A post from guest blogger and Fordham writer and researcher??Emmy Partin.
Ten years ago, Ohio's public schools were in the middle-of-the-pack compared to our peers nationwide. Today, our NAEP scores are on the rise, the average ACT score of Ohio graduates is ninth in the nation, and our funding system is more equitable than most. Still, most fair-minded people would agree that these improvements haven't come quickly enough and that more must be done to close the state's worrisome achievement gaps between rich and poor, black and white and brown, and better prepare our students for the challenges of the 21st century.
So how do we do it?
Governor Ted Strickland has vowed to tackle this task and is wrapping up a 12-city "Conversation on Education" to gather ideas for his school-reform plan. Most of what has been suggested at these invitation-only gatherings involves pouring more money into schools (even as the state has more and more trouble paying its bills), relaxing or abandoning standards and accountability, and eliminating school choice. Such moves might placate the unions and education establishment, and thus make Strickland's 2010 re-election bid a bit easier, but they won't do much toward making the Buckeye State's education system "world class" or better preparing our students for life after high school.
Now is not the time for a fundamental change of direction in Ohio. Instead, the state's current education policy framework-which rests on statewide academic standards and assessments, public accountability, and innovative school options-should be improved and accelerated. And Fordham has recommendations for doing just that. Today we released Accelerating Student Learning in Ohio: Five Policy Recommendations for Strengthening Public Education in the Buckeye State.
These recommendations aren't ours alone. In fact, this report draws extensively on the past decade's work of analysts and organizations like Achieve, McKinsey & Co., the Ohio Grantmakers Forum, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Center on Education and the Economy, and Ohio's own State Board of Education.