129th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate have scheduled sessions and hearings this week.
2012 Session Schedule Posted: The Ohio House and Senate session schedule for January through June 2012 was posted last week. According to the schedule, the Ohio Senate will hold sessions beginning on January 10, 2012 while the House will begin holding sessions on January 24, 2012. The House will begin committee hearings on January 10, 2012, and the Senate on January 12, 2012. Spring break is scheduled from April 2 – April 13, 2012. Regular sessions end on May 23, 2012, with “if needed” sessions scheduled through June 13, 2012.
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, reported out amended HB96 (Celeste/Brenner) Dyslexia on November 29, 2011. The bill specifies dyslexia as a specific learning disability and requires a pilot project to provide early screening and intervention services for children with dyslexia.
Ohio’s Virtual Clearinghouse: ilearnOhio is a virtual clearinghouse for online courses offered by multiple providers for Ohio students in grades K-12, originally created in 2007 as the Distance Learning Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse was redesigned as ilearnOhio in
2011 by the Ohio General Assembly through HB153 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget. The purpose of ilearn is to ensure that all Ohio students have access to high-quality distance learning courses at any point in their educational career. The portal includes lesson plans, assessment supports and professional development resources to help teachers incorporate blended learning into their classrooms.
ilearnOhio is administered by the Ohio Resource Center, within the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University and under the direction of the Ohio Board of Regents. For more information please visit http://ilearnohio.org/about.php
This Week at the Statehouse
TUESDAY, December 6, 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 a presentation by Breakthrough Charter Schools and receive testimony on the following bills:
- HB157 (Schuring/Letson) Teacher Development on Dyslexia: Authorizes educational service centers to provide teacher professional development on dyslexia.
- HB116 (Barnes) School Anti-Bullying Act: Enacts the School Day Security and Anti-Bullying Act to require age-appropriate instruction on and parental notification of public schools’ policies prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
- SB127 (Shiavoni) School Bullying Policies: Enacts the “Jessica Logan Act” to require that public school bullying policies prohibit bullying by electronic means and address certain acts that occur off school property and to require staff training on the bullying policies.
House Finance and Appropriations Committee: The House Finance and Appropriations Committee, chaired by Representative Amstutz, will meet at 2:00 PM in Hearing Room 313. The committee will receive testimony on a number of bills including HB368
(Roegner/Hagan) Long Range Financial Outlook Council, which creates 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.
House Ways and Means Committee: The House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Representative Beck, will meet at 3:30 PM in Hearing Room 114. The committee will receive testimony on HB242 (Brenner/Patmon) Tax Credits for Nonpublic Schools. The bill would authorize non-refundable tax credits for donations to nonprofit entities providing scholarships to low-income students enrolling in chartered nonpublic schools.
WEDNESDAY, December 7, 2011
House Education Committee: The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, will meet at 5:00 PM in Hearing Room 313. The committee will receive testimony on the following bills:
- HB377 (Duffey/Stinziano) Student Members of Trustees – Voting Powers: Grants student members of the boards of trustees of state universities and the Northeast Ohio Medical University voting power and the authority to attend executive sessions,
- HB375 (Butler) Property Sale by School Districts: Allows school districts to sell real property to private, nonprofit institutions of higher education.
- SB165 (Obhof/Grendell) Curriculum Requirements: Includes content on specified historical documents in the state academic standards and in the high school American history and government curriculum.
News from Washington
U.S. DOE Report on Expenditures Released: The U.S. DOE released on November 30, 2011 a landmark report entitled “Comparability of State and Local Expenditures Among Schools Within Districts: A Report From the Study of School-Level Expenditures” (2011) by Ruth Heuer and Stephanie Stullich. The report presents findings from the first-ever national data collection on school-level expenditures at 84,000 public schools, and shows that students in poor neighborhoods are frequently taught by lower-paid inexperienced teachers, because of district policies about teacher assignment. As a result, thousand of low-income students, might not be receiving instruction from experienced teachers, extra resources, and support.
The report examines the distribution of state and local education expenditures at the school level, including comparisons between Title I and non-Title I schools and between higher-poverty and lower-poverty schools based on data on school level expenditures reported to the U.S. DOE by school districts.
The purpose of the comparability study was to determine if federal assistance is providing additional resources in high-need schools rather than compensating for an inequitable distribution of funds that benefits more affluent schools.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 require the services provided in Title 1 schools from state and local funds to be at least comparable to those provided in non-Title 1 schools. School districts are allowed to demonstrate compliance with the Title I comparability requirement in a number of ways, including through a district-wide salary schedule. But, the report found that salary schedules often masked differences in salary levels among Title 1 and non-Title 1 schools.
According to the summary, within districts that had both Title I and non-Title I schools, more than 47 percent of Title I schools had state and local personnel expenditures per pupil that were more than 10 percent above or below their district’s average. Some of the expenditure differences were attributed to school grade levels, with middle and high schools tending to have higher per pupil personnel expenditures than elementary schools in their districts.
The researchers also found that more than 40 percent of Title 1 schools had lower personnel expenditures per pupil than did non-Title I schools at the same school grade level, and more than one-third of higher-poverty schools had lower per-pupil personnel expenditures than lower-poverty schools in their districts.
In addition, between 39 to 47 percent of Title I districts had lower per-pupil expenditures in their Title I schools than in their non-Title I schools at the same grade level. Most Title I districts had at least one Title I school with per-pupil personnel expenditures below the district average for non-Title I schools at the same school grade level.
Other expenditure categories examined in this study showed an increase in the percentages of Title I schools that had expenditures below their district’s averages for non-Title I schools at the same school grade level.
More information is available.
Civility Project Report: The results of the Ohio Civility Research Project, a collaboration of the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, the University of Mount Union’s Regula Center for Public Service, and Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs, were released on November 22, 2011.
(Civility Whitepaper, “Report and Recommendations”)
The Civility Project began in 2010 to determine the level of civility and serious incivility in Ohio. Civility is defined as “…displaying the respect and courtesy toward other citizens in public discourse that is necessary for constructive public debate about solving public problems.”
A poll of registered Ohio voters in the summer of 2011 found that one-quarter of Ohio adults said that a lack of civility was a very serious problem and almost one-half said that it was a somewhat serious problem.
A panel of civic observers was also convened for the project. They identified four kinds of initiators/responders that contribute to incivility: the career focus of public officials; the imperative to win election campaigns; the benefits of incivility to the news media; and the emotional valence of the public. A poll later found that 58 percent of respondents believed that self-interest of political leaders caused the incivility in Ohio politics.
Additional research was conducted to identify the consequences of incivility. The report states that, “….incivility between lawmakers creates crises for the public employees implementing the laws on behalf of citizens of Ohio. These problems reduce the efficiency of public services, and also erode public trust in governments. The inability of the political process to solve many pressing economic and social problems exacerbated this phenomenon, further alienating the public. Over time, the coarsening of processes for informed and respectful debate over public problems has created a system where public employees have either too much or too little discretion. The government becomes predictable only in the respect that no one is content with the results.”
According to the report, setting standards for the appropriate tone of public discourse, and providing information about how well the major players live up to these standards will improve civility for public discourse in Ohio.
The report is available.
State of the State Gifted Report: The National Association for Gifted Education in concert with the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted, released on November 9, 2011 a report entitled “The State of the State in Gifted Education Overview” based on a survey of 44 states and one territory. The results show a lack of critical infrastructure to identify and teach our high-ability and high-potential students; limited accountability of district gifted education programs; and little to no training and professional development for teachers.
The survey found the following:
- More than one-quarter of states have no statewide policy requiring identification and services for high-potential and high-ability students, leaving such decisions up to each district
- 20 states reported that they do not monitor district gifted and talented programs
- 10 states reported providing no state funds to support gifted education
- 14 states decreased their funding for high-ability and high-potential students over the past two years -Four out of 31 states that require districts to provide gifted education services, fund the requirement and 20 provide partial support.
- More than half of the states do not require annual professional development in gifted and talented education for teachers working in gifted programs
- 24 states do not require any specialized credentials for gifted teachers -Six states require all teachers to receive some training in gifted education before they enter the classroom even though most high-ability children spend the bulk of their school days in the regular classroom setting
- 23 states have no policies on academic acceleration strategies -Ten states prohibit students from entering Kindergarten early, and 24 leave such decisions to local districts
- Eight states prohibit middle school students from enrolling in high school courses at the same time, and 24 states leave those decisions to districts.
According to the press release, “Removing barriers to identification and services, such as bans on early entrance into Kindergarten and dual enrollment, are examples of low-cost but high-impact policy changes that should be high on the agenda of every lawmaker,”
The report is available.
Principals Oppose NY Teacher Evaluations: An article in the New York Times, “Principals Protest Role of Testing in Evaluations” by Michael Winerip November 27, 2011, describes how 658 principals (out of 4,500) in New York have signed a letter protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers and principals.
New York State received $700 million in Race to the Top grants to reform educational practices, including to develop a teacher evaluation system that includes student achievement. New York’s evaluation plan is based 60 percent on principal observations and other subjective measures and from 20 to 40 percent on state tests, depending on school district policy.
According to the article, the principals identified several reasons for opposing the new evaluation system, including the lack of a pilot program to assess the system; the lack of test scores to evaluate all of the teachers; the reliability of test state score results, which fluctuate widely each year; and the “attitude” that “we will figure this out as we go along” when reputations and livelihoods are at stake.
The article is available.
- SB265 (Bacon) Budget Stabilization Fund Balance: Increases the balance that must exist in the Budget Stabilization Fund, from 5 percent to 10 percent of the General Revenue Fund revenue, before revenue surpluses are applied to income tax reductions.
- sB266 (Widener/Swayer) Student Members of Trustees– Voting Powers: Grants student members of the boards of trustees of state universities and the Northeast Ohio Medical University voting power and the authority to attend executive sessions.
- HB388 (Damshroder) PERS Retirement Benefit: Suspends, during the period of employment, the retirement benefit of a public retirement system retiree who returns to public employment.
- SJR3 (Cafaro) Referendums: Restricts the General Assembly’s authority to amend, enact, or repeal sections of law that are the subject of a pending referendum; restricts the General Assembly’s authority to amend or repeal a law enacted by initiative during the two years following the vote on that initiative; prohibits the General Assembly from reenacting provisions of law that were rejected by the voters in a referendum during the two years following the vote on that referendum; and extend the time for gathering signatures for a referendum petition if the right to refer a particular law is challenged and a court determines that the law is subject to referendum.
More STEM to STEAM News: The December 1, 2011 issue of Education Week online has a great article about the following efforts to support arts education as a way to “unlock creative thinking and innovation” and help spur economic development in the U.S. (“STEAM: Experts make case for adding arts to STEM” by Erik W. Robelen)
According to the article, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation have provided research grants to hold conferences and workshops in Washington, Chicago, and San Diego to explore how the arts can be engaged to strengthen STEM learning and skills and produce a more creative American workforce.
The Rhode Island School of Design sponsored one of the conferences, which led U.S. James Langevin to introduce a House resolution to highlight how practices in the arts could improve STEM education and research.
Many high school students are competing for ArtScience Prize, a contest launched in Boston in 2008 that fuses the arts with science. The prize was inspired by Harvard University professor David A. Edwards, author of “ArtScience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation”.
Other advocates for adding the arts to STEM include schools in Philadelphia, working with the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership through a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. DOE to help student learn math by using the arts.
The San Diego school district used a $1.1 million grant last year from the California’s Postsecondary Education Commission to link arts learning with science in grades 3-5.
The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has developed early learning initiatives that blend STEM through a 2010 grant from the U.S. DOE and Northrop Grumman Corporation.
A STEAM charter school in Georgia is using funding from Race to the Top to connect the disciplines through professional development and intend to make STEAM a model for other schools.
And, the article also highlights how the Dayton Regional STEM School integrates the arts with science projects.
Those interviewed in the article say that artists and designers are risk takers and are always thinking of new ways to communicate and express ideas through the arts. But, the field needs more data to show what the arts brings to science, because some of the research so far shows mixed results.
The article is available.