Project Overview

Columbus city scape with river in foreground

This collection of reports was produced with the underlying assumption that every child, and every adult, deserves access to an excellent education. However, the historical legacy of education in the United States has rendered this ideal no more than a lofty dream. Although this report specifically examines the status of formal education in Franklin County, Ohio, the authors believe that the findings and recommendations provided are transferable across a variety of educational systems and beyond the state of Ohio.

Funding and Political Representation

This report analyzes the legacy and current status of political representation and school funding in Franklin County, in an effort to expose the educational barriers that vulnerable populations face. The authors retrace the historical origins and the current state of the disparities and inequities that plague the Franklin County public education system. With regard to political representation, the focus pertains to the discriminatory policies to which vulnerable populations are subjected, both in society at large and in education more specifically. With regard to school funding, the focus attends to the perpetuation of raced educational inequities that the current system of school funding permits. By bringing attention to the historical and present conditions of these two areas, the authors aim to illuminate some of the conditions that have led to the current situation. In light of this, they then suggest alternative avenues for achieving educational equity.

School Funding and Leadership

This report focuses on two main concerns: financial inequality throughout schools in Franklin County, and administrator training with regards to financial knowledge. The analysis focuses on the publicly available Fiscal Year 2017 District Profile Report, and compares expenditure-per-pupil across the state with that of Franklin County. This data illustrated significant disparities across districts, and is due to the fluctuation of each district’s taxable valuations. Further, the report uses this information to illustrate the connection between difficult financial environments, and the lack of administrator training for educational leaders. An examination of state licensure policies, mentor programs, and the curriculum prescribed for leadership programs, bring attention to a significant void in support for school leaders who will make difficult financial decisions in schools. Finally, recommendations are provided for supporting school leaders in navigating fiscal inequalities, so that quality education for students in all districts can be achieved.

Educational Inequity and Psychology

This report explores educational inequity in Franklin County, in several areas related to the field of school psychology: preschool enrollment, disproportionality in special education, disproportionality in discipline, graduation and dropout rates, achievement gaps, and teacher engagement. Findings suggest that access to educational resources throughout the county is inequitable, with students living in low income areas, and racially minoritized students experiencing higher rates of discipline, and lower rates of academic achievement. The report provides possible solutions through the lens of school psychology.

The Impact of Racial Congruence in Schools

This report examines the substantial impact of the lack of racial congruence between students’ and teachers’ racial identities. It also investigates the failure of the majority of schools to close the achievement gap in Franklin County, which suggests a correlation between the two. Based on this correlation, the authors examine the role that the mismatch between teachers and students may play in the failure of schools to curb the achievement gap. The authors suggest that racial mismatch has the potential to negatively affect minority populations, Black students in particular, through influencing teacher investment in student success. This can lead to disproportionate discipline tactics, and can affect student well-being and expectations for academic success. The authors conclude by providing suggestions that could increase student-teacher racial alignment, academic success, and help close the achievement gap.

Technology in Education

This report explores technologically-based educational inequality in Franklin County, through a case study comparing two Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) high schools. Educational technology can have strong implications for educational inequity across a variety of factors. By comparing the Reynoldsburg High School eSTEM Academy to the Metro Early College High School using the Ohio Department of Education Report Cards (2012-2017), the report highlights the difference in outcomes between two seemingly similar schools. Additionally, the report also discusses differences in college/career readiness and teaching styles between the two schools as contributing factors to educational inequality.

School Counseling

School counselors in Franklin County hold a pivotal role in the school community, in that they support all students throughout their academic and personal development. The variety of roles that school counselors have is dependent upon the school they serve, which means that several school counselors are not utilized to their potential in their school or district. The report suggests that the differing roles of school counselors within schools contributes to the inequities that exist among districts in Franklin County, which then contributes to the inequity that students experience.

Special Education

This report focuses on educational inequity in special education within Franklin County, in accordance with requirements from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. This legislation intended to ensure that students with disabilities had access to quality education, and emphasized the importance of integrating these students into regular education classrooms to the greatest extent possible. Policy also addresses the principles of the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), transition services, and academic achievement for students with disabilities. Regardless of how special education is offered, or the wealth of students and districts across the county, expectations remain low for students with disabilities, and districts have little incentive to improve reading and math proficiency or graduation rates. Throughout the report, it is suggested that students in low income areas are more likely to be placed into special education, are graduating at lower rates, and are not meeting the low state-provisioned academic standards at rates comparable to students with disabilities in high income areas.

Pipeline to Higher Ed

This report discusses many challenges that contribute to inequities in students’ pursuit of higher education. Many challenges stem from a lack of rigorous academic preparation and advanced course offerings, the preparation of teachers, and the limitations of standardized tests. Examination of Ohio’s Core Curriculum requirements and college and university admissions criteria reveals a dearth of opportunities for many K-12 students in Franklin County. This report offers possible solutions for and cautions about how to address existing challenges.

Barriers to College Access

This report examines barriers to college access in Franklin County, Ohio, with regards to the need for (a) college preparedness curriculum, (b) financial literacy, and (c) culturally responsive college access programming. The report specifically focuses on Columbus City Schools (CCS) and the student populations that it serves. CCS is the largest school district in the state, and it enrolls high percentages of lower income students, first generation students, and students who speak English as a second language. These student populations face barriers to college access, beginning with curricular offerings and quality of instruction in high school, which continue if they do not have culturally competent advocates who can support them in navigating college-going processes.

Transfer and Movement in Higher Ed

This report examines students who transfer between educational institutions and their motivations for doing so. Specifically, it addresses the current state of policies, practices, and supports that exist in Franklin County to facilitate student movement across institutions – from high school to colleges, as well as between postsecondary institutions, both public and private. After discussing the current status of each, and given the State’s guidelines for transfer, the authors make suggestions for ways to improve student movement as a part of efforts to reduce the amount of time and money that students lose in the transfer process.

Campus Environments

In Franklin County’s higher education institutions, physical environments (college campuses and support structures) can either reinforce or help alleviate educational inequalities. Physical campus environments play a critical role in the quality of students’ experiences, and have a significant effect on student retention. The presence of physical space on campus in which students can feel a holistic sense of wellness and belonging is essential, especially to students who have marginalized identities or other unique needs. This report focuses on four aspects of campus environments: (1) multicultural centers, (2) residence life, (3) recreation centers, and (4) counseling and wellness, and then further exploring both strengths and areas of improvement for each category.

Graduate and Adult Education

This report examines primary contributors to inequities in graduate and adult education in Franklin County. These issues include a lack of diversity, disparities in funding and borrowing across student and institution type, the recruitment and outcome patterns of for-profit institutions, and various local work training and certificate programs as vehicles for inequality. Finally, the report offers a multi-pronged approach to address inequality and recommends allocating more resources to institutions with greater need.

PDF Version of Educational Inequity in Franklin County, OH.