by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 04:25 PM | Permalink
State auditor lays blame on state policy
A new report from the state auditor found Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) and Winton Woods City Schools were manipulating
attendance data for the 2011-2012 school year, but the report seems to lay
much of the blame on state policy, not just irresponsible school
CPS and Winton Woods were cited among nine
school districts by State Auditor Dave Yost for improperly withdrawing
students from enrollment. More than 70 other schools had errors in their
attendance reporting, but they were not found to be purposely
manipulating — or “scrubbing” — attendance data.
The report largely focused on flaws in state policy that enable bad attendance
reporting — particularly a single “count week” in October that
encourages school districts to boost attendance during that one week and
no other time in the school year.
“Kids count every day, all year long,” Yost said in a
statement. “They deserve better than what we're giving them — Ohio's
current system for measuring attendance and performance is obsolete and
in too many places, filled with error and bad information and even
outright fraud. It's amazing that it works at all, and sometimes, it
As a solution, Yost is calling on legislators to change school funding so it’s based on year-long attendance reporting.
The report also made 12 other recommendations, including
increased oversight and monitoring, more programs for at-risk students,
better training, use of automated data reporting, more accessibility to
pertinent information for the Ohio Department of Education and clearer
Winton Woods was one of the few schools to self-report
issues to the auditor. Jim Smith, interim superintendent of Winton
Woods, admits the school made mistakes and will make adjustments. But he says most of the issues
were explained away as errors, not intentional data manipulation. Only four
of the 15 issues
couldn’t be reasonably explained, according to Smith.
Smith says the Education Management Information System (EMIS), which is used to report attendance data, is problematic for highly mobile
students, particularly in urban school districts. He argues the system
is too complicated and difficult to use for tracking such students.
In a Feb. 8 press release, Winton Woods claimed
the reporting issues were related to confusion regarding expelled
students, poor record keeping and a lack of well-defined procedures and
In an emailed statement, CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan wrote the school district made mistakes, but internal audits did not find evidence of data manipulation or scrubbing. She linked the errors to confusing state policy and issues with highly mobile students.
School attendance data is one of many ways states measure
school performance, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.Update (Feb. 12, 10:29 a.m.): Originally, this story did not include comments from CPS. It was updated to reflect comments CityBeat obtained after publishing.
by German Lopez
Qualls calls for debates, CPS serves as model, Kasich's education plan breaks promises
In response to Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley’s
call for a debate, the campaign for Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, another
Democratic candidate for mayor, is calling both campaigns to schedule a
series of debates. Jens Sutmoller, Qualls’ campaign manager, said in a
statement, “Vice Mayor Qualls believes the citizens of Cincinnati
deserve a robust series of public debates between the two final 2013
Mayoral candidates. She looks forward to articulating her optimistic
vision of Cincinnati’s future and the investments we need to make in our
neighborhoods and city to achieve a welcoming city of opportunity for
all our citizens.”
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are being used as a model
by other schools around the state and country. Other schools are
particularly interested in Cincinnati’s community learning centers,
which provide services not directly related to education, including health clinics,
mental health counselors, tutoring programs and extensive after-school
programs. The approach is being praised for making schools serve the
greater needs of communities. CityBeat wrote about CPS and its community learning centers here.
Steve Dyer, an education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, says Gov. John Kasich’s school education plan actually does the opposite
of what Kasich claimed: “However, after examining the
district-by-district runs produced by the Kasich Administration
yesterday (which I posted at Innovation Ohio earlier), what is clear
that even without eliminating the guaranteed money Kasich said he wants
to eliminate soon, kids in the poorest property wealth districts in the
state will receive 25 cents in additional state revenue for every $1
received by kids in the property wealthiest districts.” A CityBeat analysis found the education plan increases funding for Cincinnati Public Schools, but not enough to make up for past cuts.
The University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati State and Miami University are getting slight increases in funding under Kasich’s higher education funding plan.
The plan increases overall higher education funding by 1.9 percent,
with UC getting 2.4 percent more funding, Cincinnati State getting 4
percent more and Miami getting 1.8 percent more. The increased funding
should be helpful to Miami University, which recently initiated $99 million in summer construction and renovation projects. Historically, Ohio has given its universities less funding per pupil than other parts of the country.
An appeals court ruling could put the Anna Louise Inn back at square one.
On Friday, the Ohio First District Court of Appeals affirmed most of a
lower court’s ruling against the Anna Louise Inn, but it sent the case
back down to the lower court on a legal technicality. The ruling means
the case could restart, but Tim Burke, the inn's attorney, claims the Anna Louise Inn has already done what the appeals court asked. For CityBeat’s other coverage of the Anna Louise Inn, click here.
Media outlets are finally picking up the story about illegal immigrants and driver’s licenses. Gongwer wrote about it here, and The Columbus Dispatch covered it here. CityBeat originally wrote about the story last week (“Not Legal Enough,” issue of Feb. 6).
Following the board president’s comparison of Adolf Hitler and President Barack Obama, the Ohio State Board of Education is set to discuss social media. CityBeat wrote about Board President Debe Terhar’s ridiculous Facebook post here.
Remember the Tower Place Mall! Two tenants are holding out at the troubled mall as they look for different downtown locations.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants everyone to know he’s still cracking down on synthetic drugs.
The pope is stepping down.
How kids draw dinosaurs is probably wrong.
by German Lopez
Budget increases aren’t enough to overcome troubled past
Gov. John Kasich touted a rosy, progressive vision when announcing his education reform plan Jan. 31, but reality does not match the governor’s optimism. It’s true Kasich’s proposed 2014-2015 budget
will not reduce school funding, but under the Kasich administration,
local schools will still have a net loss in state funds.
The governor’s office released tentative budget numbers yesterday that show the Kasich plan will give Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) $8.8 million more funding for the 2014 fiscal year. But that’s not enough to make up for the $39 million CPS will lose in the same fiscal year due to Kasich’s first budget, which was passed passed in 2011. Even with the new education plan, the net loss in the 2014 fiscal year is $30.2 million.
The problem is Kasich’s first budget had massive cuts for schools. The elimination of the tangible personal
property reimbursements (TPP) hit CPS particularly hard, as CityBeat previously covered (“Battered But Not Broken,”
issue of Oct. 3). In the Cut Hurts Ohio website, Innovation Ohio and Policy Matters Ohio estimated Kasich’s budget cuts resulted in $1.8 billion less funding for
education statewide. In Hamilton County, the cuts led to
$117 million less funding.
Kasich’s massive cuts didn’t even lead to lower taxes for many Ohioans. A report from Innovation Ohio found
school districts and voters made up for the big education cuts with $487 million in new school levies. In 2012, Cincinnati voters approved a $51.5 million levy for CPS. The school levies are a direct
increase on local income and property taxes, but they’re measures
Ohioans clearly felt they had to take in the face of big state
For more analysis of Kasich’s budget, check out CityBeat’s other coverage:
Kasich Tax Cut Favors WealthyGovernor’s Budget Ignores Troubled PastKasich Budget Expands Medicaid, Cuts Taxes
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Speaking in front of Ohio school
administrators Jan. 31, Gov. John Kasich unveiled a surprisingly
progressive-sounding education reform plan that seeks to diminish school
funding inequality, but it also expands Ohio’s flawed voucher program.
by German Lopez
New funding plan surprisingly progressive but expands vouchers
Speaking in front of Ohio school administrators Thursday,
Gov. John Kasich unveiled a surprisingly progressive-sounding education reform plan that seeks to diminish school funding inequality, but it also expands
Ohio’s flawed voucher program.
Kasich said the plan will not cut any school district’s
funding, but it will work to reduce gaps between the wealthy and
poor. Currently, the poorest school district can get $700 to $800 per pupil for 20 mills of property taxes, while the wealthiest districts
can get as much as $14,000 per pupil. The plan will eliminate much of that gap,
according to Kasich.
Kasich’s plan will open up extra funding for students with
severe disabilities and students who need to learn English, on top of a
$300 million “innovation
fund” that will reward schools with grants for initiatives that improve
learning and teaching. The plan will also expand the state’s voucher program to
provide private school tuition for any family below 200 percent of
the federal poverty level — about $46,000 for a family of four. The
vouchers, which will become available in the fall, will be worth up to
$4,250 a year. Parents will be allowed to choose between participating
But the expansion of “school choice” through more vouchers may not be a good thing. A previous Policy Matters Ohio report found expanded school choice can have negative effects on education, including worse results for students and teachers.
Kasich justified his proposals by claiming, “The Lord is
watching us as we make an effort to give our children the knowledge that
they want in order to be successful and to pursue their God-given
He also said the program is fully funded, which was made possible by extra revenue gained from Ohio’s economic rebound.
On judging his proposals, Kasich said, “We need to think about this not in isolation. We need to think about this over the course of the last couple
Taking the governor at his request, his administration actually signed off on education cuts in
the past couple years. Cuts Hurt Ohio, a website that tracks budget cuts
enacted by Kasich, shows funding to education was cut statewide by $1.8 billion. For Hamilton County, $117 million in
education funding was cut.
Kasich also helped push a few education initiatives
through the Ohio legislature. During the press conference, he cited
his Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, which forces schools to hold back
students who aren’t “proficient” in reading. Kasich also pointed to the
new school report cards, which use an A-to-F grading system to give more
transparency to parents and enforce higher standards for schools.The plan will require approval from the Ohio legislature to become law. It also may face scrutiny from courts; the Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled the state's school funding system relies too much on local property taxes.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
State Board of Education President Debe Terhar drew
criticism recently for posting a politically motivated picture on Facebook comparing Adolf Hitler to President Barack Obama.
by German Lopez
School funding changes soon, prison union wants more security, drug abuse costs employers
School superintendents will hear
about Gov. John Kasich’s school funding proposal Thursday. The
proposal, which will change how all of Ohio’s schools are publicly
funded, will be released to the wider public Feb. 4. Many school
officials are bracing for the worst, according to Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. Rob Nichols previously told CityBeat
that the proposal is “a big undertaking”: “Many governors have tried
before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s something
we have to take our time with and get it done right.” Ohio’s largest prison staff union is asking Kasich’s administration to increase the amount of prison security officers
following a late December report from the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction. The report found a correlation
between rising prison violence and a decrease in prison security staff,
affirming a position the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association has
held for years.
A Journal News report found substance abuse comes at a heavy loss
for Ohio employers, including more workplace injuries, higher medical
costs, more absenteeism and reduced productivity. Some experts advocate
for drug testing to lower the costs, while others
argue drug testing can often affect innocent, responsible drug users.
Employers are much more likely to test for marijuana over alcohol, even
though multiple studies show cannabis is less addictive and
The flu epidemic may be leveling off in Ohio. The state
health department revealed the amount of hospitalizations involving the
flu have plateaued, but the department cautions the calm could be temporary.
The women’s sections of county and regional jails are facing higher levels of overcrowding.
The overcrowding is a result of a 2011 law that enables fourth- and
fifth-degree felons to be held at county jails instead of state prisons.
A new online tool reveals the salaries of public school teachers and staff.
The extensive audit of Ohio schools and their attendance information will be released Feb. 11. The preliminary reports found Cincinnati Public Schools were clean. The investigation into attendance fraud began when Lockland schools in Hamilton County were caught falsifying attendance data.
A new poll found an overwhelming majority of Kentucky parents favor raising the school dropout age to 18, up from the current age of 16.
Ohio gas prices are still rising.
Researchers made super-realistic lung tissue with levitating cells. The development allows researchers to better study how toxins affect the lungs.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Democrats are calling for the resignation
of Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, who compared
President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 12:18 PM | Permalink
State maintains B-, falls to No. 12 spot
For the third year in a row, Ohio has dropped in Education
Week’s annual ranks. The news comes despite the state slightly bumping
up its grade from 79.5 percent to 79.6 percent. The state was ranked No. 12, down from No. 11 in 2012 and No. 10 in 2011.
Ohio did best in standards, assessments and
accountability, where it got a 96.1 percent, or an A. It did worst in
K-12 achievement, which measures student progress and equality,
with a 71.2 percent, or a C-.
The only major category in which Ohio performed below the
U.S. average was transitions and alignment, which gauges state standards
for preparing Ohio students for moving from kindergarten to elementary
school to middle school to high school to college. In the category, Ohio
got a 78.6 percent, or C+, while the national average is 81.1 percent.
Maryland was ranked No. 1 for the fifth year in a row with an 87.5 percent, or a B.
“We’re pleased to be rated No. 12 in the nation … but our
overall score of a B- reassures us what we already know: We can do a
better job of educating Ohio’s children and preparing them for future
success,” said John Charlton, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of
Charlton says the state is taking steps to make
improvements, particularly in the transitions and alignment category.
Ohio has already adopted the Common Core standards and is replacing the state’s standardized tests with new assessments, which CityBeat covered here.
Ohio colleges and universities have also adopted uniform
remediation-free standards, which Charlton says will make it easier to
prepare students for college. Remedial courses are classes
that don’t count toward college credit; they’re typically required for
students who are under-prepared in certain subjects, particularly
English, math and science.
But some have pushed back toward the Republican-supported
education initiatives. The Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which forces
schools to hold back third-grade students who are not proficient in
reading, has faced a lot of criticism from Democrats and education
experts. Research shows holding kids back hurts more than helps. After
reviewing decades of research, the National Association of School
Psychologists found grade retention has “deleterious long-term effects,” both academically and socially.
Gov. John Kasich vowed to rework Ohio’s school funding
formula in the 2014-2015 budget. In a previous interview, Rob Nichols,
spokesperson to Kasich, said it was a big undertaking: “Many governors
have tried before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s
something we have to take our time with and get it done right.”
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:55 PM | Permalink
Cincinnati facility closed down, reopened under new name
When an Ohio charter school consistently fails to meet
academic standards, the state automatically shuts it down. It’s an
aspect of Ohio law that’s touted as one of the toughest standards for
charter schools in the nation, but a report from Policy Matters Ohio
found some charter schools may be evading the rule altogether.
In Cincinnati, the W.E.B. DuBois Academy was put on the
Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) closure list in 2009. According to
the Policy Matters report, the same school and some of the staff remain, but under a
different name: Cincinnati Speech and Reading Intervention Center
Before 2009, Dubois Academy was CSR's sister school. Dubois Academy focused on grades four to eight, and CSR took up kindergarten through third grade. But when Dubois Academy was asked to shut down, CSR suddenly decided to expand to
teach kindergarten through eighth grade, and it conveniently moved to
the Dubois Academy building in the process.
The report also found some staff remained at the former
DuBois Academy facility. Out of eight teachers from Dubois Academy,
three still work at CSR.
Still, the school did change its sponsor from Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio to Richland Academy — a sign of some institutional changes.Before it was placed on ODE’s closure list,
Dubois Academy gained three straight “Academic Emergency” ratings.
Between 2007 and 2010, it received more than $3.6 million in state
funds. In the preliminary 2011-2012 report card, CSR gained a rating of
“Continuous Improvement” after receiving an “Academic Emergency”
rating in the 2010-2011 report card.
The story of Dubois Academy and CSR is apparently being
replicated around the state. Six other facilities reopened under new
names shortly after state-mandated closure. Some schools, including the
Eagle Heights Academy in Youngstown that reopened as Southside
Academy, even kept the same sponsors.
An eighth school in Cleveland — Hope Academy Broadway —
shut down one year before the state mandate kicked in,
citing an inability to find a sponsor. A year later, it reopened under a
new name — Broadway Academy. In the process, the school retained 11 Hope Academy Broadway staff members.
In a statement, Piet van Lier, the report’s co-author, called the loophole
a “systemic flaw” that undermines Ohio’s education system: “Until Ohio strengthens its charter-closure law, the state
will continue to fall short of the goal of improving public education
for all Ohio’s children.”
The report suggests legislators revamp charter school
closure laws and strengthen ODE’s oversight of charter schools. It also
wants legislators to direct ODE to refuse the kind of expansions and mergers that
keep closed facilities open and hold charter school companies more