It’s that time of year once again—when the work is on pause, the computer keys are quiet, and the email boxes are weirdly dormant. Time to look back and see what pieces you, our generous and discerning readers, engaged with the most in 2019.
In (almost) chronological order:
How fitting that a piece looking ahead to the year’s most important issues ends up being one of our most-read blog posts of the year. We hit the ground running at the start of the year, predicting six themes for 2019 from testing to funding to a push to lower academic expectations. (Wait, that can’t be right can it?)
How’d we do? Looks like we were five-for-six on our predictions, with only pre-K not really rising to the top. Not bad!
One of the big topics we didn’t explicitly have at the top of our 2019 prediction list was post-secondary attainment. But we were diligent in tracking the efforts of Ohio’s new governor, Mike DeWine, as he promised to make that a centerpiece of his first budget. This post looked at the various proposals discussed by DeWine at the start of the budget process and the funding and policy levers proposed to support them. How the new governor could help the state reach itsdefinitely grabbed your attention.
When the budget language was first released in April, we were back on the case—as were you—looking at DeWine’s proposals in detail. Those specifics included a $25 million appropriation dedicated to helping students earn industry-recognized credentials while still in high school, plans and funding for multiple pathways for adults to earn in-demand work skills and certifications, and a huge effort to make college degrees more affordable for Ohioans.
The ongoing debate over Ohio’s graduation requirements was, as predicted, a huge issue in 2019. As various plans to (yet again) change those requirements duked it out in various centers of power in state government, we tried to maintain attention on the practical matters at hand. To wit: This popular post, which dug into the graduation data for the class of 2018. These were the first students to have access to lowered, non-academic diploma pathways, and which schools and districts made the most use of those pathways was of vital concern. Evidence was beginning to mount that a lowered bar to graduation would boost the esteem of adults by hurting vulnerable students’ prospects for the future.
Soon after, the state’s business community entered the discussion in an important way. Through a non-profit coalition called Ohio Excels, business leaders put forth their own plan for new graduation requirements, emphasizing the achievements, traits, and skills they wanted to see in their future employees. The new requirements focused on four key principles: early identification of students who are at risk of not graduating on time; meaningful and research-based supports, interventions, and resources for students and teachers; consistent and externally-verified measurements; and clear timelines and better data collection. Ohio Excels’s plan had a big impact on the final graduation requirements eventually adopted in the state budget.
Despite the impending end of non-academic graduation pathways, Ohio’s high schoolers still must contend with other forms of lowered expectations along the way. Readers were apparently intrigued to learn that the achievement level called “proficient” in relation to state test scores did not mean that students were proficient in that subject. Many students did not achieve a remediation-free score on the ACT despite receiving “proficient” scores on Ohio’s math and English end-of-course exams. We urged an end to the long-standing “honesty gap” in the Buckeye State.
Our continuing series called Pathway to Success, profiles of high-quality charter schools and their students across the state, remained very popular in 2019. Just in case you haven’t seen them, this year’s editions comprisedin Akron and (ACPA) in Columbus.
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Thank you for following Fordham in 2019. We appreciate your readership and hope you will continue to tune in in 2020. We’ve got lots more great stuff ahead.
And in case you might have missed one of the above or any of our blog posts, research reports, or reviews this year, don’t forget you can alwaysand have all our great content sent right to your email Inbox!