129th Ohio General Assembly: Lawmakers have scheduled a spring break April 2-13, 2012, but some will continue to work on a legislative package, the Mid-biennial Review Budget (MBR), which contains a number of policy changes supported by Governor Kasich. The MBR includes changes in energy policy, education, taxation, child care programs, workforce development and training, medicaid, health care, and more. Parts of the MBR are included in HB487 (Amstutz),SB316 (Lehner) – education, and SB315 (Jones) – energy. Lawmakers have already removed from HB487 proposed changes that would have increased taxes on oil and gas drilling and lowered the Ohio personal income tax. Representative Amstutz, chair of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, is sponsoring HB487 at the request of the governor, and recently stated that he expects some of the provisions included in HB487 will be removed and introduced as separate legislation or added to legislation already introduced. A substitute bill will be considered by lawmakers in April, after the spring break.
More Changes at the Statehouse: The most recent departures at the Statehouse include Republican Representatives Lynn Slaby (41st House District), Mary Brigid Matheny (98th House District), Bob Peterson (85th House District), and Philip Rose (87th House District). Representative Slaby was appointment to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio; Representative Peterson was appointed to the Ohio Senate; and both Representatives Matheny and Rose were temporary appointments. Their seats will now be filled by the Republican candidates who qualified in the March 2012 primary election for the November General Election. They are Matt Lynch (new 76th House District) and Ryan Smith (new 93rd House District). The Democrats will fill the 27th (new 25th) House District seat, left vacant when Representative Carlton Weddington resigned.
Lawmakers Approve Capital Budget and Re-appropriations Budget: Lawmakers approved last week HB482 (Amstutz) Capital Budget and SB312 (Widener) Re-appropriations Budget. The FY13-14 Capital Budget totals $1.74 billion in appropriations and $1.36 million in bond-funded projects, and the re-appropriations includes $1.27 billion in capital re-appropriations for the biennium ending June 30, 2014. Governor Kasich signed SB312 into law on March 30, 2012.
SB165 Signed into Law: The House and Senate approved on March 28, 2012 a conference report on SB165 (Ophof) and Governor Kasich signed the bill into law on March 30, 2012. The law does the following:
- Requires the State Board of Education by July 1, 2012, to incorporate into the social studies standards for grades four to twelve academic content regarding the original texts of the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, with emphasis on the Bill of Rights, and the Ohio Constitution, and their original context.
- Requires the State Board to revise the model curricula and achievement assessments to reflect the additional American history and American government content
- Requires the State Board to make available a list of suggested grade-appropriate supplemental readings that place the documents prescribed by this division in their historical context
- Requires end of course exams in American history and American government
- Requires local boards of education to adopt interim end of course exams by July 1, 2013 until the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Chancellor can select end of course exams by July 1, 2014.
SB295 Approved by Senate: The Senate approved on March 28, 2012 SB295 (Coley), a controversial bill that repeals HB194(Mecklenborg/Blessing) Election Reform. A referendum to overturn HB194 is already on the November 2012 ballot, and proponents of the referendum believe that voters will now be even more confused if lawmakers repeal HB194 before voters have an opportunity to weigh-in on it. SB295 also does not overturn a provision of HB194 approved separately in another bill HB224. That provision eliminated in-person voting on the weekend before the General Election.
Redistricting Constitutional Amendment Cleared for Next Step: The ballot language for a constitutional amendment sponsored by Voters First was certified on March 29, 2012 by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine as fair and truthful. The amendment would create a new method for setting the boundaries of Congressional and Ohio House and Senate districts after the decennial census. The amendment will be reviewed by the Ohio Ballot Board next. If it is certified Voters First will then need to collect 385,245 valid signatures by July 4, 2012 to qualify the amendment for the November, 2012 ballot. Voters First is a coalition of organizations led by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause/Ohio, Ohio Citizen Action, ProgressOhio, Ohio Council of Churches, Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, Ohio Education Association, Applied Information Resources, Ohio Voice, America Votes, AAUW Ohio, and more. For more information please visit http://votersfirstohio.org/
News from Washington, D.C.
Results of Arts Surveys to be Released: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton will hold a news conference on April 2, 2012 for the release of a report entitled “Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999-2000 and 2009-10”. The report includes selected findings from seven Congressionally-mandated arts in education surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). A “First Look” at this report was issued in May 2011.
During the news conference Secretary Duncan will discuss the importance of arts education in providing students a well-rounded education. The surveys were designed to provide national estimates of the characteristics of arts education in public K-12 schools for the 2009-10 school year, and to allow comparison to selected estimates from an earlier study done in 1999-2000. The report provides national data about arts education for public elementary and secondary schools, elementary classroom teachers, and elementary and secondary music and visual arts specialists.
Secretary Duncan Testifies about President’s Budget: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce chaired by Representative John Kline on March 28, 2012.
The testimony was similar to that presented to the House Committee on Appropriations on March 22, 2012, (see March 26, 2012 Education Update) and included an analysis of how the FY13 budget (H.Con. Res. 112) approved by the U.S. House on March 29, 2012 would affect education.
According to Secretary Duncan, the House FY13 Budget Resolution and the sequester requirement included in the Budget Control Act of 2011 could threaten the ability of U.S. students to compete in the global economy.
H. Con. Res. 112, the FY13 Budget Resolution approved by the U.S. House, would result in the following:
- Reduce Title I funding by $2.7 billion, affecting 9,000 schools serving more than 3.8 million students and 38,000 teachers and aides, who could lose their jobs
- Reduce funding for students with disabilities by over $2.2 billion, which would translate to the loss of nearly 30,000 special education teachers, aides and other staff
- Reduce access to Head Start for 200,000 children
- Reduce almost $3 billion from Pell aid to students in 2013, eliminating almost 400,000 recipients, and reducing the awards of 9.3 million others
- Reduce work-study funding by $185 million affecting up to 129,000 low income students
- Reduce $159 million from TRIO, which helps prepare low-income and minority students to succeed in college, affecting 148,000 students.
The Budget Control Act’s sequester requirement, which would go into effect in January 2013 if Congress does not approve a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction plan, would result in a 7.8 – 9.1 percent reduction in the non-security discretionary budget. A reduction of this amount would mean a loss of $1.1 billion in Title 1 and affect 1.6 million disadvantaged students, and a loss of $900 million from the Individuals with Disabilities Act and affect 6.6 million students. All other programs would be affected by the reductions, seriously impeding the ability of the U.S. DOE to achieve its mission to prepare students for college and careers.
The testimony is available.
Documents on Student Growth Measures Available: The Ohio Department of Education has made available on its web site documents that provide additional information for school districts to use to implement teacher evaluation plans aligned to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) framework.
The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System requires that a teacher evaluation include a rating of teacher performance (based on classroom observations and other factors), and a rating of student academic growth. Documents explaining the teacher performance aspect of the evaluation system will be available soon. The following documents are now on the ODE web site and explain the student growth measures component:
- Student Growth Measures overview
- ODE-Approved List of Assessments
- Student Learning Objectives information
- Steps for Designing a Local Student Growth Measures Plan
The documents are available.
Guest Columnist Provides an Analysis of the Cleveland Plan: Piet van Lier, Communications Director at Policy Matters Ohio, analyzes the Cleveland school reform plan in a guest column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer entitled “For real Cleveland school reform, slow down, plan well, fix school funding” published on March 25, 2012.
According to the author, support for the Cleveland Plan, developed by Mayor Frank Jackson and business/foundation leaders in the Cleveland area, should be tempered with thoughtful debate, for several reasons.
First, views of some members of the Cleveland community have not been included, including teachers, who will implement the plan. “This dialogue is important because research shows that school reform rarely works without a strong measure of buy-in from those most affected.”
Second, the plan “…touts the successes of 37 top-rated charter and district schools in Cleveland. But a quick analysis shows, that as a group, these schools enroll substantially fewer special-needs and low-income students than do Cleveland schools overall, which means their success is due, at least in part, to these demographic differences. As good as they may be, creating more “niche” schools cannot be a primary solution to what ails education in Cleveland.”
Third, “Also in the plan are steps to “refocus” and “repurpose” lower-performing schools; this kind of effort has gained little traction where implemented.”
Fourth, the proposed Transformation Alliance would be responsible for screening-out low-performing charter operators and for communicating to parents about school options for their students. However, the Transformation Alliance would operate as a private entity not subject to open meetings or records laws, which would be “an unfortunate step away from transparency and accountability.”
The author suggests that the Cleveland school board, which is appointed by the mayor, take on the responsibilities of the Transformation Alliance, since it is already representative of the Cleveland community.
Fifth, the steps in the plan to achieve financial stability include outsourcing, reducing labor costs, closing more schools, and passing a $65 million levy. But, Mr. van Lier asks, “…do we really think cutting salaries and firing teachers will fix our schools?” He goes on to explain that the reason that Cleveland and other school districts in Ohio are facing more deficits is the “elephant” in the room…..the fact that the state cut $1.8 billion in school funding in the current biennial budget, and “Across the state, the responsibility for funding schools is being pushed to the local level.”
He concludes by recommending that, “Mayor Jackson, school leaders, the corporate community — and the rest of us — should be demanding that the governor and state legislators take action to develop a new funding system that will work for all Ohio schools. Over the past 10 years, Ohio has blown a $2 billion-a-year hole in its revenue stream by continuously cutting business and income taxes. If we want to build a stronger Ohio that works for everyone, we need to start with adequate revenue and a better school funding system. Otherwise, all the best intentions of Mayor Jackson’s plan won’t lead to the change we need in Cleveland.”
The article is available.
CAP Evaluates RTT Progress: The Center for American Progress (CAP), Tom Perriello President and CEO, released on March 26, 2012 a report entitled “Race to the Top: What Have We Learned So Far? A State by State Evaluation of Race to the Top Performance” by Senior Fellow Ulrich Boser.
The report examines the performance of states that have received grants through the federal Race to the Top (RTT) program and identifies the progress and challenges that states are meeting, some of the early lessons learned, and makes recommendations.
Over $4.35 billion has been invested in RTT to advance a national education reform agenda, which includes the Common Core State Standards, new teacher evaluation systems, fixing low performing schools, and new data systems to measure student progress. RTT was announced by President Obama in July 2009 and 19 states, including Ohio, have received funding through three phases of the program from the U.S. Department of Education.
The report evaluates the progress of states based on the following indicators:
- Has the U.S. Department of Education deemed the state’s performance to be adequate?
- Does the state have the support of key stakeholders?
- What is the adjusted rate that the state has spent its RTT grant?
- Has the state piloted or implemented a new teacher-evaluation system?
- What specific steps has the State made to implement the Common Core, including plans for professional development, curriculum guides, and teacher evaluation systems?
- What Data Systems has the state implemented?
- Does the state post monthly updates online?
The authors of the report acknowledge that states are still in the early stages of their work and continue to implement key initiatives outlined in their RTT plans, and that these plans will be evaluated by the U.S. Department of Education, which has hired three research firms to conduct a full study of RTT. But, based on the indicators, the CAP report found the following for the early implementation of the program:
- Race to the Top has advanced the education reform agenda, particularly around the Common Core and next-generation teacher evaluations.
- For the most part, states are making strong progress and have met many of their early Race to the Top commitments. “A few states have been struggling, however, and due to a variety of reasons from political missteps to poor communications efforts, some states like Florida and Hawaii have had a hard time maintaining momentum.”
- In some states, there’s been little collaboration between key stakeholders. For example, in New York more than 1,000 principals have signed a petition protesting the new teacher-evaluation system, and a number of districts in the state, including New York City, have not yet been able to implement new teacher evaluation systems.
- Only five states post information from their monthly check-in calls with the Department of Education online. In other states it can take numerous calls to get basic information about a state’s work under the grant.
- Every state has delayed some part of their grant implementation, and some observers worry about a lack of capacity. Massachusetts has postponed the development of a teacher-career ladder and North Carolina has delayed its “instructional improvement system.” Only a handful of school districts in Florida, for example, feel like they are prepared to implement the new teacher evaluation system, and most districts feel like they are rushing.
- Some states will most likely not accomplish all of the goals outlined in their grants. For example, Hawaii aims to erase the achievement gap by 2018, while Tennessee promises to have 100 percent of its students proficient in math and reading by 2014. These goals are not likely to be accomplished.
- “The U.S. Department of Education has played an important role in the program’s success. The Department of Education has been holding states accountable for their performance. It has rejected amendments as well as made it clear that some states are not doing enough to execute their promises. This approach is new. Historically, the Department of Education has not had either the tools or the political will to push states in this way. The Department of Education has also done a lot to help states with implementation. State officials in Tennessee, for instance, have praised the Department of Education’s efforts to support their work.”
Based on the findings, the report recommends the following:
- States should build capacity for reform at the state and local levels, by investing in people and technology, and creating better management structure so that educators have the autonomy to innovate.
- States must do far more to improve communications with stakeholders rather than produce glossy, overly optimistic documents that do little to build trust.
- In some states the voices of key stakeholders have not been heard. Collaboration among key interest groups, such as administrators, unions, and parents, will be key to the success of Race to the Top and states and districts must do more to create buy-in.
- Congress should support the Obama administration’s efforts to create additional competitive programs as well as fund another RTT program.
- The Department of Education should continue to play a strong role in monitoring and supporting state performance.
Report for Ohio: The CAP RTT evaluation for Ohio was prepared by Maureen Kelleher. Overall Ohio was rated “meeting expectations”. The evaluation found that, in spite of significant changes in leadership, including a new governor, the state has made progress on a number of fronts, including implementing new Common Core standards and the state is piloting a new teacher-evaluation program.
However, Ohio is still developing the specifics of its new teacher-evaluation program and incurred delays in its plans to turnaround schools. In addition, certain actions taken by the state legislature have raised concerns. The state’s budget for education has been reduced; the Department of Education has been down-sized; and a controversial law that would have curtailed bargaining rights for public-sector workers was overturned in a referendum last November. These activities have “overshadowed RTT implementation in the public consciousness.” And, 60 school districts have dropped-out of RTT, some citing that the grants were too small to implement the work.
The authors cite the authorization for Teach for America in Ohio as a “victory” and new “customer service” role for the Department of Education as a positive change.
The full report is available.
Teacher Turnover Negatively Affects Student Achievement: Researchers Matthew Ronfeldt, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, and Jim Wyckoff, published a study in June 2011 that finds “….empirical evidence for a direct effect of teacher turnover on student achievement. Results suggest that teacher turnover has a significant and negative impact on student achievement in both math and ELA. Moreover, teacher turnover is particularly harmful to the achievement of students in schools with large populations of low-performing and black students.” (“How teacher turnover harms student achievement“, National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, retrieved on April 1, 2012.)
The researchers estimated the effects of teacher turnover for 625,000 New York City 4th and 5th grade student observations over five years using a “unique identification strategy that employs grade-level turnover and two classes of fixed-effects models.”
They found that students in grade-levels with higher teacher turnover score lower in both English language arts (ELA) and math, even after controlling for different indicators of teacher quality. They also found that this effect is particularly strong in schools with more low-performing students and African-American students, and there is a disruptive effect of turnover beyond changing the distribution in teacher quality.
Regarding the distribution of teacher quality, the researchers found that changes in teacher quality explain some of the effect of turnover on student achievement, but the results further suggest that there might be a disruptive impact of turnover beyond that.
The study does not identify the specific mechanism by which teacher turnover harms students, but it provides new information that shows that “….turnover has a broader, harmful influence on student achievement since it can reach beyond just those students of teachers who left or of those that replaced them. Any explanation for the effect of turnover must possess these characteristics.”
The researchers opine that teacher turnover could negatively affect collegiality or relational trust among faculty, and turnover results in loss of institutional knowledge among faculty that is critical for supporting student learning. The researchers suggest that more research is needed to identify the specific mechanism by which teacher turnover harms students.
The researchers recommend that policymakers consider the harmful effects of teacher turnover on student achievement, and support policies aimed at keeping grade level teams in tact over time, including using incentive structures to retain teachers.
The research paper is available.
- HB499 (Damschroder) Committee Testimony: Requires publication of legislative committee testimony on the General Assembly’s web site.
Update on Revising Ohio’s Standards for Fine Arts: The State Board of Education’s Achievement Committee is expected to receive an update on the revised standards for the fine arts at its meeting on April 9, 2012.
The Ohio Department of Education made available in November 2011 – January 2012 an opportunity for arts education stakeholders to comment about the revised standards for fine arts. Several members of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) took advantage of this opportunity, and communicated their responses to the ODE and OAAE.
The Winter 2012 issue of “Arts Update” published in February 2012 by the Ohio Department of Education, Office of Curriculum and Assessment, noted that 200 completed online surveys about the arts standards had been submitted. But, since that time no information has been made available publicly about the content of those surveys or how or when the Ohio Department of Education would be using the feedback from stakeholders from the surveys. And, so far no edits to the November 2011 drafts of the standards for dance, drama/theater, music, or visual art have been posted on the ODE website.
At this time it is not clear which version of the fine arts standards the State Board committee will be reviewing, i.e. the November 2011 draft, or the November 2011 draft with edits or changes as a result of the feedback from stakeholders.
The best that interested stakeholders can do is to monitor the ODE website, and be prepared to respond to the “edited” revised standards when available. We will keep you informed.
The revised standards for the fine arts are available.
NEA Study Shows Benefits of Arts for Low SES Students: Researchers James S. Catterall, University of California Los Angeles, with Susan A. Dumais, Louisiana State University and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, University of York, U.K., have published the results of an analysis of four separate longitudinal studies of students who had “high” or “low” levels of arts engagement in or out of school. The study is entitled “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies” published by the National Endowment for the Arts, and released on March 30, 2012.
Four large national databases (three from the U.S. Department of Education and one from the U.S. Department of Labor) are used to analyze the relationship between early arts involvement (such as coursework, arts lessons, membership in arts organizations, after school experiences in the arts, etc.) and positive academic and social outcomes later in life for teenagers and young adults from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
The researchers state clearly the following about the report:
“This report displays correlations between arts activity among at-risk youth and subsequent levels of academic performance and civic engagement.”
“The data in this report do not permit an analysis of causal links that might exist between deep arts involvement and academic and civic behavioral outcomes. All of the findings attest only to statistical correlations, though the literature does point to various theories that may account for causal links between arts involvement and academic and social development.”
The results of the analysis show that students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds (low SES) and have access to the arts in or out of school (high arts) also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement.
Better academic outcomes: Teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic (SES) status who have a history of in-depth arts involvement (“high arts”) earn better grades and have higher rates of college enrollment and attainment.
- High-arts low SES students were ten percent more likely to complete a high school calculus course than low-SES students with low arts exposure (33 percent versus 23 percent)
- High-arts low SES students were fifteen percent more likely to enroll in a highly or moderately selective four-year college than low-arts SES students (41 percent versus 26 percent)
- High-arts low SES students were three times more likely than students who lacked arts experiences to earn a bachelor’s degree (17 percent versus five percent)
- High-arts low SES students were significantly more likely than students with less arts exposure to belong to academic honor societies.
Better workforce opportunities: Half of all low-SES adults with arts-rich backgrounds expected to work in a professional career (such as law, medicine, education, or management), compared to only 21 percent of low-arts, low-SES young adults.
More civically engaged: Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. In many cases, this difference appears in both low-and high-SES groups who have high participation in the arts.
- High-arts, low-SES eighth graders were more likely to read a newspaper at least once a week (73 percent) compared to low-arts, low-SES students (44 percent) and the overall SES sample (66 percent).
- High-arts, low-SES young adults reported higher volunteer rates (47percent) than the overall sample and low-arts, low-SES young adults (43 and 26 percent respectively).’
- High-arts, low-SES young adults voted in the 2004 national election at a rate of 45 percent, compared to 31 percent of low-arts, low-SES young adults.
- Regarding library visits, 55 percent of the high-arts, low-SES group in the database did this activity at least once in the past year, compared with 48 percent of the overall sample and 43 percent of the low-arts, low-SES group.
The authors present the following conclusions:
- Socially and economically disadvantaged children and teenagers who have high levels of arts engagement or arts learning show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers.
- At-risk teenagers or young adults with a history of intensive arts experiences show achievement levels closer to, and in some cases exceeding, the levels shown by the general population studied. These findings suggest that in-school or extracurricular programs offering deep arts involvement may help to narrow the gap in achievement levels among youth of high- versus low-SES.
- Most of the positive relationships between arts involvement and academic outcomes apply only to at-risk populations (low-SES). But positive relationships between arts and civic engagement are noted in high-SES groups as well. Even youth from socially and economically advantaged backgrounds can find access to greater civic and social participation via deep arts involvement.
The study is available.
Teach Math Through Visual Art: Math educator Caren Holtzman and artist and art educator Lynn Susholtz have teamed together to write “Object Lessons: Teaching Math Through the Visual Arts, K-5”. The teachers use a visual approach to show students and teachers the art in math and the math in art through classroom lessons. The lessons include information about math concepts; artists, art styles and techniques; grade-level activities; and resources and materials needed to complete the lesson.
According to a description of the book, “Integrating visual arts into math experiences makes the lessons accessible, engaging, and meaningful for a wide range of students.” The authors use everyday objects to create hands-on activities that address mathematical standards and concepts.
More information about the book is available.
Use Music to Teach Math: According to a news release on March 22, 2012, researchers at San Francisco State University (SFSU) will publish the results of their research in the journal “Educational Studies in Mathematics” about how “tapping out a beat may help children learn difficult fraction concepts.” The article is entitled, “Academic Music: Music Instruction to Engage Third Grade Students in Learning Basic Fraction Concepts” by Susan Courey, Endre Balogh, Jae Paik, and Jody R. Siker.
The researchers, led by Susan Courey, assistant professor of special education at SFSU reported that students participating in “Academic Music”, a curriculum that uses music notation, clapping, drumming and chanting to introduce third-grade students to fractions, scored “…. significantly higher on math tests than their peers who received regular instruction.”
Academic Music was developed by Susan Courey and music teacher Endre Balogh, director and lead music teacher at Toones Academic Music and a graduate of SFSU music education program. The purpose of the program is to give students a strong understanding of fractions to prepare them for algebra and higher levels of mathematics.
According to the article, the concepts for Academic Music are based on the Kodaly method, a Hungarian approach to music education that, among other components, gives nicknames for musical notes. Students learn fractions by clapping out the value of musical notes, and draw musical notation to represent fractions.
Academic Music was most recently implemented at Hoover Elementary School in the San Francisco Bay Area. Half of the students received math instruction through Academic Music, and the other half through regular math instruction. At the end of the study the students in Academic Music scored 50 percent higher on a faction test compared to students in regular classroom instruction. Students who struggle with academics also did better than their peers.
More information about the program is available.