Eye on Education

Patrick O'Donnell

Cleveland Plain Dealer Reporter

Patrick O'Donnell covers the Cleveland Municipal School District for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He has covered suburban school districts and communities, transportation (ODOT, RTA, airports) and Lake, Geauga and Portage Counties since coming to The Plain Dealer out of the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. An urban studies major at Penn, he has taken some urban affairs classes at Cleveland State University. He is also the author of a non-fiction book about medieval reenactors called The Knights Next Door: Everyday People Living Middle Ages Dreams.

  • Email: OH_pat@awesome.net

How is Value-Added Calculated?

An algebraic representation of the value-added model used in evaluating Ohio teachers.

SAS Inc.

An algebraic representation of the value-added model used in evaluating Ohio teachers.

In reading and listening to our recent series of stories with The Cleveland Plain Dealer about how Ohio is using a statistical measure called value-added to measure whether teachers provide a year’s worth of learning to their students, many of you have asked, “Just how is value-added calculated?”

The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell explains.

The goal is to find whether a student made a year’s worth of academic growth in a school year, but there are many different methods you could use. Ohio’s system is intentionally complicated.
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Grading the Teachers: Teachers in Richer Schools Score Higher on Value-Added Measure

16CGVALUE B.inddValue-added was supposed to be the great equalizer — a measure of schools that would finally judge fairly how much poor students are learning compared with their wealthier peers.

Meant to gauge whether students learn as much as expected in a given year, value-added will become a key part of rating individual teachers from rich and poor districts alike next school year.

But a Plain Dealer/StateImpact Ohio analysis raises questions about how much of an equalizer it truly is, even as the state ramps up its use.

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Grading the Teachers: Little Connection Between Teacher Pay and Performance

Ray Fatur, who has been teaching for 19 years, says paying experienced teachers more just make sense.

Lynn Ischay / The Plain Dealer

Ray Fatur, who has been teaching for 19 years, says paying experienced teachers more just make sense.

There is little connection between how much money Ohio teachers make and how much knowledge they impart to students over the course of a single year, according to a StateImpact Ohio/Plain Dealer analysis of a new measure of teacher performance.

In fact, that analysis of state data shows that within many school districts, teachers who received the lowest grade in a key aspect of teacher performance known as value-added are paid more on average than teachers who earned the highest grade.

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Grading the Teachers: Why We’re Publishing Teachers’ Value-Added Ratings

Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor Chris Quinn (left) and Idesatream Editor David Molpus explain why their outlets are publishing these ratings.

The Plain Dealer, Ideastream

Cleveland Plain Dealer Assistant Managing Editor Chris Quinn (left) and WCPN Ideastream Executive Editor David Molpus says it's important for the public to understand value-added ratings.

Is your son’s math teacher a good one? How about your daughter’s reading teacher?

You used to have to depend on the parent grapevine to find out. Now there’s another source.
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Grading the Teachers: “Most Effective” Teachers Say High Scores Happen By Focusing on the Kids

Green teacher Adam Hartman teaches advanced math classes in the Green school district.

Lisa DeJong / The Plain Dealer

Adam Hartman teaches advanced math classes in the Green school district.

Two Northeast Ohio teachers whose valued-added scores are among the top 25 statewide say they don’t consciously aim to score well.

“It just happens by doing my job,” said Carrie Marochino, a fifth-grade math teacher at the intermediate school in the Green School District. “I worry about students doing well.”
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How Online Education is Changing School in Ohio

Lisa DeJong / Cleveland Plain Dealer

Corein Loving, 17, works on his online AP Art studies at a "blended learning" charter school in Cleveland.

More than 30,000 Ohio students attend school online, skipping buses, cafeterias and classrooms to do their lessons entirely by computer, often at home, typing in tests and papers to be reviewed by a teacher far away.

That’s more than 12 times the number of students enrolled online in 2000, when Ohio’s first virtual school opened. And it makes Ohio a national leader: Only one state, Arizona, had more students enrolled full time in online schools in 2010-11, according to the annual “Keeping Pace” report by the Evergreen Education Group.

Most Ohio students enrolled in virtual schools, about 90 percent, attend one of the seven statewide online schools. The remainder are in digital academies that serve smaller areas.

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How Much Does It Cost to Run an Online School?

Joshua Gunter / Cleveland Plain Dealer

Shontyana Black, 18, of Brunswick, gets some online course advice from TRECA Digital Academy regional coordinator Denise Kovatch during a September orientation session.

Robert Mengerink didn’t know how much an online school really costs to operate – until he started one.

When he learned this summer that the agency he heads, the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, could offer a basic online program for less than half of what the state pays online schools per student, he was taken aback.

The county this fall started letting school districts enroll students in an online program that offers a computer, an online curriculum and teachers connected to the students online.

The cost? About $2,980 per student for a full course load all year. Meanwhile, Ohio pays all online charter schools about $5,700 per student, the same amount it gives a standard charter school with a building and classrooms. That rises to an average of $6,337 per student statewide after extra special education funding is added.

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For Most Online School Graduates, Formal Education Stops with High School

Joshua Gunter / Cleveland Plain Dealer

TRECA Digital Academy staffer Tina Dracon helps 17-year-old Jonathan Poling get his computer set up as mother Liz looks on during an September orientation session.

Few graduates of Ohio’s statewide online schools attend postsecondary training: not a two-year community college, not a four-year public university and often not even training for a vocational certificate.

Fewer than one in 10 online school graduates go on for postsecondary work, compared with nearly four in 10 for Ohio’s “Big 8″ urban districts, according to the Ohio Board of Regents, which tracks only in-state public programs.

Supporters of online schools say the best comparison is to the urban districts because they serve students with similar challenges.

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StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
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