Fordham’s published work is guided by a number of longstanding precepts, including detailed policy analysis, speaking out on behalf of families and students, filling research gaps, challenging misconceptions, and highlighting education issues being discussed by state leaders. Sometimes our analyses and commentaries tap into timely subjects and draw significant attention from readers. At other times, pieces are less well-noticed even though they shine needed light on issues that are important to Ohio schools and students.
In case you missed them, here were a few Fordham gems from 2023 that might have flown under your radar:
It is for very good reason that Fordham’s mascot is a Gadfly. This piece was crafted in response to a proposed legislative amendment that would have lowered expectations around student attendance. Author Jessica Poiner expertly used data to show how the change was merely an effort to “hide the ball” and clearly explained why it would hurt students in the long run if enacted. (So far, policymakers have followed her advice.)
For years, discussions of teacher shortages in Ohio and elsewhere have been fueled by anecdotes and unsubstantiated claims. We have written about the issue along the way, but this piece marked the first time that Ohio education officials made hard data available for analysis regarding the number and types of teachers leaving and entering the profession in the Buckeye State over time. “Overall, the picture painted by these data points is of a profession under strain,” Jessica concluded. “Some are likely to say that more money is the solution. And while dollars can certainly help, we also need to think more comprehensively about how to make teaching a more attractive profession to young people, how to encourage mid-career professionals to enter the classroom, and how to ensure that our best teachers stay right where they are.”
Do Ohio’s teacher preparation programs follow the science of reading? How stronger teacher preparation and curricula policies can ensure scientifically based reading instruction in Ohioby Shannon Holston, with a foreword by Aaron Churchill
This research conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) took a close look at Ohio’s teacher preparation programs—specifically, whether their training follows the science of reading. The results were a mixed bag overall, with some programs strongly aligned and others falling far short. In an Akron Beacon-Journal op-ed: “These important reforms could be undermined if teacher preparation programs…improperly train aspiring educators. If teachers enter the classroom ill-prepared in the science of reading, they will struggle to teach children to read effectively. They will also need expensive retraining. Some might even choose to quit out of frustration, something that could worsen staffing shortages in various parts of the state. For the good of students and future educators, institutions of higher education need to align their instruction to the science of reading.” Happily, legislators added provisions to Governor DeWine’s literacy proposal that requires teacher prep programs to revamp their approach to reading instruction.
Data and analysis are the foundation of Fordham’s published work, but sometimes firsthand knowledge is required to fully translate numbers and trendlines into ideas that everyone can relate to. This piece, written by a former high school English teacher, details how social promotion—moving students forward into a higher grade when they aren’t academically ready—can lead to frustration, anger, sadness, and despair in young people. Bullying, tearful outbursts, and dropping out are real outcomes of what seems like a benign policy issue.
Looking back on 2023, there was a wide spectrum of stories in K–12 education policy to cover. Some made headlines, but others—no less important—didn’t receive the same amount of attention. Going into 2024, you can count on us to offer our thoughts and analyses on both the big and small debates in education in Ohio.