Tyrone Olverson applied to be the DPS Superintendent the same time that Rhonda Corr did. He didn’t even get an interview.
Front page of today’s Dayton Day-Old News, a feature story makes it clear why this guy is the real deal, compared to the hacks Dayton hired.
“We’re not talking about failure anymore. Failure’s not even an option here in Trotwood,” Olverson said. “A’s and B’s are expected, with the occasional ‘C.’ Getting a ‘D’ means you’re coming to Saturday school. Because we know you can do it.”
For 2016-17, Trotwood-Madison ranked dead last among Ohio’s 608 public school districts in performance index, which is the most detailed measure of state test performance. It was the second straight year of very bad test scores.
If a school district has three consecutive years of bad grades based on state tests, the Ohio Department of Education appoints an Academic Distress Commission to run the district. Trotwood will find out no later than the Sept. 15 state report card release whether it is headed for takeover.
“My opinion is, we can’t sit back and wait to be taken over,” said Olverson, who helped lead Youngstown’s Distress Commission before coming to Trotwood in April.
“We have to be very proactive and assume that we’re going to be OK. And if we’re not going to be OK, the chips fall where they fall. But if we have a solid plan, I would hope that the state would consider this plan and let it run, especially if you have teacher buy-in.”
Multiple new steps Earlier this week, Olverson, 50, spelled out a variety of changes that are under way this summer.
The first set of teachers are being trained on the “four cornerstones” of The Thoughtful Class room program, focusing on organization, positive relationships, engagement/motivation and a new culture of learning. Each of those principles include sat least a half-dozen standards to track whether teachers and students are following the plan.
Olverson’s overall three year turnaround plan focuses on areas such as leadership, diagnosing problems, data use and alignment. Each category has certain targets to hit before the school year, during the fall, before state testing and by the end of the school year.
The plan includes lots of training run by curriculum specialists on behavior interventions, data use and school improvement plans. Principals are told they must “stand and deliver” school goals to staff, students and parents in the first two weeks. It also makes clear that some staff will be re assigned to “critical target areas.”
“We had the middle school principal drop down to the early learning center and had the high school principal move down to the middle school,” Olverson said, adding a new high school principal is about to be hired. (note- last night the Trotwood board did Libbie Lolli a favor and hired Ray Caruthers away from Ponitz for Trotwood HS- this may be the biggest mistake Olverson will make- because he hired a friend, instead of a principal).
“Everyone in the organization is taking on roles and responsibilities because they have ask ill set, and we had a certain need.”
Several of Olverson’s approaches fit with school board President Denise Moore’s comments this spring, as she focused on getting students the tools they need to be successful and making progress rather than putting the district “on pause.”
Olverson, a high school track state champion from Cincinnati, is a career educator who co-wrote a book on practical strategies for making a difference in schools. Marlon Howard, director of operations and community relations for the school district, said Olverson brought focus.
“The issue was having five or six different plans going on at once without a singular goal,” Howard said.
“What Mr. Olverson did was get everybody on the same track toward the same goal. We were kind of all over the place.”
Olverson calls it a problem of alignment –people working out of their area or “not staying in their lanes.”
“It’s not bad people or bad kids,” he said. “You can have a nice Schwinn bicycle, but if all the bolts are loosened, the seat’s loose and the handlebars are crooked, and you ask somebody to ride…. (You have the pieces) but you have to align them.”
Early warning system Olverson says “the most critical piece” is his early warning system, which calls for all types of support systems working together to focus on students’ behavior, attendance and grades.
The system will feature classroom aides working as academic coaches and “student encouragers,” staffers working with at-risk students on behavior contracts and restorative justice, and five “parent engagers” cold-calling families to keep them more informed on school news.
He said Trot wood hired two in-school social workers so guidance counselors can go back to academic support.
“The social workers’ goal is to support the parent in removing barriers from the home – whether it’s clothing, food, rent … factors that prohibit students from coming to school,” Olverson said.
He cited data that the roughly 800 students at Trotwood-Madison High School missed a total of 8,103 days in 2017-18, close to 10 per student.
Olverson said success will require a change in mindset because many students face pressure not to succeed from peers who struggle and mock those who achieve.
“So let’s take that away from the kid and put it on me or the building principal,
Olverson said. “They can say, ‘These guys are crazy – they’re making me pass or I go to Saturday school.’ Blame me. I don’t care.”
Compare this article- where Olverson clearly spells out his objectives, plans and a system to move the entire district forward- to the drivel coming out of DPS- about the “Marzano Method” and getting involved in one fiasco after another- which is all DPS has seen since the former board hired Corr and the current board hired Lolli.
Prediction is Trotwood moves up substantially in rankings. Dayton is slated for takeover sooner than later and Mayor Nan gets her wish to run the schools too- so she can be like her heroes Rahm Emanuel and Bill Di Blasio. In the mean time- we’ll see enrollment drop by 500-1000 students forcing more school closings.
Second prediction is that Olverson is the next DPS superintendent.
Note, the idea that Trotwood, with 2600 students is even allowed to be a district- and have a superintendent and a treasurer and school board is almost laughable- when you consider my 3 year high school in Cleveland was 2400 students. At some point, Ohio has to reel in all these micro-districts and get serious about running education efficiently.
Second note: Former Dayton Public Schools Chief of Innovation- David Lawrence is now an Elementary School Principal in Northmont Schools. He can finish up his doctorate while working a mile away from his home. He thanks Rhonda Corr for the prompt to start working on his PhD by paying him to not work. He was also overlooked by the previous board to be DPS Superintendent.