Dispatch editorial shows glaring lack of understanding of school report cards

It isn’t the knowledge that’s in question, it’s the method used to measure that knowledge.     

By Connor Brown   


You know that guy who reads one headline and then thinks he is an expert on the subject matter? Well he now writes editorials for the Columbus Dispatch. This reporter apparently just read two stories this past week and decided to slap them together in an editorial. The first, how the State of Ohio, through ever-changing standards is going to potentially make thousands of high school students ineligible to graduate next year. And the second was the success of the Catholic-run school in Columbus, Christo Rey, who recently announced that all of its graduates had been accepted to college.


The editorial argues, with an ignorant arrogance that would make a “drunk uncle” proud, that the state should stop lowering the bar for poor students and should hold them accountable. All well and good. But the issue at stake here is not about holding students accountable, the issue is about the changing standards by which Ohio has used to measures success. Ohio's testing has been in a turmoil as of late: three different sets of standardized tests, discrepancies between online and paper tests, and school reports cards that were so late and so off, that even the State Superintendent Paulo DeMaria discredited their importance and accuracy.


But the Dispatch in its headline-only analysis failed to take into account the lives of these “on the bubble” students; students who likely would have received their diploma with no problem had the Department and state education “leaders” set forth a better policy. Consistency at that level would have allowed districts and teachers to properly prepare and adjust to the new standards.


But that’s not the model these “leaders” have been pursuing. Instead, groups like the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation to rush implementation of new education standards in Ohio. These standards are responsible for the more than 47,000 students being in jeopardy of graduating on time or at all, and the fact that 84% of Ohio's schools are now failing. And together with their chief advocate in the Ohio Senate,  Peggy Lehner, they were pretty much allowed to run rampant with their policy initiatives.


So when the state school board stepped in last week to find a solution to Fordham's failure the Dispatch chided these education experts for not having the fortitude to stick out the alleged higher standards.  The Dispatch even raised the question: Who wants to drive across a bridge designed by an engineer who, though deficient in math, made it to class? 


The question suggest that all engineers educated before the new standards are somehow uneducated and we should have great concern for our safety.




84% of Ohio's schools didn't suddenly and dramatically fail in their efforts to teach kids.  Students who were educated before the Fordham standards are not incompetent or ignorant.  The tools to measure success changed and appear to be flawed.  Fordham and their many sibling organizations, while putting on a great show, are not the only education experts in the nation but likely are the best funded.  This new Gates inspired social experiment is taking a toll on our teachers, school districts, students and families.  

Instead of holding Ohio students accountable to faux standards, it is time to hold Fordham accountable for their failure to Ohio students.