Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Ed activists enter the lion's den, win some important concessions

Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Ed activists enter the lion's den, win some important concessions:

Ed activists enter the lion's den, win some important concessions

In an unexpected move, Democrats have revised the K-12 education section of their party’s 2016 platform in important ways, backing the right of parents to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, qualifying support for charter schools, and opposing using test scores for high-stakes purposes to evaluate teachers and students. -- Washington Post
Party platforms mean little and are usually forgotten the day after the election. This year's platform fight within the Democratic Party is more significant than usual because it reflects the struggles of real movements on the ground -- the Fight For 15 Movement, for example -- and because of the realignment of forces within both major political parties.


Dem platform now supports Opt-Out
Throughout the primary campaign, Sanders continually tried to drag Clinton leftward on policy. Leading up to the national convention, Sanders insisted that the party adopt “the most progressive platform ever passed.” That may be a low bar, but it did.

For the first time, after intense internal debate between the Clinton and Sanders factions, the DNC's platform committee backed the unqualified inclusion of the $15 minimum wage as the official policy of the party. They also dropped their statement of support for TPP.

With education activists like Chicago's Troy LaRaviere leading the way, the Sanders forces wrung concessions from Clinton loyalists and came away with an education plank that broke from the current administration's outright support for privately-run charters and high-stakes testing. The party is now on record in its support for the opt-out movement of parents and Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: Ed activists enter the lion's den, win some important concessions:



California Floats Multiple Measures for Grading Schools - Living in Dialogue

California Floats Multiple Measures for Grading Schools - Living in Dialogue:

California Floats Multiple Measures for Grading Schools

By Anthony Cody.
This week leaders in the California Department of Education released a new system for “grading schools”that proposes to assign schools a set of colored indicators based on a variety of measurements. This system is intended to replace the old system of performance indicators which gave schools a single numeric score, (the Academic Performance Index, or API) based only on test scores. While this new system brings us elements of that long sought goal of “multiple measures,” I fear that we have yet to escape the box of the “measure to manage” paradigm.
Over the past eight years the state of California has resisted some of the worst aspects of Federal reform. The state resisted federal pressure to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores, and Jerry Brown was a vocal critic of Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top, as indicated by his statement in 2009. In more recent years, Brown has restructured school funding, to direct resources to school districts based on student needs, as influenced by factors such as poverty and the proportion of language learners enrolled.
But the state – and our state teacher union, the California Teachers Association, have also embraced the Common Core (renamed “California Standards” last year.) With cooperation from the state university system, the California Teachers Association and funding from the Gates Foundation, teachers have been treated to days devoted to celebrating the Common Core. This year teachers will get yet another day-long Gates-funded Common Core festival, though once again they are the national standards that dare not speak their name.
California teachers and students have been told that a new and much improved accountability system is in the works, and now the draft has finally arrived. The mandate for this system is in regulations created by the federal Department of Education, which asks states to create a system to show “Measures of School Quality,” described this way:
Increased state flexibility to take a more holistic view of school performance based 
California Floats Multiple Measures for Grading Schools - Living in Dialogue:

The bigot Mike Pence and his neighbor Bruce Rauner. | Fred Klonsky

The bigot Mike Pence and his neighbor Bruce Rauner. | Fred Klonsky:

The bigot Mike Pence and his neighbor Bruce Rauner.

pence2

-By John Dillon. John blogs at Pension Vocabulary.
This post from March of 2015 is a reminder of the bizarre political philosophies that drive dangerous characters like soon-to-be-named VP candidate Governor Pence of Indiana and their fellows in other states – like Illinois. 
Governor Rauner’s “role model.”, according to Crain’s editorial board, is Mitch Daniels.   He told them so in March of 2014. In addition, the private equity manager/governor of Illinois has hired the chief legal counsel from Indiana (Jason Barclay) in order to have the same man who whispered in Mitch Daniels’ ear murmuring in his.
Wisely, Rauner is circumspect in emulating his idol Daniels, now the president of Purdue University, where the past governor has been battled for his attempts to remove Howard Zinn’s works from the curriculum…and now, for too swiftly moving the university’s professorial staff into a standardized corporate style testing of students’ growth per year – one linked to performance measurements for them and teachers.
In the last week, Indiana passed into law a religious objections bill, one that has come with some rather unexpected opposition from corporations and The bigot Mike Pence and his neighbor Bruce Rauner. | Fred Klonsky:


My disappointment with the amended Democratic platform - NYC Public School Parents:

NYC Public School Parents: My disappointment with the amended Democratic platform: "group mentoring" instead of class size reduction?:

My disappointment with the amended Democratic platform: "group mentoring" instead of class size reduction?



There has been much discussion of the recent amendments made to the Democratic platform.  See the video below of delegates including Pennsylvania attorney Chuck Pascal , Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, and others proposing and approving changes to the original, highly flawed document

Clearly there have been substantial improvements, pointing out the destructive impact of high-stakes testing, particularly on students of color and the schools they attend, proposing that parents have the right to opt out testing, and describing  the destabilizing influence from the unchecked rapid expansion of charters.  See Valerie Strauss on the amendments, as well as a transcript of the discussion that occurred here.  

Some of the language seems to have been influenced by the petition to the Democratic Party posted by the Network for Public Education Action.  (Full disclosure:  I'm on the board of NPE.)  Corporate reformers including  Peter Cunningham, former press secretary to Arne Duncan,  and Shavar Jeffries of Democrats for Education Reform expressed predictable outrage.

At the same time, public school teachers and bloggers like Peter Greene pointed out that the platform only opposes for-profit charters, even as the distinction between for-profit and non-profit charters is often hazy, as non-profits can contract with for-profit operations to run their schools.  See also this excellent Pro Publica report for more on this issue.

And although the amended platform specifically calls for charter schools to be obligated to "reflect their communities, and thus must accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools" this has been the law in New York since 2010 -- without any real attempt to enforce it. 


Democrats on Charters and Testing from Schoolhouse Live on Vimeo.


There are other  aspects of the platform that I find disappointing still. It contains a proposal to fund group mentoring, which is described as a NYC Public School Parents: My disappointment with the amended Democratic platform: "group mentoring" instead of class size reduction?:



 

antiracismdsa: We Won ! Chicano History Will be in the California Textbooks in 2017

antiracismdsa: We Won ! Chicano History Will be in the California Textbooks in 2017:

We Won ! Chicano History Will be in the California Textbooks in 2017

By Duane Campbell
History and social science textbooks in public schools in California and most of the nation are racist, class-biased, and ignore LGBT history. This condition will change in California in 2017 when new textbooks are adopted.

It is over. We won !

 At 2:45 PM today the California State Board of Education unanimously endorsed a new History /Social Science Framework for California’s public schools that includes a substantial addition of Chicano/Latino history, improved history of LGBT people, and improvements in several other histories.
This completes a 6 year effort against substantial opposition to revise the Framework.  As a result textbooks in California in 2017 will be the most inclusive ever required, and all students will be taught an inclusive history. This has been the major campaign of this blog and the Mexican American Digital History project since 2009. 

Under this decision California students will finally be encouraged to know the history of Latino civil rights leaders like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and Filipino labor leaders like Larry Itliong, as well as an accurate and inclusive history of LGBT activists  as a part of the history of California and the nation. These topics are currently substantially absent from public school textbooks and curricula in California.
The Quality Instructional Materials Committee of the  California State Board of Education decided to include these long- ignored histories in their re-writing of the History/Social Science Framework for the state.  The Framework  document sets the parameters and the minimums required of textbooks used  in the schools.  Because of California’s large size and market, what goes into California textbooks  frequently also gets written into textbooks around the nation.

In the current books, when the 51%  of students who are Latino, the 11.5% who are Asian, and the estimated 11% of students who are LGBT, do not see themselves as part of history, for many their sense of self is  marginalized.  As I argued in a prior book, marginalization negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school. This has resulted in a nearly 50% dropout rate for Latinos and some Asian groups  and LGBT students.. School marginalization also contributes directly to low-level civic engagement.  An accurate history would provide some of these  students with a  a sense of self, of direction, of purpose. History and social science classes  should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.  

 As a consequence of the current  outdated history texts for California public schools, most schools, most teachers,  fail to teach an accurate, complete, complex  history of the Chicano- Latino people, of Asian Americans and of LGBT youth, among others.   This essentially means that the writers are choosing not to recognize reality. – not to tell the full story. 
And, while California and the nation have a general problem with low civic antiracismdsa: We Won ! Chicano History Will be in the California Textbooks in 2017:


 

SBE News Release for July 13, 2016 - State Board of Education (CA Dept of Education)

SBE News Release for July 13, 2016 - State Board of Education (CA Dept of Education):

Board Sets Balance of State and Local Measures to Hold Schools Accountable

The state's proposed school report card, as of Wednesday, July 13.
The California State Board of Education today affirmed state and local measures of progress for California’s new school accountability system. In addition to scores on standardized tests in English and math, schools will be held accountable for students’ college and career readiness, proficiency for English learners, graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and school climate, basic conditions at a school, implementation of academic standards, and parent engagement.
The board intends to adopt evaluation rubrics supporting the new accountability system in September 2016 so educators, parents and stakeholders have a clearer picture about how local schools are serving students. A lack of progress for subgroups of students within educational agencies will be highlighted in an equity report and signal the need for support and intervention from county offices of education and the state superintendent of public instruction.
"Improving school accountability is a priority set by the Governor and Legislature under the new school funding formula. In this first year, we have a limited set of options for measuring performance across all of California’s 10,000 school sites. Overall much greater access to information about school performance will be available beginning in 2016-17, although we anticipate improvements to this system over time," explained California State Board of Education president Michael Kirst.
In California's new school funding and accountability system, more students, parents, educators and stakeholders are involved in educational decision-making than ever before. An initial online top level summary display (DOC) presented by the staff highlights the state’s educational priorities, and once finalized it will be available for each school. More detailed reports and resources for improving outcomes for local students also will be available online. In addition, an equity report is included in the display that will purposely highlight any significant lack of progress for specific student subgroups to promote equity.
Today's board discussion focused the state’s requirements. The federal government now is working to finalize regulations for its Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal accountability law. Board members cautioned against recreating "No Child Left Behind tripwires" and spoke in favor of preserving local flexibility.
"California is at the forefront nationally in establishing one coherent school accountability system that supports local, state and federal requirements. Our goal is to establish one system that holds schools accountable for progress, maximizes data to those closest to students and classrooms, and makes access as user-friendly as possible," Kirst said.
The 2016-17 State Budget includes $24 million for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) to provide training for educators and stakeholders to support the effective use of the evaluation rubrics and local accountability plans. The CCEE will work to facilitate the broad use of data to empower local decision-making processes and ensure that resources are efficiently allocated to improve student outcomes. The law requires that the training will begin after the California State Board of Education adopts the evaluation rubrics and no later than October 16, 2016.
###
The board unanimously approved the following motion.
Staff recommend that the SBE take the following action related to the design of the LCFF evaluation rubrics:
  1. Approve a measure of college and career readiness, as specified in Attachment 1, including:
    1. Adopting the College and Career Indicator (CCI), which combines Grade 11 test scores on English Language Arts (ELA) and Math and other measures of college and career readiness, as a state indicator (formerly called “key indicators”)[1];
    2. Using the CCI to establish standards for Priority 7 (Access to Broad Course of Study) and Priority 8 (Outcomes in a Broad Course of Study) based on the approved methodology of calculating performance for state indicators;
    3. Modifying the state indicator for student test scores on ELA and Math (Priority 4 – Pupil Achievement), approved at the May 2016 Board meeting, to remove the Grade 11 scores, in order to avoid double-counting those test scores in two state indicators; and
    4. Directing staff to prepare a recommendation for the September 2016 Board meeting on the final technical specifications for the CCI.
  2. Approve a methodology for establishing standards, as specified in Attachment 2 for:
    1. Priority 1 (Appropriately Assigned Teachers, Access to Curriculum-Aligned Instructional Materials, and Safe, Clean and Functional School Facilities),
    2. Priority 2 (Implementation of State Academic Standards),
    3. Priority 3 (Parent Engagement),
    4. County Office of Education (COE) Priority 9 (Coordination of Services for Expelled Students), and
    5. COE Priority 10 (Coordination of Services for Foster Youth).
  3. Approve inclusion of a standard for the use of local climate surveys to support a broader assessment of performance on Priority 6 (School Climate), as specified in Attachment 2.
  4. Approve inclusion of an Equity Report, which identifies instances where any student subgroup is in the two lowest performance categories (currently Red or Orange) on a state indicator, within the top-level summary data display, as specified in Attachment 4.
  5. Direct staff to develop, in advance of the September 2016 meeting, a proposed timeline through the end of the 2017 calendar year that addresses the further developmental work after approval of the initial phase of the evaluation rubrics, including, but not limited to:
    1. the state and local indicators,
    2. standards for the state indicators and/or LCFF priorities,
    3. the statements of model practices, and
    4. the alignment of elements included in the ESSA state plan with the LCFF evaluation rubrics.
Big Education Ape: 'Get to green:' California wants to grade school performance with colors instead of a single number - LA Times - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/07/get-to-green-california-wants-to-grade.html

Why the movement to privatize public education is a very bad idea - The Washington Post

Why the movement to privatize public education is a very bad idea - The Washington Post:

Why the movement to privatize public education is a very bad idea



Samuel E. Abrams is the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has a written a new book, “Education and the Commercial Mindset,” that details how and why market forces have come to rise in public education and become important in corporate school reform.
Renowned progressive educator Deborah Meier wrote an interesting review of the book on her blog. She wrote in part:
This is a book that you should rush out and buy/read. The author, Samuel E. Abrams,  is currently the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia. When I first saw the title and the source, I did not think it would be a book I would be enthusiastic about.
However, I discovered immediately that the author taught for a number of years at NYC’s Beacon High School, which I know and respect. So I decided maybe my biases were unfair. Indeed I was wrong to be wary. Chapter One should be a must for all those who want (or should want) to understand the period we are in and the issues confronting us. If you can’t imagine reading the whole book — start there. Then decide.
Actually every chapter that follows is important including one on charters with a focus on KIPP — which Abrams is more sympathetic to than I am. But like the rest of the book he presents the issues with lots of documentation and data, and he presents KIPP fairly. He covers considerable territory with some historical background on every topic he deals with for those who love it. His final chapters on schooling in other distant lands focuses on the Nordic nations with a lot, of course, on Finland.
You can see the rest of her review here, and below is the Q & A I did with Abrams about his book and the privatization movement:Why the movement to privatize public education is a very bad idea - The Washington Post:


BREAKING NEWS - Trump goes with anti-public education running mate - Wait What?

BREAKING NEWS - Trump goes with anti-public education running mate - Wait What?:
BREAKING NEWS – Trump goes with anti-public education running mate


As expected, the most unqualified candidate to be President of the United States has chosen a running mate who is equally unprepared, ill-equipped and incapable of representing the people of the nation.
Not only is Indiana Governor Mike Pence the most anti-choice governor in the country, he is nothing short of a puppet for the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies.
As Indiana’s governor, Pence has driven an anti-teacher, anti-public education political and legislative agenda that has included dramatically expanding charter schools and diverting scarce public funds to voucher programs that, in turn, have allowed private individuals to use taxpayer money to send their children to religious schools.
As a gubernatorial candidate Pence has used his anti-public education agenda to raise massive amounts of money from wealthy corporate education reform donors both in and out of his state.  Many of the most prominent anti-public school big donors appear on Pence’s fundraising reports.
As the Indianapolis Star and other Indiana based newspapers and blogs have reported, Pence has been collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school owners and voucher supporters.
Pence’s education donors include;
  • Fred Klipsch, founder and chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education, “a leading pro-voucher organization. Klipsch boasted in 2012 that he had put together the campaign funding to overcome teacher opposition and push through legislative approval of the Mitch Daniels-Tony Bennett education agenda, including vouchers and charter schools.”
  • John D. Bryan, founder and director of Challenge Foundation, “which operators several charter schools, including the Indianapolis Academy of Excellence. He has given nearly $600,000 to Republican campaigns in Indiana, including $145,000 to Pence’s campaigns for governor.
  • Roger Hertog, of Success Academy infamy.  Hertog, a major right-wing donor has also given pro-charter school governor Andrew Cuomo at least $30,000.
  • Robert L. Luddy,  “who runs a group of private schools and who provided much of the campaign financing for school board candidates who overturned a model school desegregation program in Wake County, N.C., schools.
In July 2012, the education blog, In School Matters led with an article entitled, More on the money behind the Indiana school-voucher law.  Pro-public education blogger Steve Hinnefeld wrote;
Hoosiers for Economic Growth chairman Fred Klipsch explained recently 
BREAKING NEWS - Trump goes with anti-public education running mate - Wait What?:

 

Hoosier School Heist TV is Doug Martin's channel featuring videos of his book tour across Indiana speaking on the corporate takeover of public education. Order Hoosier School Heist at http://hoosierschoolheist.com/.
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New Book on Market-Based, Educational Reforms | VAMboozled!

New Book on Market-Based, Educational Reforms | VAMboozled!:

New Book on Market-Based, Educational Reforms

For those of you looking for a good read, you may want to check out this new book: “Learning from the Federal Market‐Based Reforms: Lessons for ESSA [the Every Student Succeeds Act]” here.
As Larry Cuban put it, the book’s editors have a “cast of all-star scholars” in this volume, and in Gloria Ladson-Billings words, the editors “assembled some of the nation’s best minds” to examine the evidence on today’s market-based reforms as well as more promising, equitable ones. For full disclosure, I have a chapter in this book about using value-added models (VAMs) to measure and evaluate teacher education programs (see below), although I am not making any royalties from book sales.
If interested, you can purchase the book at a  reduced price of $30 (from $40) per paperback thru 7/31/17, using the following discount code at checkout: LFMBR30350. Here, again, is the link.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Over the past twenty years, educational policy has been characterized by top‐down, market‐focused policies combined with a push toward privatization and school choice. The new Every Student Succeeds Act continues along this path, though with decision‐making authority now shifted toward the states. These market‐based reforms have often been touted as the most promising response to the challenges of poverty and educational disenfranchisement. But has this approach been successful? Has learning improved? Have historically low‐scoring schools “turned around” or have the reforms had little effect? Have these narrow conceptions of schooling harmed the civic and social purposes of education in a democracy?
This book presents the evidence. Drawing on the work of the nation’s most prominent researchers, the book explores the major elements of these reforms, as well as the social, political, and educational contexts in which they take place. It examines the evidence supporting the most common school improvement strategies: school choice; reconstitutions, or massive personnel changes; and school closures. From there, it New Book on Market-Based, Educational Reforms | VAMboozled!:

After Years of Cuts to Playtime, Parents and Educators Are Bringing Recess Back

After Years of Cuts to Playtime, Parents and Educators Are Bringing Recess Back:

After Years of Cuts to Playtime, Parents and Educators Are Bringing Recess Back

bringing recess back

Last year in Seattle public schools, low-income kids won an equal right to play, thanks to a fierce coalition of Seattle teachers and parents who set up an unbeatable campaign to bring recess back to the school day.
Similar efforts are taking place across the U.S., as educators and parents take note of how the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)-era of high-stakes, high-stress testing altered their children’s school day, lengthening the hours that students stay in their seats and squeezing the minutes they swing across playgrounds. It’s time, they say, for the school day to return to a healthier state of play.
In recent years, mandatory-recess legislation has been introduced in at least four states, including Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, one Texas school has jacked up its daily allotment of recess to four times a day. Recess supporters point to the health benefits of exercise and movement, the way that physical activity supports cognitive development, plus the critical social and emotional learning that takes place when children have unstructured, free time to play.
“It’s been alarming to see the way that No Child led to less recess. Recess has cognitive, emotional, social benefits, and lots of research to support it,” says Terri Drain, a nationally board certified physical education teacher in Alameda County, Calif., and a member of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) board of directors. “I would call it a crime, actually, to deny physical activity to kids… We’re just not designed to sit still.”
 in 2014, about two out of 10 U.S. elementary schools had no daily recess, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Generally, middle and high schools have even less.
With the passage of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and its welcome focus on local- and state-designed standards, “it’s a great time to spark conversations around what a well-rounded child looks like. It’s not one who sits and takes tests all day,” says Collin Brooks, a nationally board certified physical education teacher from Bend, Ore., and the president of Oregon SHAPE. (To find out how you can get involved in those conversations in your community, visit Get ESSA Right.)

At Brooks’ school, the younger kids get three recesses a day, while the older ones get two. But not all kids are so lucky. In Florida this year, parents complained to state legislators that some schools had zero. (Their mandatory recess bill passed almost unanimously in the Florida House, but stalled in the state Senate.) Overall, in 2014, about two out of 10 U.S. elementary schools had no daily recess, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Generally, middle and high schools have even less.
Making matters worse in Seattle, where there was no district policy on recess, After Years of Cuts to Playtime, Parents and Educators Are Bringing Recess Back:

The Cost of Choice – EduShyster

The Cost of Choice – EduShyster:
The Cost of Choice 
A new study finds that charter school expansion in Michigan has meant financial chaos for a growing number of school districts…
detroit_damage2_640-900x570.jpg (900×570)EduShyster: Your new study looks at why certain school districts in Michigan have descended into a state of, as I like to describe it, *smoking ruin.* To keep the suspense alive, tell us what you found DID NOT contribute to the severe financial distress of these districts.
David Arsen: The question we looked at was how much of this pattern of increasing financial distress among school districts in Michigan was due to things that local districts have control over as opposed to state-level policies that are out of the local districts’ control: teacher salaries, health benefits, class size, administrative spending. We also looked at an item that the conservative think tanks are big on: contracting out and privatization. We found that, overwhelmingly, the biggest financial impact on school districts was the result of declining enrollment and revenue loss, especially where school choice and charters are most prevalent. We looked at every school district in Michigan with at least 100 students and we followed them for nearly 20 years. The statistics are causal; we’re not just looking at correlation. 
EduShyster: There’s a table in your paper which actually made me gasp aloud—which I’m pretty sure is a first. I’m talking, of course, about the chart where you show what happened to Michigan’s *central cities,* including Detroit, as charter schools really started to expand.
ArsenWe have districts getting into extreme fiscal distress because they’re losing revenue so fast. That table in our paper looked at the central cities statewide and their The Cost of Choice – EduShyster:
Big Education Ape: Michigan's shortchanging its kids. Why? - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/07/michigans-shortchanging-its-kids-why.html

Big Education Ape: State of Michigan Failing Charter Schools: One Year Later Nothing Has Changed - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2015/07/state-of-michigan-failing-charter.html


Many ECOT students spend just one hour online for classes each day, state lawyers say | cleveland.com

Many ECOT students spend just one hour online for classes each day, state lawyers say | cleveland.com:
Many ECOT students spend just one hour online for classes each day, state lawyers say




COLUMBUS, Ohio - Many students at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) online charter school spend just an hour a day online taking their classes, state lawyers said this week, all while the state pays the school as if they were full-time students.
That detail was included in a filing by the state in Franklin County Common Pleas Court Monday as the Ohio Department of Education audits the giant charter school's records. The state wants to see if ECOT's 15,000 students spent enough time on coursework this past school year to merit the $108 million the state paid the school.
Unlike a traditional school, where teachers can take attendance every day, students at online schools like ECOT take classes at home by computer. That makes it hard to measure whether they are actively taking classes, an issue that is becoming increasingly contentious between Ohio's e-schools and the state.
Since charter schools are paid on a per-student basis by the state, there are millions of dollars at stake in determining which kids qualify as attending a school.
An initial review this spring raised red flags that students at ECOT, Ohio's largest online school, may have done far less work than required.
"Based on its review of a sample of the student log-in records, ODE found that most students logged into ECOT's online platform for only about one hour per day," state lawyers told the court Monday.
That's just a fraction of the six to seven hours per school day that students spend at a traditional school.
It's also far less than the five hours per day students should spend, on average, to reach the 920 hours of learning the state requires over a school year, ECOT's own guidelines say.
"Those (ECOT's) records did not substantiate the number of educational hours for which ECOT had billed ODE," the state's lawyers added.
Until this week, the state had only publicly reported ECOT students spending less than that five hours per week benchmark. The filing on Monday was the first indication of how much less.
Note that students can also meet that five-hour daily average with work offline, but the state and ECOT are sparring over whether the school needs to document that offline time.
The school says that it only has to offer 920 hours of "learning opportunities," regardless of whether students take advantage of them. The state says that students must "participate" in classes for those hours.
The Ohio Department of Education was scheduled to look at records in more detail Monday. ECOT filed suit last Friday to block that audit, but Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen McIntosh on Monday denied the school's request for a restraining order.
Department employees then went to the school to resume the audit Monday afternoon, shortly after McIntosh's lunchtime denial.
The department has not offered any estimate on when a report of its findings will be ready, though state law requires it by Sept. 30.
ECOT spokesman Neil Clark did not dispute the one-hour figure claimed by the state, but said the school is meeting state law.
"ECOT students are offered the required number of hours of learning opportunities everyday, just like students at traditional public schools," he told The Plain Dealer. "As a result of the opportunities provided, ECOT graduates more students than any other school in the state. ODE is unfortunately trying to limit the choice of Ohio families who traditional public schools have failed."
Clark also said the school has clean audits from the state auditor, who has recently blasted the Ohio Department of Education for mismanagement.Many ECOT students spend just one hour online for classes each day, state lawyers say | cleveland.com:
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