- “I just think it’s not a terribly appropriate time to be [measuring districts]. I think we all suffered through enough last spring and it seems to me it’s a terrible waste of resources to go through this again.” (ABC13, Toledo, 9/14/20) “Those [getting students out of remote learning, making sure students and teachers are safe and healthy, and bringing back programs and athletics] are the things that keep me up at night, not testing or so forth. We understand where our kids are at. At the end of the day, I put my confidence in our educators and teachers, because they go above and beyond each and every day in providing personal sacrifices in order for our children to learn.” (WTOL-TV, Toledo, 9/15/20) The foregoing quotes are just two among many pre-emptive strikes being made by school district leaders in their local press regarding their hatred of testing and why state tests should not be given again this school year
due to the pandemicbecause they hate them. Here’s another quote for you on the same topic: “What I have said is, I think there has to be enough tests, requisite tests, so that parents and schools kind of know where they are. Because this has been difficult, we had a spring that was unusual, we’re having an unusual fall … We need to be able to measure.” That’s Governor DeWine saying that, in case you need to know. It is interesting to note (at least to me, it’s interesting) that Cleveland.com did not actually include that verbatim quote in their coverage, instead paraphrasing it. No. I don’t know why. You can listen to the full quote (and more) starting more than 1 hour into yesterday’s episode of Stories from the Homestead. Here’s hoping that news outlets will cover this part of the story with the same vigor and quotiness as the other side. (Cleveland.com, 9/15/20)
- As promised, the Ohio Department of Education yesterday released what remains of our school report card data. Let’s take a look at the variety of immediate response: School leaders in Toledo expressed “shock” that the state would release report cards at all with so much data unavailable. “Much of it is incomplete, so it provides very little information,” said Toledo City Schools supe Dr. Romules Durant. “But at the end of the day as a school district, we provide daily information and that comes from our educators who are truly the best assessors of a child's education.” (WTOL-TV, Toledo, 9/15/20) Education reporters, who usually LOVE report card release time, seem to be at a bit of a loss as to what to write about just now. The folks at the Dispatch decided to at least talk about what data was available—most prominently the stuff that “lags” and thus is published complete from the 2018-2019 school year. Specifically: graduation rate and K-3 literacy/fourth-grade promotion. I am probably the only one, but personally I think this “data minimalism” may actually be a good thing. As with many other aspects of our lives, the rona has served to clear the air—shining a big bright light on pre-existing issues without a lot of the usual smoke and mirror-type distractions around them. Quite literally, in the case of this data. And the clarity gives us no place to hide from the reals. To wit: “Of 50 districts in the central Ohio region,” writes Alissa Widman Neese in the Dispatch, “31 advanced 100% of third-graders in 2020, compared to 17 districts in 2019. No district advanced less than 96.6%. But those figures are likely skewed because the state relaxed the program’s requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.” You don’t say. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/15/20) Jeremy Kelley of the Dayton Daily News lives (lives, I tell ya) for report card release week. His first piece out of the gate, looking at the two above-referenced data points and the Prepared for Success measure, shows him only the effects of poverty on kids. His analysis seems supportive of the following statement from the head of the state teachers union: “The fact that the state recognizes that any 2020 letter grades and rankings would be useless without spring testing data proves just how overly reliant the existing grade card system is on standardized tests.” (Dayton Daily News, 9/15/20) So, to sum up: Districts are “shocked” that any report cards were released at all, the response to the minimalist report cards is literally the same as ever, and the same folks believe that report cards are clearly and obviously “broken” even though they look very different than usual. Despite all that, the pseudo-Vindy is claiming that the data we have shows awesomeness (“schools of promise”, they call it) among schools that have previously not appeared to be so awesome…because there is a ton of data not included. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that that is a “don’t measure it and everything will look fine” mentality. Luckily, I’m almost sure I know better. Almost. (Vindy.com, 9/16/20)
- In news of the present day: Revere Local Schools is making a hasty switch of providers for its online education program—already in progress—after learning that its original provider, Edgenuity, is experiencing a teacher shortage. Ironically, at least one (quite a bit larger) district in the state announced it was making a swift mid-stream switch to Edgenuity a week or so ago after some dissatisfaction with its first choice. Am I the only one who remembers that just last month it was possible for an education professional to pull off two full-time remote jobs at once? My how far we’ve fallen. (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/14/20) Good news from Mansfield City Schools: The Falcons and the Tygers will be reuniting! That is, the two cohorts of students currently sharing the district’s schools for two days each week in a hybrid arrangement will soon be attending in-person together for four days per week now that the county’s Covid alert level has fallen. Probably good since they too experienced a cyberattack on their online learning system. You know what else appears to have fallen? The scales from some school district leaders’ eyes. The Mansfield school board was told by the district admins that “the Ohio Department of Education is no longer exempting schools from state testing requirements.” Busy meeting! (Richland Source, 9/15/20)
- In age-old-wisdom-of-the-young news: All of the quotes from the kids featured in this story about the start of the new school year are straight up gold. They sound 100 percent authentic when you read them, they cover both remote and in-person learning, and you should just read them all. But here are two standouts: “I've been in high school for years. I've gotten all straight A’s and B’s. You know, I've picked up amazing grades. And, you know, for me to have a 4.0 GPA and then all of a sudden they come in and just do bare minimum work and they also get a 4.0. It’s kind of insulting.” That one is specifically about some of the low expectations around remote learning this past spring. Here’s one, however, that transcends school type: “(Kids) learned that some people’s moms can't be teachers because they don't know how,” said one youngster with equal parts sincerity and love. “Because they're moms. They don't know how to be teachers.” Awesome moms shouldn’t have to be awesome teachers too. (News5, Cleveland, 9/15/20)
- Finally, in non-rona news: The school territory transfer law that we have been following for a year or more was struck down by a federal judge late last week. The district
coffers ofhearts of the representatives of Plain Local Schools are heavy with joy. (Canton Repository, 9/14/20) On the other side of the state, where four townships’ worth of moneystudents recently transferred away from Bowling Green City Schools, response from district folks was similarly joyous. Both reports take great pains to note that the merit of the law was not commented upon, but rather was struck down because the process of its passage as part of the state budget bill was determined to violate the state constitution’s single-subject rule for legislation. I imagine that opinion will garner some widespread response, don’t you? (Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, 9/15/20)
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