News from the Statehouse:
November 2, 2010 General Election: Ohioans will elect on November 2, 2010 all state executives; a United States senator; all state and federal representatives; state senators in odd-numbered districts; three supreme court justices – including Chief Justice; some members of the state board of education; judges of various appellate, common pleas, and county courts; and county officials.
There are also the following 1,750 issues on the November ballot:
-12 bond issues, including 10 school bond issues
-1,059 tax issues, including 169 school tax issues
-301 local liquor options
-eight combined school issues
-370 miscellaneous issues, including 28 tax changes for school districts, all involving an income tax for schools.
For detailed information about the candidates and school issues for the November General Election please visit this page.
Casino Control Commission: The Casino Control Commission, Charles Saxbe chair, met for the first time on October 25, 2010. The seven member commission is responsible for developing rules by March 10, 2011 to operate four casinos in Ohio’s cities. Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing four casinos to be built in Ohio in November 2009 (State Issue 3). The commission licenses and regulates casino operators, management companies retained by such casino operators, key employees of casino operators, management companies, gaming-related vendors, and all gaming authorized by Section 6(C)(1) of the Ohio Constitution. The specific duties of the commission are found in Ohio Revised Code Section 3772.03.
The four casinos are projected to net $643 million in tax revenue when operational. The constitutional amendment requires that thirty-four percent of the casino tax revenue be distributed to public school districts. For more information about the casino rules and regulations please visit this site.
News from Washington, D.C.:
ED Hosts First Education Stakeholders Forum for 2010-2011: The U.S. Department of Education held on October 22, 2010 a forum to kick-off the school year and inform constituents, national education organizations, and parent and community organizations about the Department’s current reform efforts and program activities.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan provided opening remarks and then responded to questions. Secretary Duncan said that regardless of the outcome of the election, the administration will go forward with the following initiatives:
-Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) -Expand efforts to increase quality and access to early childhood education ($300 million request in the FY11 federal budget) -Conduct national conversations about increasing quality, productivity, and efficiency in education as states continue to face budget deficits. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the $10 billion Ed Jobs Fund saved many education jobs, but the likelihood that similar programs will be approved by the next Congress is slim. A national conference will be held in January/February of next year to discuss labor-management agreements.
-Assist states and schools to implement Race to the Top; Investing in Innovation; and Promise Neighborhoods, etc.
-Recruit the next generation of high quality teachers through the TEACH Campaign.
Secretary Duncan responded to questions about private pre-schools; dropout prevention programs; and the rural schools “formula fairness campaign”, and then the program continued with updates about Race to the Top technical assistance; the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC); SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortia; Promise Neighborhoods; and the TEACH Campaign.
For more information about the forum, please visit this site.
New Federal Rules for Student Aid: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced on October 28, 2010 the publication of new rules for the federal student aid programs at for-profit, nonprofit, and public institutions. The purpose of the rules is to protect students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices, provide consumers with better information about the effectiveness of career college and training programs, and ensure that only eligible students or programs receive aid. The regulations go into effect in July 2011.
According to a news release about the rules, 11 percent of all higher education students attend for-profit institutions; 26 percent of all student loans are made to for-profit institutions; and 43 percent of all loan defaulters attend for-profit institutions. The median federal student loan debt carried by students earning associate
degrees at for-profit institutions is $14,000. More than a quarter
of for-profit institutions receive 80 percent of their revenues from taxpayer financed federal student aid.
The new rules address the following thirteen topics fully and the definition of “gainful employment” partially: Graduation Rate and Job Placement Disclosures; Approval of Additional Programs; Misrepresentation; State Authorization; High School Diploma; College Credits; Ability To Benefit (ATB): Satisfactory Academic Progress; Verification; Credit Hour; Written Arrangement; Retaking Coursework; Determining When a Student Has Withdrawn; Disbursing Federal Student Aid Funds; and Gainful Employment.
For more information about the rule please click here.
Guidance for Anti-Bullying Policies: The U.S. Department of Education also released on October 26, 2010 a “Dear Colleague Letter” to provide guidance to educators in combating bullying in schools. The guidance clarifies when student bullying may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws.
According to the letter, educators have legal obligations to protect students from “…student-on-student racial and national origin harassment, sexual and gender-based harassment, and disability harassment.” The letter provides examples of harassment and illustrates how a school should respond in each case.
The White House and Department of Education also announced that a conference will be held next year to raise awareness and equip young people, parents, educators, coaches, and other community leaders with tools to prevent bullying and harassment. This conference will build upon recent efforts of the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies to identify ways in which communities can come together to prevent bullying and harassment.
The US DOE plans to hold technical assistance workshops around the country in early 2011 to help educators better understand their obligations and the resources available to take prompt and effective steps that will end harassment and bullying in schools and on college campuses.
To review the “Dear Colleague” letter, please click here.
News from the ODE:
According to Superintendent Delisle’s October 25, 2010 newsletter, EdConnections, the Ohio Department of Education has not been informed about any cuts to the FY11 (current) budget for K-12 education from the Office of Budget and Management. The Ohio Department of Education, Office of Budget and Planning, Kelly Weir director, has posted on its web site the State Board of Education’s “Fiscal Years 2012-13 Budget and Policy Recommendations”, approved by the Board on October 12, 2010. The budget recommendations include a “flat-plus” budget; a flat budget; and a 90 percent of FY11 budget.
The Board will submit its budget recommendations to the Office of Budget and Management on November 1, 2010. The governor is required to submit biennial budget recommendations to the Ohio General Assembly by early February in odd numbered years (four weeks following the organization of a new General Assembly in January), or by March 15th if the governor is newly elected. The General Assembly must approve a new two-year budget by June 30th.
For more information visit the ODE web site.
Study Shows Performance Gap Among States: The American Institutes for Research released on October 25, 2010 a new report entitled, “International Benchmarking: State Education Performance Standards” by Gary Phillips. The report shows that even though most states have joined efforts to develop and implement common academic content standards in reading and math, the state performance standards that states use to measure student achievement (proficient, advanced, not proficient) on these exams are inconsistent and in some cases very low.
The report found, for example, that the gap between performance expectations in Massachusetts and other states might be as much as four grade levels. That gap is more than twice the size of the achievement gap between African American and white students.
“These results help explain why the United States does poorly in international comparisons. Many states think they are doing well and feel no urgency to improve because almost all their students are proficient. They have a type of Lake Woebegone delusion where they have no idea how they stack up when compared with peers outside their own state.”
State performance standards are used to determine school and district adequate yearly progress (AYP) ratings under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, and provide information to parents and the public on the success of each classroom, school, and district.
The report compares state proficiency standards for state accountability tests in reading and math in each state with international benchmarks used in “Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study” (TIMSS) and the “Progress in International Reading Literacy Study” (PIRLS). The international benchmarking provides “a mechanism for calibrating the difficulty and gauging the global competitiveness of each state standard…” and an international metric to compare state performance standards.
According to the report, Massachusetts is the only state with world-class content and performance standards in fourth-grade math; and Massachusetts and South Carolina have world-class standards for grade four reading and grade 8 mathematics.
In fourth grade math, the percent of students proficient in math in Ohio, based on the international benchmark, would be 45 percent compared to Massachusetts at 63 percent. Other high performing states include Minnesota at 55 percent; New Hampshire at 51 percent; New Jersey at 51 percent; Kansas at 50 percent; and Vermont at 48 percent. Ohio drops to thirty-two percent of students proficient in math in 8th grade using the international scale, while the percent of students in Massachusetts proficient in 8th grade math is 52 percent.
The report recommends that state performance standards be determined through the Benchmark Method, which uses empirical data and international benchmarks to set the performance standards. This method has been developed by Gary Phillips. The article notes that as states implement the Common Core State Standards Initiative developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA), it will be important for states to use performance standards that are comparable, support rigor, and align with international benchmarks.
The report is available here.
Secretary Arne Duncan Speaks-Out About Arts Education: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan frequently responds to questions posted on Facebook through a program called “Arne Answers Questions”. The program presented on October 22, 2010 highlighted a question about what President Obama’s administration was doing to support arts education. The following is the response from Secretary Duncan:
“I have to say that one of the biggest complaints that I have heard while traveling the country, urban, rural, suburban, in forty-two states was a real concern about the narrowing of the curriculum in No Child Left Behind. So we are trying to do everything we can to yes… support reading and math, they are fundamental and foundational, but we have to give every child a well-rounded and world class education. So reading and math, science and social studies, civics education, environmental literacy, financial literacy, art, dance, drama, music, the foreign languages, PE. Every child needs access to that well-rounded education to really develop their skills and sense of self-esteem.
In our FY11 budget we are asking for a pot of about $265 million to invest more in arts education, to invest more in foreign language acquisition, more in the arts, more in a variety of different areas.
We think that we have to invest here. It is interesting. If you look at a number of studies, a really interesting one from UCLA, it talks about students who went to an arts rich high school and did dramatically better in college than students who didn’t. These are not all students who are going on to become artists and musicians. The discipline, creativity, the innovation that they learn through the arts seem to be transformative for these young people. So we think that arts among other things have been lost due to the narrowing of the curriculum, and we are trying to put unprecedented resources behind the effort to give every child a well-rounded world-class education with the arts being front and center as part of that continuum.
To hear the Secretary’s response click here.