Just how important is the state report card?

By Gary Knepp

The release of the state report card has become a yearly ritual in the life of every school district in Ohio. Good results are cheered. Poor results are rationalized. Realtors trumpet good results to boost home sales. Divorced parents use the report card in custody disputes.

Should these reports, based entirely upon standardized testing, have this kind of impact? Continue reading

Language arts requirements far more advanced

By David Yockey

Milford has recently initiated a new language arts curriculum in grades 6-12.  This curriculum was designed and written by our teachers and is directly aligned to the New Learning Standards in Ohio.

Text complexity has increased at each grade level in order to align to the National Learning Standards.  For example, texts that in the past might have been a grade 9 or 10 text now align with the grade 8 text complexity requirement.  Writing expectations have increased significantly (although Milford has a long history of high expectations in writing) to align with the focus on informational/expository writing as well as argumentative writing. Continue reading

The cost of an extra bottle of perfume

By Andrea Brady

Seth Godin, a marketer, author and one of my favorite bloggers, recently wrote an article about marginal cost.  In it, he asks, “How much does it cost Wikipedia to have one more person read an article? How much does it cost Chanel to produce one more bottle of perfume? How about one more digital copy of a Grateful Dead concert?”

Marginal, or incremental, cost is of great concern to school districts, too.  The standard measure of “how much it takes to educate a student” is the state’s calculation of expenditure per pupil.  However, this is not an accurate number for several reasons.

The way expenditure per pupil is calculated is to take total expenditures (in categories as defined by the state) and divide this by the total number of students served that past year.  If you understand what is in this number, it is a good way to compare districts and get a feel for a district’s efficiency.  And, I’m happy to say, Milford’s expenditure per pupil has been lower than not only other excellent districts, but also the state average, for quite a few years.  In addition, when you adjust the number to account for costs that shouldn’t be included because they aren’t truly expenses (see my article here), we look even better. Continue reading

Highlights from 10/17/13 school board meeting

Closing the gender achievement gap
It started with a stolen truck
Milford’s Teaching Professions program honored as “outstanding program”
Does size really matter?
Oct 2013 Five-Year Forecast approved
Extracurricular Update Oct 2013
Athletics Update Oct 2013

Here are the highlights of the Milford school board meeting last Thursday:

  • Kelli Ellison, Principal of Milford Junior High School, talked about bullying prevention efforts at the school.  We use the Olweus program, which focuses on changing the culture at the school to one of positive support.  Most recently, our school resource officer and Steve Smith, a former high school coach and teacher, presented to seventh and eighth graders on cyberbullying.After her presentation, I made everyone aware of a local program run by Alex Walter, an 11-year-old at Seton, who has started a bullying prevention effort called “End the Trend.”  Alex, who is Milford City Councilperson Laurie Howland’s daughter, decided to start this effort after being bullied herself.  Her Facebook page, End the Trend, shares information that is helpful to parents and students alike. End the Trend will be screening the movie Bully next Tuesday, October 22, 6:30 p.m., in the Harry Hodges Room of the Milford Municipal Building, 745 Center Street.  Pizza and soft drinks will be served as viewers watch this character-driven documentary that address the different facets of America’s bullying crisis.  Filmed over the course of the 2009-10 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied children, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.This movie is not appropriate for young children, but junior high/high school children are encouraged to attend with their parents.
  • Stacy Mathis of Partners for a Drug-Free Milford Miami Township, along with a group of her students, talked about Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31.  This is one of the oldest and largest campaigns in the country against alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and violence.  One addition to this year’s program is Re-Do Day on Friday, October 25.  One hundred Milford freshmen and sophomores will come together to discuss their lives and open up to one another.  The event will be held at the Miami Township Civic Center.  More information about Red Ribbon week can be found here, and Re-Do Day, which was started in Warren County, here.
  • Jeff Johnson gave a construction update on the two new elementaries.  While it may not look like a lot is going on, things are happening behind the scenes.  The requests for proposals for the architects & engineers have been received; both Milford and the state will be reviewing them.  Jeff expects to have a recommendation on a team by the November board meeting.  Proposals for the Construction Manager at Risk are due October 30.  He expects to have this recommendation for the December board meting.Also re: the construction process, we will be holding two informational meetings, the goal being to gather input from the community on what’s important in building the two new elementaries.  The first is for Seipelt, this Wednesday, 10/23, 7 pm at Seipelt.  The second, for Boyd, is Tuesday, 10/29, 6:30 pm at Boyd.

Closing the gender achievement gap

By Gary Knepp

“We collected a great deal of data and what we saw was there was a significant achievement gap between boys and girls and that seemed to grow as students went from first grade to seniors in high school.”

This quote is from Ms. Nancy House, Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction for the Milford school district, in a June 2010 video produced by Clermont County Today (found here on YouTube, and another video from 2011 found here on YouTube).  It refers to work done over a period of about three years total through a committee of community members, parents, teachers and administrators in the Milford school district.

This committee originated when I became concerned about gender learning differences, sparked by a book review of Peg Tyre’s The Trouble with Boys.  After reading the book from cover to cover, I began to collect research papers on the subject and review statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.  They bore out Ms. Tyre’s conclusion that there is a crisis in boy’s educational achievement.  Based upon several months of research, I recommended to the Board of Education that a committee be established to study this issue at Milford.  The Board approved that recommendation and the committee was established. Continue reading

It started with a stolen truck

By Andrea Brady

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It started with a stolen truck.

I received an email from a friend, saying her truck had been stolen out of her garage in South Milford at lunchtime when she ran home to grab a bite to eat.  Then, not more than an hour later, another friend from Miami Township emailed her friends, saying her car had been stolen out of her garage.

These two women did not know each other, and neither was on the other’s email list.  It seemed like too much of a coincidence, so I got in touch with both of them:  was there a connection here? Continue reading

Milford’s Teaching Professions program honored as “outstanding program”

By David Yockey

On Thursday, October 10, at the Fall Conference of the Southwest Region of the Ohio School Boards association, Milford’s Teaching Professions program was honored as an “outstanding program.”  This program is taught by Jennifer Shay-Norsworthy and is a “satellite” program of the Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development.

Students in this program recently made a national impact with a presentation on learning disabilities that wowed the judges and earned them first place in the nation at the National Future Educators Association conference in Orlando.  The Teaching Professions students earned the right to attend the conference as national semi-finalists based on research they did on learning disabilities.  In Orlando, they gave a 15-minute presentation on how to make learning attainable to students with disabilities.  “These students did so well in the presentation that the judges stayed for almost two hours after the competition in order to talk with them,” said instructor Shay-Norsworthy.  “They told the students that they came across as professionals already working in the field, not as high school students.” Continue reading