November 6, 2012 is the General Election. Ohio voters will cast votes for U.S. President and Vice-President, one U.S. Senator; 16 Representatives to Congress; State Senators from even-numbered Senate Districts; State Representatives from all 99 House Districts; several county offices; seven members of the State Board of Education; three Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court; Judges of the Court of Appeals, Court of Common Pleas, and County Courts; two statewide issues; and local issues, including 194 school issues!
129th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate are not scheduled to meet this week, but leadership is already planning a lame-duck session starting the week of November 13, 2012 through mid December 2012. Lawmakers are expected to take action on legislation regarding election laws, ethics laws, taxes on financial institutions (HB510 – Amstutz), and HB555 (Stebelton), an education bill that includes some items that were held over from SB316 (Lehner), the mid-biennium review bill for education, signed into law in June 2012. HB555 is expected to include revisions to Ohio’s system for rating schools and standards for dropout recovery schools. It is possible that some of the legislative recommendations included in the State Auditor’s report regarding irregularities in school district attendance reports could also be included in HB555.
Stay Granted: The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted on October 31, 2012 Secretary of State Jon Husted’s request to stay an order that would have required boards of elections to count provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling location, but within the right county, due to poll worker error. The order was issued on October 24, 2012 by U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) v. Husted and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) v. Husted. Information is available.
Request to Extend Absentee Voting for Detained Prisoners Denied: Judge Susan Dlott of the U.S. District Court for Southern Ohio denied on November 1, 2012 a request made by advocates for persons detained in jail on election day, but not convicted of a felony, to extend the deadline to vote by absentee ballot. (Fair Elections Ohio, The Amos Project, et al v. Husted) The advocates bringing the request include the Fair Elections Ohio, The AMOS Project, CURE-Ohio, Central Ohio Prisoner Advocates, and Community Re-entry. Judge Dlott cited the “thinnest” of evidence proving that the current law disenfranchises voters and the confusion that could affect the pending election as reasons for denying the request to extend absentee voting at this time. More information is available.
News from the ODE
Applications Available for Early Literacy Grants: The Ohio Department of Education announced last week that it would be accepting applications for its $13 Million Early Literacy/Reading Readiness Grants. The funds were included in HB487 (Amstutz), signed into law in June 2012 to support implementation of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee (SB316 Lehner), and can be used for early literacy intervention efforts to ensure that students are reading at grade level. Grants up to $100,000 will be competitively awarded to school districts and community schools, and consortia can compete for awards up to $250,000. The application deadline is December 31, 2012. Information is available.
Student Growth Measure Updates Available: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has posted additional guidance, resources, and materials about Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) on the Student Growth Measures webpage.
New as of October 4, 2012 are updates of the Student Learning Objectives Guidebook; Scoring the Individual SLO; and Sample Principal SLOs. Additional guidance on combining Student Growth Measures (SGMs) will be posted in November.
ODE also will be offering regional training focused on implementing SGMs for Ohio’s Teacher and Principal Evaluation Systems by the end of the calendar year. This training is optional and can be used to develop training at the local level. Districts and ESCs that have developed training plans are free to move forward with those trainings and should continue all other work toward implementing a local student growth measures plan. The ODE training, which is free to all participants, will be offered through September 2014.
To support the implementation of the Student Growth Measures component of the evaluation systems, ODE is working in collaboration with select regional partner RttT Educational Service Centers to train and deploy SGMs and Alignment Specialists. These SGM Specialists will support LEAs by providing technical assistance and professional development following the regional trainings to district administrators, teachers, and other personnel on the alignment of local systems to the state framework and development and implementation of district and building student growth measures using the SLO process.
Survey Results of Ohio Students/Teachers Posted: The Ohio Department of Education announced on November 1, 2012 the results of a survey of 53,908 students in grades 6-12 and 2,703 teachers and other staff members in Ohio’s schools in a report entitled My Voice- Ohio Year One Report.
The survey was conducted by the Ohio Department of Education, the Pearson Foundation, and the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA) as part of the Ohio My Voice – Ohio Project “….to track and analyze student engagement and to highlight its connection to progress in academic performance.” This work is supported by a grant from the Pearson Foundation and funding from Ohio’s Race to the Top (RttT) federal grant award. Student responses will be part of the Pearson Foundation’s Million Voice Project, the national public interest campaign intended to gauge students’ perceptions of school across the United States.
The following are the findings of the survey:
- A majority of Ohio students experience “Belonging” in some form in their schools, but in other ways a sense of community is lacking. “A disconnect appears to exist between the genuine best intentions of Ohio schools to create a school environment in which students feel they belong, and the reality that many students report experiencing.”
- Most Ohio young people report that there are teachers who they consider “heros” in their lives, but overall student-teacher relationships need to be improved. “50% of Ohio students fail to report that they think their teachers would care if they are absent from school. Moreover, levels of respect between students and teachers are generally perceived as relatively low, including only one-third of students who agree that students respect one another.”
- Students report a moderately high rate of “Sense of Accomplishment” in Ohio schools, but there is room for improvement. “[A]n unacceptable proportion of students (more than 1 in 6) report giving up when schoolwork is difficult, and that nearly one quarter of students do not report exerting their best effort in school is problematic.”
- “[A]bout half of all students in Ohio believe school is boring and about an equal proportion fail to report enjoying being at school.”
- Most indicators of Curiosity & Creativity are moderately high, yet many students in Ohio are uninspired by their schools, and most fail to see its relevance to their everyday lives. “While two thirds of students feel comfortable asking questions in class and that school encourages creativity, the one-third who fail to report these are a cause for some concern.”
- Results for “Spirit of Adventure” were mixed. Students do not feel that there is support for them if they fail and just under a third of students report that teachers will help them learn from their mistakes. Six in 10 fail to report students in their school are supportive of each other.
- Some indicators of “Leadership & Responsibility” suggest Ohio students are confident, though most students fail to report their school environments adequately foster this condition. “Perhaps most troubling, only 44% feel students have a voice in decision-making at their schools.”
- Of all the conditions, “Confidence to Take Action” shows the highest agreement across the survey, suggesting students in general in Ohio are confident in themselves and their futures, are goal-directed, and prepared to work hard.
The results of the survey for staff showed that over three-quarters of staff surveyed enjoy a teaching environment conditioned by “Belonging and Heroes”; about half report being under-appreciated; a majority report personal satisfaction in their work, but not as many feel their schools support an engaging, professional teaching-learning environment. More staff are confident and ready to lead than believe those energies are drawn upon by their schools.
The results of the staff focus groups found that Central Office needs to be more visible and knowledgeable about individual schools; professional development is not relevant to teacher needs; student discipline is not consistently upheld; and the primary goal of the schools is for students to pass the test.
According to the demographic data 20.5 percent of students reported that they participated in music, and 4.3 percent in theater in grades 6-12.
My Voice eventually will engage more than one million Ohio students in grades 6-12, and is available at no cost to all schools in Ohio, including non-RttT schools, private and parochial schools.
Information about My Voice is available.
Status of Gifted Education in Ohio’ Schools: The status of services for gifted children in Ohio schools for 2011-2012 school year is summarized in a new blog focusing on gifted students called “High Ability”. (“A Ghoulish Gifted Halloween Tale (and It’s all Frighteningly True…)” by anngifted, “High Ability blog, October 31, 2012.)
The bottom line? According to the blog, “Service levels for gifted students have dropped to a new low. In the 2010/2011 school year, Ohio districts served approximately 52,470 gifted students. The figures just released for 2011/2012 show a decrease of almost 5 percent to 49,947 students.”
Since the 2008/2009 school year when 76,440 students were served, service levels have dropped by almost 35 percent. According to the blog, the 2008/2009 school year was also the last year Ohio saw a stable and coherent funding system for gifted students.
The percent of identified gifted students in Ohio has also dropped from 280,720 in 2008/09 school year to 263,688 in 2010/11, even though overall enrollment in schools has increased. Of those students identified, less than 19 percent are being served.
Putting the data into context, the blog reports that while the number of school districts in Ohio labeled “excellent” has increased to 63 percent (387 out of 611), services provided to gifted students has decreased in 260 school districts in 2011/2012 school year, and 124 school districts don’t provide gifted services to any students.
The blog also includes information about staffing levels for licensed gifted professionals, which have decreased in school districts by 17 percent since the 2008/2009 school year.
This article is available on the High Ability blog.
Inequities in State School Funding Systems Examined: The Center for American Progress released in September 2012 a report by Bruce D. Baker and Sean P. Corcoran entitled The Stealth Inequities of School Funding: How State and Local School Finance Systems Perpetuate Inequitable Student Spending.
According to the report, gross funding inequities exist in this country and too often “.. the schools serving students with the greatest needs receive the fewest resources.” The authors examine the sources of school funding inequities and have found that “….even states providing a large share of state aid are not necessarily more equitable in their distribution of school funding.”
Some states, such as Illinois, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and North Carolina, have regressive school funding distribution systems that redistribute state aid to lower-poverty school districts that don’t need the additional funding. In addition locally raised revenue, including non-property sources of revenue, often increase the disparities in resources between low and high poverty school districts.
The report focuses on these two overall problems with state school funding systems and identifies the policy decisions that have caused the inequities. An examination of these policy decisions is relevant in Ohio as policy makers continue to debate the components of a new system for funding Ohio’s schools.
Among the selected state funding systems reviewed, author Bruce D. Baker notes that political decisions often contribute to inequitable funding patterns, because lawmakers need to respond to their constituents, even if it means compromising the equity of the school funding system. For example, Kansas allows some lower poverty school districts to levy a special local tax to compensate for the higher cost to hire teachers in high-priced neighborhoods. Arizona’s state school funding system increases aid to all school districts to adjust for the cost of more experienced teachers, who are more likely to teach in lower-poverty school districts. Flat grant programs also contribute to inequities across school districts when they are not adjusted for local capacity.
Some states have added “hold harmless” provisions which ensure that school districts receive the same level of state funding regardless of the state aid formula. And, often state school funding systems have multiple formulas working simultaneously to provide state funding for different types of services, such as special education, but not all are adjusted to account for local capacity. Block grant programs also contribute to inequity, because they are allocated regardless of differences in student populations, regional costs, or local capacity. State aid for property tax reductions is a particular problem in some states, because it duplicates the purpose of state aid, and provides additional funds to lower-poverty higher capacity school districts in addition to state aid.
Reliance on the local property tax to fund schools also contributes greatly to the funding disparities, even in states that use a broader base of local taxes to support schools. The author Sean P. Corcoran found that taxable property wealth is inversely related to the poverty rate in the selected states reviewed. Even when states have imposed maximum tax rates on local property, mechanisms have been created to get around the maximum tax, which higher capacity districts are able to raise compared to high-poverty school districts.
The authors believe that “States could achieve far more equitable distribution of resources and far more adequate educational opportunities in high-poverty settings if resources were allocated more appropriately.” This could be accomplished through the following:
- Eliminate state school funding provisions that counteract the purpose of state equalization aid, such as property tax reimbursements, tax relief, and subsidies for low poverty school districts. These provisions encourage higher spending and increase inequity.
- Distribute as large a share of aid as possible through the general equalization formulas, which are weighted for student needs or relevant costs attached to the particular aid program. Outside-the-formula aid is among the most common drivers of stealth inequity.
- Encourage federal agencies to intervene or create pressure for change in those cases in which states, make little or no attempt to operate a state school-finance formula that follows basic principles of equalization and need-based targeting. The report specifically mentions North Carolina.
- Implement policies that reduce the disproportionate role that property tax revenue has on school funding systems.
- Consider strategies to consolidate and reorganize fragmented state systems of schools to encourage more efficiencies and greater equity in local spending. The report specifically mentions the number of school districts in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, and to a lesser extend Missouri.
The report is available.
High School Students Sought to Participate in Arts Day 2013!! The Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation, in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council, is inviting teachers to apply for their students to participate in the Arts Day 2013 Student Advocate Program.
Each year this program provides teams of six high school students representing ten high schools in Ohio the opportunity to meet with local legislators, learn networking and communication skills to become better advocates for the arts and arts education, participate in Arts Day in Columbus on May 15, 2013, and attend the Governor’s Awards for the Arts Luncheon.
To apply, teachers interested in this opportunity should send a brief statement by November 19, 2012 expressing their interest in the Student Advocate Program and what they would like their students to achieve through the Student Advocate program. The statement can be sent via email, fax, or US mail. (Contact information can be found at the close of this message). High school selections will be made by the end of November 2012.
WHAT: Arts Day 2013 Student Advocate Program
WHEN: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM
WHERE: Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts and the Ohio Statehouse Columbus, Ohio
- Students attend an advocacy briefing
- Students meet with state legislators or their aides to advocate for the arts and arts education
- Students attend the Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Arts Day Luncheon with members of the state legislature
- Students tour state buildings
- Collaborate among academic departments within the high school (ex. arts, government, and language arts)
- Host a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and/or Senate in your school for a pre-Arts Day orientation to discuss the role of a legislator in the school and arts funding process
- Raise student awareness of the legislative process and citizens’ participation in government
- Receive positive recognition for your school
- Make an important contribution to the continuation of state funding for the arts and arts education
- Six (6) students who demonstrate an interest in the arts and the day’s activities
- Advance preparation by students: identify and write their Ohio legislators
- School-provided release time for:
- a) two-hour in-school legislative visit and advocacy training and
- b) trip to Columbus on Arts Day
- School-provided transportation to Columbus for students and accompanying adult(s)
- Teacher and/or school administrator to “advise” the student participation and serve as a liaison with the Arts Day Committee member
Janelle Hallett, Member Services Director
Telephone: 614.221.4064 Fax: 614.241.5329
Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation 77 South High Street, 2nd Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108
Please forward this email to anyone you know that may be interested in applying for the student advocates program.
More Support for STEAM: Doug Haller, principal of Haller STEM Education Consulting, writes in an October 31, 2012 ASCD SmartBlog on Education that there is a need to incorporate the arts into STEM education to “…..acknowledge the role of the arts in 21st century learning.” (“Full STEAM Ahead: Arts, STEM and 21st Century Learning” by Doug Haller, ASCD Smartblog on Education, October 31, 2012.)
According to the author the definition of STEM lacks clarity, because for some STEM means the integration of the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines, while others use STEM to refer to disciplines that use similar cognitive skills. Adding the arts to STEM acknowledges the importance of the creative act and processes, which are more commonly associated with the arts, according to the author.
Most scientists already integrate the arts into their work either intentionally or unconsciously, writes the author, because communicating scientific concepts often requires creating visual or sonic representations. “Clearly, something about art brings out creativity and innovation in ways different from but complementary to the sciences”, says Mr. Haller.
As examples the author notes that researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder are exploring the “Science of Creativity” to better understand the creative processes used in the arts and sciences, and enhance the pedagogy of STEM through music and the arts. This work will also include neuroscience research that shows how the brain is changed based on the activities of the learner.
Work conducted by David Byrne, shows how music affects certain functions in the brain and the role of music in human evolution. Other researchers in this area stress the importance of the design process used in the arts as part of the STEM movement.
The author also cites New Engines for Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture and Design released by the National Governors Association in May 2012. This publication examines how “….including the arts in urban (and rural) development plan increases economic prosperity because the creative juices of artists feed innovation in STEM professions.”
The article is available.