November 8, 2011 Election: Ohio voters will decide 184 school funding issues; three statewide issues; other local tax issues; and races for mayors, judges, township trustees, members of city council, members of school boards, etc. on November 8, 2011. The polls open from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM!
129th Ohio General Assembly: The Senate is scheduled to hold sessions this week. The Senate Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Senator Schaffer, is scheduled to meet on November 9 & 10, 2011 to hold hearings on HB167 (Derickson and Mallory) Income Tax Deduction for Pell Grants. This bill would authorize an income tax deduction for the otherwise taxable portion of a federal Pell grant or Ohio College Opportunity grant used to pay room and board for a post-secondary student.
Congressional Redistricting Map Still in Flux: Members of the Ohio House were called back to Columbus last Thursday to vote on another map of redrawn congressional districts now included in a new bill, HB369 (Huffman). The new map changes some of the congressional districts approved in HB319 (Huffman), but not enough to satisfy Democrats, who voted against a procedural matter to bring the new map to the House floor for a vote. HB319, which was signed into law on September 26, 2011, is currently being challenged through the referendum process. HB369 also sets the 2012 primary in March, rather than having two primaries in March and May (HB318). Hearings on HB369 are expected to begin next week in the House Rules and Reference Committee, chaired by Representative Blessing.
Statehouse 150th Birthday: The Ohio Statehouse will celebrate its 150th anniversary on November 15, 2011 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Construction on the Statehouse began in 1839 and was completed on November 15, 1861. The celebration will include a Capitol Artists Fair; samples of food and wind from Ohio Proud Food and the Ohio Grape Industry Committee; the unveiling of the Ohio Civil War Governors portraits on display in the Rotunda; tours; and the cake-cutting at noon in the Rotunda. The events are free and open the public.
Individuals and groups participating in the ceremony include, Civil War musician, Steve Ball; Linda Cotter’s fourth grade students from St. Marys Elementary School; and the Licking County Jazz Band from Licking Valley High School.
More information is available.
News from Washington, D.C.
U.S. Secretary of Education Coming to Ohio: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be visiting Mason, Ohio on November 9, 2011. He is scheduled to participate in a question and answer session on school reform from 6:00 – 7:00 PM at Mason Intermediate School, 6307 S. Mason-Montgomery Road. More information is available.
Office of Early Learning Proposed: The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced on November 4, 2011 a proposal to create an Office of Early Learning, which would, among other responsibilities, oversee the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grants and coordinate early learning programs across the Department. The proposal names Senior Advisor for Early Learning, Jacqueline Jones, as head of the new office, which will operate within the Department’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “A dedicated early learning office will institutionalize, elevate and coordinate federal support for high-quality early learning, while enhancing support for state efforts to build high-performing early education systems.”
The U.S. DOE administers several programs that provide support for early learning including Title I, IDEA, Promise Neighborhoods, and the Investing in Innovation fund. Further details on staffing and office operations will be available in the coming months.
Senators Seek to Overturn Citizens-United: Six Senators introduced on November 3, 2011 a resolution in support of a constitutional amendment in the U.S. Senate to restore the ability of Congress to regulate campaign finance system. The six Senators are Tom Udall (NM), Michael Bennett (CO), Tom Harkin (IA), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Jeff Merkeley (OR). The amendment is proposed to counter U.S. Supreme Court decisions that equate money with the First Amendment right to free speech. (Buckley v. Valeo (1979) and Citizens-United v. FEC (2009))
According to Senator Udall, “We believe our campaign finance system should be subject to commonsense regulations that reinforce the spirit of democracy. Our constitutional amendment would allow Congress to get to the root of problem and address the virtually unlimited corporate and special-interest spending in elections.”
The amendment would do the following:
- Authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns, including independent expenditures.
- Allow states to regulate such spending at their level.
- Not dictate any specific policies or regulations, but instead would allow Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that withstands constitutional challenges.
More information is available.
Hearing this Week on ESEA Re-authorization: Several individuals are set to testify on November 8, 2011 on legislation to re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as the No Child Left Behind Act) before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin. For a list of those who will testify please visit http://help.senate.gov/.
NAEP Results Released: The U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released on November 1, 2011 “The National Report Card: Findings for Reading and Mathematics 2011”.
The report includes information on the results of NAEP assessments administered at grades 4 and 8 in reading and mathematics, to students in public and private schools in the nation as well as public school students in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense schools.
NAEP results are reported as average scores on a 0-500 scale for each subject and percentages of students at or above three achievement levels: basic, proficient, and advanced.
According to the latest report, student performance has increased in math in both grades and in reading in grade 8 since 2009.
- Higher percentages of 4th and 8th grade students performed at or above proficient in math, and a higher percentage of eighth-graders performed at or above proficient in reading since 2009.
- A higher percentage of 4th grade students performed at advanced in math, and a higher percentage of eighth-graders performed at advanced in reading since 2009.
- The scores in math are the highest to date.
- Average scores in math and reading in grades 4 and 8 have improved for students in all income levels.
About one half of states showed changes in students’ performance.
- Hawaii was the only state to improve in both subjects and at both grades.
- The District of Columbia, New Mexico, and Rhode Island were the only other states to improve in math at both grades.
- Reading scores were higher at both grades in Maryland.
- Average state scores for math at grade 8 increased in Ohio, but average scores in Ohio remained constant in 4th grade math and in 4th and 8th grade reading.
Students have improved average math scores since 1990 in both the 4th and 8th grades.
- The proportion of students at or above proficient tripled at 4th grade and more than doubled in the 8th grade since 1990.
- The average scores for Hispanic students have improved at both grade levels.
- Average scores in math in the 4th and 8th grades are higher for students not eligible for reduced price lunch.
Unlike math, average scores for reading at grades 4 and 8 have generally stabilized over the years.
- About one-third of 4th and 8th grade students reached the proficient level in reading.
- The average scores improved in reading at grade 4 for all racial/ethnic groups since 1992.
Overall scores for students in Ohio were higher than the national average. The average score for 4th grade students in math have remained constant at 244 since 2009. (The national average is 240). The average score for 8th grade students in math is 289, which is an increase from 286 in 2009, and higher than the national average of 283.
The average score in Ohio for 4th grade students in reading decreased to 224 from 225 in 2009. The national average is 220. The average reading score for students in 8th grade reading decreased by one point to 268, but was still higher than the national score of 264.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Some types of assessments go back to the 1970s, but the NAEP assessments in math and reading have been conducted since 1990. NAEP assessments are conducted periodically in math, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history. The assessments administered are standardized across the nation, and so the results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. NAEP is overseen by the National Assessment Governing Board, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Education.
For more information please visit http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.
Concentrated Poverty Re-emerges: The Brookings Institute released a policy paper on November 3, 2011 entitled “The Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty: Metropolitan Trends in the 2000s” by Elizabeth Kneebone, Carey Nadeau, and Alan Berube, (Metropolitan Opportunity Series: Number 26).
For this report researchers analyzed data on neighborhood poverty from the 2005-09 American Community Surveys and Census 2000, and found that concentrated poverty (being poor in a very poor neighborhood) increased by one-third. The federal poverty level is defined as an income at or below $22,314 for a family of four.
Research has identified the social and economic effects that result when the poor are concentrated in economically segregated and disadvantaged neighborhoods. These effects can limit educational opportunities; lead to increased crime rates; limit access to health care; hinder wealth building; reduce private sector investment in the community; increase prices for goods and services; and raise costs for local governments.
According to the report, over a ten-year span the number of poor grew by 12.3 million to 46.2 million (15 percent of the population), a historic high. The researchers also found the following:
- After declining in the 1990s, the population in extreme-poverty neighborhoods – where at least 40 percent of individuals live below the poverty line – rose by one-third from 2000 to 2005-09.
- Concentrated poverty nearly doubled in Midwestern metro areas from 2000 to 2005-09, and rose by one-third in Southern metro areas. The Great Lakes metro areas of Toledo, Youngstown, Detroit, and Dayton ranked among those experiencing the largest increases in concentrated poverty rates.
- The population in extreme-poverty neighborhoods rose more than twice as fast in suburbs as in cities from 2000 to 2005-09. The same is true of poor residents in extreme-poverty tracts, who increased by 41 percent in suburbs, compared to 17 percent in cities. However, poor people in cities remain more than four times as likely to live in concentrated poverty as their suburban counterparts.
- The recession-induced rise in poverty in the late 2000s likely further increased the concentration of poor individuals into neighborhoods of extreme poverty.
- The strong economy of the late 1990s did not permanently resolve the challenge of concentrated poverty. The slower economic growth of the 2000s, followed by the worst downturn in decades, led to increases in neighborhoods of extreme poverty once again throughout the nation, particularly in suburban and small metropolitan communities and in the Midwest.
The report identifies Toledo, Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, and Dayton among the cities with the greatest increases in concentrated poverty. Toledo tops the list with a 15.3 percent concentrated poverty rate change; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman have a 14.3 percent rate change; and Dayton a 9.9 percent rate change.
The authors recommend that, “Policies that foster balanced and sustainable economic growth at the regional level, and that forge connections between growing clusters of low-income neighborhoods and regional economic opportunity, will be key to longer-term progress against concentrated disadvantage.”
The report is available.
Cincinnati Enquirer Publishes Series on School Funding: The Cincinnati Enquirer recently completed a series of articles focusing on school funding. The articles are available.
The following topics are covered:
- School tax burdens not always equitable
- Big-spending districts net mixed academic grades
- Which District is Most Expensive?
- Data: School Tax Burden, by District
- School levies no guarantee of quality
- How school districts are funded
- Who Pays the Most School Taxes?
Stop Ignoring Poverty: Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University, writes in an article published in the November 2011 issues of Phi Delta Kappan about a growing number of schools and communities that are finding ways to mitigate the effects of poverty on student achievement, such as the Broader, Bolder, Approach (BBA) in Newark, New Jersey. (Phi Delta Kappan “A Broader and Bolder Approach Uses Education to Break the Cycle of Poverty” November 2011.)
According to the author, many prominent education reformers ignore the effects of poverty on student achievement, even though there is “…..no evidence that even the best schools can overcome the effects of poverty on their own.” Some of these reformers even criticize those who want a serious discussion about the effects of poverty on student learning in order to find ways to mitigate the “outside-of-school challenges” and help students achieve.
The author writes, “Over 50 years, numerous studies have documented how poverty and related social conditions (e.g., lack of access to health care, early childhood education, stable housing, etc.) affect child development and student achievement.”
For example, researchers have found that concentrated poverty affects student learning in three ways:
- External support: Academic and social support is less available to students outside of school.
- Environmental obstacles: Adverse conditions influence students’ health, safety, and well-being, which invariably influence learning.
- Negative social capital: Adverse conditions undermine the ability of parents and schools to influence the character of schools and ensure that they serve their interests.
There are many educators, mayors, and policy advocates who are working to “….counter the effects of poverty on children’s lives and their education.” For example, The Broader, Bolder Approach is a comprehensive strategy in seven Newark City Schools that provides school-based interventions, social services, and increased civic engagement to mitigate the effects of poverty on the students. The community or full service schools movement (Dryfoos, Quinn, & Barkin, 2005) are also models that address the nonacademic needs of children and their families to improve student achievement.
The author believes that state and federal policies should encourage a more integrated and holistic approach to improving student achievement that recognizes and supports the role of the community in partnership with the school to help overcome poverty’s effects on children.
“Billions of dollars have been spent on revamping school curriculum, retraining teachers, introducing new technology, and making schools smaller, but none of these costly measures have had the desired effect on academic and developmental outcomes for children. In a growing number of communities across the country, leaders from local government, hospitals, nonprofits, private foundations, and the private sector are affirming their support for BBA. The history of failure in past school reform efforts has made it clear to stakeholders that a reform strategy based upon an ecological framework (Brofenbrenner, 1975) is the only way to achieve sustainable progress in public education.”
The article is available.
Report on Charter School Management Organizations Released: Researchers at Mathematica and the Center on Reinventing Public Education released on November 1, 2011 a report as part of the National Study of Charter Management Organization (CMO) Effectiveness entitled “Charter-School Management Organizations: Diverse Strategies and Divers Student Impacts” by Joshua Furgeson, Brian Gill, Joshua Haimson, Alexandra Killewald, Moira McCullough, Ira Nichols-Barrer, Bing-ru Teh, Natalya Verbitsky-Savitz Mathematica Policy Research and Melissa Bowen, Allison Demeritt, Paul Hill, Robin Lake Center on Reinventing Public Education.
The report presents the findings of a study on how the internal structures, practices, and policy contexts of nonprofit charter school management organizations (CMOs) affect student achievement in middle school. Over 40 charter school management companies participated in the study, which began in 2008 and will conclude in 2012. However, only twenty-two out of 26 CMOs were eligible for the study on student achievement in middle school.
The report provides information about charter school management organizations and how they operate; successful practices; the characteristics and demographics of students attending charter schools operated by CMOs; information about charter school teachers, including how they are evaluated and compensated; resource use; student achievement; and more.
The researchers found the following information about student achievement:
- Average CMO impacts are positive in all by one area, but not statistically significant.
- Achievement impacts for individual CMOs are more often positive than negative, but vary substantially. “These numbers suggest that the CMOs at the high end of the scale have the potential to measurably reduce achievement gaps, especially in math. Meanwhile, the lowest performing CMOs are producing negative achievement effects that are nearly as large as the effect of a year of schooling-that is, their students achieve not much more than one year of learning after two years in the classroom.”
- CMOs that produce positive impacts in one subject tend to produce positive impacts in other subjects, including science, social studies, reading, and math.
- In several CMOs, math and reading test score impacts are larger for Hispanic students, but other subgroups-including African Americans and groups defined by gender, income, and prior academic achievement-do not show clear patterns of differential positive or negative impacts.
The researchers also identified some practices that might correlate with higher student achievement. These include comprehensive behavior policies and intensive coaching of teachers. Other CMO characteristics did not show an impact on student achievement. These include educational approach; performance-based teacher compensation; frequent formative assessment; and school or class size.
The report is available.
Measuring Student Growth in Non-tested Content Areas: Alex Seeskin, a guest blogger for Marilyn Rhames’ “Charting My Own Course” for Education Week, writes that critical discussions about how to measure student growth for two-thirds of teachers who teach in non-tested subjects is not taking place. (Education Week, “How should teachers of non-tested subjects be evaluated?” by Alex Seeskins in “Race to Inflate: The Evaluation Conundrum for Teachers of Non-tested Subjects”, November 2, 2011)
In some states student growth measures in the non-tested subjects will be decided at the local level. Mr. Seeskins sees a problem with this option, which could lead to using invalid and unreliable measures for some teachers compared to the complex statistical algorithms that have been developed and tested for measuring student growth in language arts and math for several years for other teachers. (And, even these measures have been challenged when used to evaluate teachers.)
Mr. Seeskins concludes, “Given these concerns and how little student growth measures in non-tested subjects have been tried and tested, we need to pause and proceed with extreme caution before these measures are applied to hundreds of thousands of teachers all over the country. The Center for American Progress and the Education Trust suggest giving states until the 2016-17 school year to fully implement student growth measures in high-stakes teacher evaluations. At the very least, we should delay full implementation until then, while piloting different approaches in the interim.
After all, if we are going to hold teachers accountable for student growth, it is only fair that we hold teacher evaluation measures to the same standards of excellence.”
Read the blog post.
HB369 (Huffman) Congressional District Boundaries: Establishes Congressional district boundaries for the state based on the 2010 decennial census of Ohio; eliminates the requirement that Ohio conduct two primary elections in 2012; eliminates the appropriation that would pay for the second primary election in 2012; eliminates the requirement of mailing an election notice to each registered elector prior to the March 6, 2012 primary election, and declares an emergency.
Posting for Muse Machine Executive Director: Muse Machine, a nationally recognized arts education nonprofit serving 70,000 young people and their teachers in southwest Ohio, is seeking a new executive director. The Executive Director (ED) is Muse Machine’s chief executive and leader. As such, the ED is responsible for leading the organization to achieve its mission. Duties include, but are not limited to, executive oversight of fundraising, programming, budgeting and planning, personnel management, and daily operations. The ED’s role has both strategic and operational components.
To learn more about the position, please visit http://www.musemachine.com. Phone calls will not be accepted. Muse Machine is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to achieving a diverse workplace. Applications will be accepted until November 18, 2011.
New Parent Organization Formed to Support Music: The National Association of Music Parents (AMP) is a new not-for-profit organization that will link parents, students, educators, and the music product industry to promote and support music-making and arts education nationwide. Engaging and empowering parents to take ownership of their children’s complete education, including the arts, AMP will give parents tools and best practices to help champion these curricula in their local communities, along with proven advocacy strategies to help ensure that all children can access quality music education programs. AMP will work in collaboration with established music-making advocates such as NAMM, SupportMusic.com, and the National Association for Music Education. For more information please visit http://www.amparents.org/.
Apply to be part of BIG READ: The National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read initiative is accepting applications from non-profit organizations to develop community-wide reading programs between September 2012 and June 2013. The Big Read is a national program designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. Organizations selected to participate in The Big Read receive a grant, access to online training resources and opportunities, and educational and
promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement and participation. Approximately 75 organizations from across the country will be selected.
To review the Guidelines & Application Instructions.
2012 Calls for Art: VSA Ohio is excited to announce two calls for art for the long-standing and signature programs, Accessible Expressions Ohio and Young Soloists!
2012 Accessible Expressions Ohio
Accessible Expressions Ohio (AEO) is an adjudicated, statewide exhibition and tour of visual art entering it’s 17th season. The program is an opportunity for artists of all ages to demonstrate their abilities. The goals are to provide professional development opportunities for artists to create, exhibit and sell their art, recognize all ability levels, and present art by people with disabilities in inclusive settings. Entrants submit work under Youth (18 and under), Emerging, or Professional categories. A select number of high-quality pieces are selected to form the tour. To learn more about this year’s tour and past tours, please visit http://www.vsao.org/.
2012 Young Soloists: Annually, VSA Ohio names a select group of musical artists under the age of 25 as the Young Soloists of the year. The Young Soloists demonstrate outstanding talent in vocal or instrumental music. Winners receive cash prizes and are connected with performance opportunities. All entries are forwarded to the VSA International application process for a chance to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. To learn more about the Young Soloists or about past recipients please visit http://www.vsao.org/.
The deadline for entries for both programs is DECEMBER 2, 2011.For further information please contact VSA Ohio at 614-241-5325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building Critical Thinking Through the Arts: Andrew Miller, a National Faculty member for the Buck Institute for Education, writes in a blog for Edutopia how the arts help students build and utilize critical thinking skills. (Edutopia, “Visual Art as Critical Thinking”, November 2, 2011).
According to the author, educators don’t “….give credit to the deep conceptual and interpretational thinking that goes into the creation of a piece of art, and this is often because art is treated as something separate from the core content areas. School does not need to be this way.”
This does not have to be the case, and Mr. Miller provides two examples to show how the arts bring “a new purpose to interpreting, conceptualizing, and critically thinking around a concept.”
At High Tech High and Middle School in San Diego, California and Central High School in York, Pennsylvania students integrate the visual arts into their studies to develop a better model for the atom and inform the public about public-policy agendas. In both projects students had to conduct research to thoroughly understand the content area of their project, and then had to apply critical thinking skills to find a way to express their concept through the visual arts.
The author urges teachers to find ways to integrate the arts into other subjects so that students have better ways to understand and express difficult concepts.
The article is available.
More Charter Schools Adopting Waldorf-style Methods: Laura Pappano writes in the November issue of the “Harvard Education Letter” that a number of public charter schools are adopting a Waldorf-style teaching model that incorporates the arts in student learning. (Harvard Education Letter, “Waldorf Education in Public Schools: Educators adopt–and adapt–this developmental, arts-rich approach.”)
Waldorf Schools follow the pedagogical methods developed in 1919 by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who believed that children develop in three seven-year stages from birth to age 21. The Waldorf method matches learning with the three states of natural development — imitation, imagination, and the search for truth. Teachers use an experiential, arts-rich approach (“head, heart, and hands”) that includes singing, reciting poems and stories, and handwork.
At first mostly private, the number of public Waldorf style schools has grown from a dozen in 2000 to 45 in 2010, and the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education reports that 30 more public Waldorf-style schools are expected to open soon. Waldorf-style schools in the U.S. have adopted some, but not all, of the Waldorf philosophy, which also includes a definite Christian focus.
One of the first public high schools to open based on the Waldorf model is the George Washington Carver School of Arts and Science in Sacramento, California. Test scores at this school, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, increased after the Waldorf methods were implemented. According to the author, many educators now see the Waldorf methodology was a way to close achievement gaps among groups of students.
Read the article.
For further information about Waldorf schools please read
- J. Schieffer and R. T. Busse. “Low SES Minority Fourth-Graders’ Achievement from an Urban Public Waldorf and Comparison School.”
- I. Oberman. “Learning From Rudolf Steiner: The Relevance of Waldorf Education for Urban Public School Reform.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL, April 2007.