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Public Money, Private Problems

Questionable management and low performance bring scrutiny on Ohio’s charter schools

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 29, 2014
As quasi-private schools funded with public money across Ohio face scrutiny, some say they need to be held to a higher standard.  
by German Lopez 08.22.2013
Posted In: News, Education, CPS at 03:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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CPS Struggles in 2012-13 Report Cards

District fails in multiple categories

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) got six F’s, one D and two C’s in the 2012-2013 school report card released today by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The school district got an F for state test results, closing gaps related to income, race, culture and disabilities, progress among gifted students, progress among students with disabilities and both categories for graduation rates, which measure how many students graduated within four or five years. CPS also got a D for progress among students who started out in the bottom fifth for achievement, and it got a C for progress among all student groups and how many students passed state tests. The grades come with a big caveat: CPS is still being investigated for scrubbing data, which could be favorably skewing the school district’s results. This is the first year ODE is using the new A-F grading system, which is more stringent than how schools were previously scored. No school district earned straight A’s this year, according to StateImpact Ohio. Because the system is new, some of the categories that schools are graded on are missing and will be added in the next few years. Specifically, the report card won’t measure overall results for the district, test scores, gap closing, K-3 literacy, progress, graduation rates and preparation for college and careers until 2015.Under the old system, CPS dropped from “effective,” which made it the best-rated urban school district in Ohio for the 2010-2011 school year, to “continuous improvement” for 2011-2012. Those results are also under review based on data-scrubbing investigations.CPS has recently gained national recognition in The Huffington Post and The New York Times for its community learning centers, which turn schools into hubs that can be used by locals for resources ranging from education to dental care.In November 2012, Cincinnati voters approved a levy renewal for CPS in a 65-35 percent vote, which kept local property taxes roughly $253 higher on a $100,000 home.The official website for the school report cards can be found here, but it’s been having technical problems for most of the day.
 
 
by German Lopez 11.20.2012
Posted In: Education, News at 04:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ohio statehouse

State Replaces Standardized Tests

Tougher tests seek to prepare students for college, careers

The Ohio Graduation Tests will soon be no more. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Board of Regents have agreed to establish tougher tests with a focus on preparing students for college and beyond. Michael Sawyers, acting superintendent for ODE, praised the agreement in a statement: “This is a major step forward in our reform efforts to ensure all Ohio students have the knowledge and skills necessary to leave school remediation-free and ready for their post-secondary experience in higher education or workforce training.” Private companies will soon be able to compete for a contract to design and help implement the new standardized tests. The tests are expected to kick in during the 2014-2015 school year, but state officials acknowledge they could be implemented in time for the 2013-2014 school year if competitive bidding goes well and funding is sufficient. Once the tests are active, high school sophomores will take end-of-year tests to gauge college and career readiness. The tests will cover English, algebra, geometry, biology, physical science, American history and American government. The reform is part of a bigger effort that reworks Ohio’s education system with higher standards for schools and students. As part of the broader changes, Ohio adopted the Common Core State Standards, which are a commitment to raise the bar on English and math standards for grades K-12. The overall idea behind the reform has relatively bipartisan support, says Kelsey Bergfeld, a legislative service commission fellow for Ohio Sen. Tom Sawyer. Sawyer, a Democrat, is the ranking minority member in the Ohio Senate’s Education Committee. The problem is in the details — specifically, the details in a new school report card system established by HB 555, which will be voted on in the Ohio House next week. Bergfeld says the current proposal by Ohio Republicans is too harsh, which could make schools look worse than they are in reality. That problem could be exacerbated by the new tests, she says: If the new tests are too tough, they could make schools and students look bad “because grades are going to drop.” An early simulation of tougher report card standards in May found Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) would fall under the new system. The simulation showed CPS would drop from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking but Walnut Hills High School retaining its top mark with an A.
 
 
by James McNair 10.17.2012
Posted In: CPS, Education at 04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
taft copy

Taft High Heading for Lower Rating

Scores down after controversial ascension from "academic emergency" to "excellent"

After two years of racking up an excellent rating on its state report card, Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School appears headed for a lower grade. Preliminary school report cards released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Education show an “effective” rating for Taft, a technology-magnet school for grades 9-12 in Cincinnati’s West End. Taft had won accolades nationally for its steady climb from academic futility during the past seven years. In that span, Taft went from “academic emergency” in the 2004-05 school year to excellent in 2009-10 and 2010-11, mainly on the strength of Ohio Graduation Test pass rates that were the highest of all public high schools in Southwest Ohio. The U.S. Department of Education gave it a coveted National Blue Ribbon Award.[Download the Ohio Preliminary Report Cards spreadsheet here.] CityBeat called those achievements into question in a February article ("Miracle or Mirage," issue of Feb. 22). CityBeat found that the same graduating classes (2009-10 and 2010-11) that were posting regionally high OGT pass rates had average composite ACT test scores of 15, or the 10th percentile in Ohio. CityBeat also took the first hard look at an independent audit showing that, of 1,707 erasures on Taft OGT exams in 2006, 88 percent resulted in correct answers, an outcome one nationally prominent testing expert called “not logical.” Cincinnati Public Schools, then led by former superintendent Rosa Blackwell, refused to investigate the matter, and ODE let the district get away with it. For the 2011-12 school year, Taft still posted high pass rates on the OGT, but its graduation rate of 82.1 percent (down from 91.4 percent in 2010-11) and attendance rate of 91 percent (down from 96.7 percent) were below state benchmarks, leading to the effective rating on its interim report card. While Taft fell from excellence among the city’s public schools, another school, James N. Gamble Montessori High School in Spring Grove Village, received its first-ever excellent rating. And Walnut Hills extended its long-running streak of excellent ratings. Winners of effective ratings were Clark Montessori and Withrow University high schools.As for the district, Cincinnati Public Schools itself fell one notch on its state report card. Last year, CPS was rated effective, making it the highest-rated urban school district in Ohio. For 2011-12, it dropped to “continuous improvement.” Said CPS spokeswoman Janet Walsh: “We really would have loved to have gotten effective again, but the fact remains that overall performance, as rated by the state performance index, did reach 88.5, which is our highest score ever, and we continue to improve.”
 
 
by German Lopez 07.26.2012
at 08:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Petitions for the redistricting amendment being pushed by Voters First are about to reach their Friday deadline. If Voters First does not obtain enough signatures, the redistricting amendment will not be on the November ballot. CityBeat has previously covered the petition issue here and the GOP attempt to redraw state districts to its advantage here.The Beach landed a new operator for the 2013 season: Adventure Holdings LLC. The new operator is expected to make more than $1 million in investments in the park.An Ohio Department of Education investigation found Lockland School District has been reporting false attendance data. The district’s rating has been bumped down to adjust for the real data.Some political pundits are saying Cincinnati will play a pivotal role in the 2012 presidential election.The 2012 Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found Ohio has the sixteenth highest child poverty rate in the United States with nearly 1 in 4 children in poverty.The Obama campaign will be setting up headquarters at the Hanke Building in Over-the-Rhine.County officials across Ohio are complaining casino tax money is not making up for losses in state funds.Forty economists of varying political and ideological beliefs have concluded that the Republican Party has abandoned economic reality.Mayors Against Illegal Guns has put together a website that demands Barack Obama and Mitt Romney release a plan to end gun violence.Eye scanners may not be all they’re cracked up to be in movies and TV shows. New research has found a way to completely fool them.
 
 
by German Lopez 07.18.2012
Posted In: Governor, Education at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich_2

Record Lottery Profits Not Going to Schools

State funding will continue to be reduced despite $771 million in lottery profits

Ohio schools expecting more funding from record lottery profits may want to hold off. Last week, it was reported that the Ohio Department of Education had hit the jackpot with a record $771 million in lottery profits. By state law, lottery profits are supposed to go to the Lottery Profits Education Fund, which funds schools in Ohio. At first, it seemed like a great opportunity to increase education funding. Maybe not. In a joint statement this morning, the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials explained the money does not mean more money for schools. “While it is true that all Ohio Lottery profits are used by the state to fund education, the profit from increased sales was simply used to free up other state funds that had previously been set aside for schools, allowing more money to be transferred into the state’s rainy day fund,” OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis said in the statement. Despite the lottery profits, funding for Ohio’s school foundation payment program remains at $7.2 billion — exactly as established by Gov. John Kasich’s 2011 budget plan. In other words, no gain for schools, but some gain for the state’s rainy day fund. The news comes as a bit of a buzz-kill to schools that are already feeling cuts from the two-year state budget plan passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Kasich. For the 2012 fiscal year, Kasich’s budget cut funding to the Department of Education down to $10.3 billion, a 4.9 percent reduction from the year before, largely due to the loss of federal stimulus dollars. But another 4.9 percent cut is planned for the 2013 fiscal year, lowering funding to $9.8 billion, which is even lower than the amount of funding the Department of Education received in 2008 and 2009 — before the state received federal stimulus dollars.
 
 

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