Arts on Line Update September 27, 2010

TAKE ACTION NOW: FYI ARTS includes an Action Alert regarding the recommendations for arts education prepared by the School Funding Advisory Council’s Learning Environments Subcommittee. The OAAE urges all arts education advocates to respond to the recommendations online.  For details please see “FYI Arts” below.

News from the Statehouse: The Ohio House and Senate are not holding sessions or committee meetings this week.

The School Funding Advisory Council will meet on September 30, 2010 at the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, 2080 Citygate Drive, Columbus, 43219.

The Education Reform Tracking Subcommittee will meet at 10:00 AM; the Traditional Public/Community School Collaboration Subcommittee will meet at noon; and the full Council will meet from 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

Franklin B. Walter, former Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction, died on September 15, 2010 at his home in Upper Arlington.  Dr. Walter served as superintendent of Ohio’s public schools for fourteen years during a time when the State Board of Education adopted operating standards, competency-based education, model curricula for all subjects, standards for special education, and more. Following retirement Dr. Walter taught at The Ohio State University and was the director of the National Academy for Superintendents at the College of Education.  He will be remembered as an inspirational educator, who supported reforms that became the foundation of the standards-based educational system that we have in Ohio today.

News from Washington, D.C.:
The U.S. Department of Education announced on September 23, 2010 the recipients of Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grants. The $1.2 billion TIF grant program was created by Congress to support initiatives that strengthen the education profession.  During the first two years of the initiative $442 million in funds will be distributed to sixty-two entities, including rural and urban school districts, non-profit groups, and state organizations.

The Ohio Department of Education has been awarded a TIF grant of $52.7 million over five years to develop a performance-based educator compensation system.  The ODE is partnering with Battelle for Kids and a variety of schools that represent the diversity of Ohio’s students, geography, and socio-economic status. For more information about this program please click here.

The U.S. Department of Education announced on September 21, 2010 the recipients of the Promise Neighborhoods Planning Grants.  These grants will be used to develop strategies to deliver community and school services to improve student achievement and the health and well-being of students and their families. To read more about this grant program please click here.

America’s Promise Alliance and ING honored the 100 Best Communities for Young People in a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. on September 21, 2010. America’s Promise Alliance, under the leadership of Colin and Alma Powell, is a partnership of more than 400 corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and advocacy groups.  The Alliance works to improve the lives of children based on five promises:  caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, and effective education and opportunities to help others.

The Ohio communities of Cincinnati (Strive Partnership and Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates), Findley/Hancock County, Hudson, and Norwood were recognized as 100 Best Communities for Young People. To learn more about the recipients please click here.

News from the ODE
The Ohio Model Schools Conference will be held on October 6-7, 2010 in Columbus. The conference is sponsored by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio Department of Education, and the International Center for Leadership in Education. The theme this year is “Where Best Practices Meet Next Practices.  The conference sessions will include workshops on ways to increase student engagement through rigor, relevance, and relationships; ways to meet the needs of all learners; effective leadership, and how to create a culture of high expectations. Superintendent of Public Instruction, Deborah Delisle, and Dr. William Daggett will deliver keynote addresses. For more information please click here.

SAT Results for the Class of 2010 Released: The College Board, Garrison Caperton president, released on September 13, 2010 the national SAT scores for the Class of 2010. According to the press release, nearly 1.6 million students in the U.S. took the SAT, and the Class of 2010 was the most diverse group of students taking the test in the 84 year history of the exam. Overall the national scores on the math exams have increased two points since 2000, but reading scores have declined four points in ten years.

The press release also notes that the results of the exam underscore the “critical role that course-taking patterns and academic rigor play in college preparation.” For example, “Students in the class of 2010 who reported completing a core curriculum – defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science, and three or more years of social science and history – scored, on average, 151 points higher on the SAT than those who did not complete a core curriculum.”

The College Board is a partner organization in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS), working with 37 states and the District of Columbia to develop college and career readiness standards and standards for math and English language arts.  To further this work, the College Board is conducting a study that examines the alignment between the Common Core State Standards and the SAT in the areas of critical reading, writing, and mathematics.

According to the SAT report for Ohio, 28,384 students in the Class of 2010 took the SAT exam.  Ohio students scored higher than the national average on the critical reading (Ohio students had an average score of 538 compared to the national average of 501); math test (Ohio students had an average score of 548 compared to the national average of 516); and writing test (Ohio students had an average score of 522 compared to the national average of 492).

As in the past, Ohio students who reported taking four or more years of the arts and music courses scored higher than the Ohio or national averages.  The average SAT score for students who reported taking more than four years of study of arts/music was 562 for critical reading; 564 for mathematics; and 542 for writing.  The average score for students reporting no arts courses was 503 for critical reading;
527 for math; and 485 for writing.

For more information about Ohio’s scores, please click here.

Report on Charter Schools Released: Policy Matters Ohio, Amy Hanauer executive director, released on September 20, 2010 a report entitled “Authorized Abuse:  Sponsors, Management, and Ohio Charter School Law” by Piet van Lier. Policy Matters investigated how charter school boards of education operated in Ohio using information gathered from management agreements, audits, web sites, board lists, and other documents.  According to the report, researchers found that charter school laws and policies were ineffective and in some cases ignored by charter school boards, charter school sponsors, and management companies and operators.

Charter school boards of education are responsible in law for the day to day operation of a charter school, but board members are not elected to the positions and therefore are not accountable to the public.  In fact charter school board members are often self-appointed or appointed by individuals who run the charter school, and are sometimes a staff member of another charter school operated by the same management company.  The lack of an independent board means that there are few checks and balances to ensure that the charter schools, which receive million of public dollars each year, are operating in the public interest.

According to the report standards for charter school operations have been developed by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.  These standards include the following criteria:
*Charter school board members should not be employed or selected by the school’s management organization or compensated for their service; *Charter boards should have independent attorneys, accountants and auditors; *Management contracts should spell out rights, responsibilities, fees and services and should not include “poison pills” that bind schools to management companies; *Charter boards should control all school revenues; *All equipment and furnishings purchased with public funds must be the property of the school, not of the management organization; *All loans from the management organization to the school must be appropriately documented and at market rates.

Using the standards for charter schools developed by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Policy Matters reviewed the activities of several charter schools in Ohio and found “…evidence that management organizations are in control, not the boards that are legally responsible for the schools.”

For example, the investigation found that some charter school board members serve on the boards of several charter schools, which violates Ohio law; some charter school board members are employees of other charter schools run by the same management company; some individuals hold multiple administrative positions in several charter schools; some management companies require schools to pay fees in order to terminate their contract with the management company; some management companies control the majority of revenues or control hiring of staff.

Policy Matters makes the following recommendations regarding the governance of charter schools to strengthen the accountability and public oversight:

-Revamp the law:  Legislators must overhaul charter school law based on accepted governance practices and standards.
-Watch school-management relationships:  A new, more effective, system of charter school oversight should be implemented. Sponsors must work to prevent abuses at the schools they currently oversee and more actively police the relationships between schools and management.
-Increase transparency:  Increased financial transparency of the charter sector should be among the primary goals of reform efforts.
-Investigate violations:  The Department of Education and other state agencies should be required to investigate violations of the law and efforts to sidestep the law as documented in the report.
The report is available here.

No bills related to education were introduced this past week.

FYI ARTS:  TAKE ACTION

Arts Education Advocates Are Urged to Comment on School Funding Advisory Council Recommendations

The Ohio School Funding Advisory Council, Superintendent Delisle chair, is seeking public comment on the recommendations that have been developed by its six subcommittees. The charges and members of these subcommittees are described here.

The recommendations regarding arts education were presented to the Council in August 2010 by the Learning Environments Subcommittee, chaired by Rich Petrick. Dr. Susan Witten, Director of Teaching and Learning, Hamilton Local Schools, represents the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education on the subcommittee.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

*Please read the recommendations for arts education listed below, and then provide your comments at the following ODE web page.

*Once you click on the link, you will need to enter your email address and scroll down to the Comment Areas section entitled Learning Environments Subcommittee.  There is a drop down menu that says “Please Select”, which will give you the option to select Arts Education.

*The Council needs your feedback as soon as possible, since it will
be making decisions about the recommendations to present to the
General Assembly and the governor in December.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Learning Environments Subcommittee

The School Funding Advisory Council (SFAC) was created through H.B. 1 of the 128th General Assembly (3306.29 of the Ohio Revised Code). The SFAC is charged with recommending modifications to the components of Ohio’s evidence-based school funding model (EBM). These recommendations must be based on current, high quality research, best practices in operational efficiencies, and information provided by school districts. In order to evaluate the various funding components of the EBM articulated in law, the Council established a number of subcommittees to study specific aspects of the model. One of the subcommittees established is the Learning Environments Subcommittee.

The Learning Environments Subcommittee is charged with studying “the adequacy of the model’s financing for arts education.” This analysis must include “current educational need, current educational practices, and best practices.”

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS SUBCOMMITTEE

1.  The subcommittee finds that there are a sufficient number of arts teachers provided through the EBM’s “specialist” teacher component to support current arts education programming. However, recognizing that there may be additional issues related to how teachers are defined in the EBM across subjects, the subcommittee recommends that any changes to the EBM maintain a similar allocation of arts teachers.

2. The subcommittee recommends that the EBM include specific funding to support the purchase of arts supplies. The subcommittee currently recommends that the range of the allocation should be $10-$15 per pupil at the elementary level and $20-$25 at the middle and high school levels, but recognizes that further research to determine the exact amount, such as through data derived from the 2010 Ohio Arts Education Survey, will be necessary.

3. The subcommittee recommends that school districts be required to report specific data on the arts to ODE, such as expenditures in the arts and how they relate to the EBM’s allocations, student participation in arts courses or programs, the licensing of the teachers leading those courses or programs, and information on arts teachers who are employed by ESCs. The subcommittee further recommends this data be easily available to parents and educators, such as through an annual published report. The specifics of these accountability metrics will evolve as the reporting requirements associated with the EBM are implemented over the coming years.

4. In general, the subcommittee recommends that the EBM’s effect on arts education programs should be monitored and reviewed biennially going forward to ensure it is adequately supporting high quality arts education programs across the state. In the medium term, this should include the results of the 2010 Ohio Arts Education Survey.

EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE COMMENTS REGARDING THE RECOMMENDATIONS

Strengths of the Recommendations:

-The recommendations are honest and practical at this time, understanding that more data is needed to develop an independent factor in the evidence-based model that would determine the number of arts educators needed to support QUALITY arts education programs as defined by some metric, such as the national “Opportunity to Learn Standards for the Arts”.

-State funds for materials and supplies are provided per pupil for textbooks and other supplies, and so it makes sense to provide some per pupil state funding for arts supplies and materials. This recommendation would ensure more equitable funding for the arts, especially in low-wealth school districts, and would relieve teachers of the burden of paying for supplies with their own money.

-The requirement that an annual report on the status of arts education in Ohio’s schools be published and access to data about arts education programs be improved would also a) improve the accuracy of the data regarding arts education; b) improve understanding about the status of arts education programs in Ohio’s schools; c) improve accountability for nearly $500 million in state funds that currently support arts education programs through the EBM; d) identify best practices and outstanding arts education programs; e) identify ways to improve equity of arts education programs among schools and school districts; f) provide information to improve efficiency regarding arts education programs; etc.

-The recommendation for on-going monitoring of the impact of the evidence-based model on the quality and status of arts education programs will ensure that the arts are not “forgotten” as the EBM is modified and fully implemented.  BUT, recommendation #4 does not say who will do the monitoring.

The State Board of Education should be required to evaluate data about the adequacy of funding for arts education programs and the quality of the programs, and include recommendations regarding state support for arts education programs as it develops its biennial budget recommendations.

Weaknesses of the Recommendations

-The EBM formula does not support staffing levels for high quality arts education programs in our schools.  ODE data shows that many school districts do not provide instruction in the arts at all grade levels, and as a result, many school districts are probably out of compliance with Operating Standards for Ohio’s Schools.

Arts education advocates might want to give examples from their own experience about the current status of arts education programs in their own school districts, including reductions in courses and opportunities in the arts; cut-backs in the number of licensed teachers in the arts; and information about who teaches the arts in their schools.

-There is NO recommendation to develop a measure of quality, student achievement, or accountability for arts education programs, even though over a half of a billion state dollars are allocated for arts education programs through the EBM. The State Board of Education should develop or adopt voluntary assessments in the arts, so that standards of performance can be developed to measure student achievement and the quality of the arts education programs in our schools.

-The State Board of Education should develop voluntary standards or guidelines for arts education programs.  School districts could use these guidelines to evaluate the quality of their arts education programs.

-There is NO state support at the school district level for coordinating arts education programs. National “Opportunity to Learn Standards in the Arts” includes support for arts-education coordinators at the district level to support arts teachers and programs. There is a president in Ohio for the coordinator position, because currently some school districts are receiving state support for gifted coordinators at the school district level.

-There is No requirement for those who teach the arts to have a K-12 multi-age license in an arts discipline.

-The EBM’s definition of a “core” teacher is not consistent with the language of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act 2001, which defines the arts as a “core” academic subject for all students to learn.

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About OAAE

Since our founding in 1974, by Dr. Dick Shoup and Jerry Tollifson, our mission has always been to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Working at the local, state, and federal levels through the efforts of a highly qualified and elected Board of Directors, our members, and a professional staff we have four primary areas of focus: building collaborations, professional development, advocacy, and capacity building. The OAAE is funded in part for its day-to-day operation by the Ohio Arts Council. This support makes it possible for the OAAE to operate its office in Columbus and to work statewide to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Support for arts education projects comes from the Ohio Arts Council, The John F. Kennedy Center, Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, VSA Ohio, and OhioDance. The Community Arts Education programs of Central Ohio are financially assisted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the financial support received from each of these outstanding agencies and organizations.
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