129th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will hold sessions and committee hearings this week. There will be a joint session of the Ohio House and Senate on November 29, 2011 at 10:30 AM to honor fall veterans.
Update on the “Workplace Freedom Amendment”: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently notified Ohioans for Workplace Freedom that the summary language that they submitted for the constitutional amendment to make Ohio a right-to-work state was not acceptable. The summary did not include language regarding enforcement of the amendment through a civil or equitable action by persons “indirectly affected” by a violation of this section.
Ohioans for Workplace Freedom intends to rewrite the summary, collect another 1000 signatures, and re-submit the language. Information about the amendment is available at http://ohioansforworkerfreedom.com/.
More Signatures Filed in Support of Repealing HB194: Fair Elections Ohio filed on November 22, 2011 more than 150,000 additional signatures with the secretary of state’s office to qualify the referendum on HB194 (Mecklenborg/Blessing) Election Reform, for the November 2012 ballot. The total number of signatures needed is 231,150.
HB194 was signed into law on July 1, 2011 and makes a variety of changes in election law regarding the following: poll worker errors; use of social security numbers; documentation of voters; contracts for election services; voter challenge; minimum precinct size; oversight of boards of election; filing requirements for initiative and referendum petitions; primary election in May; prepayment of special election costs; counting ballots; data sharing among state agencies; online voter registration; provisional ballots; voting in the wrong precinct; early voting; election observers; new political parties; and more.
Opponents of HB194 believe that the law will curtail voter rights by decreasing mail-in voting from 5 to 3 weeks and in person voting from 5 weeks to 2 weeks; eliminating early voting opportunities in the evenings, Saturday afternoons, and Sundays; eliminating party identification from third party candidates on the ballot; requiring minimum precinct sizes only in municipalities, which could mean longer lines in urban areas; permitting, but not requiring, poll workers to tell voters if they are in the wrong precinct; and stopping the county Board of Elections from sending absentee ballot applications to all voters, HB194 would have become effective on September 30, 2011, but has been suspended due to the referendum challenge. An LSC analysis of HB194 is available.
This Week at the Statehouse
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Senate Education Committee: The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet at 9:30 AM in the South Hearing Room. The committee will hear testimony on two bills:
- HB96 (Celeste/Brenner) Dyslexia, which would specify dyslexia as a specific learning disability and requires a pilot project to provide early screening and intervention services for children with dyslexia;
- HB157 (Schuring/Letson) Teacher Development on Dyslexia, which would authorize educational service centers to provide teacher professional development on dyslexia.
House Finance Committee: The House Finance and Appropriations Committee, chaired by Representative Amstutz, will meet at 1:30 PM in Hearing Room 313. The committee will hear testimony on HB368 (Roegner/Hagan) Long-Range Financial Outlook Council, which would create the Long-range Financial Outlook Council for the purpose of informing the public and the General Assembly about the financial status of the state by studying conditions and issuing an annual long-range financial outlook report.
News from Washington, D.C.
No Report from the Supercommittee: The Congressional Supercommittee announced last week that it had not reached an agreement to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion before its deadline November 23rd. A series of automatic cuts in the Department of Defense and discretionary domestic spending through “sequestration” could take effect in January 2013 unless Congress takes action. The proposed cuts include $3.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Education’s budget and funding for Head Start, health care, housing, and nutrition programs. Budget cuts will not be made in several programs, including Social Security, school lunch, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Pell Grants.
The Committee on Education Funding identified Title 1 federal funding for disadvantaged students and funding for students with disabilities as programs that could receive cuts as a result of sequestration. These cuts are likely to force school districts in Ohio to cut their
budgets once again, and could lead to more teacher layoffs. More information is available.
The bipartisan Supercommittee was created last summer in an agreement that Congress made with President Obama to raise the debt ceiling.
AP Honor Roll Districts Announced: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced on November 23, 2011 that 23 school districts in Ohio had been named to the Second Annual College Board’s Advanced Placement Honor Roll. According to the College Board these school districts increased student access to college-level AP courses while maintaining or increasing the percentage of those students scoring three or higher on the AP course exams. A majority of U.S. colleges and universities grant college credit or advanced placement to a student who scores three points or more on an AP Exams. The complete list of schools can be found here.
National Student Poets Program Created: The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are partnering with the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers to create the National Student Poets Program. This new program will honor young poets “whose original work exhibits exceptional creativity, dedication to the craft, and promise”. First Lady Michelle Obama, Honorary Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, announced the launch of the program on November 21, 2011. Five outstanding high school poets will be selected annually for a year of service as literary ambassadors for poetry. During their year of service, the National Student Poets will promote the appreciation of poetry and the importance of creative expression through readings and workshops at libraries, museums, and schools in communities.
Poets in grades 9-11 who have received a national Scholastic Arts & Writing Award for poetry will be eligible for the award. A national panel of writers and poets will evaluate and select the National Student Poets.
The National Student Poets will be announced next summer and introduced at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival in Washington, DC in September 2012. Each National Student Poet will receive an academic award of $5,000 and an acknowledgement of their accomplishment. It is anticipated that these young poets will work with poet mentors and serve as a resource for the U.S. Department of Education and the Library of Congress during their one-year tenure.
For more information please visit http://www.artandwriting.org/.
Future of Public Education in Ohio Questioned: Akron Beacon Journal editorial writer Laura Ofobike underscores one of the purposes of public education in her editorial “The debt we owe to public education” November 21, 2011.
According to the author public schools serve the community as the “melting pot” to provide a “common base — in language, knowledge and experience — for the diverse society.” The “payback” is not immediate, but benefits society overall.
But the author wonders if public schools are strong enough today to continue to play this role. With so many school funding levies failing on November 8th and fewer and fewer school-aged children in our communities, Ms. Ofobike asks is there support for public schools, and what institutions will take on this role if the public schools can’t?
Read the article.
The Future of Online Learning Questioned: An article in Education Week, “Virtual Ed. Advocates Respond to Wave of Criticism” by Ian Quillen, November 23, 2011, sums-up recent studies, news paper articles, commentaries, and reports about the draw-backs of online learning, and provides some responses from online learning advocates attending the Virtual School Symposium held on November 9-11, 2011 at Indianapolis.
According to Education Week, the results of two recent studies suggest that student achievement in online schools is lower than in brick and mortar schools; more students dropout of online schools; and in some cases the oversight of online schools is lax. (Colorado Online K-12 Schools Project, I-News Network and Education News Colorado, October 2011, and Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, September 19, 2011)
The University of Colorado at Boulder’s National Education Policy Center also issued a report that states that, “….K-12 virtual education is growing at a rate that is unsafe, considering the lack of knowledge about its effectiveness.”
The article also refers to articles in The New York Times, The Nation, and Mother Jones, that have raised concerns about the businesses practices of online schools and their connections to big technology companies. The recent Ruppert Murdoch purchase of the educational technology company Wireless Generation, has raised additional concerns about the mission of online learning schools if profit is the goal.
Advocates for online learning believe that evidence about quality and accountability should be examined more closely so that the real problems with online learning can be identified and addressed. For example, studies of online schools that raise questions about the low achievement of fully online students often do not consider that online students are learning at their own pace, which might not align to the schedule for standardized testing.
Online learning has also been politicized by some who have entangled it in the debate over school choice, even though support for online learning has been bipartisan, and many traditional school districts operate online learning programs.
And, a growing concern of advocates is how online learning is portrayed as a way to reduce the number of teachers, when in actuality, a sufficient number of teachers and instruction is a vital component of successful online learning programs.
“Blended learning”, which combines the use of technology with in-person instruction, is a growing option that many policy-makers, including those in Ohio, are exploring. Proponents of blended learning believe that it as more reliable and accountable to students and the public that online learning. The Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenges program is offering $12 million in competitive grants to applicants that design new blended-learning models.
The article is available.
Value Added and Poverty: An article in the Hechinger Report, “Should Value-added teacher ratings be adjusted for poverty?” by Sarah Garland, November 22, 2011, examines the use of the student value-added growth results to evaluate teachers. According to the article Nathan Saunders, the president of the Washington, D.C. teachers union, believes that Washington, D.C.’s IMPACT teacher evaluation system is flawed, because an analysis of teachers rated by the system shows that the percent of effective/ineffective teachers correlates with student poverty in the school. According to the analysis, the wealthier the ward that the school is located in, the more effective the teachers.
The author asks, “Are the best, most experienced D.C. teachers concentrated in the wealthiest schools, while the worst are concentrated in the poorest schools? Or does the statistical model ignore the possibility that it’s more difficult to teach a room-full of impoverished children.?”
Value-added experts, such as William Sanders, counter that demographic factors, such as poverty, special education status, or non-English learners, should not have to be factored into value-added models if there is at least three years of test-data. But, there is also research that shows that student achievement is affected by the student achievement of other students in the classroom. Teachers with a large number of low-achieving students might have to work harder for students to meet the value added growth targets than a teacher with a large number of high-achieving students.
The author notes that researchers will continue to examine student learning and how value added can be used to measure it. The article is available.
Dropout Prevention: The Alliance for Excellent Education will sponsor a webinar on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 1:30 PM EST entitled “Expanded Learning Opportunities: A More Comprehensive Approach to Preparing High School Students for College and a Career”. The webinar will highlight a new Alliance issue brief that examines how schools can create options for students to address barriers that prevent high school students from graduating ready for college and a career.
The panelists include Milton Chen, Senior Fellow, Edutopia; Maria Ferguson, Vice President, Alliance for Excellent Education; Jeannie Oakes, Director, Educational Opportunity and Scholarship Programs, Ford Foundation; Brad Stam, Vice President, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career; and Elliot Washor, Cofounder and Codirector, Big Picture Learning.
If you are unable to watch the webinar live, archived video from all Alliance webinars is available here, usually a day or two after the event is scheduled to air. A list of other upcoming Alliance webinars is available.
Consortium Developing Common Assessments: The Ohio State Board of Education recently agreed to join the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. This is one of the consortia that Education Week will feature in a webinar entitled “Common Assessments: What You Need to Know” on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 2:00 PM EST.
This webinar will provide a briefing on the work of two consortia, the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The consortia are using $360 million in Race to the Top money to design assessment systems for the common standards. The new tests will require essays, projects, and other tasks to gauge deeper, more complex student learning. The groups are also working on a variety of resources for teachers, such as model instructional units and formative assessments. Panelists include Joe Willhoft, executive director, the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, and Laura M. Slover, senior vice president, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
Register for the webinar.
All Education Week webinars are archived and accessible.
Kindergarten Students Not Prepared: Age of Learning, Inc. released on November 2, 2011 the results of a nationwide kindergarten preparedness survey to coincide with the opening of this year’s National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) annual conference in Orlando, Florida. The survey, conducted with more than 500 kindergarten teachers across the country, reveals that America’s kindergarten teachers believe most young children are unprepared for school when they enter kindergarten, and veteran kindergarten teachers believe that this situation is deteriorating.
According to the press release, the survey found that two-thirds of teachers (66 percent) stated that students were only somewhat or not at all prepared, and only 6 percent felt that students were very well prepared academically. Teachers identified children weakest academically in their knowledge of the alphabet and phonics. Two-thirds of teachers reported that the majority of children do not know their alphabet when they enter kindergarten, and less than 9 percent of responding teachers described the oral language skills of entering students as “very good.”
95 percent of participants in the survey agreed that preschool attendance is “beneficial” with most of those (75 percent of all respondents) believing it is “very beneficial.” The survey results are available.
Age of Learning’s “Special Report to Parents: Preparing for Kindergarten” includes specific suggestions about how to work with young children to prepare them for Kindergarten. For more information please visit http://www.ABCmouse.com/PreparingforKindergarten.
Marion Music Program Featured in Article: A November 21, 2011 article in the Marion Star entitled “Schools Count on Community Support for Music Programs” by Kurt Moore, describes the many achievements of the Marion City School District’s music programs, and the need for community support to continue quality programming.
Marion City Schools Superintendent James Barney and Harding High School choir director Jamie Rawlins and assistant band director Aaron Draime recently met with community leaders to inform them about the music programs’ awards and honors. Superintendent Barney also said in the interview that the district has made a commitment to music, but because of the fiscal challenges facing the district, the music program will need the support of the community to be sustained. The article is available.
Pennsylvania Poll Shows Strong Support for the ARTS!!: The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) released on November 21, 2011 the results of the 2011 Annual Pennsylvania Education Issues Poll. The EPLC commissioned Susquehanna Polling and Research to conduct a poll of 800 registered voters in October to determine how Pennsylvania citizens regard public education, education funding, school choice, and arts education. The results of the poll will be used in a forthcoming report by the Arts and Education Initiative and by the 2012 Arts Education Initiative Campaign.
The following are some of the polling results:
- 97 percent of Pennsylvanians agree that the well-being of the Commonwealth and their local communities is dependent upon having an educated citizenry.
- 93 percent of Pennsylvanians believe a high-quality public education system is a vital part of healthy communities and a robust economy.
- 80 percent of Pennsylvanians support the presence of a range of school and school program options for learners within the public system, and, even in tough financial times,
- 82 percent believe that the state should increase funding to all school districts in the state to support the needs of their students.
- 81 percent assert that a comprehensive arts education–including visual art, music, theater, and dance–should be a part of all students’ K-12 schooling.
More information about the poll is available.
Report on Teaching Artists and Much…Much…More: NORC at the University of Chicago released in September 2011 a report on a three-year study of teaching artists (TAs) entitled “Teaching Artists and the Future of Education, A Report on the Teaching Artist Research Project” by Nick Rabkin, Michael Reynolds, Eric Hedberg, and Justin Shelby.
The study examined how teaching artists in Boston, Chicago, Providence, Seattle/Tacoma, and eight in California – San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Santa Cruz, Salinas, the Bay Area, and Humboldt County practiced the art of teaching and approached curriculum and pedagogy. The study defined a teaching artist as an artist for whom teaching is a part of professional practice. 96 percent of the TAs in the study had been paid for their creative work in addition to teaching, and more than three-quarters earned money from their work as artists in the past year.
The study also looked the “….ways that the arts themselves excited, challenged, and engaged students cognitively, socially, and emotionally; how the acts of imagination and expression that are the heart of the arts differentiate arts education from other subjects.”
According to the study, “TAs are bringing innovative pedagogy and curriculum to schools. And there is broad belief that there is something in the nature of arts learning itself that has a particular power to drive student development.”
This comprehensive report also provides background information about the history of teaching artists, who they work for, where they work, and background information on arts education as a means to improve student achievement, engage students, improve school environments, etc.
The report is available.
Student Art Exhibition at the U.S. DOE: In recognition of International Education Week the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education are sponsoring an international student art exhibition at the Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) building.
The art comes from Arte Postale, VSA’s visual art and writing exchange program. VSA is an international organization on arts and disability founded by Jean Kennedy Smith. Its mission is to provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities. The Arte Postale theme this year was “Snapshot: A Glimpse Through My Lens,” which encouraged students to remember an important time in their lives.
The exhibit features the work of 30 students from Kuwait, Ecuador, Egypt, Kenya, Nicaragua, and the Philippines as well as the U.S. The exhibit will be on display in LBJ through December.
More information on VSA and Art Postale is available.
Music Teacher Featured on Video: A blog posted on the U.S. DOE’s web site on November 21, 2011 by John McGrath, describes a new video featuring Philadelphia school district music teacher Jason (Jay) Chuong. Mr. Chuong discusses the impact of the economic downturn on the learning environment of his inner city students. As one of six “itinerant” percussion teachers in the Philadelphia school district, Mr. Chuong conducts classes in seven different schools and has a budget of just $100. His solution: teaching bucket drumming, using inexpensive plastic buckets that he can purchase at the local hardware store.
According to Mr. Chuong, music helps kids develop confidence and gives them ownership of something. “It develops team working skills; it’s all of these life skills that they can apply to all different parts of life.”
See the video.
SAF Highlights School Arts and Media Arts Programs: Each year the Ohio School Boards Association provides school districts opportunities to highlight innovative and exciting education program at the OSBA Capital Conference’s Student Achievement Fair (SAF). Last week more than 100 schools participated in the fair. The following are summaries of some of the Student Achievement Fair projects that focus on arts and media arts education.
Oak Hills High School (OHHS) Music Technology Music Technology LAB Grant Anderson Music Technology Teacher The 21st century has brought great advances in music production capabilities through the advent of computers. Oak Hills High School’s Music Technology Lab houses 25 iMacs integrated with MIDI keyboards. Currently, Music Technology I and II, AP and Basic Music theory, and Beginning and Intermediate Piano are taught in the Music Technology Lab. Besides the hardware (MIDI pianos, audio interfaces, microphones), students have a variety of music software to interact with including the iLife Suite (GarageBand, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD), Logic Pro Studio, Practica Musica, and Sibelius.)
This course offers students the opportunity to develop artistic competencies through the utilization of 21st century skill sets, It introduces students to music production techniques using computer music software and hardware. Since the software and techniques are
new to everyone taking this course, students do not need prior experience in music to participate and succeed. Students discover methods of writing music on computers, exploring recording techniques, MIDI, electronic music creation, film scoring, commercial advertising, sound production, and acoustic engineering.
The purpose of the program is to prepare students for a variety of college majors, potential careers, and to aid students as they function in the global community.
More information is available.
Eastland JVS Interactive Media Caroline Davis Assistant Director National award-winning students create their own video. Students script, shoot, edit and produce their own video.
Deer Park School District Fine Arts Night Deborah Farley, Principal, Amity Elementary School Amity’s fine Arts Night show cases artwork of every student in the building as well as musical performances. Explore the Arts was the theme this year with eight artists in the spotlight.
Three Rivers School District Virtual Reality Educational Pathfinders (VREP) Thomas Bailey, Principal, Taylor High School Taylor High School VREP student designers demonstrate virtual reality projects of their own creation using virtual reality systems that include computers, software and 3-D imaging.
Preble-Shawnee Local Schools Graphic Arts Technology Mike Cottingim, Teacher Learn how students create a twelve month calendar and a variety of other graphic design products.
Buckeye Local School District (Jefferson County) Buckeye Local Interactive Media II Scott Wolfe, Interactive Media Instructor Participants at the Student Achievement Fair can expect to be a part of an interactive experience that presents the evolution of the dinosaurs from the beginning of Pangea to their extinction. The project will showcase the abilities of students who have mastered the complex and entertaining software of the Interactive Media Program.
Oak Hills Local School District Problem-Based Learning Tessa Keyes Teacher, Middle School Oak Hills Middle School is partnering with the Cincinnati Museum Center to help students develop Oak Hills Habits of Mind -communication, collaboration, adaptability, innovation, community andglobal outreach, and academic and personal excellence. This project ties together language arts and social studies standards to increase student attendance at the museum. Working with a representative from the Museum Center students identify issues that account for declining teenage attendance at the museum and present solutions to the museum staff. This program empowers students to become the primary investigators and the creators of possible solutions with thoughtful instructional design.
Great Oaks JVS Create! Don’t Hate Billboard Project Adam Schlosser, Instructor Live Oaks Digital Arts and Design students partnered with Landor Associates to create five unique billboards as part of the national Create! Don’t Hate campaign. Hear how students collaborated with professionals to create the billboards and other products such as buttons, t-shirts and a video.
Knox JVS Information Technology — “Communication for the Future” Anne Marie Orr, Information Technology Instructor Information Technology students learn to create dynamic animation, graphics, audio and visual presentations, and interactive web pages. See senior projects, designed websites, video presentations, hardware displays, and other projects that showcase students talents and achievements.
Barnesville Exempted School District Art Department – Community Reflections Luke Johnson, Art Teacher Students display art work and photography, and discuss the importance of art in the classroom and community. The students create art-work that reflects the community.
Vanlue Local School District Digital Effects Amy Brooks, K- 12 Art Teacher Students implement a variety of simple digital manipulatives to creatively develop and heighten visual effects within original and not so original art works.
Sycamore Community City School District Authentic Learning Project Kim Jarvis, Math & Computer Facilitator Sycamore Junior High School News Crew created and produced an informative video to educate the community about how to prepare their children for the Sycamore kindergarten program. The students were “hired” by the curriculum department; learned all types of computer equipment, software, procedures in video collection and film production; learned project management skills; and delved into 21st century learning skills. The district has officially adopted the video as part of their yearly kindergarten orientation program.
Portage Lakes JVS, Visual Design and Imaging Paulette Prince, Principal Learn about Photoshop and other software; watch a video; and snap photos with cameras linked to a MacBook for instant viewing.