by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 04:29 PM | Permalink
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
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
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
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
Posted In: CPS
at 04:27 PM | Permalink
Scores down after controversial ascension from "academic emergency" to "excellent"
years of racking up an excellent rating on its state report card, Robert
A. Taft Information Technology High School appears headed for a lower
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.
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
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
by German Lopez
at 08:44 AM | Permalink
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
Posted In: Governor
at 12:45 PM | Permalink
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.