129th Ohio General Assembly: No sessions are scheduled for the Ohio House and Senate this week, but some committees will meet.
Update on Shared Services/Consolidation: The Hannah Report included an article on February 24, 2012 entitled “Kasich Administration Previews Shared Services Recommendations”. The article describes how the Office of Budget and Management
(OBM) will soon propose recommendations for shared services by municipalities, townships, K-12 entities including school districts, Educational Services Centers (ESC), Information Technology Centers (ITC), and other local education agencies (LEA).
According to the article, Randy Cole, policy advisor to Budget Director Tim Keen, said at a meeting of the Ohio Digital Learning Task Force, that the OBM will release three reports about how to realign local government to cut costs and improve efficiency. The reports are entitled, “Beyond Boundaries: A Shared Services Action Plan for Ohio Schools and Governments”, which was originally due in December 2011; “Beyond Boundaries: Results of the Shared Services Survey of Ohio Schools and Governments;” and “Beyond Boundaries: A Practical Guide to Implementing Shared Services in Ohio.”
The article quotes Mr. Cole as saying that spending on Ohio government has more than doubled since the early 1990s and is unsustainable. Regional approaches to collaborate, coordinate, and consolidate are needed, including consolidating local education agencies, to reduce cost and improve services. He also said that consolidation should not be mandated at the state level, but should be done regionally.
News from Washington, D.C.
Markup of Legislation to Re-authorize NCLB: On February 28, 2012 the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Representative John Kline, will begin a markup of the Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990) to re-authorize sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). According to Representative Kline’s office, the bills strengthen school accountability; provide more flexibility; support effective teachers in the classroom; and respond to the criticisms of NCLB. Learn more about this markup.
Together for Tomorrow Program Announced: The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced a new initiative on February 24, 2012 called the Together for Tomorrow Program (TFT).
According to the press release, the Together for Tomorrow program is aimed at changing the relationship between schools and community partners to improve low-performing schools. The initiative will promote a community culture where education improvement is viewed as everyone’s responsibility. The initiative’s efforts will focus on the community and family partnerships’ ability to boost key measurable student outcomes, such as attendance, behavior, achievement, and college readiness.
The community surrounding Orlando, Florida’s Memorial Middle School is one of six demonstration sites. The initiative is led locally by the Heart of Florida United Way in cooperation with Orange County Public Schools and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Cities of Service initiative. Additional sites include communities in Center and Denver, CO; New Haven, CT; New Orleans, LA; and Memphis, TN.
Some States Allocating More Funding for Education: Articles published last week describe how some states are allocating more state funding for education as their economies recover from the recession, but also note that school districts might not recover from the deep cuts made in personnel, services, and programs for many years to come. And, the collapse of the housing market and its effect on local property tax revenue, has made school districts even more reliant on state aid.
According to an article in Education Week, state tax revenues have risen by 8 percent in the 12 months leading up to June 2011, and overall general revenue funding for education is expected to rise by 2.9 percent in 2012.
“Over recent months, governors in California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, and other states have proposed K-12 spending increases, drawing mixed responses from educators-some of them grateful for new money, others critical that the money does not make up for past losses.”
Governor Rick Synder (R) of Michigan is proposing increases in state aid tied to academic improvement and efficiency. The Florida legislature is now debating a proposal by Governor Rick Scott (R) to increase state funding for schools by $1 billion, to strengthen Florida’s education system and support job growth and long term economic prosperity. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is proposing a four percent increase in state aid for school districts that implement a new teacher-evaluation system. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie presented a budget proposal that would provide a $213 million funding increase for the state’s K-12 schools. Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Texas are divided over whether increases in state revenues should be used to restore funding to public schools or pay for Medicaid expenses and unexpected costs.
The articles are:
- “Gradual funding rise seen, though past cuts still sting” by Sean Cavanagh/Education Week, February 24,2012;
- “Governor Christie’s proposal would add more than $300M to N.J. education budget” by Jeanette Rundquist and Nic Corbett/The Star-Ledger, February 22, 2012; and
- “Lawmakers debate restoring funds to public schools by Gary Scharrer/Houston Chronicle, February 21, 2012.
More Children Living in Poverty: The Annie E. Casey Foundation released on February 23, 2012 a new KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot, which shows that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), 7.9 million of America’s children (11 percent) live in high-poverty areas, about 1.6 million more since 2000. High poverty areas are defined as areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level, which is $22,000 per year for a family of four.
According to the Data Snapshot, “…after declining between 1990 and 2000, both the percent and the number of children living in high-poverty areas increased over the last decade.” Almost all states saw the number of children in high-poverty neighborhoods climb. States with the highest rates are Mississippi (23 percent), New Mexico (20 percent), Louisiana (18 percent), Texas (17 percent), and Arizona (16 percent). Even though the rates were still very high, they had declined slightly for the District of Columbia (32 percent) and Puerto Rico (83 percent).
Children most likely to live in areas of concentrated poverty are those living in the south and southwest, and urban and rural areas. African-American, American Indian, and Latino children are six to nine times more likely to live in high-poverty communities than their white counterparts.
The number of children living in high poverty areas in Ohio increased from 7 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2010. 324,000 children living in Ohio are considered living in high poverty areas.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization, whose primary mission is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. The Snapshot is available.
Gifted Education Needs More Support: A commentary published in Education Week on February 24, 2012 advocates for more support for gifted students who are “languishing” in classrooms due to budget cuts at the local level and federal policies that direct limited resources to the poorest achieving students. (“Don’t Leave Gifted Students Behind: High achievers are essential to global competition” by Frances R. Spielhagen, Education Week, February 24, 2012.)
According to the article, research reports are showing that gifted student performance on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has been decreasing over time. This is because federal, state, and local education policies focus on bringing all students up to a minimum level of proficiency, and “…lose sight of the equally valid learning needs of the most-capable students in our care.”
The author recommends that Congress adopt the following recommendations included in the bipartisan legislation, To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers Act (TALENT), introduced by U.S. Representatives Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Donald M. Payne (D-NJ) and U.S. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA):
- Require that state assessments capture when students perform above grade level
- Report the educational growth of the most-advanced students on state report cards required under NCLB
- Provide more-advanced curriculum for high-achieving students
- Expand professional-development opportunities for teachers, and
- Establish research initiatives to explore ways that teachers can support and serve high-ability students.
The TALENT Act would also provide resources for highly able students and for professional development that would foster advanced teaching in the regular classroom.
The article is available.
Three Articles about Teacher Evaluation Systems:
Account for Error in Teacher Evaluation Systems: Professor Aaron Pallas writes in The Hechinger Report: Eye on Education that new state teacher evaluation systems often fail to meet standards for design and data analysis that merit the designation “rigorous”, and recommends that policy makers take measurement errors into account in teacher evaluation systems. (“Rigor mortis” by Professor Aaron Pallas Hechinger Report: Eye on Education, February 21, 2012.)
The state teacher evaluation systems developed so far are based on subjective decisions regarding 1) the percent of the overall evaluation that will be based on student outcomes, observation, professional practices, and other measures, and 2) the overall composite score that determines if a teacher is highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective. The composite score is often based on arbitrary decisions about where to cut-off the scoring bands. These decisions are not based on scientific study, but on judgement and politics.
The author states about New York’s negotiated teacher evaluation system, “And it’s politics, and politics alone, that accounts for the fact that the rules for the overall composite evaluation say that any teacher who scores 0 to 64 points will be classified as ineffective, and that the two subcomponents for student “growth” and local assessments, each of which counts for 20 points, classify teachers who score 0 to 2 points on each component as ineffective. This means, as New York principal Carol Burris and others have pointed out, that if a teacher is classified as ineffective on both of these subcomponents, that teacher is automatically rated ineffective overall, even if that teacher is rated highly effective on the 60 points allocated for measures of a teacher’s professional practices. It certainly seems odd that two components accounting for 40 percent of a teacher’s overall rating can trump the remaining 60 percent -but this isn’t science, it’s politics.”
The author also notes that while New York has negotiated its rating system, states such as Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, and Delaware are still working on assigning student growth to performance categories. Therefore, teachers in these states will be held accountable for performance criteria that is not as yet specified.
Another significant problem with using value added/growth measures to evaluate teachers is the errors in the student achievement data, especially when based on a single year’s worth of student achievement data.
The author suggests, “One way of reclaiming the concept of rigor in teacher-evaluation systems is to assign ratings that take into account the uncertainty or errors in the measures. This is consistent with a scientific conception of rigor: the assignment of teachers to rating categories should be consistent with the quality of the evidence for doing so. A teacher shouldn’t be assigned a rating of “ineffective” based on a value-added score, for example, if there’s a substantial probability that the teacher’s true rating is “developing.”
The article is available.
Working out the Kinks: An article in the New York Times published on February 19, 2012, “States Try to Fix Quirks in Teacher Evaluations” by Jenny Anderson, describes the problems that some states are facing trying to implement state teacher evaluation systems. Often these new systems have strict guidelines and complicated rubrics, that don’t reflect all of the qualities of teaching, and take a tremendous amount of time and resources to implement fairly.
According to the article, Tennessee is struggling with philosophical and logistical problems as it implements a new teacher evaluation system to meet the requirements of the state’s federal Race to the Top grant. Delaware announced last month that not enough data existed to assess teachers on student academic growth. In Maryland, districts were granted an additional year to develop and install evaluation models. And in New York, an agreement was reached with the unions after months of protests about the proposed
The author writes that backers of the new teacher evaluation systems say that the problems will be worked-out as the process unfolds, while some researchers believe that the systems are unproven scientifically, statistically, and are not reliable enough to make decisions about the future of teachers.
The positive aspects of the new evaluations systems include the attention focused on classroom instruction; the long-overdue discussions about teacher quality and the training and skills that evaluators need to evaluate teacher quality; and developing better ways to advise teachers about how to become better teachers.
The article is available.
Connecticut Latest of 14 States to Adopt New Teacher Evaluations: An article published in Education Week on February 13, 2012, “Connecticut Approves Teacher Evaluation Reform Tied to Student Achievement” by Mary E. O’Leary, New Haven Register, CT, describes the new teacher evaluation system adopted by the Connecticut State Board of Education after months of negotiations with teachers, principals, boards of education and advocates for reform. Connecticut is now among the 14 states to adopt an evaluation system for teachers and principals tied to student achievement (45 percent). The other components of the system are 40 percent of the teacher evaluation will be based on observations of performance and practice; 10 percent on peer or parent feedback surveys; and five percent on student feedback or whole-school achievement. One half of the score for student achievement will be based on the results of standardized tests. Guidelines will now be developed for a four-level rating system: exemplary, proficient, developing and below standard.
According to the article, the president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, Andrea Johnson, criticized the evaluation system because it does not take into account the impact of socioeconomic factors on student achievement.
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has proposed legislation that includes $2.5 million to support the new evaluation system, and $5 million for outside professional guidance and training. The system is expected to be in place by July 2013.
The article is available.
Clearer Criteria Needed to Close Poor Performing Charter Schools: An editorial in the New York Times on February 20, 2012 entitled “Shuttering Bad Charter Schools”, calls for state and local organizations that oversee charter schools to develop clearer guidelines to shut down poor performing schools if the movement hopes to retain any credibility.
The editorial cites a study published by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers that found fewer authorizers were closing poor performing charter schools.
According to the editorial, “The study raises troubling questions about the management practices of the oversight groups. Nearly a third of charter authorizers have not established clear revocation criteria; fewer than half have the kinds of strong, independent review panels the association recommends; and about only half issue annual reports that show the schools how they are doing.”
The article is available.
Charter Schools Should Support Equity Goals: The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) released on February 21, 2012 a policy brief that examines the legal basis for the concept of equal educational opportunity; the role of charter schools in re-segregating students; and offers guidance on how charter school policies can best be shaped to promote equity goals. (“Chartering Equity: Using Charter School Legislation and Policy to Advance Equal Educational Opportunity” by Julie F. Mead and Preston C. Green III, NEPC, February 21, 2012)
According to the authors, school choice policies have the potential to promote diversity as parents/students have the opportunities to enroll in schools outside of their neighborhoods and socioeconomic/demographic status. But, that has not happened, and “…..some of the nation’s most segregated K-12 schools are public charter schools.”
The authors write, “……the growth of charter schools has led to the stratification and isolation of students by race, class, special education status, and English language learner status. This consequence of school choice has undermined key national goals of inclusion and integration.”
To support equal educational opportunities for all students, the authors recommend that charter schools adopt policies that promote equity and inclusion, and that state authorizers of charter schools make sure that charter schools actually “serve all children regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language, disability and gender.” For example, states should require charter schools to show how they will broaden opportunities for disadvantaged students and be held accountable at the time of charter renewal for implementing strategies to reduce inequalities.
An accompanying report includes legislative recommendations for states to promote equity and inclusion, and for Congress to consider in the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
The report is available.
The two reports were produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. In addition, the Ford Foundation provided funding for the policy report, “Chartering Equity: Using Charter School Legislation and Policy to Advance Equal Educational Opportunity”, which is part of a series from NEPC under the Ford
Foundation-funded Initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Learning (IDEAL).
HB462 (Pelanda) Withholding Grades or Credits-Abused Child: Regarding a school district’s withholding or transferring to another district or school the grades and credits of a child who is alleged or adjudicated as an abused, neglected, or dependent child.
2012 ART CRITICISM INVITATIONAL: The ninth annual ART CRITICISM OPEN is accepting applications from students in grades nine through twelve. This is a writing contest, which recognizes students for the quality of their writing about art. Winners will receive certificates of award and the top three winners will have their writings published in Ohio ArtLine, the state-wide publication of the Ohio Art Education Association.
A student’s entry in the OHIO ART CRITICISM OPEN is to be a written critical inquiry into the meaning and aesthetic value of any original work of art. For example, a student might write about student artwork on display in the 2012 Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition at the State Office Tower in Columbus; the writing might be about a professional artist’s exhibit, or student’s work on display in the student’s own school or community.
Students are encouraged to base their writing on original artworks rather than reproduced images: original works provide access to richer information and allow the student to express their own ideas rather than reflect the opinions of critics and historians. The paper should demonstrate the student’s ability to write art criticism, not their ability to do historical inquiry.
A student’s critical inquiry should be no more than 800 words and be focused on one work of art. It should be typed and double spaced on 8 1/2 x 11″ paper.
An entry form must be completed, including both student and teacher signatures, and attached to the student’s writing. The entry must be accompanied by a good-quality color photograph of the artwork about which the criticism is written.
Send entries to:
Nancy Pistone, Arts Consultant
Ohio Department of Education
25 S. Front Street, MS#509
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: (614) 466-7908
Entires may also be sent via e-mail (with jpeg attached) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entries must be postmarked no later than June 4, 2012. They will be reviewed by an impartial juror, or team of jurors, who will determine the best critical writing based on the following criteria; all relevant components of the art work are described and analyzed with discernment; interpretation of meanings are original, insightful, and reasonably based on evidence in the work; judgments use appropriate criteria; and general standards of good writing are met.
First, second, and third place awards plus up to ten honorable mention awards will be given. Winning entries will be announced by November 2012.
More information is available.
Crayola Sponsors Art Exhibition and Contest: The Creativity Connects Us Art Exhibition at Crayola provides an opportunity for children to make a statement about what creativity means to them and others around the world through the 2011-2012 theme: Creativity Connects the World: Using Art to Build Global Awareness.
Crayola has sponsored for 30 years this annual juried art exhibition to see what children are thinking and feeling.
Creativity Connects Us is open to K-12 students around the world. Students create a piece of 2-D artwork and develop a written statement of 50 words or less on “What creativity means to me and others around the world.”
The artwork and written statement should represent their interpretation and reflections on the theme of creativity around the world. The artwork should not exceed 16″ x 20″.
Thirty-six pieces of artwork (up to three from each grade level) will be selected as finalists based on a judging rubric. Each finalist and finalist’s submitter will receive $100 worth of Crayola products (retail value), and each finalist will receive a plaque featuring a replica of their original artwork. Finalists’ original artwork will be framed and exhibited at the U.S. Department of Education national headquarters in Washington, D.C., and its regional offices across the country. It will become part of a significant, permanent collection of children’s original art and their creativity statements.
Additionally, one of the 36 finalists will be selected as the grand prize winner, based on the same judging rubric. That student’s family and submitter’s family each will win a seven-night Caribbean cruise on board Royal Caribbean International (up to a maximum of four people per family).
Submission deadline is Monday, April 16, 2012.
For more information please visit http://www.crayola.com/
Boston Schools Receive $4 million Grant for Arts Education: The Wallace Foundation in New York announced on February 8, 2012 that it would be awarding the Boston Public Schools (BPS) a $4 million grant to expand the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative (AEI).
AEI is a multi-year effort (2009-2015) developed by a collaboration of local funders, the schools, arts organizations, the school district, the Mayor’s Office, and coordinated by EdVestors, a Boston-based school change organization that will manage the grant. The new national grant adds to more than $4 million contributed by local funders, toward the $10 million goal to support the growth of arts programming in BPS.
The BPS Arts Expansion Initiative was launched in February 2009 and is a multi-year effort to expand arts education within BPS. Focused on providing equity and access to quality arts learning experiences to every BPS student, the Initiative seeks to expand arts instruction, build the capacity of the system to support school-based arts programs, and to enhance partnerships between schools and arts and cultural groups and higher educational institutions.
The BPS arts expansion effort is a key piece of Superintendent Carol Johnson’s Acceleration Agenda, a five-year strategic direction (2009-2014) that outlines goals and priorities for transforming the Boston Public Schools.
EdVestors, a local education nonprofit dedicated to driving change in urban schools through strategic philanthropic investment, serves as lead partner for the Initiative working in close collaboration with the donors and with the BPS.
According to the press release, the number of students with access to visual and performing arts instruction in BPS during the school day has increased since the AEI was initiated. The new grant will build the capacity of the school district to expand and sustain high quality arts education through new approaches to arts instruction, curriculum, professional development, partnership coordination, and student and family engagement.
“Today, nine out of 10 elementary and middle school students in Boston are receiving weekly arts education, up from 67 percent three years ago. The number of high school students accessing arts education has doubled over the past three school years. The Initiative has set a goal of reaching 100 percent of students in grades PreK-8 with weekly year-long arts instruction, while dramatically expanding high school arts learning
More information is available.
Justifying Arts Education: Elena Aguilar makes a case for supporting arts education in a February 15, 2012 article in Edutopia. (“Arts Education: A Right and Necessity by Elena Aguilar, Edutopia, February 15, 2012)
According to Ms. Aguilar, there is a historical and present day justification for arts education.
The historical reasons include the “scientific facts that justify our ancestral right to art, because long before we were building cities, writing, or taking tests, humans were painting, dancing, and playing music. Paleontologists have found evidence that as far back as 100,000 years, human beings were painting. The oldest evidence of humans making music dates back 35,000 years-carved flutes have been found in caves in Europe.”
The present day justification includes the concept that the arts bring communities together and offer a language that transcends race, language, age, and ability. The author says:
- The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution, that there are many ways to see and interpret the world, and that the limits of language do not define the limits of our cognition.
- Teaching anything through music/lyrics helps kids remember (think of the ABC song); music helps children in math, language development, and to manage their emotions.
- The arts help children find other ways of expressing their thoughts and feelings beyond the traditional.
- The arts as their own curriculum, integrated into core subjects, and infused in a school, contribute to all aspects of learning. They make a place feel good. They bring beauty.
- We need art educators, who “are a unique breed essential to the success of any school.” Arts educators look to see different ways to solve problems and find ways to insert the arts in the curriculum so that learning can be “brought to life”.
The article is available.
Arts Program Helps Students Achieve: According to an article in the San Diego Tribune on February 10, 2012, third grade students participating in the Developing Reading Education with Arts Methods (DREAM) program showed an 87 point average gain on state standardized test scores. (“School arts = higher scores. Program boosts standardized test results” by Pat Flynn, San Diego Union Tribune, February 10, 2012.)
The DREAM program, led by California State University San Marcos and the San Diego County Office of Education, has been supported by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for three years.
The program trains third- and fourth-grade teachers to integrate the arts into their lessons and sends artists into the classroom to provide weekly coaching. Students learn by singing, acting, and dancing, and use the arts to make sense of the world. The students are more motivated and engaged, and retain what they have learned.
To conduct this study, researchers randomly divided teachers and their students into three groups. In the control group, teachers received no arts training. In a second, teachers attended a one-week summer institute on incorporating the arts in the curriculum. The third group attended the institute and received weekly in-class coaching from an arts professional.
The researchers found that students in the first group of third-graders increased their scores by 25 points on the standardized test in 2010-11. The second group increased their scores by 42 points, and the third group had the 87-point average increase on the test, which is scored from 150 to 600. The lowest performing kids made the most dramatic gains.
The article is available.