Eye on Education

Bill Rice

Senior Reporter and Producer

Bill Rice is Senior Reporter and Producer for StateImpact Ohio, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Bill has served in various public media roles in five U.S. cities over 30 years, including music recording engineer and producer, classical and jazz host, station operations director, news reporter and producer and, most recently, as Associate Editor of News at WCPN ideastream. He spent three years covering education following his move to Cleveland in 2000.

  • Email: bill.rice@ideastream.org

Third Grade Reading Guarantee Leaves Room For Interpretation

Justin, Austin and Davon get personalized instruction from literacy specialist Olivia Weisman.

Bill Rice / ideastream

Justin, Austin and Davon get personalized instruction from literacy specialist Olivia Weisman

At  Renwood Elementary School in Parma, just south of Cleveland, Olivia Weisman wraps up a small group reading session with three students: Justin and Austin, both nine years old; and Davon is ten.  They’re in the fourth grade, but none of them has passed the Ohio third grade reading assessment or one of the alternative tests approved by the state board of education.

So they’re getting special attention from Weisman, a certified literacy specialist.

Each day, the three boys meet with Weisman for an intensive 90 minute reading session – timed so they don’t miss any of their fourth grade subjects.

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Bill To Repeal Common Core Clears House Committee

sexyappleAn Ohio House panel has passed a Republican proposal to repeal Common Core learning standards in the state, sending it on to the full House.

Representatives Matt Thompson and Andy Huffman, both Republicans, introduced the measure last summer.  Both are members of the Rules and Reference Committee, which was assigned HB 597 after a similar measure had earlier failed to clear the Education Committee.

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Democrats Gain Two Seats On State School Board

Democrats picked up two seats on the Ohio Board of Education after Tuesday’s election. The Columbus Dispatch reports Democrat Roslyn Painter-Goffi, a retired teacher from Strongsville, defeated appointed incumbent Bradley Lamb, a Republican from Fairview Park, in a four-way contest for District 5. And in the Cincinnati-area race for outgoing board President Debe Terhar’s seat, Democrat Pat Bruns defeated Republican Zach Haines. Democrats had hoped to make substantial gains on the board, but Republicans retained a large majority. Read more from the Dispatch.

Ron Rudduck, a former schools superintendent from Wilmington, will keep his post on the Ohio Board of Education, winning election Tuesday to a seat representing 17 counties across central and southern Ohio.

Read more at: www.dispatch.com

Can Momentum From “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative Last?

There is optimism in some quarters that President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative can improve the educational outlook for boys of color. Obama announced the initiative last summer, and more than 60 school districts across the country, all members of the Council of Big City Schools in Washington, signed on. Five Ohio districts – Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo – were among them. The initiative calls on schools to increase the number of minority boys who are succeeding both academically and socially; develop early-intervention strategies; increase graduation rates; reduce absenteeism… the list goes on. No federal dollars were allocated, although $200 million was pledged from philanthropic groups to assist. But some say that ‘s not enough to achieve substantive results. Read more at Education Week:

Leaders in some of the nation’s big-city school districts say they have new momentum-created by attention from President Barack Obama-to tackle one of the most vexing problems in urban schools: improving academic outcomes for African-American and Latino boys.

Read more at: www.edweek.org

New Report Praises Ohio For Promoting College and Career Readiness

Student with books


A new report gives Ohio high marks in pursuing policies to better prepare public school students for college and the work force.

It comes from the Education Commission of the States, which is made up of educators and officials of each state.  It’s the same group that developed the Common Core learning standards.

Titled Blueprint for College Readiness, the report shows Ohio has implemented eight out of ten policies the group sees as essential to helping students get to college or some other career track.

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Election 2014: The Ohio School Board Explained


Photo courtesy of the Ohio Department of Education

Today’s state school board isn’t quite the same body it was 20 years ago.  Back then there were 11 members – all elected.

But that changed in the mid-1990s under Republican Governor George Voinovich.

The move to add governor-appointed members followed a controversial court decision declaring the state’s model for funding education unconstitutional.

(Click here for Election 2014 Board of Education Voter’s Guide)

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Local Foundations Can Make A Difference In Reinventing Schools

John Hay High School is home to the School of Science and Medicine, Early College High School and School of Architecture and Design.

Stu Spivack/FLICKR

John Hay High School is home to the School of Science and Medicine, Early College High School and School of Architecture and Design.

Locally-focused philanthropic foundations can take a more significant role in turning around poor performing urban schools – that’s the message offered up by two organizations that set out to do just that in Cleveland.

During the annual Community Foundations Conference held this week in downtown Cleveland, representatives of the Cleveland and Gund Foundations described their 8-year partnership with the district, the business community and several high-performing charter schools.

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Minimum Wage Once Covered The Cost Of College

Economists, politicians and pundits often talk about the minimum wage in terms of whether it will support a family, but data analyst Rich Exner of the Northeast Ohio Media Group takes a different angle: how much college education can the minimum wage buy? His findings are not surprising: Back in the 1970s and early 80s a person could essentially cover the cost of college (tuition, fees, room and board) working a minimum wage job. Today, not even close. The analysis assumes – then and now – full time work during fall and spring breaks and during the summer, and 10 hours per week while school is in session.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A minimum wage job used to be enough to cover the cost of college. But now that job can leave students several thousand dollars short. In fact, a student would have to make close to $18 an hour working full-time during both breaks and the summer, and 10 hours a week throughout each semester, to pay the bill at most public universities in Ohio.

Read more at: www.cleveland.com

Mansfield Spanish Immersion School Gets Wide Recognition

Dual language education programs are gaining more attention these days for turning out students who are not only bi-lingual, but also show enviable achievement gains. Chike Erokwu of the Mansfield News Journal profiles the Mansfield Spanish Immersion School, and elementary school that started seven years ago. The number of students attending is small but growing year-by-year. It’s among the state’s top performers in student test scores on the Ohio school report card, ranking 47th out of 3,310 Ohio public schools.

Tuesday began like every other day for Joyce Segura and her kindergarten class. Segura, a teacher in Mansfield’s Spanish Immersion School, began her daily lesson by teaching her kindergarteners a new song: “Al Corro De Los Flores.” Segura acted out key phrases as the song played over her small classroom stereo.

Read more at: www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com

2014-15 School Report Cards To Be Delayed

Next year school report cards will come later than the usual late August roll out, according to a report this week by Plain Dealer reporter Patrick O’Donnell. That’s because the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), won’t be setting new testing cut scores – the minimum score needed for a passing grade – until next fall. PARCC tests will be given to all students in Ohio for the first time this spring, and school evaluations will hinge on how students perform on those tests.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Results of how your kids do on the new Common Core tests that they’ll take at school this spring won’t be available for months – possibly not until 2016. Forget seeing state report cards for schools and districts by their normal late August time next year, said Tom Gunlock, vice chairman of Ohio’s state school board.

Read more at: www.cleveland.com

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