130th Ohio General Assembly: Lawmakers are taking it easy this week. Both the House and Senate will hold committee meetings, but only the Senate will hold a session, and neither the House nor the Senate education committees are meeting.
The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, reported HB416 (Burkley-Hill) Calamity Days on January 29, 2014. The fast-tracked bill, introduced just last week, would add four more calamity days to school district calendars, to give schools some flexibility when making decisions about canceling school. Currently school districts have five calamity days, and several options for making-up the lost instructional time, including online instruction and pre-distributed “blizzard bags”. But many school districts have already used their five days. The bill was amended to allow school districts to make-up the lost time by adding 30 minutes to the school day.
The Ohio Senate approved SB227 (Beagle) Ohio Internship and Co-Op Appreciation Day. The bill would designate the second Tuesday in April as “Ohio Internship and Co-Op Appreciation Day,” to recognize the importance of internship and co-op programs and promote awareness of them.
The Ohio House approved HB113 (Henne-Antonio), which would allow school districts to add students on school-sponsored club sports teams to those who can opt out of physical education classes.
The Ohio House also approved HCR46 (Batchelder) Constitutional Amendments, which would delegate to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, authority to designate groups of members to prepare arguments for and against amendments to the Ohio Constitution proposed by the General Assembly.
Blended Learning Network Formed in Ohio: Cincinnati-based Smarter Schools, Andy Benson executive director, announced on January 24, 2014 that it will be working with thirteen schools and districts in Ohio to create the Ohio Blended Learning Network. The network will be led by Mentor Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Miller, and will receive technical support from Education Elements, a California-based company.
The Ohio Blended Learning Network will develop a model for combining classroom and online learning, and will also create a blended learning credential for educators who learn to use the technique effectively in their classrooms. Other members of the network include Reynoldsburg City Schools, Hilliard City Schools, KIPP Columbus, Lancaster City Schools, Lorain City Schools, Middletown City Schools, Milford Exempted Village Schools, Pickerington Local Schools, Nordonia Hills Local Schools, Northwest Local Schools, Valley View Local Schools, and Stepstone Academy.
Information about the network is available.
Schools Receive Casino Tax Revenue: The Ohio Department of Taxation distributed to schools and school districts on January 31, 2014 revenue raised by taxing Ohio’s casinos. The four casinos in Ohio, Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, and Cincinnati, were established in 2010 by the 128th General Assembly through HB519. Tax revenue raised from the casinos is distributed through the Casino Tax Revenue Fund to counties, cities, schools, and school districts; the host city; the Casino Control Commission; the Ohio State Racing Commission; the Law Enforcement Training Fund; and the Problem Casino Gambling and Addition Fund.
Money from the Gross Casino Revenue County Student Fund is distributed to all schools and school districts in Ohio based upon student population as certified by the Ohio Department of Education. Money is remitted directly to schools and school districts twice a year, by January 31st and August 31st.
Schools received in January 2014 a total $47.2 million which is slightly higher than the $45.4 million received in August 2013.
Columbus City Schools received the most casino revenue, $1.29 million, and schools in Franklin County overall received the most revenue $4.87 million. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District received $976,259; Cincinnati received $824,377; Akron received $561,081; Toledo received $561,661; Dayton received $354,574; Canton received $241,882; and Youngstown received $134,520.
Charter schools also received casino revenue funds. The charter schools receiving the most revenue from casinos are the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, $354,309, and Ohio Virtual Academy, $344,314.
Information about the Casino Revenue Fund is available.
State of the Union: President Barack Obama outlined his administration’s legislative and policy priorities for 2014 on January 28, 2014 during the annual State of the Union address. The President said that his administration is offering a “…set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.” He said that he is eager to work with all members of Congress, but if necessary, “…wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The President urged lawmakers to take action on tax code reform to close loopholes and lower rates for businesses; create more hubs for high tech manufacturing; pass a patent reform bill; support renewable and clean energy; pass an immigration act; restore unemployment insurance for 1.6 million Americans; reform unemployment insurance; support efforts to increase pay equity; increase the minimum wage; establish a new retirement savings program; strengthen the Voting Rights Act; bring the troops home; and more.
Many of the President’s recommendations for education focused on higher education and preparing students for careers. These include efforts to reduce inequity in access to higher education; making better connections between workforce training programs and meeting employers needs; supporting more on-the-job training and apprenticeships; connecting community colleges with companies to design better training programs; connecting more schools to high-speed broadband; redesigning high schools so that students have training that lead directly to a job or career; making college more affordable; and helping more students trapped by student loans.
Once again the President urged Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. He said, “So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year we’ll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need. It is right for America. We need to get this done.”
The speech is available.
PreK Hearings Set in U.S. House and Senate: The U.S. House and Senate committees that focus on education will hold hearings on early childhood education next week.
The House Education and Workforce Committee, chaired by Congressman John Kline, will hold a hearing on “The Foundation for Success: Discussing Early Childhood Education and Care in America” on February 5, 2014, “witnesses to be announced”.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, chaired by Tom Harkin, will hear testimony on “Supporting Children and Families through Investments in High-Quality Early Education”. Last year Senator Harkin introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which would increase federal support for early childhood education.
Connecticut Leaders Want to Delay Reforms: The Hartford Courier reported last week that Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy sent a letter on January 28, 2014 to Connecticut’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council to ask the council to delay linking a teacher’s performance rating with students’ standardized test scores and make other changes. The council reports to the State Board of Education, which will make the final decision. Governor Malloy also said that he would appoint a working group to make changes in the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards and suspend a $1 million marketing campaign for the Common Core. The letter was also signed by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, and Senate President Donald E. Williams. In the letter the governor cited the “confluence” of changes in schools that could affect the ability of teachers to be effective in the classroom, and students to be successful.
See “Common Core Push-Back” by Kathleen Megan, The Hartford Courant, January 29, 2014.
NY Union Board Withdraws Support for CCSS: The Board of Directors of the New York State United Teachers approved on January 25, 2014 a resolution stating that it had “no confidence” in the policies of State Education Commissioner John King, Jr., and called for his removal. The resolution withdraws support for the Common Core State Standards as “implemented and interpreted” by the New York State Department of Education, until the education department “…makes major course corrections to its failed implementation plans and supports a three-year moratorium on high-stakes consequences from standardized testing.” The board approved resolution must now be approved by the union’s Representative Assembly, which meets in April in New York City. The union represents more than 600,000 teachers in New York State, and is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten president.
The resolution requests the following:
- Completion of all modules, or lessons, aligned with the Common Core and time for educators to review them to ensure they are grade-level appropriate and aligned with classroom practice
- Better engagement with parents, including listening to their concerns about their children’s needs
- Additional tools, professional development and resources for teachers to address the needs of diverse learners, including students with disabilities and English language learners
- Full transparency in state testing, including the release of all test questions, so teachers can use them in improving instruction
- Postponement of Common Core Regents exams as a graduation requirement
- The funding necessary to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to achieve the Common Core standards. The proposed Executive Budget would leave nearly 70 percent of the state’s school districts with less state aid in 2014-15 than they had in 2009-10; and
- A moratorium, or delay, in the high-stakes consequences for students and teachers from standardized testing to give the State Education Department – and school districts – more time to correctly implement the Common Core.
Information is available.
Colorado Teachers File Lawsuit Over Teacher Dismissals: The Colorado Education Association (CEA) announced on January 29, 2014 that it had filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association over the firing of 100 teachers by the Denver Public Schools. Colorado approved in 2010 a new law, SB-191, which established a new teacher evaluation program. The CEA still supports the new teacher evaluation program, but opposes the process used by the Denver Public Schools to fire up to 100 teachers without a mandated hearing or due process, which violates Colorado’s Teacher Employment, Compensation, and Dismissal Act.
See “CEA announces legal, legislative action to keep quality, experienced teachers in classrooms” by Mike Wetzel, January 29, 2014.
Kentucky Withdraws From PARCC: Catherine Gewertz reported last week for Education Weeks’ Curriculum Matters Blog that Kentucky Governor Steven L. Geshear, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, and State Board President Roger L. Marcum sent a letter withdrawing from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two consortia developing assessments for the Common Core State Standards. Kentucky is still committed to implementing the Common Core State Standards, but will issue a request for proposals to develop assessments aligned to the standards. PARCC will be able to bid for the contract along with other vendors. There are now 18 states and the District of Columbia participating in PARCC, and 21 states and the Virgin Islands participating with the other consortia, Smarter Balanced Assessment, to develop the CCSS aligned assessments.
See “Kentucky Withdraws From PARCC Testing Consortium” by Catherine Gewertz, Education Week’s Curriculum Matters Blog, January 31, 2014.
Another Federal Voucher Plan Introduced: U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R) from Tennessee introduced on January 28, 2014 in the U.S. Senate the Scholarships for Kids Act, which he described as a “…real answer to inequality in America: giving more children more opportunity to attend better schools.”
The legislation would allow states to redirect $24 billion in federal education funds into scholarships for approximately 11 million disadvantaged students. The scholarships, which would be around $2100 per student, could be used to pay tuition at private or public schools, and pay for extra curricular activities, enrichment, home-schooling, tutoring, etc. Approximately 41 percent of federal funds now spent on K-12 education programs would be re-distributed to support this scholarship program.
Another voucher plan, The Choice Act, introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R) from South Carolina, would redirect federal funds for students with disabilities to a scholarship program. Approximately sic million students would be able to use federal funds to pay for tuition at public and private schools.
Information about the voucher plan proposed by Senator Alexander is available.
Report About State Government Expenditures for Education Released: The U.S. Census Bureau’s State Government Finances Summary Report 2012 provides a comprehensive summary of state government finances based on an annual survey. The report includes information about state revenue by source; expenditures by object and function; indebtedness by long-term or short-term debt; and assets by purpose and type of assets.
According to the report, which covers fiscal years that ended between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, state government revenue totaled $1.62 trillion in 2012. This was a decrease of 1.8 percent from 2011.
State government general expenditures in 2012 totaled $1.64 trillion. This was a decrease of .5 percent from 2011. Expenditures for education and public welfare were 35.8 percent and 29.7 percent of total state expenditures.
Cash and investment holdings for states totaled $3.6 trillion. The largest portion of these assets, $2.4 trillion (65.5 percent), was held in state government-employee retirement systems.
Ohio’s general expenditure for 2011 was $60.2 billion and for 2012 $58.8 billion, which represents a decrease of 2.3 percent. Ohio’s decrease was more than the national average of .5 percent.
State expenditures for education are the single largest functional activity of state governments, totaling $588.7 billion in 2012. State expenditures for education in 2012 dropped by .7 percent from $592.8 billion in 2011.
Expenditures for education in Ohio decreased 6 percent from $22.4 billion in FY11 to $21.06 billion in FY12. There were 18 states that reported decreases in education expenditures, with Florida reporting the largest decrease of 7.7 percent.
See “State Government Finances Summary Report: 2012” January 23, 2014, by Cheryl H. Lee, Robert Jesse Willhide, and Edwin Pome, U.S. Census Bureau.
Early Reading Matters: The latest report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation focuses on reading proficiency in the early grades. The report, entitled Early Reading Proficiency in the United States, Data Snapshot Kids Count, January 2014, provides an update on fourth grade reading proficiency rates for each state based on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) data.
According to the report, “Children who read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and to be economically successful in adulthood.”
However, the latest data show that 80 percent of low-income fourth graders and 66 percent of all fourth graders are not proficient in reading, and some children, including those living in poverty, learning English, or in a certain ethnic or racial group, continue to fall behind.
The gap in reading proficiency for children from high and low income families is highest in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Illinois. The following are the percentages of fourth grade students not proficient in reading based on NAEP standards:
- African American, 83 percent
- Hispanic students, 81 percent
- American Indian, 78 percent
- White students, 55 percent
- Asian/Pacific Islander 49 percent
- Dual language learners 93 percent,
- Children with disabilities, 89 percent.
The report notes that the percent of students reading at the proficient level in the fourth grade varies significantly by state. For Ohio 63 percent of all fourth grade students were reading below the proficient level; 80 percent of low income students were reading below the proficient level; and 48 percent of higher income students were reading below the proficient level.
Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Colorado had the highest rates of fourth graders proficient in reading.
See Early Reading Proficiency in the United States, Data Snapshot Kids Count, Annie E. Casey Foundation, January 2014.
Please note: Achievement levels for the National Assessment of Educational Progress are set by the National Assessment Governing Board based on recommendations from panels of educators and members of the public. The levels, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced, measure what students should know and be able to do at each grade assessed.
Students at the Basic level demonstrate “…partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade assessed. NAEP also reports the proportion of students whose scores place them below the Basic achievement level.”
Students at the Proficient level demonstrate “…solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real-world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter.”
Students at the Basic level demonstrate “…partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade assessed. NAEP also reports the proportion of students whose scores place them below the Basic achievement level.
Students at the Advanced level demonstrate “superior performance”.
Education Week’s Series Focuses on the Impact of Poverty on Students: Education Week is publishing over the next 18 months a series of articles that will examine the impact of poverty on the lives of children. The series is entitled War on Poverty: Progress & Persistent Inequity, and will review the progress made to reduce poverty through the federal War on Poverty, which was initiated over fifty years ago.
The first article in the series, Analysis Points to Growth in Per-Pupil Spending—and Disparities by Andrew Ujifusa and Michele McNeil, describes the disparities in school funding among the states, and the theories behind the disparities. According to the article, spending and the disparities in spending on K-12 education have “skyrocketed” over the past 50 years since the War on Poverty began. In 2009-10 the average amount of spending on a K-12 student ranged from $20,000 in the District of Columbia to $6,000 in Utah. The authors write,
“Some advocates say the gaps show that many state governments continue to neglect their responsibility to provide low-income students with a high-quality education, thus subverting the War on Poverty’s prime purpose.”
“Others, however, argue that the disparities aren’t crucial, since the rising spending hasn’t translated broadly to significantly higher student achievement, and that it is more important to ask how states are spending their money on education. Cost-of-living differences between regions and resulting salary variations might also explain some of the disparities.”
According to school funding experts, the rise in K-12 per pupil spending can be explained by increases in federal and state mandates, such as educating students with disabilities, and targeting more resources to low-income students. But, one expert interviewed for the article, David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center in New Jersey, says that, ‘The amount of funding that schools have within states to support their needs remains, by and large across the country, irrational.’ He goes on to say, ‘Many states continue to resist doing the work of connecting their school finance formula, [and] their school funding, to the actual cost of delivering rigorous standards to give all kids the chance to achieve those standards.’
To counter that argument, the authors also interviewed Eric A. Hanushek, at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. He counters that even though states have increased spending on K-12 education student achievement has not increased.
See Analysis Points to Growth in Per-Pupil Spending—and Disparities by Andrew Ujifusa and Michele McNeil, Education Week, January 22, 2014.
SB269 (Brown) Calamity Days Increase: Permits state payments to school districts, STEM schools, and community schools that exceed, by up to three days, the number of permitted “calamity” days in the 2013-2014 school year and declares an emergency.
HB416 (Burkley/Hill) Calamity Days Increase: Permits payment in fiscal year 2015 to school districts and STEM schools that exceed, by up to four days, the number of permitted “calamity” days in fiscal year 2014 and declares an emergency.
Ohio Arts Council: Governor Kasich appointed last week Jon D. Holt of Dayton (Montgomery County) to the Ohio Arts Council for a term beginning January 30, 2014 and ending July 1, 2017.
Connections Between the Arts and Science: Lisa Yokana writes for ASCD Express about how learning in the arts helps students develop skills and competencies to be better scientists. She says, “Through the arts students learn to observe, visualize, manipulate materials, and develop the creative confidence to imagine new possibilities. These skills and competencies are also essential to scientific thinking and provide a strong argument for transforming STEM education by integrating the arts.”
According to the article, an education in the arts teaches students many skills that scientists also need. It teaches student to become more accurate observers; conceptualize solutions to problems; think spatially; strive to understand how things work; understand that there is more than one solution to a problem; persevere; take chances, and fail sometimes.
Arts education also emphasizes following a process, including brain-storming, experimenting, testing, and collaborating, to define a problem and design a solution.
The author writes, “The ‘maker movement,’ sparked by Make Magazine’s Dale Dougherty, believes that schools and communities need to embrace making, combining technology and the arts to allow people of all ages to collaborate and explore design issues. When students can observe, visualize, and manipulate materials, they develop creative confidence and the resilience to persevere within the creative process. These skills and habits of mind are a bridge that connects the arts and STEM subjects and can fuel the innovation so desperately needed to address real-world challenges. The arts not only support scientific thinking but also expand and transform traditional STEM curriculum to invite deeper observation, imagining, and revision.”
See “The Art of Thinking Like A Scientist” by Lisa Yokana, ASCD Express, January 30, 2014.
New Jersey’s School Reports Include the Arts: Liana Heitin reports for Education Week’s Curriculum Matters Blog that New Jersey’s School Performance Reports now include metrics about arts education. The New Jersey Department of Education announced on January 29, 2014 that the latest reports now show the percentage of a school’s population enrolled in the arts, and the percentage of high school students enrolled in specific arts disciplines, such dance, music, theater, and visual art. The school-level data on visual and performing arts in New Jersey’s high schools is located within the “college and career readiness” section of the New Jersey School Performance Reports. Students in New Jersey are required to take at least one visual or performing arts class to graduate. According to the 2012-13 report card, 47.7 percent of New Jersey high school students took courses in the arts. This rate is almost double the percent expected to be enrolled if students took only one course in four years of high school. The data also shows that thirty percent of students took courses in visual art, and 16 percent of students took courses in music.
Update on Ohio: Section 3302.034 of the Ohio Revised Code requires that the availability of courses in the fine arts be reported on the report card separately for each school district, building, each community school, STEM school, and college preparatory boarding school. This provision was included in HB555, signed into law in December 2012, 129th General Assembly. The Ohio Department of Education is currently developing those measures, and has asked the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to provide input. The OAAE has initially recommended the following data be reported about arts education programs in Ohio’s schools:
- The arts courses taught (based on the course codes)
- The grade levels at which the courses are taught
- The number of students enrolled in the courses
- The percent of students taking the course compared to grade level enrollment
- The percent of students according to student groups taking arts courses. Student groups include students with disabilities, learning English, disadvantaged, African American, Hispanic, white, etc.
- The percent of students who graduate meeting the requirement in the arts (two semesters or the equivalent in any grade 7-12)
- The percent of students who graduate with credits in the arts
- The average number of credits in the arts students earn
See “New Jersey Adds Arts to School-Performance Reports” by Liana Heitin, Education Week Curriculum Matters Blog, January 31, 2014.
The New Jersey School Performance Reports are available.
President Disses Art History Majors: The Washington Post reports that art history majors are disagreeing with President Obama and his remarks about those in manufacturing jobs earning more than art history majors. The President was speaking at a GE plant in Wisconsin on January 30, 2014 about bringing back more manufacturing jobs, and said that Americans could probably earn more in manufacturing than if they had a degree in art history. However, the Washington Post reported that about 6 percent of the one percent of the richest Americans majored in art history in college. After making the remark the President immediately added that he “loved” art history.
See “We know what President Obama thinks of art history majors. But what do they think of him?” by Jaime Fuller, Washington Post, January 30, 2014.