear to have manipulated attendance figures -- so that lower scoring students were not counted in State Report Cards…Read more...

  • Probe finds improper enrollment data from Campbell schools (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The Campbell schools superintendent says the district is cooperating with the state auditor’s office after an investigation revealed improper enrollment records may have influenced state test scores…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Kent schools to implement new safety plan (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Community leaders, school officials and fire and law enforcement representatives met with parents, students and residents…Read more...

  • Audit isn’t definitive, Harris says (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Columbus schools Superintendent Gene Harris said a critical state audit released yesterday doesn’t substantiate that her schools changed student data to improve their report cards…Read more...

  • State questions Marion City Schools attendance practices (Marion Star)
  • Superintendent James Barney said Marion City Schools did not enroll any students violating its attendance policy to an alternative school to improve its school report card…Read more...

  • Healthier school lunches leave some students hungry (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Many students and parents have reacted strongly to new guidelines for the National School Lunch program mandating calorie limits and more fruits and vegetables, saying the meals are unappealing or leave kids hungry after eating…Read more...

  • CMSD: Audit ‘Does Not Mean We Cheat’ (WJW)
  • The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has responded to an interim report released on Thursday which named the district as one of five that “improperly withdrew students from enrollment” in a way that skewed results of school attendance…Read more...

Erasures demonstrate huge sensitivity in ratings

The Dispatch had another speculative piece of reporting on the attendance erasure issue. We'll leave educator Greg Mild at Plunderbund to go over the substance, or lack thereof, of the article itself. We want to concentrate on something else mentioned in the article which stood out.

At the heart of the controversy is this

Though 7 percent [number of deleted records] may not sound like a lot, it could have a big effect: There are students behind those numbers, and some of their standardized test scores were likely discounted when their attendance records were deleted. That means Columbus’ school grades could have been artificially inflated because of records-tampering.

From this, the Department of Education had a remarkable comment

“The math indicates that removing one student could affect the overall rating,” said John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education. “In some districts, it could be one kid. It’s about dropping the right kid.”

Can this be true? Can the ratings of an entire district truly be affected by just a handful of students, or even one? We have an actual true life example, that yes, small numbers of students can indeed cause an entire districts rating to be changed

In Lockland near Cincinnati, removing 36 kids from the rolls — about 5 percent of their student population — lifted the district from a C to a B on the state report card.

Can a school rating system that is so sensitive to just a handful of students truly be measuring the district as a whole? This growing controversy over attendance data is revealing a lot more than people realize.

Education News for 08-06-2012

State Education News

  • Official Seeks Meeting About Ohio Schools Chief (Associated Press)
  • A member of the Ohio Board of Education called Friday for an emergency meeting to be set for the panel to address findings of wrongdoing against Superintendent Stan Heffner by the state watchdog. Read more...

  • Leader of Ohio schools resigns (Associated Press)
  • Ohio's top education official resigned Saturday amid ethics questions about his work for an educational testing contractor. Read more...

  • Ohio school chief quits (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Ohio’s top education leader announced his resignation Saturday, just two days after facing accusations of misconduct and ethics violations in office. Read more...

  • Ohio schools chief Stan Heffner resigns under fire for conflict (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Ohio Schools Superintendent Stan Heffner resigned on Saturday, under fire after the state inspector general found he lobbied improperly for a private education company he planned to work for. Read more...

  • State schools superintendent resigns amid ethics fallout (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner announced his resignation this afternoon amid the fallout accompanying an ethics scandal. Read more...

  • Schools’ rigging was on the wall (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Although the state auditor’s office and the Department of Education launched investigations this summer into potential data-rigging at school districts across Ohio, the warning lights have been flashing red for years. Read more...

  • School attendance manipulation called ‘unfathomable’ (Lima News)
  • LIMA — When Jill Ackerman found out about public schools throughout the state likely manipulating attendance records to boost standardized test score averages, she was shocked. Read more...

  • Locked Away: How Ohio Schools Misuse Seclusion Rooms (State Impact Ohio and Columbus Dispatch)
  • Some Ohio children with disabilities are regularly isolated in cell-like rooms, closets or old offices when they behave badly. Read more...

  • Locked Away: New Policy Would Limit Use of School Seclusion Rooms to Real Emergencies (State Impact Ohio and Columbus Dispatch)
  • A 17-year-old Ohio girl died in 2008 in a home for troubled children after her caretakers pinned her face-down on the floor. Read more...

Local Education News

  • CPS superintendent can stay in suburbs (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent Mary Ronan’s new three-year contract no longer requires that she live in the district… Read more...

  • Districts hope to cut cost by sharing subs (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • A newly formed partnership between Butler and Warren counties’ Educational Service Centers, will allow 13 school districts to draw from a central pool of substitute teachers. Read more...

  • Investing in Ohio Schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • There will be no more classes in the parking lot, no more mysterious walled of hallways. When 1,500 Licking County students return to Newark High School this month, most construction on their once disjointed campus will be complete. Read more...

  • School facilities commission continues past halfway point (Dayton Daily News)
  • The Ohio School Facilities Commission has reached the halfway point of its mission to upgrade school buildings throughout the state at a cost of more than $10 billion, but faces a future in which its source of funding is no longer clear. Read more...

  • Skill training is 'win-win' (Marion Star)
  • ...To make sure they can find people who possess the talents needed to fulfill the responsibilities assigned to them, employers do what they can to foster such skills in the prospective workforce. Read more...


  • Marrison: We'll keep on digging into school records case (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The developing scandal over school-attendance records is growing more odd. And disappointing… Read more...

  • Don’t allow schools to cover it up (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • It has been said that the coverup is worse than the crime. Well, what about a coverup of a coverup? That may well be happening in one of Ohio's largest school districts. Read more...

A Democratic Crisis in Cleveland

Is there a democratic crisis in Cleveland? Three issues suggest there might be.

Issue 1

Just over 4 months ago, 2,202,404 voters in Ohio voted to repeal Senate Bill 5 (SB5). SB5 being the draconian assault on working people and their ability to collectively bargain for fair and safe working conditions and pay. In Cuyahoga county the repeal vote was even more overwhelming - 69.2%. Yet the Mayor of Cleveland continued to introduce a plan that has widely been criticized for containing significant provisions of SB5

Introducing a plan that contains provisions that voters have overwhelmingly rejected is an incredibly undemocratic move. No matter how strongly one might believe that certain policy goals are needed, in a functioning democracy the will of the voters should be seen as sacrosanct, not something that can be conveniently ignored, as appears to be the case with Mayor Frank Jackson and his "Cleveland plan".

Issue 2

The "Cleveland Plan" seeks to undermine democratically elected school boards by creating a Cleveland Transformation Alliance, that

will be a public‐private partnership charged with ensuring accountability for district and charter schools in the city, communicating with parents about quality school choices, and serving as a watchdog for charter sector growth.

Why is such an entity required? The vast majority of Ohio's school districts are highly rated while being governed by elected school boards. It's a model that works. Why does Cleveland need to create an unelected non-profit body that would lack the same level of accountability voters demand, while simultaneously adding another expensive layer of bureaucracy? Education leadership and decision making is already byzantine in Cleveland, being the only school district in Ohio that is controlled by a Mayor. Observers might ask why it was ever a good idea to place Mayors, who typically have no educational expertise, in charge of education to begin with.

Issue 3

Creating an unelected body to manage the "Cleveland Plan" is bad enough, but the plan also seeks to make that body secretive and have its deliberations not be subject to public records.

The package of new legislation Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says will once again “transform” Cleveland’s schools would create a new nonprofit group to make significant changes to the school district, including drawing together both traditional public schools and charter schools.

But unlike school boards for both traditional public and charter schools, that new group would not be subject to state public records and open meetings laws. That means that residents would not have the right to attend the new group’s board meetings, for example, or to see records about the new group’s financial operations or decision-making process.

It appears that the whole purpose of this proposed entity is so that it can be obscured from public view, unaccountable to tax payers and voters alike.

Reading many of the central aspects to this "Cleveland Plan", one gets the impression that its architects believe one of the major problems with Cleveland schools is too much democracy, when the opposite is clearly true.

Brennan ordered to show where the dollars go

Although charter school operator and GOP donor David Brennan has long maintained that he does not have to show how his charter schools spend the millions they receive in taxpayer money each year, a Franklin County judge disagreed and ordered Brennan to open his books.

The ruling is a remarkable victory for open and accountable government and for parents who have been struggling to learn why schools run by White Hat Management have consistently had abysmal academic records.

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