News from the Statehouse: The Ohio House is not expected to meet again this session. The Ohio Senate, in its capacity to advise and consent, might schedule sessions next week to consider recent appointments to state boards, commissions, and judgeships, made by Governor Strickland.
The Ohio House approved on December 8, 2010 SB 235 (Fedor) Human trafficking. The House failed to approve SJR5 (Husted), a proposed constitutional amendment to revise redistricting and reapportionment procedures,
The Senate approved on December 8, 2010 HB330 (Patton) School District Purchasing, after removing amendments. The bill allows school districts to participate in Ohio Department of Transportation purchasing contracts, which will help school districts save money.
Governor-elect Kasich announced last week that he has selected Joe Testa to be Tax Commissioner for the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Governor Strickland announced on December 9, 2010 that he will be appointing Yvette McGee Brown to the Ohio Supreme Court effective January 1, 2011. She will be replacing Justice Maureen O’Connor, who is currently an associate judge on the court, but was elected in November 2010 to the position of Chief Justice.
News from Washington, D.C.:
2009 PISA Results for US Students Released The National Center for Educational Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education released on December 7, 2009 the results of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The results are included in a report entitled “Highlights from PISA 2009” by Howard L. Fleischman, Paul J. Hopstock, Marisa P. Pelczar, and Brooke E. Shelley.
PISA began in 2000 and is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and is administered every three years.
The 2009 report provides international comparisons of average performance of 15 year old students in mathematics, science, and reading literacy from OECD countries, including the U.S. and other education systems that agree to participate. For example, the city of Shanghai in China participated this year even though other cities in China did not.
According to the report, “PISA assesses the application of knowledge in reading, mathematics, and science literacy to problems within a real-life context (OECD 1999). PISA uses the term “literacy” in each subject area to denote its broad focus on the application of knowledge and skills.”
The report includes the percentages of students reaching PISA proficiency levels for the United States and other countries on average and provides information about trends in the performance of U.S. students over time. It also reports the average scores of students by gender, race/ethnicity, and school socioeconomic status. PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies such as problem solving, and emphasizes the functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling.
The following are the key findings of the 2009 PISA report for the U.S. according to the Executive Summary (p. iii):
U.S. 15-year-olds had an average score of 500 on the combined reading literacy scale. The OECD average score was 493. Among the 33 other OECD countries, 6 countries had higher average scores than the United States, 13 had lower average scores, and 14 had average scores not measurably different from the U.S. average. Among the 64 other OECD countries, non-OECD countries, and other education systems, 9 had higher average scores than the United States, 39 had lower average scores, and 16 had average scores not measurably different from the U.S. average.
On the reflect and evaluate reading literacy subscale, U.S. 15-year-olds had a higher average score than the OECD average. The U.S. average was lower than that of 5 OECD countries and higher than that of 23 OECD countries; it was lower than that of 8 countries and other education systems and higher than that of 51 countries and other education systems overall. On the other two subscales-access and retrieve and integrate and interpret-the U.S. average was not measurably different from the OECD average.
In reading literacy, 30 percent of U.S. students scored at or above proficiency level 4. Level 4 is the level at which students are “capable of difficult reading tasks, such as locating embedded information, construing meaning from nuances of language and critically evaluating a text” (OECD 2010a, p. 51). At levels 5 and 6 students demonstrate higher-level reading skills and may be referred to as “top performers” in reading. There was no measurable difference between the percentage of U.S. students and the percentage of students in the OECD countries on average who performed at or above level 4.
Eighteen percent of U.S. students scored below level 2 in reading literacy. Students performing below level 2 in reading literacy are below what OECD calls “a baseline level of proficiency, at which students begin to demonstrate the reading literacy competencies that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life” (OECD 2010a, p. 52). There was no measurable difference between the percentage of U.S. students and the percentage of students in the OECD countries on average who demonstrated proficiency below level 2.
On the combined reading literacy scale, White (non- Hispanic) and Asian (non-Hispanic) students had higher average scores than the overall OECD and U.S. average scores, while Black (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic students had lower average scores than the overall OECD and U.S. average scores. The average scores of students who reported two or more races were not measurably different from the overall OECD or U.S. average scores.
Students in public schools in which half or more of students (50 to 74.9 percent and 75 percent or more) were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL- eligible) scored, on average, below the overall OECD and U.S. average scores in reading literacy. Students in schools in which less than 25 percent of students were FRPL- eligible (10 to 24.9 percent and less than 10 percent) scored, on average, above the overall OECD and U.S. average scores. The average scores of students in schools in which 25 to 49.9 percent were FRPL- eligible were above the overall OECD average but not measurably different from the U.S. average. demonstrate the kind of literacy skills that enable them to actively use mathematics” (OECD 2004, p. 56).
There was no measurable difference between the average score of U.S. students in reading literacy in 2000, the last time in which reading literacy was the major domain assessed in PISA, and 2009, or between 2003 and 2009. There also were no measurable differences between the U.S. average score and the OECD average score in 2000 or in 2009.
U.S. 15-year-olds had an average score of 487 on the mathematics literacy scale, which was lower than the OECD average score of 496. Among the 33 other OECD countries, 17 countries had higher average scores than the United States, 5 had lower average scores, and 11 had average scores not measurably different from the U.S. average. Among the 64 other OECD countries, non-OECD countries, and other education systems, 23 had higher average scores than the United States, 29 had lower average scores, and 12 had average scores not measurably different from the U.S. average score. 12 had higher average scores than the United States, 9 had lower average scores, and 12 had average scores that were not measurably different. Among the 64 other OECD countries, non-OECD countries, and other education systems, 18 had higher average scores, 33 had lower average scores, and 13 had average scores that were not measurably different from the U.S. average score.
In mathematics literacy, 27 percent of U.S. students scored at or above proficiency level 4. This is lower than the 32 percent of students in the OECD countries on average that scored at or above level 4. Level 4 is the level at which students can complete higher order tasks such as “solv[ing] problems that involve visual and spatial reasoning…in unfamiliar contexts” and “carry[ing] out sequential processes” (OECD 2004, p. 55). Twenty-three percent of U.S. students scored below level 2. There was no measurable difference between the percentage of U.S. students and the percentage of students in the OECD countries on average demonstrating proficiency below level 2, what OECD calls a “a baseline level of mathematics proficiency on the PISA scale at which students begin to demonstrate the kind of literacy skills that enable them to actively use mathematics” (OECD 2004, p. 56).
The U.S. average score in mathematics literacy in 2009 was higher than the U.S. average in 2006 but not measurably different from the U.S. average in 2003, the earliest time point to which PISA 2009 performance can be compared in mathematics literacy. U.S. students’ average scores were lower than the OECD average scores in each of these years.
On the science literacy scale, the average score of U.S. students (502) was not measurably different from the OECD average (501). Among the 33 other OECD countries, 12 had higher average scores than the United States, 9 had lower average scores, and 12 had average scores that were not measurably different. Among the 64 other OECD countries, non-OECD countries, and other education systems, 18 had higher average scores, 33 had lower average scores, and 13 had average scores that were not measurably different from the U.S. average score.
Twenty-nine percent of U.S. students and students in the OECD countries on average scored at or above level 4 on the science literacy scale. Level 4 is the level at which students can complete higher order tasks such as “select[ing] and integrat[ing] explanations from different disciplines of science or technology and link[ing] those explanations directly to…life situations” (OECD 2007, p. 43). Eighteen percent of U.S. students and students in the OECD countries on average scored below level 2. Students performing below level 2 are below what OECD calls a “baseline level of proficiency at which students begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life situations related to science and technology” (OECD 2007, p. 44). There were no measurable differences between the percentages of U.S. students and students in the OECD countries on average that scored at the individual proficiency levels.
The U.S. average score in science literacy in 2009 was higher than the U.S. average in 2006, the only time point to which PISA 2009 performance can be compared in science literacy. While U.S. students scored lower than the OECD average in science literacy in
2006, the average score of U.S. students in 2009 was not measurably different from the 2009 OECD average. The full report is available here.
Responses to the PISA Results:
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended the release of the 2009 PISA results on December 7, 2019 with representatives of the other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
According to Secretary Duncan’s remarks, “With the exception of some improvement in science from 2006 to 2009, U.S. performance on the PISA has been largely stagnant. The U.S. is not among the top performing OECD nations in any subject tested by PISA–though U.S. students express more self-confidence in their academic skills than students in virtually all OECD nations. This stunning finding may be explained because students here are being commended for work that would not be acceptable in high-performing education systems.”
The Secretary notes that an analysis of the performance of American students on PISA conducted by OECD concludes that American schools are not improving the academic achievement of students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as other countries. The U.S. spends more than other countries on education, but achieves less, and doesn’t focus resources to address the greatest challenges. Countries with top performing students on PISA also have elevated the status of their teachers and consider their teachers as “nation builders”.
The Secretary announced that the U.S. DOE, OECD, and other partners will convene an International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New York in March 2011 to bring together Ministers of Education and national teachers-union leaders from these countries to learn more from each other.
To read the remarks please visit this site.
Sam Dillon in the New York Times (“Top Test Scores from Shanghai Stun Educators” December 7, 2010), points out that the “stellar” PISA results of the students from Shanghai, “appeared to reflect the culture of education there, including greater emphasis on teacher training and more time spent on studying rather than extracurricular activities like sports.”
According to the article, “Chinese students spend less time than American students on athletics, music and other activities not geared toward success on exams in core subjects. Also, in recent years, teaching has rapidly climbed up the ladder of preferred occupations in China, and salaries have risen. In Shanghai, the authorities have undertaken important curricular reforms, and educators have been given more freedom to experiment.”
To read the article please visit this page.
Valeri Strauss in the Washington Post Answer Sheet (“Hysteria over PISA misses the point” December 12, 2010) writes that, “The 2009 results released today from the Program for International Student Assessment, known as PISA, caused consternation in the United States today when American students racked up generally average scores in reading, science and math. Where they’ve been for years.”
She goes on to note that, “For nearly a decade, public schools have been test-obsessed, and charter schools have abounded. Those who hold test scores as important measures of progress should face the obvious: NCLB didn’t work.”
She goes on to say that Congress should consider these just average results, when it revises the No Child Left Behind Act.
The article is available here.
Eric Robelen in Education Week’s Curriculum Matters (“What People Are Saying About the PISA Results”, December 8, 2010) includes responses to the PISA results from several people, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; Chester E. Finn, Jr. president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute; Representative George Miller, chair of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee; Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association; Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform; Mike Shaughnessy, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and Michael Cohen, president of Achieve.
To read these responses please visit this page.
State Board of Education: The State Board of Education (SBE), Debbie Cain president, met on December 6 & 7, 2010 at the Ohio School for the Deaf, 500 Morse Road, Columbus, OH.
MEETING ON DECEMBER 6, 2010
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE REPORT: The Executive Committee, chaired by Debbie Cain, discussed the SBE’s meeting held in conjunction with the Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference in November 2010. The committee agreed that meeting was well-received, and recommended that the Board hold their November 2011 at the Capital Conference. The Executive Committee also agreed to move the New Board Orientation meeting to February 2011, and recommended that a candidates forum be held during the January 2011 meeting and prior to the election of Board leadership, so that all Board members would have the opportunity to learn more about the candidates for president and vice-president of the Board. The committee also agreed to move the SBE’s retreat to June 5, 6, and 7, 2011 to accommodate NASBE Study Groups. The retreat had been scheduled a week later in June.
ACHIEVEMENT COMMITTEE REPORT: The Achievement Committee, chaired by Mike Collins and Tammy O’Brien, approved a Resolution of Intent to Adopt Amended Rule 3301-11-10, Ed Choice Scholarship, and a Resolution of Intent to Adopt Amended Rules 3301-39-01 through 04, Approval of Nonpublic Schools. The committee also asked that the ODE bring back to the committee information about the implementation of Rule 3301-39-01.
The committee also received a presentation from Stan Heffner, Associate Superintendent, Center for Curriculum and Assessment, and Matt Cohen, Executive Director, Accountability, about Ohio’s Accountability System for schools and school districts, and some rule changes that will affect the Local Report Card (LRC) for schools next year. The details about these changes will be discussed in the Achievement Committee starting in January 2011.
According to the presentation, a state accountability system for schools has several purposes. It focuses the school’s community on achieving the educational goals of the state and local school/district; provides a process to evaluate the progress that the school/district is making in achieving its goals; provides a way for those who are invested in the school/district, such as tax-payers, community members, parents, to evaluate their investment; and provides a way to gather feedback to make additional decisions and course corrections to achieve goals. Accountability systems also produce unintended consequences, such as when a school district’s accountability rating is used to defeat levies.
Matt Cohen provided an overview of Ohio’s current accountability system for schools/districts through the Local Report Card, which provides a composite rating based on criteria outlined in the Ohio Revised Code; criteria outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, such as adequate yearly progress; and criteria outlined in rules promulgated by the State Board of Education, such as the value added component.
The Ohio General Assembly approved legislation in 1997 which created the Local Report Cards and established that the report card ratings would be based on student achievement on certain tests, student attendance rate, and student graduation rate. (The ODE is allowed to report other data, but that data can not used to determine the ratings for schools and school districts.) The state ratings were based on the percentage of indicators that school districts met, and were first published in 2001 for the 2000 school year. Ratings for schools were published the following year.
The state’s accountability system for schools has changed over the years as a result of changes in state and federal laws.
The current accountability system is now composed of 26 state indicators, which are based on the results of 24 tests, attendance rate, and graduation rate. The state system also considers how well students perform on state tests, which is known as the performance index score (PI). In 2007 the state also added a value-added component which recognizes that students in some school districts and schools are making academic progress even if the students are not meeting proficiency standards.
The federal accountability component, adequate yearly progress (AYP), was included in the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — the No Child Left Behind Act — in 2001 and is embedded in Ohio’s accountability system. AYP requires schools and school districts to measure the progress of ten student groups in reading and math participation and proficiency, attendance, and graduation.
There are also federal consequences for schools and school districts that receive federal Title 1 funds and do not meet the adequate yearly goals for multiple years. For example, schools that don’t meet AYP are required to offer supplemental educational services and public school choice to students.
The rating that school districts and schools receive are a composite score based on all of the state and federal components. The current accountability system has been in place for three years. To some the system has become more complex over time as components have been added, while to others it has become more fair.
In the coming year the State Board of Education will be addressing several accountability issues as a result of changes in federal law. For example, in January 2010 the SBE recommended that the Ohio General Assembly adopt new four and five-year graduation rates in response to changes in federal law. A new graduation rate will be reported in 2011 on the Local Report Card and count in the rating system in 2012.
Some changes in the value-added rules will be presented to the State Board in January 2011. The first change affects the definition of student progress (Rule 3301-58-01). There is a proposal to change the definition of a standard year of growth from one standard error of measurement to two standard errors of measurement. The second proposed change addresses the way that the value added component affects the state’s rating system for schools.
Other accountability issues that will be coming to the State Board of Education for review are related to incorporating non-test indicators for gifted and physical education on the Local Report Card in 2012, and re-aligning the accountability system to address the changes in testing and new graduation standards.
CAPACITY COMMITTEE REPORT: The Capacity Committee, chaired by Rob Hovis and Kristen McKinley, approved a resolution for the full Board to adopt twelve diversity strategies outlined in the report “Diversity Strategies for Successful Schools — Recommendations” from the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. The committee also received a presentation from the Tobacco Free Delaware County Commission; moved to the full Board changes in Rules 3301-44-01 to -09, Post-Secondary Enrollment Options; and moved to the full Board changes in Rules 3301-92-01 and -02, Textbooks and instructional materials. The committee also discussed changes in rules regarding the Board’s model anti-harassment/bullying policies, which will be discussed during the January 2011 Board meeting.
LIAISON REPORTS: The Board received the following reports of members who serve as liaisons:
The Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC): Kathy Leavenworth reported that Marcia Egbert, chair, Katie Kelly, Stephanie Byrd, and Sandy Miller (ODE representative) presented reports to the Council that addressed the following issues:
-the transition to a new administration under Governor-elect John Kasich
- the status of the Council under the new administration and the key messages that should be presented regarding the purpose, funding, and future work of the Council
- an update regarding the impact of Medicaid home visitations and financing recommendations
- post election analysis of the 129th Ohio General Assembly
- the SBE’s Early Childhood Advisory Subcommittee’s policy questions and comments
- an overview of the Kindergarten readiness work included in the Race to the Top Application
- the ECAC work plan and committee structure
- an update of the Ohio Business Roundtable’s focus on early childhood education
State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children: Sam Schloemer reported that the State Advisory Panel met on December 2, 2010 and discussed the state performance plan for serving students with disabilities and the new indicator targets. The plan is required by all states participating in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act. Ohio will submit its annual performance report to the U.S. DOE by February 1, 2011.
Parent Advisory Council: Dannie Greene reported that the Council met on the December 16, 2010 and received the report from Superintendent Delisle. The Council discussed how to recruit new members and assist local school districts increase parental involvement in schools.
The Board then welcomed guests from China, Mr. Huang Jian, Deputy Director of the Hubei Bureau of Education in Wuhan, Hubei Province and Ms. Sun Xiaoqing, Program Officer for CEAIE (China Education Association for International Exchange), Ministry of Education in Beijing.
BOARD COMMUNICATIONS TASK FORCE: Following lunch the Board received the report and recommendations from the Board Communications Task Force. Mike Collins chaired the Board Communications Task Force, which included himself, Kristen McKinley, and Kathy Leavenworth. The Task Force reviewed the communication tools currently used by the ODE and found that the ODE releases about 31 communication items each month. The Task Force reviewed the results of a survey to Board members and staff, and developed the following recommendations in the areas of Board Leadership Communication to the Board, Board Communication with Senior Staff, and Board Communication with the Public.
Board Leadership Communication to the Board: Board Leadership should provide additional information to the full Board, through a variety of ways, about their overall activities, including what they are doing in certain regions of the state and school districts. The executive committee should also become more involved in the governance of the Board.
Board Member Communication with the ODE: Communications with ODE staff could be improved through the following: Extend time for committee meetings to provide additional time for Board members and staff to interact; find more informal ways for Board and staff to communicate and work together; provide Board and staff training to improve communication and effective team-building; direct the staff to better communicate to the Board what is important verses what is for information only; urge Board members to follow protocol and work through Board relations; discourage inappropriate use of ODE staff; develop better ways for the State Superintendent and staff to share information with the Board.
Communication with Stakeholders and the General Public: The State Board of Education has limited resources for communication. The SBE should review and revise the communication tools that the ODE is currently using. The Advocacy and Outreach Subcommittee should focus more on the outreach and communication, and make communication a policy prior. The Board needs a communication system that is integrated and provides coordinated information on a scheduled basis so that Board members are communicating regularly with stakeholders and the public, and the message is clear and consistent. The Board should consider holding meetings or special discussions/hearings in different parts of the state to reach the public, and coordinate meetings with other policy and governmental leaders in Ohio on a scheduled basis.
During the discussion Board members noted the pros and cons of holding State Board meetings in other locations in the state, including educational service centers, court rooms, etc, and will explore this option in the future.
MEETING ON DECEMBER 7, 2010
The full Board received an update on the Transition Resident Educator Program and the development of the Ohio Resident Educator Program, and the following liaison reports from the members of the State Board of Education:
- Ohio Leadership Advisory Council (OLAC): Dennis Reardon reported that the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council, a partnership between the ODE and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and stakeholders, held a conference on December 3, 2010. The conference highlighted the use of OLAC resources to address the challenges of school districts in Ohio, including using OLAC lessons and modules to build leadership skills among Ohio’s educators.
- International Education Advisory Council: Jeff Hardin reported that the International Education Advisory Council met on November 30, 2010. The goal of the Council is to infuse international education throughout the curriculum in Ohio’s schools. The Council discussed some ideas about how to improve instruction in foreign languages, such as moving from a literacy approach to a verbal approach, and providing more instruction in foreign languages at the elementary level. The Council also discussed how to involve international companies in the work of the Council. Steve Millett noted that Ohio needs to develop an initiative similar to STEM to promote international studies in the schools. Superintendent Delisle remarked that the Race to the Top grant is supporting the development of five or six international high schools, based on a model for international high schools developed by the Asian Society. This model incorporates culture, languages, and business content in the curriculum.
- Advisory Council for Gifted Education: Kristen McKinley reported that the Advisory Council for Gifted Education provided an update on gifted spending rules, the development of the performance indicator for gifted education, and issues that must be addresses regarding EMIS reporting and the time line for making EMIS changes.
The SBE’s business meeting then convened and the Board moved into executive session. Following the executive session the Board approved the minutes of the November 2010 meeting, and received the report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Deborah Delisle. Superintendent Delisle provided the following updates on the work of the School Funding Advisory Council and the Race to the Top program:
-The School Funding Advisory Council submitted its final report to the General Assembly by the December 1, 2010 deadline. The recommendations align with the work outlined for the Council in law, 128-HB1, and address several of the components of Ohio’s school funding system, known as the evidence-based model. The Council’s recommendations focus on three general areas: education for targeted student populations; changes to the basic funding model; and other recommendations. Superintendent Delisle noted that many of the recommendations align with the FY2012-13 budget recommendations adopted by the State Board of Education, such as funding for early college high schools and funding students where they are educated. In addition, the deliberations and decisions of the Council in some areas, such as funding for special education, career technical education, and early college high schools, will be useful no matter what school funding model is ultimately adopted by future legislatures.
Superintendent Delisle was asked about what steps the Council was taking to move forward with the recommendations, and what could be the role of the State Board of Education. She replied that during the meeting of the Council in November, there was a discussion about what steps the Council should take to advocate for the recommendations if they reconvene in January or February 2011. The strengths of this process were the involvement of many stakeholders and the amount of time that was spent on the issues. Superintendent Delisle also reported that she will review the report and inform the Board about how well the recommendations align with the work of the ODE and how they could affect the budget.
-The Superintendent also reported that the ODE submitted to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) the Race to the Top grant “scope of work” from the ODE and 448 local education associations (LEA) on November 19, 2010. The USDOE is reviewing LEA proposals now, but has already commented about the quality of the Akron School District’s proposal. The ODE is now interviewing candidates to fill positions that will be funded through the Race to the Top grant for the next four years.
The Board then took action on six personnel items and the resolutions included below; considered old, new, and miscellaneous business, and adjourned.
Resolutions Adopted by the State Board of Education in December 2010: (Board members Susan Haverkos and Juanita Sanchez were not present during the voting session.)
#1 Approved a Resolution of Intent to Amend Rule 3301-11-10 of the Administrative Code entitled Payment of Scholarship Amounts.
Mr. Bender said that he had asked for this resolution to be removed from the consent agenda in order to provide an update about the EdChoice Scholarship Program, which provides public funds for eligible students to attend eligible private schools. The number of scholarships awarded in the 2009-2010 school year was 11,783, which totaled over $46 million. So far this year $21,538,386, which represents 40 percent of the scholarship amount, has been paid-out to private schools. He said that this is public money going to private schools, with very little accountability, and that he would rather the funds go to public schools to help them improve.
#2 Approved a Resolution of Intent to Amend Rule 3301-39-01, to Rescind and Adopt Rules 3301-39-02 and 3301-39-03, and to Rescind Rule 3301-39-04 of the Administrative Code regarding the approval of nonpublic schools.
#3 Approved a Resolution of Intent to Consider the Proposed Transfer of School District Territory from the Hilliard City School District, Franklin County to the Dublin City School District, Franklin County, Pursuant to Section 3311.24 of the Ohio Revised Code.
#11 Approved a Resolution to appoint John Myles to the State Library Board.
#12 Approved a Resolution to appoint Scott Schaller Interim Superintendent of the Ohio School for the Deaf.
#13 Approved a Resolution to Accept the Report of the Communications Task Force.
#14 Approved a Resolution Recognizing Departing Board members, Dr. Steve Millett, Sam Schloemer, John Bender, and Susan Haverkos.
Race to Nowhere Showing Near You: A new documentary film entitled “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture” by Vicki Abeles focuses on the pressures that students are experiencing to be successful academically, athletically, and socially. According to the New York Times (“Parents Embrace Documentary on Pressures of School” by Trip Gabriel, December 8, 2010), the movie has been screened in several cities, companies, churches, temples, and schools (including Columbus, OH), and is gaining a following among students and educators who believe that the “success-driven” culture has gone too far.
The movie was made by Vicki Abeles, a corporate lawyer and first time film-maker, to find out why her 12-year-old daughter was suffering from stomachaches. The film interviews students who are balancing academics, the arts, community service, sports, and more to get into a great college and build a successful career. The students talk frankly about students who have committed suicide and how many students are taking drugs to stay awake and are cheating to get by.
According to the NY Times article, the film is becoming “the antithesis” of the recent documentary, “Waiting for Superman”. That movie focuses on poor performing schools and how to make them more accountable. This movie focuses on schools in which students are being challenged, and the expectations are perhaps too high. One of the messages in “Race to Nowhere” is that the current path that the U.S. education system is following, which includes more standardized tests, is stifling creativity, innovation, and problem-solving, and is hurting students. The film has also been shown in theaters in New York and Los Angles. For more information please visit this site.
Aligning to the Common Core Standards: ACT released on December 6, 2010 a report entitled “A First Look at the Common Core and College and Career Readiness”. This report provides an estimate of current student performance on Common Core State Standards using ACT college and career readiness data, and includes recommendations to help school districts and schools prepare students to achieve at the college and career readiness levels on the standards.
The report includes an analysis of the test results of more than 250,000 11th-grade students who took select forms of the ACT Plus Writing exam in the spring 2010 as part of their states’ annual testing programs. One-third to one-half of these students reached the college-career readiness level of achievement on the exams, and the percentage of Caucasian students who met or exceeded college and career-readiness standards was higher than African American and Hispanic students.
The report notes that school districts and schools that implement the Common Core Standards will need resources to 1) train teachers to provide instruction aligned to the new standards, 2) assess student progress, and 3) provide interventions for students when needed.
Based on the analysis of the results, ACT also recommends that teachers provide students with more instruction regarding text complexity, language and vocabulary acquisition, number and quantity, and mathematical practices.
ACT notes that policy-makers will also need to consider the impact of the new standards on state accountability systems. For more information please visit this site.
SB321 (Schuring) School Textbook Funds: Regarding annual deposits into a school district’s textbook and instructional materials fund.
An article in the Dallas News on December 6, 2010, entitled “Austin Middle School expects expanded music programs to improve student performance” by Katherine Leal Unmuth, describes the changes that have taken place in the Austin Middle School, Irving, Texas as a result of a new state law that requires middle school students in Texas to take at least one fine arts course for graduation. The school district added five new teachers and bought new musical instruments and equipment and expanded course offerings in orchestra, band, choir, and art to meet the new graduation requirement. Enrollment in arts courses has increased across the district as students take advantage of the expanded access to musical instruments and arts courses. According to the article, “Administrators are hopeful that if children become more involved with music programs, their academic performance will improve.” The school district also hopes to increase parent participation in the schools through more concerts and programs. The article is available here.
Video Competition: C-SPAN’s StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect their communities and nation. Students are asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the competition theme “Washington D.C. — Through My Lens”. The project should describe how an issue, event, or topic helped to better explain the role of the federal government in the lives of residents of a community.
The maximum award is $5,000, plus $1,000 in digital equipment for the school. Individuals or teams of two to three students, grades 6-8 or grades 9-12 are eligible to enter. The deadline is January 20, 2011. For more information please visit this site.