130th General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will hold sessions and committee meetings this week. The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, will meet on November 6, 2013 at 5:00 PM in hearing room 121 and consider HB193 (Brenner) High School Diploma Requirements; HB8 (Roegner) School Safety Laws; HB215 (Devitis) School Safety; and HB296 (Johnson/Duffey) Schools-Epinephrine Autoinjectors.
The Senate Education, Senator Lehner chair, will meet on November 6, 2013 at 4:00 PM in the South Hearing Room, and consider SB220 (Gardner) Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program; SB122 (Sawyer) ODE Office of Regional Services and Accountability: and SB123 (Sawyer) Interdistrict Open Enrollment.
Legislative Update: Governor Kasich signed into law on October 31, 2013 HB97 (Brenner/Letson), which designate October as “Dyslexia Awareness Month.”
The Ohio Senate on October 30, 2013 approved HB127, another bill that “designates a month”, this time naming March “Career-Technical Education and Skilled Workforce Development Month.”
The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, reported out HB216 (Patterson) School Indebtedness. This bill would forgive a school districtʻs Solvency Assistance Fund debt upon its voluntary consolidation with another school district, when certain conditions are met. The bill was designed to assist the Ledgemont Local School District consolidate with a neighboring school district.
The House Ways and Means Committee reported out HB 107 (Baker) High School Internships. The bill would create a grant program for businesses that employ high school students in career exploration internships.
2013 General Election: Election Day is November 5, 2013. According to the Secretary of Stateʻs Office there will be 1,678 local issues including 194 school issues. Information about school issues is available.
Report Shows An Increase in the Number of Homeless Children in Schools: The U.S. Department of Education released its annual report on homeless children and teens enrolled in schools during the 2011-12 school year, the most recent data available. The report is entitled “Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program, Data Collection Summary From the School Year 2011-12, Federally Required State Data Collection for the McKinney-Vento Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001, and Comparison of the SY 2009-10, SY 2010-11, and SY 2011-12 Data Collections,” National Center for Homeless Education, October 2013.
According to the report, “In SY 2011-12, LEAs with and without subgrants reported 1,168,354 homeless students enrolled in school, a 10 percent increase from SY2010-11 (1,065,794), and a 24 percent increase over the three-year period, SY 2009-10 (939,903) to SY 2011-12. LEAs with McKinney-Vento subgrants reported 68 percent (790,603) of the total number of homeless students enrolled (1,168,354).”
The states with the highest number of homeless students are California, New York, Texas, and Florida. Ten states reported increases of over 20 percent in the number of homeless children. States with the greatest percent increase in homeless students are North Dakota (212 percent increase); Maine (58 percent increase); Michigan (42 percent increase), and Wyoming (40 percent increase.)
The number of homeless students in Ohio increased from 19,113 in SY 2009-10; to 21,849 in SY 2010-11; and to 24,236 in SY 2011-12.
The report notes that, “The number of students living in doubled-up and in hotels/motels situations increased between SY 2010-11 and SY 2011-12, and the number of students whose primary nighttime residence was categorized as sheltered or unsheltered decreased. For the past three years, the doubled-up category has been the most frequently reported primary nighttime residence category and the number of students reported under this category has increased 32 percent over that three-year period.”
The report shows that there was a decrease in the number of homeless students considered unaccompanied youth in 2011-12, but an increase in the number of homeless children with disabilities and children with Limited English Proficiency.
In terms of academic achievement, 75 percent of the total number of homeless students enrolled in grades 3-8 took state reading and math tests in SY 2011-12. Of the number of all homeless students enrolled in grades 3-8, 51 percent met or exceeded proficiency standards in reading in SY2011-12, and 48 percent met or exceeded proficiency standards in math in SY 2011-12.
The report is available.
Budget Conference Committee Meets: The Congressional Budget Conference Committee, which was created as part of the agreement to reopen the federal government (H.R. 2775) met on October 30, 2013. The 29 member committee is led by Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington), Senator Jeff Sessions (R- Alabama), Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland). The purpose of the committee is to develop a federal budget by December 13, 2013, to avoid another government shutdown after January 15, 2014. In order to find a compromise budget, the committee will be discussing tax cuts and tax increases, sequestration, entitlement programs, and Obamacare. The next meeting is not scheduled until November 13, 2013, due to House and Senate scheduling conflicts.
Update on the Straight ‘A’ Fund: The deadline to submit applications for grants through the Ohio Department of Educationʻs (ODE) Straight A Fund was October 25, 2013. The ODE received 570 applications from 420 organizations, which are competing for up to $100 million in grants in FY14. Another $150 million in grants will be available in FY15. The Straight A Fund was created in the biennial budget bill, HB59 (Amstutz).
The grant applications were to address one or more of the following goals: increase student achievement; increase resources to classrooms; or reduce spending. Proposals were submitted by school districts, community schools, colleges and universities, educational service centers, and consortia and partnerships. Some school districts and colleges submitted multiple proposals for different projects.
A review of the proposals, available on the ODE website, finds that they include a variety of ideas to meet the goals of the grant program, including updating and expanding technology; expanding career development for students; changing instructional methodologies; implementing strategies to save energy; retooling buses to decrease transportation costs; using portfolios to assess students; expanding professional development; creating alternative schools; revising teacher preparation programs; improving value added scores; replacing textbooks with online books; building facilities for a community school; recruiting visiting teachers to improve student achievement in world languages; expanding grade levels in a community school; reducing business office costs; etc.
A governing board consisting of members appointed by Governor Kasich and legislative leaders will begin reviewing the proposals by November 12, 2013, and announce the recipients of the grants by December 3, 2013.
Summaries of the grant proposals are available.
Measuring the Wrong Things: Craig Hochbein, an assistant professor of education leadership at Lehigh University in PA, writes in a commentary for Education Week that “ideologues and policymakers continue to lobby for and implement school grading systems. These systems, which their supporters view as sophisticated, nonetheless shortchange schools with their narrow focus on what is to be considered in judging a schoolʻs quality.”
Mr. Hochbein states that the current system for ranking schools and districts based on academic performance “….only provides information about a single facet of the operation of a school. This singular focus not only facilities manipulation, but also ignores inherent differences in schools and devalues the multitude of expectations demanded from schools.”
He goes on to write, “A single grade cannot accurately reflect the multitude of activities and challenges undertaken by and expected of schools. Yet, grading continues to wield incredible influence on public perception, as well as school operation. With livelihoods, funding, and enrollments at stake, focusing efforts to maximize the grade of a school becomes understandable.”
Instead of grading schools based on one measure, test scores, he suggests that states grade schools on what the school community values. He writes, “For instance, how many students visited the city museum for the first time in their lives? What was the attendance at fine arts performances? How many hours do teachers spend beyond contract requirements? How many backpacks were sent home full of food?.”
The measures that the school community values should be reported to the community as a supplement to the state report card, and be used to raise awareness about what is really important in the schools.
See “Educators Should Measure More, Not Less” by Craig Hochbein, Commentary for Education Week, October 29, 2013.
How to Measure School Quality: Jack Schneider and Anil Nathan write on November 1, 2013 in a commentary for Education Week that there is richer and more useful information for parents and the public to use to gauge school quality than “word of mouth” and “standardized test scores”.
They write that current school ranking systems have led to scores of schools being labeled as failures.
“This disaster narrative is largely sustained by measures of quality that align neatly with wealth and position, reducing schools to competing with each other rather than being identified by their unique strengths. The most disturbing outcome of this propensity is greater inequity.”
To create a better ranking system, the authors worked with The Boston Globe to develop a tool that allows parents to customize a school profile based on personal values, including school culture, college readiness, and diversity. The tool uses state data, including student growth in English/language arts and math; graduation rates; dropout rates; SAT writing scores and the percent of students scoring 3 or higher on Advanced Placement tests; expenditure per student; and a calculation for diversity.
The authors admit that their school ranking tool has its limitations, but they add that, “…we believe this is the first step toward creating a better source of information for the public. As such, we urge scholars and policymakers to build additional tools to help parents make more informed decisions about the schools that best suit their children.”
Jack Schneider is an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and Anil Nathan is an assistant professor in the department of economics and accounting at the College of the Holy Cross.
The article is entitled “How to Measure School Quality” by Jack Schneider and Anil Nathan, Education Week Commentary, November 1, 2013.
The Public School Advantage: University of Illinois researchers Sarah and Christopher Lubienski have been studying the differences between public and private schools since 2005 when they first published the results of a study in Phi Delta Kappan. The controversial study found that public school students tested higher in math than their private school peers from similar social and economic backgrounds.
Their latest publication, The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools, describes how their research over the years has consistently found that public schools are doing a better job than religious-based private schools. Their research is based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study databases, but doesnʻt include private schools that are not religious-based.
Recognizing that on the surface students in private schools out-perform students in public schools, the researchers looked at background information about the students, such as family wealth, and reviewed the data to control for such factors. After controlling for the background and demographic factors of the students, they found that the “….gains in student achievement at public schools are at least as great and often greater than those at private ones.”
They also found that the “autonomy” of private schools is not an advantage, because the schools are often satisfied with their current status, and are not compelled to improve. These schools often employ teachers who are not certified in the subjects they are teaching, and do not provide professional development to keep up with current education research.
Based on the evidence the new book questions the wisdom of using “market-based models”, such as vouchers and charter schools, to solve social problems.
An article about the book is entitled “Are Private Schools Worth It? A new book argues that public schools are actually academically superior” by Julia Ryan, The Atlantic, October 18, 2013,
A synopsis of the book and some brief reviews of it are available.
SB220 (Gardner) Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program: Removes the prohibition on charging students fees for participating in dual enrollment programs or in alternative funding arrangements under the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program.
SB223 (Gardner) Information Technology Infrastructure Grants: Requires the Ohio School Facilities Commission to develop a procedure for awarding information technology infrastructure grants to public primary and secondary schools and school districts.
More on STEAM: Nancy Flanagan asks in Education Weekʻs Teacher in a Strange Land blog about what happens when teachers decide to integrate the arts in STEM, and how students can be better engaged in those lessons.
The author writes that, “…it’s not easy to integrate rich arts practice or content into science and math instruction. Especially when the assumption is that good curriculum begins with “core subjects,” the arts acting as a kind of color commentary.”
She goes on to say that “traditional classroom practice is not designed to encourage multi-disciplinary mash-ups, no matter how many posters of Einstein playing the violin we strew around our classrooms.”
Making sure that all five content areas of STEAM are being taught in every lesson becomes very complex, and if the lessons are not relevant to students and their interests, the students will not be engaged.
She concludes, “If you want to teach kids how to apply core knowledge, however, you have to do the hard work of fitting the concepts to problems that genuinely engage kids.”
See “STEAM-Roller” by Nancy Flanagan, Education Week blog, October 31, 2013.
LA Music Centerʻs Curriculum Now Online: The Los Angeles Music Center made its Artsource® curriculum available to educators online on October 31, 2013. The curriculum includes 69 units of study in music, theater, and dance, and integrates the arts with other subject areas, such as language arts, social studies, history and science. The curriculum includes multicultural art forms and media, and guides students through varied levels of standards-based lessons. The lessons are aligned to the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework and Arts Standards and include clear student outcomes and criteria for meaningful tasks and assessment questions.
The LA Music Centerʻs Curriculum is available.
Studying the Arts Leads to More Patents and Businesses: Researchers at Michigan State University, Center for Community Economic Development, published a study in April 2013 that shows that, “…disposing of arts and crafts may have negative consequences for the countryʻs ability to produce innovative scientists and engineers who invent patentable products and found new companies.”
According to an abstract of the study, the researchers tracked the 1995 graduates of Michigan State Universityʻs Honors College in science and technology, and found that the graduates who have an extensive background in arts and crafts also have more patentable inventions and have created more new companies than average. The graduates also reported that, “… their innovative ability is stimulated by their arts and crafts knowledge”. Craft skills are defined as hobbies, including carpentry, quilting, electronics, photography, electronics, etc.
According to the abstract, “…lifelong participation and exposure in the arts and crafts yields the most significant impacts for innovators and entrepreneurs.”
The study is available for purchase: “Arts and Crafts Critical to Economic Innovation” by Rex LaMore1, Robert Root-Bernstein, Michele Root-Bernstein, John H. Schweitzer, James L. Lawton, Eileen Roraback, Amber Peruski1, Megan VanDyke1, and Laleah Fernandez, Economic Development Quarterly, April 28, 2013
An abstract of the study is available.
Information about the study is also available in Chapter 6 in the book Creating Communities: Art Works in Economic Development, Edited by Michael Rushton with a foreword by Rocco Landesman, The Brookings Institute, 2013. Chapter 6 is entitled, “Arts, Crafts, and STEM Innovation: A Network Approach to Understanding the Creative Knowledge Economy” by Robert Root-Bernstein, Rex La More, James Lawton, John Schweitzer, Michele Root-Bernstein, Eileen Roraback, Amber Puruski, and Megan VanDyke.