Arts On Line Education Update 11.25.2013

The Board of Directors and staff of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education send greetings for a family centered holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving.

With holiday concerts on the calendar, gatherings of friends and family scheduled, and student centered projects well underway … we know that arts education provided to Ohio’s children, in- and out-of-school, is making a positive impact on student success and bringing joy to families.

We are blessed with so many professional arts educators, teaching artists, supportive administrations, students, engaged parents, and positive communities. And in those places that need a little more support or convincing, we believe that the future is bright and good things will be happening. May all that is good in life be yours in abundance, not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.

Ohio News:

130th Ohio General Assembly: The House and Senate are taking a break for Thanksgiving. The only committees scheduled to meet this week are the House Finance and Appropriations Committee and the House Health and Aging Committee.

Legislative Action: The Ohio House approved on November 20, 2013 the following bills:

HB107 (Baker) Internship Program, which would create a pilot program of up to $1 million for grants to businesses that employ high school students in career exploration internships. The grants would equal 50 percent of the wages paid to the intern up to $5,000.

HB 296 (McDermott) Epinephrine Auto-injectors, which would allow schools and camps to stock and use epinephrine auto-injectors for students, staff, and guests who experience a severe allergic reaction.

SB109 (Obhof) Election Law, which revises the law regarding election administration, ballots, and candidates.

The Senate concurred with House changes to SB109 (Obhof) Election Law on November 20, 2013, and also approved on November 20, 2013 SB216 (Seitz) Provisional Ballots and SB238 (LaRose) Absentee Voting, which reduces the number of days available for absent voting.

National News

New High School Initiative: The U.S. Department of Labor announced on November 19, 2013 a new $100 million competitive grant program for high schools called the Youth CareerConnect, Building America’s Next Generation Workforce. The grant program supports President Obama’s new vision for America’s high schools, which includes funding to scale-up innovative models and partnerships with colleges and employers so that students have the industry relevant education and skills to be successful.

The grant program will be administered by the Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education, and funding will come from revenues generated from the H-1B visa program. Approximately 25-40 grants for individual and multi-site projects will be awarded. Information is available.

More on the Common Core Standards, or its new Rebranded Name: The controversy over the Common Core Standards ignited again last week after Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the Council of Chief State School Officers on November 15, 2013 that, “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of the sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good…” The comment was in response to a discussion with state school superintendents about the growing opposition to the Common Core standards and assessments that are being developed by PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and the Smarter-Balanced consortia.

(See Arne Duncan: White suburban moms upset that the Common Core Shows Their Kids Aren’t Brilliant by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Answer Sheet, November 16, 2013)

Secretary Duncan later wrote that he “regretted” the remark on the U.S, Department of Education Homeroom Blog, saying that his intent was to communicate to all groups of parents how urgent it is to raise learning standards so that all students are better prepared for college and careers.

(See U.S, DOE Homeroom Blog)

The controversy over the Common Core Standards is now big news in some states like New York, Florida, Michigan, and Louisiana, reports Politico’s Stephanie Simon. The critics of the standards, which are being implemented in all but four states, include members of the tea party, progressives, Catholic scholars, early child education experts, anti-testing advocates, some mathematicians, educators, and parents, who are complaining about the amount of homework and stress the standards are causing children. The article also notes that advocates for public schools believe that the Common Core standards initiative, developed in part with funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and supported by the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce, is an effort to undermine confidence in the public schools, and will result in more support for vouchers and charter schools.

(See ‘White moms’ remark fuels Common Core‘ clash by Stephanie Simon, Politico, November 18, 2013)

Anthony Cody in the Education Week Blog “Living in the Dialogue” posted two articles last week explaining the controversy about the Common Core standards. In the first article he identifies the following “ten major errors made by the Common Core project”:

Error #1: The process by which the Common Core standards were developed and adopted was undemocratic.
Error #2: The Common Core State Standards violate what we know about how children develop and grow.
Error #3: The Common Core is inspired by a vision of market-driven innovation enabled by standardization of curriculum, tests, and ultimately, our children themselves.
Error #4: The Common Core creates a rigid set of performance expectations for every grade level, and results in tightly controlled instructional time lines and curriculum
Error #5: The Common Core was designed to be implemented through an expanding regime of high-stakes tests, which will consume an unhealthy amount of time and money.
Error #6: Proficiency rates on the new Common Core tests have been dramatically lower—by design
Error #7: Common Core relies on a narrow conception of the purpose of K-12 education as “career and college readiness.”
Error #8: The Common Core is associated with an attempt to collect more student and teacher data than ever before.
Error #9: The Common Core is not based on any external evidence, has no research to support it, has never been tested, and worst of all, has no mechanism for correction.
Error #10: The biggest problem of American education and American society is the growing number of children living in poverty.

(See “Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors” by Anthony Cody, Education Week, November 16, 2013)

In the second article he writes that the controversy about the Common Core standards has “some similarities” to a “theatrical fiasco”, defined as a grand idea, planned with bold vision, that goes awry. In New York State, for example, parents and educators are protesting the Common Core assessments at town hall meetings and telling State Education Commissioner John King and other state officials that children are being harmed. Last year New York began testing based on the Common Core standards, and only one-third of students rated proficient. Doctors there have coined the term “Common Core Syndrome” to explain what happens to children who are under so much pressure to prepare for the tests that they no longer want to go to school.

(See “Is the Common Core Becoming a Fiasco?” by Anthony Cody, Education Week, November 19, 2013)

New York is not the only state in which parents, teachers, students, and the community are urging policy makers to change course when in comes to implementing the Common Core and especially the assessments. Catherine Gewertz writes in an article for Education Week’s Curriculum Matters blog that the Massachusetts state board of education announced on November 19, 2013 that it would phase-in the PARCC assessments in 2015 rather than following the time line that it established in its Race to the Top grant.

Massachusetts will continue to use its current state tests, called the MCAS, and begin piloting the PARCC to see which exams set the best expectations for students, according to the article. The state board of education will also decide later what stakes are to be attached to the results of the new assessments. The author writes that Mitchell D. Chester, Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts, told her that “…it didn’t make sense to expect his high school students to suddenly meet a “college-ready” bar in order to graduate. Not when four in 10 Massachusetts students who clear the MCAS hurdle and enroll in state colleges or universities have to take at least one remedial class.” (Side note: Mitch Chester formerly served as Associate Superintendent for Policy and Accountability at the Ohio Department of Education.)

The article also notes that Arizona and Rhode Island are “on the fence” about using the cut scores for college readiness on the PARCC assessments to determine whether or not a student earns a diploma. And, some states have even withdrawn from the consortia developing the assessments.

(See “Cautious Route on Common Tests?” by Catherine Gewertz, Education Week, November 20, 2013)

According to Andrew Ujifusa, writing for Education Week’s State EdWatch blog, John White, the Superintendent of Louisiana Schools, announced on November 21, 2013 that he will be recommending to the state board of elementary and secondary education that assessments aligned to the Common Core begin at the elementary school level in 2015 and be phased-in for higher grade levels, and the new accountability plan be phased-in over ten years. He also reported that the state will not be using value-added data from the test to evaluate teachers.

(See “Louisiana K-12 Chief Sets 10-Year Timeline for Common-Core Accountability” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week State EdWatch, November 21, 2013)

State Impact Florida is reporting that school superintendents in Florida are requesting three additional years to prepare students for the new assessments based on the Common Core standards. According to the article the Common Core standards are currently being used in K through grade 2, and Florida’s current standards and the Common Core are still being used in other grades. The Common Core standards will be required in all grades starting in school year 2014. The superintendents say that there is no time to prepare teachers and students in an adequate way.

(See “Florida Superintendents Want Three Year Extension to Prepare for New Standards” by John O’Connor, StateImpact Florida, November 19, 2013)

Andrew Ujifusa also writes in Education Week’s State EdWatch blog that the controversy over the Common Core standards has led some policy-makers to suggest that it is time to “rebrand” the standards. At the recent National Governor’s Association meeting, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said that the “….‘the term ‘common core’ has become toxic’ and that the states, rather than abandoning it, should change how they present it to the public, and even consider changing what they call it.”

Mr. Ujifusa then adds, “It’s worth pointing out, however, that this isn’t a new idea for states. Back in September, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed an executive order stating that the standards shouldn’t be referred to officially as common core any more.”

(See “Common Core Faces Kentucky Legal Challenge, Questions About ‘Rebranding’” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week State EdWatch blog, November 18, 2013)

What’s Happening in Ohio?

Ohio was well on its way to adopt new standards in English language arts and mathematics before the Common Core standards project was launched in 2009 by the National Governor’s Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve. The standards were eventually finalized in June 2010.

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the State Board of Education made the decision to align Ohio’s New Learning Standards with the Common Core standards before submitting Ohio’s Race to the Top grant proposal on January 19, 2010. State curriculum alignment with the Common Core standards was a requirement of the grant. There was considerable discussion at that time at State Board meetings about the differences between Ohio’s proposed new standards and the Common Core, and the percent of additional Ohio-specific content that could be added to the Common Core standards. The State Board adopted Ohio’s “New Learning Standards”, which include the Common Core standards, on June 18, 2010, and eventually joined the PARCC consortium. PARCC assessments aligned to the Common Core are being field-tested in some schools this year, and will be administered to all students during the 2014-15 school year.

Three bills received hearings in the Ohio House Education Committee last week that address some aspects of the Common Core standards.

HB181 (Brenner), Personal Identifiable Information-Students, would prohibit submission of a student’s personal identifiable information to the federal government without direct authorization of the local school board. If signed into law, Ohio could lose federal education funds, which require certain education-related data to be reported to the federal government.

HB193 (Brenner), High School Diploma Requirements, would revise current high school diploma requirements including state-administered assessments. The State Board of Education adopted on November 12, 2013 graduation requirements that also include the number and type of state-administered assessments that will be required for graduation.

HB237 (Thompson), Common Core Initiative, would not permit the state board of education or the Ohio Department of Education to adopt the standards developed by the Common Core initiative, or permit the state to administer tests developed by PARCC or the Smarter Balanced consortia.

By far HB237 has received the most testimony. Hearings on the bill have been packed with hundreds of proponents and opponents. The bill is supported by a number of grass-roots education groups, including Ohioans for Education Freedom and Ohio Liberty Coalition, and also The Hoover Institute, parents, educators, and State Board of Education member Sarah Fowler, who testified for the bill on November 20, 2013.

Opponents include the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio Association of State Business Officials, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, The Ohio 8 Coalition, and State Board of Education members Tom Gunlock and C. Todd Jones, who testified against the bill last week.

(See “Ohio’s Common Core Opponents Vent their Concerns With the New Education Standards” by Peter O’Donnell, Plain Dealer, November 21, 2013)

(See “Common Core Fight” Capital Blog)

Representative Gerald Stebelton, chairman of the House Education Committee, and Senator Peggy Lehner, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, have expressed their opposition to repealing the Common Core. However, if opposition grows and Ohio parents start boycotting the exams, which is happening in other states, policy makers might find it necessary to address some of the issues raised by opponents of the Common Core and the assessments, to keep the revised standards from being repealed.

Akron Beacon Journal Says Appoint or Abolish the SBE: The Akron Beacon Journal published on November 19, 2013 an editorial calling for an all appointed State Board of Education, or at least a board that avoids “the embarrassments and conflicts of interests that have afflicted the current board”. The editorial references a three-part series published last week about the current hybrid 19-member state board, which includes 11 elected and 8 appointed members. The series was reported by Doug Livingston, who worked with reporters from the NewsOutlet, a consortium of journalism programs at the University of Akron and Youngstown State University, to research the series. Also participating in the series are the Akron Beacon Journal, the Vindicator of Youngstown, Rubber City Radio, and WYSU-FM radio.

The series examines the role of the State Board of Education in deciding state education policy; provides an in depth look at state board members and how their businesses and private interests sometimes conflict with their policy-making duties on the board; describes how a majority of the board supports school choice initiatives; and describes the impact of school choice on traditional public schools, which still serve the majority of students, families, and communities in Ohio.

See “Ohio School-choice Movement Hinges on Whether Parents are Capable of Parenting” by Doug Livingston, Ohio.com, November 15, 2013.

See “Ohio’s State School Board Shifts Emphasis from Traditional Public Schools to Parent-Driven Choice” by Doug Livingston, Ohio.com, November 16, 2013.

See “State School Board Business is Private Business, Too” by Doug Livingston, Ohio.com, November 18, 2013.

See “Appoint or Abolish”, Akron Beacon Journal Online, November 19, 2013.

New Study Examines School District Spending and Rankings: The Education Tax Policy Institute (ETPI) released on November 19, 2013 a new study of school district expenditures entitled Apples to Apples: Ohio School District Expenditures Per Equivalent Pupil by Howard Fleeter. The study was commissioned by the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.

The study examines the Ohio Department of Education’s “Fiscal Benchmarking Report”. This annual report compares spending across school districts statewide and identifies spending patterns in districts. The study finds that the current methodology used by the Ohio Department of Education to adjust expenditures for differences in student needs by weighting pupils who are economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient, and/or in need of special education services, doesn’t adequately address the added costs for districts with high numbers of impoverished students. Specifically, Dr. Fleeter suggests that the weight used by the ODE to adjust for economically disadvantaged students is too low, based on research conducted in California by the Gates Foundation.

According to the study, the ODE currently uses a base weight of 0.1 to adjust for economically disadvantaged students. However, researchers have found that the weight should be at least 0.3 for districts with high concentrations of low-income students. When using the higher poverty base weight of 0.3, the ETPI determined that the number of school districts with a per pupil expenditure of $12,500 or more decreases from 47 to 10. The number of school districts with a per pupil expenditure between $10,000 – $12,000 decreases from 188 to 33.

According to Dr. Fleeter, the study shows that schools with high concentrations of poverty have fewer dollars to spend on the typical student, and not enough to provide “… the educational opportunities we want to see for all students.”

The study is available.

Trends in Teacher Evaluation: The Center for Public Education released in October 2013 a report that provides a comprehensive review of teacher evaluation systems being used in the states. The report is entitled “Trends in Teacher Evaluation; How States are Measuring Teacher Performance” by Jim Hull.

According to the report, since 2009 over two-thirds of states have changed their programs to evaluate teachers to include their impact on student learning, in addition to classroom observations and lesson plans. Some of the changes have been inspired by incentives or mandates included in federal grant programs, such as Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, and the Teacher Incentive Fund.

The report found that states use different types of data about student achievement in different ways in their teacher evaluation programs. Most states use data about student scores on standardized tests, but some states also use student learning objectives (SLO), formative assessments, and other sources of information on student achievement. The statistical models used to adjust the data to determine student growth are also different. Some use value added and some use student growth percentiles. In all states student achievement data comprises no more than 50 percent of the teacher’s overall score.

States have also revamped classroom observations and are training evaluators to use a research-based rubric to determine teacher instructional effectiveness. Teachers also are receiving, for the first time, feedback from the observations to improve how they teach.

In addition, some states are including in the evaluation the results of parent/student surveys, lesson plan reviews, teacher self-reflections, and reviews of student work.

The following are the major findings of the report:

  • Stakeholder input into the design of new evaluation systems has been important to gaining broad-based support.
  • Most state evaluations include measures on how teachers impact their students’ achievement.
  • Improvements in classroom observations are a more accurate measure of instructional quality than previous classroom observation methods. They also provide valuable feedback to help teachers improve their own practice.
  • Most states evaluate teachers on multiple measures to provide a more complete and accurate picture of a teacher’s effectiveness. No state evaluates teachers on test scores alone.
  • Most states are primarily focused on using evaluation for the purpose of raising teacher performance, but also use the results to inform personnel decisions.
  • Local school districts need flexibility in designing and implementing teacher evaluation systems so they are aligned to the needs of the district. But some also need strong support and resources from their states.

The report also includes some key questions that states can use to evaluate their own teacher evaluation system. The questions ask how the system was developed? what is included in the system? and how are the results used?

See Trends in Teacher Evaluation by Jim Hull, Center for Public Education, October 2013.

Bills Introduced

SB241 (Sawyer) Straight A Program Governing Board: Modifies the membership structure of the Straight A Program Governing Board.

SB242 (Sawyer) Board of Education: Revises the membership composition of the State Board of Education to include the ranking minority members of the House and Senate education committees as exofficio non-voting members of the board.

FYI ARTS

Study Examines the Causal Relationship of Arts Education: An article in the New York Times on November 23, 2013 examines a recently published research study that shows a causal relationship between arts education and student achievement. The authors of the article, Brian Kisida, Jay P. Greene, and Daniel H. Bowen, participated in a random-assignment research study about the effects on student achievement of school tours to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Students in the study were selected by lottery to visit the museum and were matched with demographically similar students who did not visit the museum. Over the course of a year nearly 11,000 students and almost 500 teachers participated in the study.

The results of the study, which was published in the journals Education Next and Educational Researcher, show that the students who visited the museum demonstrated “…stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions” when compared with the “matched” students, who didn’t attend the museum. The study also shows that the benefits of the museum tours are significantly greater for minority students, low-income students, and students from rural schools compared to white, middle-class, and suburban students.

The authors write that “Further research is needed to determine what exactly about the museum-going experience determines the strength of the outcomes. How important is the structure of the tour? The size of the group? The type of art presented?”

Brian Kisida is a senior research associate and Jay P. Greene is a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas. Daniel H. Bowen is a postdoctoral fellow at the Kinder Institute of Rice University.

See “Art Makes You Smart” by Brian Kisida, Jay P. Greene, and Daniel H. Bowen, The New York Times, November 23, 2013.

Please note: A description of this study entitled The Educational Value of Field Trips: Taking students to an art museum improves critical thinking skills, and more was included in the September 23, 2013 issue of Arts on Line, Education Update.

Nominate Arts Educators/Media Specialists and Programs: Nominations are open for the #BestEdTech Awards sponsored by the 2014 Ohio Educational Technology Conference (#OETC14).

For the first time ever, #OETC14 will recognize the work of schools, colleges, programs, teachers, administrators, students, and tech coordinators from around the state through the #BestEdTech Awards.

Awards will be made in the following ten categories:

Best Use of Social Media in the Classroom
Best Use of Blended Learning
Ed Leader Innovator Award
Collegiate Innovator Award
Teacher Innovator Award
Technology Coordinator Innovator Award
Student Innovator Award
Best Use of BYOT/BYOD Programs
Best 1:1 Program
Ohio Trendsetter Award

The awards will be nominated by peers and voted on by peers in the weeks leading up to the 2014 Ohio Educational Technology Conference.

The winners will receive a free day conference registration, and will be recognized on the #OETC14 social media channels and before a keynote address at the #OETC14 in January 2014.

Nomination Window: November 6-December 9, 2013
Voting Window: December 11-January 10, 2014
Winners Announced: January 15, 2014

Multiple nominations may be submitted for categories, but must be completed on separate forms.

Nominations will only be accepted with a name, title, and email for confirmation.
Only Ohio people, programs, and organizations are eligible for nominations.

Nomination forms are available.

Information about the conference can be found online at http://oetc.ohio.gov/.

Fund for Teachers: Fund for Teachers supports educators’ efforts to develop skills, knowledge and confidence that impact student achievement. By trusting teachers to design unique fellowships, Fund for Teachers grants validate teachers’ professionalism and leadership, as well. Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $20 million in more than 5,500 teachers, transforming grants into growth for teachers and their students.

This video, generously produced by The Giving Library, provides additional information about our work to empower teachers with learning experiences in their hometowns and around the world.

Apply today.

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About OAAE

Since our founding in 1974, by Dr. Dick Shoup and Jerry Tollifson, our mission has always been to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Working at the local, state, and federal levels through the efforts of a highly qualified and elected Board of Directors, our members, and a professional staff we have four primary areas of focus: building collaborations, professional development, advocacy, and capacity building. The OAAE is funded in part for its day-to-day operation by the Ohio Arts Council. This support makes it possible for the OAAE to operate its office in Columbus and to work statewide to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Support for arts education projects comes from the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, VSA Ohio, and OhioDance. The Community Arts Education programs of Central Ohio are financially assisted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the financial support received from each of these outstanding agencies and organizations.
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