129th Ohio General Assembly: Lawmakers will return to Columbus this week for House and Senate sessions and hearings. The Kasich administration is expected to introduce a capital bill; a capital re-appropriations bill; legislative changes for tax, energy, and education policies, including legislative changes to implement a new education reform plan for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District; and budget cuts/increases for some state departments and agencies. The Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee will meet on March 14 and 15, 2012 to receive from the Office of Budget and Management an overview of the capital budget and the Mid-biennium Budget Review (MBR), which is expected to include the policy changes.
Voters Overwhelmingly Approve School Issues: According to the Ohio School Boards Association analysis of the March 6, 2012 election, 81 out of 110 school issues (75 percent) were approved by voters. The unofficial results include 51 out of 53 renewal requests approved, and 30 out of 57 new requests approved. A list of school issues and election results is available from StateImpact.
Constitutional Modernization Commission Schedules Public Colloquium: The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission planning committee announced that it would hold a colloquium on Thursday, March 22, 2012 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM at the Center Capitol Theater in the Vern Riffe Center, 77 South High Street, Columbus. The colloquium will be hosted by the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and provide the commission members with a historical perspective on previous Ohio constitutional modernization efforts, and information about commissions in other states. Register now.
House Representative Appointed to PUCO: Governor Kasich appointed Representative Lynn Slaby to PUCO last week, meaning more membership changes for the Ohio House. Representative Slaby represents the 41st House District, and was also running for re-election in November 2012.
This Week at the Statehouse
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012
Ohio Retirement Study Council: The Ohio Retirement Study Council will meet at 9:00 AM in hearing room 122. The Council will receive an update on the pension systems.
House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Beck chair: The House Ways and Means Committee will meet at 3:30 PM in hearing Room 114. The Committee will receive testimony on HB242 (Brenner/Patmon) Tax Credits for Nonpublic Schools, which would authorize non-refundable tax credits for donations to nonprofit entities providing scholarships to low-income students enrolling in chartered nonpublic schools.
House Finance and Appropriations, Representative Amstutz chair: The House Finance and Appropriations Committee will meet at 4:00 PM in hearing room 313. The Committee will receive testimony from the Office of Budget and Management regarding the capital appropriations bill for FY13-14 pending introduction and referral.
Senate Finance Committee, Senator Widener chair: The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee will meet at 2:00 PM in the Senate Finance Hearing Room or immediately after session. The Committee will receive testimony on the FY13-14 Capital Re-appropriations bill, pending introduction and referral.
House Education Committee, Representative Stebelton chair: The House Education Committee will meet at 5:00 PM in hearing room 017. The Committee will receive testimony on the following bills:
- HB437 (Roegner/Patmon) School Board Vehicles-Out of State Travel: Increases the number of miles a school district board may authorize its motor vehicles for out-of-state travel.
- HB444 (Henne) Montgomery County Schools: Authorizes a pilot program for school districts in Montgomery County to operate certain for-profit activities.
- HB381 (Slaby) School District Property: Regarding school district property offered to state universities.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2012
House Finance and Appropriations, Representative Amstutz chair: The House Finance and Appropriations Committee will meet at 9:00 AM in hearing room 313. The Committee will receive testimony on the FY13-14 capital appropriations bill and the Mid-biennium Budget Review, pending introduction and referral.
News from Washington, D.C.
Inequitable Opportunities: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released on March 6, 2012 an analysis of the data collected through the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), a national data tool for analyzing equity and educational opportunities.
The analysis is based on school district-reported data on Part II of the 2009-10 Civil Rights Data Collection, a national survey of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation’s students. The survey covers a range of topics including college and career readiness, discipline, school finance, students with disabilities, student retention, and more.
According to the report, “Minority students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers.”
- College and Career Readiness: “Less than a third of high schools serving the most Hispanic and African-American students offer calculus and only 40 percent offer physics.”
- Discipline: “African-American students are over 3 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.”
- Resource Equity: “Teachers in elementary schools serving the most Hispanic and African-American students are paid, on average, $2250 less per year than their colleagues in the same district working at schools serving the fewest Hispanic and African-American students.”
- Access to Gifted and Talented Education (GATE): “Hispanic and African-American students are disproportionately under-represented in these educational opportunities.”
Selected data is analyzed in a brief report on the CRDC web site. Data is also available for specific schools and school districts.
The data analysis is available.
State Board of Education to Meet: The State Board of Education (SBE), Debe Terhar president, will meet on March 12-13, 2012.
MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2012
On March 12, 2012 the SBE will meet at the Governor’s Cabinet Room at the Statehouse in Columbus at 9:00 AM. The SBE will meet with Dick Ross, the new Director of the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education, and also with Governor John Kasich to discuss education reform. At 10:00 AM the SBE will recognize Brian Page, Ohio recipient of the 2011 National Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation and finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
The Achievement, Capacity, and Urban Education committees will meet at the Ohio School for the Deaf, 500 Morse Road in Columbus at 12:30 PM.
The Achievement Committee, chaired by Angela Thi Bennet, will discuss extended standards for exceptional children; Race to the Top; and credit flexibility.
The Capacity Committee, chaired by Tom Gunlock, will discuss dropout recovery school performance measures, expenditure standards required by HB 153, OAC Rule 3301-51-06, and Parentally Placed Nonpublic School Children.
The Urban Education Committee, Joe Farmer chair, will discuss the Kirwan Institute Diversity Strategies; the committee work plan; and review the presentation about accountability and continuous improvement.
The Executive Committee, chaired by Debe Terhar, will meet at 2:15 PM, followed by reports from the committees.
The State Board of Education will convene its business meeting at 3:00 PM and go into executive session.
There will be a 119 Hearing at 4:00 PM on Rule 3301-83-06 to -25, Pupil Transportation, and Rule 3301-91-01,-04,-09, School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.
The SBE’s task forces on the Ohio School for the Blind and Ohio School for the Deaf; Policy and Procedures; and Superintendent’s Evaluation Task Force will meet following the 119 hearing.
TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2012
The Legislative and Budget Committee, chaired by C. Todd Jones, will meet at 8:00 AM. The Committee will receive an overview of the president’s budget proposal; discuss Financial Management Assistance; discuss OECN and other IT initiatives; receive an update on House Bill 462 (Pelanda); and receive an update on the mid-biennial budget review.
The SBE will reconvene its business meeting at 10:30 AM. The SBE will receive reports from the Legislative Committee and task forces; receive the report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; receive public participation on agenda items; take action on the resolutions listed below; consider old business, new business, and miscellaneous business; receive public participation on non-agenda items (scheduled at 1:00 PM); and adjourn.
Resolutions to be considered by the State Board of Education at their Meeting on March 13, 2012:
Personnel Items: Resolutions 1-4 and 8-10.
#5 Approve a Resolution of Intent to Adopt New Praxis II Licensure Exams and Qualifying Scores for Art Education, Technology Education, and the Principles of Learning and Teaching Exams.
#6 Approve a Resolution of Intent to Adopt New Legislative Recommendations for Performance Standards for Community Schools that Operate Dropout Prevention and Recovery Programs.
#7 REMOVED. Approve a Resolution of Intent to Adopt the State Board of Education’s Diversity Strategies for Successful Schools Policy.
#11 Approve a Resolution to Amend Rules 3301-89-01 to -03 of the Administrative Code Regarding Transfers of School District Territory.
#12 Approve a Motion Regarding the 2012-13 State Board of Education Meeting Dates.
#13 Approve a Resolution to Grant the President of the State Board of Education Authority to Appoint an Advising Board Member and an Alternative Advising Board Member to Review Consent Agreements in Educator Disciplinary Matters.
More Analysis of Cleveland’s Plan to Transform Schools: Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Federation of Teachers responded last week to a plan to revamp the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and charter schools in Cleveland developed by Mayor Frank Jackson, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Cleveland Foundation, the Gund Foundation, and Breakthrough Schools, and supported by Governor Kasich.
Legislative changes must be enacted to implement the plan, and some of those changes could be included in the mid-biennium budget review legislation, due to be introduced this week.
Innovation Ohio Responds to the Cleveland Plan: Innovation Ohio released an analysis about the strengths and weaknesses of the plan on March 8, 2012 entitled “Caution on the Cleveland Plan” by Steve Dyer.
According to the analysis, the strengths of the plan include creating a variety of specialty schools to meet the needs of children; opening Early Childhood Education Academies in every neighborhood; focusing on rigor and high expectations for all students; advocating legislative changes that will provide CMSD with more flexibility to manage its fiscal assets; eliminating loop holes that enable poor performing charter schools to operate.
Innovative Ohio also believes that the plan includes some promising ideas that need more work. These include a year-round school calendar, support for high-quality charter schools, and the recruitment of talented teachers.
The weaknesses of the plan include the lack of teacher, parent, student, or community input in the development of the plan; proposals in the plan to transfer local property tax revenue to charter schools and transfer school oversight and other functions from the Cleveland School Board (which is now accountable to the Mayor) to an un-elected “Cleveland Transformation Alliance”; implementing a weighted per pupil funding formula with “money following the child”; and proposals about collective bargaining, accountability, and teacher compensation similar to those included in SB 5 and rejected by Ohio votes in November 2011 through the defeat of State Issue 2.
Innovation Ohio suggests that Governor Kasich’s administration might use this plan as a model for education reforms that will lead to a new school funding system and cautions that, “….any serious school reform discussion should and must include the voices of professional educators, parents, and other members of the community. We hope their exclusion will be rectified in the weeks and months ahead.”
The report is available.
Response to Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools from the OFT: Representatives from the Ohio Federation of Teachers held a news conference on March 7, 2012 to oppose the CMSD’s Plan for Transforming Schools. Participating at the news conference were Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers; Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke and Cleveland teacher Tracy Radich; Kevin Dalton, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers; Roslyn Painter-Goffi, president of the Berea Federation of Teachers; Bill Phillis from the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy, Julie Sellers, president Of Cincinnati Federation Of Teachers, and others.
The presenters focused on how collaboration between teachers, boards of education, and administrations in Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati, and other Ohio school districts has worked to benefit students in Ohio. The group noted how teachers, administrators, and boards of education have worked together to implement Race to the Top, develop full service schools in Cincinnati, the Peer Assistance Review Program (PAR) in Toledo and other school districts, and how in Berea the teachers, administrators, and the board of education have worked together for over 25 years without conflict.
In contrast to those examples, the group noted that the proposed plan for Cleveland was developed by business leaders, foundations, and charter schools, without the Cleveland teachers, and revives some of the teacher compensation and collective bargaining issues in Senate Bill 5, which voters rejected in November 2011 when State Issue 2 was defeated.
For more information about the OFT opposition to the Cleveland plan, please visit http://oh.aft.org/.
Ohio Benefits from a Fair Income Tax: Policy Matters Ohio released on March 1, 2012 an issue brief entitled “Ohio Needs a Strong Income Tax” by Zach Schiller. The brief calls attention to the properties of Ohio’s income tax, which is the biggest source of state revenue based on ability to pay, and as a result provides financial stability for Ohio and helps to balance Ohio’s reliance on less fair taxes, such as the property tax and sales tax, which are not based on ability to pay.
According to Policy Matters Ohio, the income tax raises 30 percent of state revenue (about $17 billion) for Ohio’s operating budget, and supports schools, libraries, prisons, the local government fund, and more. Ohioans also pay lower U.S. income taxes because they are able to write off state income taxes on their federal returns. The author states, “Nearly one in every seven dollars paid in state income taxes are returned to Ohio taxpayers because they are deducted from U.S. taxes.”
Ohio’s income tax also provides the revenue support for Ohio to issue debt, which is used to fund capital spending projects. According to the report, “Ohio’s constitution limits debt service to 5 percent of those obligations paid by the General Revenue Fund and net lottery proceeds. Without the income tax, the state of Ohio would breach the 5 percent debt limit next fiscal year…”.
The brief also debunks the idea that upper income taxpayers move out of states with income taxes. According to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, upper-income taxpayers are more likely to live in states with income taxes than average taxpayers are.
An analysis of the state and local taxes shows that in 2007 lower-income Ohioans paid a higher percent of their income in state and local taxes when combined than higher income Ohioans. Reducing or eliminating the income tax will just make the entire tax system less fair.
The brief recommends that Ohio policy makers continue to support a fair income tax to support state services and ensure that state government can meet its obligations and make investments in our future.
The brief is available.
Report About Online School Costs Questioned: The National Education Policy Center’s (NEPC) Think Twice think thank released on March 6, 2012 a review of a recent report published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute entitled “The Costs of Online Learning” by Tamara Butler Battaglino, Matt Haldeman, and Eleanor Laurans of the Parthenon Group, published on January 12, 2012.
The review, entitled “Online School Cost Comparisons Rest on Problematic Data, Methods” was conducted by Jennifer King Rice, a University of Maryland education professor whose research interests include education policy, education productivity, and cost analysis applications to education.
The Fordham Institute report describes the size and range of cost drivers for online schools compared to traditional brick-and-mortar schools based on data from 50 experts, and finds that the average overall per-pupil costs of virtual schools and blended-learning schools are significantly lower than the $10,000 national average for traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
The review states, “In virtual schools, average per-pupil costs amount to $6,400 per student, with a reported range of $5,100 to $7,700.3 In blended schools, average per-pupil costs are reported to be $8,900, with a range of $7,600 to $10,200. It is important to note that the virtual-school cost estimate is based on full-time high school students, while the blended-school estimate is based on middle school students. In both cases, cost estimates are based on schools with enrollments of about 500 students (p. 4).”
The review by Jennifer King Rice questions the findings of the Fordham Institute’s report and the utility of its cost estimates, and notes the following:
- The researchers ask but do not answer the question, “Can online learning be better and less expensive?”, because the researchers do not offer sufficient evidence to draw conclusions about productivity.
- The report does not identify the models, data, or instruments used to analyze the national cost estimates.
- The report does not clearly define the terms used in the report, such as technology, online learning, online instruction.
- The report does not cite research to support its claims about trends in the use of technology in schools.
- The report ignores empirical evidence on the costs or effectiveness of various online learning models.
- The report “pays no attention to the methodological literature on estimating the costs of education interventions.”
- The report does not account for the additional costs associated with educating certain student populations in traditional schools, such as students with disabilities and English language learners, who are not typically served in online schools.
The reviewer concludes, “The conceptual and methodological limitations discussed above limit the validity of the cost estimates presented in this paper. It would be impossible to replicate this study given the lack of information provided on the data sources and methods. The report offers an interesting discussion of what factors may affect the costs in the various categories, but falls short in not providing a rigorous analysis of these costs.”
Find Jennifer King Rice’s review on the NEPC website.
Find “The Costs of Online Learning” by Tamara Butler Battaglino, Matt Haldeman, and Eleanor Laurans, online.
More Articles About Teacher Evaluations:
States Adopt Strategies to Evaluate Teachers: The Wall Street Journal published on March 8, 2012 an article entitled “Teacher Evaluations Pose Test for States” by Stephanie Banchero. The article summarizes some of the ways school districts across the nation are evaluating teachers in non-tested subjects.
According to the article, school districts are beginning to understand the challenges of implementing teacher evaluation systems based on student growth, when only 30 percent of classroom teachers in the U.S. work in grades or subjects (math and reading in grades 3-8) that are covered by standardized tests. Evaluating teachers based on student growth is required of states participating in the federal Race to the Top program, and several states, including Ohio, have approved new teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student growth in the evaluations.
The article notes that most teachers will not have standardized assessments in their subject areas, and most school districts, and states, do not have adequate resources to develop standardized assessments in all subject areas. Furthermore, educators and parents are reluctant to push for more tests, since testing is already taking away from classroom teaching and narrowing the curriculum.
To address the lack of data to determine student growth in most subject areas, states are taking several paths. According to the article, the Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida has created exams for every subject at every grade; in Tennessee teacher evaluations in all subjects are tied to school-wide math and reading scores; in Memphis, TN, the Tennessee system is being refined, with music, drama, and dance teachers creating their own “portfolios”; and in North Carolina, a team of 800 teachers is working with state officials to create standardized exams for every subject.
But reactions to these strategies to evaluate teachers has been mixed. In Louisiana a state lawmaker has introduced a bill to delay new teacher evaluations, citing concerns about adopting potentially costly new evaluation methods that might lack validity. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where end-of-the-year exams were created for all subjects, parents objected, and now the exams are scrapped.
The article is available.
Student Survey Results to be Used in Teacher Evaluations: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published on March 5, 2012 an article entitled “Pittsburgh students surveyed in teaching plan” by Eleanor Chute. The Pittsburgh Public Schools will survey two classes of most K-12 teachers this year, and eventually could incorporate the results into teacher evaluations.
The district is using the Tripod survey, based on the work of Ron Ferguson at Harvard University and Cambridge Education, which administers the survey. Dr. Ferguson supports a teacher evaluation process that combines classroom observation, student achievement gains, and student feedback to predict teacher effectiveness, and provide diagnostic feedback for the teacher. Student surveys were also used in the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The school district has been experimenting with different types of surveys and questions for two years, and the survey results this year will only be available to teachers. According to the MET project, students are able to tell when a teacher is effective, can control a classroom, and challenge students with rigorous work. The Tripod survey is also being used in Memphis, Tennessee.
The article is available.
Better Ways to Evaluate Teachers Than VAM: An article in the March 2012 issue of Phi Delta Kappan by Linda Darling-Hammond, Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, Edward Haertel, and Jesse Rothstein entitled “Evaluating Teacher Evaluation” states that some of the popular modes of evaluating teachers are “fraught with inaccuracies and inconsistencies” and recommends standards-based processes, which have been found to be predictive of student learning gains and productive for teacher learning.
The authors note that even though Value-added models (VAM) “enable researchers to use statistical methods to measure changes in student scores over time while considering student characteristics and other factors often found to influence achievement”, using VAM to evaluate teachers “assumes that student learning is measured well by a given test, is influenced by the teacher alone, and is independent from the growth of classmates and other aspects of the classroom context. None of these assumptions is well supported by current evidence.”
Student learning is influenced by a number of factors not included in the Value-added data, such as home and community challenges and support; school environment; individual student health, attendance, abilities and needs; peer culture and achievement; differential summer learning loss; etc.
The authors identify the problems that researchers have raised when VAM is used to sort teachers:
- VAM models of teacher effectiveness are inconsistent and differ substantially from class to class and year to year
- Teachers’ VAM performance is affected by the students assigned to them
- VAM ratings can’t disentangle the many influences on student progress.
Instead of using VAM to measure individual teacher effectiveness, the authors recommend using professional standards for teaching developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), “These standards have become the basis for assessments of teaching that produce ratings that are much more stable than value-added measures.”
The article notes that the Cincinnati Public School District is using a standards-based system to evaluate teachers along with classroom observation and written feedback. Other school districts and states are using programs such as TAP and PAR, and rubrics to assess teacher effectiveness and provide teachers with feedback about how to improve. “Standards-based evaluation processes have also been found to be predictive of student learning gains and productive for teacher learning.”
The article is available.
Use Project-Based Learning to Engage Students in Music: Andrew Miller writes for the Edutopia Blog that Project Based Learning (PBL) can support music education, through implementation of rigorous standards, assessment of student learning in music, and increased student engagement. (“Use PBL to Innovate the Music Classroom.” Edutopia, March 5, 2012)
He writes that examining national and state standards for music and creating a PBL project that targets in-depth inquiry can help students develop skills and concepts across disciplines and increase the value of music as a critical content area.
PBL supports student engagement in learning by creating an authentic purpose for students to learn critical content. Assessing a PBL project can be done through a performance or other authentic tasks, depending on the standards.
Miller recommends the Buck Institute for Education’s webinar on the Essential Elements of Project Based Learning for more ideas about how to focus instruction, build authenticity, and create purpose and relevance for all students. The webinar is available.
The blog is available.
High School Academy to Adapt Whole New Mind Concepts: According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, a new program at Kenton County’s Scott High School (Taylor Mill, Kentucky) called the Renaissance Academy will focus on student-centered, project-based curriculum, designed to teach students to use 21st-century skills. (“Scott High School program takes new approach” by Sarah Hardee, Cincinnati Enquirer. March 4, 2012)
The Renaissance Academy will base its learning community on the concepts included in the book “A Whole New Mind,” by Daniel Pink, and will focus on students learning empathy, design, story, symphony, play, and meaning. Only 120 freshman and sophomore students will be selected to participate in the program, which is student-centered and incorporates project based learning.
The article is available.
Target Arts and Culture in Schools Grants: Target Arts and Culture in Schools Grants help schools and nonprofits bring arts and cultural experiences directly to K-12 students. Art, Culture + Design in Schools Grants are $2,000. Grant applications are typically accepted between March 1 and April 30 each year, with grant notifications delivered in September. Deadline: April 30, 2012. Apply online.