Superintendent's Note

Straight A Fund recipients awarded $29.3 million

ESC taking active role to assist member school districts

The ESC of Central Ohio is proud of member districts who recently applied for the Ohio Department of Education’s Straight A Fund grant program to develop programs to improve student and teacher achievement and increase efficiency.

We would like to congratulate our districts and partners who were awarded Straight A Funds for 2013-14, with grants totaling nearly $29.3 million of the $88.6 million available. Recipients include:

  • STEM Outdoor Innovation Labs led by Kelleys Island School District: Columbus City Schools, Reynoldsburg City Schools, Metro Early College Middle and High School, Kelleys Island Schools, Akron Inventors Hall of Fame, Ashland University, Biomed Science Academy, Indigo Strategies LLC, PAST Foundation
  • Marysville Early College High School and Union County Innovation Center led by Marysville Schools: Marysville Schools, Ohio Hi-Point Joint Vocational School District, Columbus State Community College, Honda of America Manufacturing, LLC, Union County Chamber of Commerce, EDWorks
  • Electronic Literacy through Internet-supported Strategies for Instruction (ELLIS I) led by Groveport Madison Schools: Groveport Madison Local Schools, ESCCO, Finneytown Schools, Reading Community Schools, Deer Park Community Schools, Scioto Valley Local Schools, Bowling Green State University
  • Ohio Pathways to Prosperity Demonstration led by Reynoldsburg City Schools: Reynoldsburg City Schools, Westerville City Schools, Columbus City Schools, Canal Winchester Local Schools, Olentangy Local Schools, Licking Heights Local Schools, Whitehall City Schools, Upper Arlington City Schools, Grandview Heights City Schools, Hilliard City Schools, Gahanna-Jefferson City Schools, South-Western City Schools, New Albany-Plain Local Schools, Battelle for Kids, Columbus State Community College

“We were pleased to be able to provide assistance to many member districts, resulting in several successful applications,” said ESC of Central Ohio Superintendent Tom Goodney. “Districts relied on us to provide a technical assistance workshop, grant writing assistance, and regular updates about the Straight A Fund program.”

As projects are implemented, the ESC will be directly involved in the following ventures:

  • Electronic Literacy through Internet-supported Strategies for Instruction (ELLIS I). We will provide:
    • Face-to-face training on iLearnOhio
    • Coordination of project partners and project management of project deliverables
  • Ohio Pathways to Prosperity Demonstration: The ESC and Battelle for Kids will mitigate three challenges:
    • Comprehensive engagement and training for leaders to deliver accurate and persuasive information about effective academic preparation
    • Professional development, tools and infrastructure will be provided. Industry support will be generated.
    • Design a benchmarking framework aligned to the commitments of the Central Ohio Compact and including the Pathways to Prosperity initiative. For each Pathways to Prosperity demonstration program, a community-based interdisciplinary council will be created to monitor progress.

Designed to meet the needs of Ohio’s students, reduce the cost of running a school or school district and drive more dollars to the classroom, the Straight A fund is poised to solve specific problems in schools, increase student achievement, and improve operational efficiency.

The ESC will continue to work collaboratively with its member districts, partner schools and agencies in pursuit of these policy priorities.

The ESC has also been busy tracking district progress as Third Grade reading guarantee data is released for this school year.

The Columbus Dispatch recently reported that, unless their scores improve over the next six months, more than 4,000 third-graders in central Ohio who took the fall state reading test would have to be held back under a law effective this year. Of 18 local school districts, five would have to hold back at least a quarter of their third-graders.
Using this data as a baseline, the ESC will work with each district to determine where we can be of assistance.

Presently, the ESC provides a multitude of services that will augment the Third Grade Reading Guarantee requirements.

From August 2013 – December 2013, the State Support Team Region 11 (SST11) provided 26 professional development opportunities for districts.  An additional, 4 events will be offered January- June. A sample of topics include: Intentional Teaching: Language and Literacy Development for All Young Children; Specially Designed Instruction for Students with Dyslexia in Grades K-: A Survey of Multi- Sensory, Structured Language Programs; Literacy Alternatives for Students with Language or Cognitive Deficits; and Early  Learning and Development Standards Level 2: Language and Literacy.

The SST has deliverables in its Performance Agreement for supporting the Third Grade Guarantee, such as: 

  • Delivering Existing Trainings as designated and provide on-going technical assistance.
  • GGG: 1 time in fall and/or as needed by region
  • Intentional Teaching Literacy 1 time in the fall
  • Promoting the Teacher Leader Initiative as a strategy to increase the use of the coaching and mentoring to support teachers
  • Recruiting enough teacher leaders in each region to provide coaching support to all Apple Protégés
  • Administering a tiered approach to mentoring and coaching
  •  Communicating on a regular basis with district administrators who employ teacher leader participants

The SST partners with Project MORE (Putnam County ESC), as well as Learn 4 Life, to bring additional professional development opportunities to districts and programs in the SST region. We also partner with districts to develop or refine a multi-tiered system of prevention and intervention to support all students.

The ESC is also involved in Third Grade Reading Guarantee support through the following grants and contracts.

Early Literacy and Reading Readiness

  • Funded by: Ohio Department of Education
  • Districts Involved: Hamilton and Groveport Madison
  • Partners: Columbus Public Library, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 2nd and 7 Foundation
  • Purpose: Teachers are trained in reading intervention strategies and students who require intervention are provided with books and materials. Parent engagement events are also held at local library branches.

Ohio Reading Corps

  • Funded by: Corporation for National and Community Services
  • Districts Involved: Garfield Heights, Hilliard, Marysville, Maple Heights, Olentangy, South-Western, Westerville, Whitehall
  • Partners: Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism, Cuyahoga County ESC
  • Purpose: AmeriCorps volunteers are trained in reading intervention strategies and are deployed to local schools to provide after school reading and tutoring.


  • Funded by: Ohio Department of Education
  • Districts Involved: All are eligible
  • Partners: Ohio Dominican University
  • Purpose: Support teachers in becoming fully licensed, “highly-qualified” (as defined by federal law), or obtain additional credentials. Several area teachers have used program funding to obtain a reading credential after the passage of the 3rdgrade reading guarantee so they are better qualified to provide instruction to students who need intervention.

In early 2014, I will be announcing an expanded list of programs and services of the ESC and other partners to specifically aid districts in helping students pass the spring/summer administration of the reading test.

There is a critical sense of urgency on behalf of our member districts to deploy services and support where necessary.


Tom Goodney