130th Ohio General Assembly: Governor Kasich will present the State of the State Address to a joint session of the Ohio House and Senate on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM in the Medina Performing Arts Center, Medina, Ohio. According to several news reports, the Governor will include in his message some ideas related to education including deregulating public schools; expanding career technical education to middle school students; reducing the dropout rate; and helping students learn about careers in elementary school. Two years ago many of the ideas outlined in the Governor’s State of the State Address were incorporated into a mid-biennium budget, and that seems to be the plan this year as well.
The House and Senate will also hold sessions and hearings this week.
The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Oelslager, will meet on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 2:30 PM in hearing room 313, and receive testimony on HB107 (Baker) Career Exploration Internships – Tax Credit.
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet on February 26, 2014 at 10:45 AM in the North Hearing Room. The committee will receive testimony on the following bills:
- HB416 (Burkley/Hill) Increases School Calamity Days
- SB284 (Coley) Increases School Calamity Days
The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, will meet on February 26, 2014 at 5:00 PM in hearing room 313. The committee will consider the following bills:
- HB393 (Baker/Landis) Career Decision Guide Publication
- HB413 (Stautberg/Brenner) Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. This bill would prohibit schools from administering assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) for the 2014-2015 school year; would prohibit the renewal of the state’s memorandum of understanding with the Partnership, and would declare an emergency.
- HB228 (Brenner) School Funding Reform
- HB362 (Scherer/Derickson) STEM Schools Designation for Community Schools or Nonpublic schools.
- HB367 (Driehaus/Sprague) Opioid Abuse Prevention Instruction-Schools.
McClain Appointed Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee: Representative Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) was appointed on February 18, 2014 to chair the House Ways & Means Committee by House Speaker William Batchelder. He replaces Representative Peter Beck (R-Mason), who resigned as chair last week.
State Issue 1 on the May Ballot: The Ohio Ballot Board approved on February 19, 2014 the ballot language and arguments for and against State Issue 1, the renewal of the State Capital Improvement Program (SCIP). The issue will appear on the May 6, 2014 primary ballot.
The State Capital Improvements Program is a 10-year, $1.875 billion bond program to repair roads, bridges, sewers, and other infrastructure projects in local communities. State Issue 1 would reauthorization the program, which has been in place since 1987.
Straight A Fund Updates Scheduled: The director of the Ohio Department of Education’s Straight A Program, Dr. Susan Tave Zelman, will hold five regional meetings throughout Ohio to update stakeholders about the second round of program grants. The meetings will be held at the following locations and times:
Northwest – March 4, 2014 at the Wood County Educational Service Center
Southwest – March 6, 2014 at the Montgomery County Educational Service Center
Central – March 7, 2014 at the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio
Southeast – March 11, 2014 at the Athens-Meigs Educational Service Center
Northeast – March 13, 2014 at the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center – Conference Center
Additional information about the meetings is available.
Ohio Receives Another School Improvement Grants: The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) announced on February 20, 2014 that the Ohio Department of Education will receive $19.2 million through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. This is the third year that Ohio will receive federal funds to increase student achievement in low performing schools. The Ohio Department of Education will distribute the funds to schools in Ohio through a competitive process. Also receiving School Improvement Grants are Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Information is available.
Calamity Day Legislation: The House approved on February 19, 2014 HB416 (Burkley/Hill) Calamity Days by a vote of 80-16. The bill sailed through the House Education Committee two weeks ago, but was slowed-down when some House lawmakers felt uncomfortable supporting legislation that reduced instructional time for students and paid teachers for not working. As a result, the House amended the committee-passed version of the bill, and added just two calamity days, rather than four, to the current five, but also allowed school districts to use two days of teacher professional development time to make-up for school closures. Boards of education can also add thirty minute increments to the existing school day to replace the time lost when schools are closed.
The bill also includes a provision, sought by the Ohio Department of Education, to delay reporting the results of the Ohio Achievement Assessments for grades 3-8 to the General Assembly by a week, to correspond with the recent delay in the administration of the exams, granted by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, received informal testimony on its own version of calamity day legislation on February 19, 2014. SB284 (Coley) would add an additional four calamity days to the current five days that do not need to be made up, but only after districts have used their five contingency days. The bill also includes permissive authority for boards to add thirty-minute increments to existing school day to make-up for school closures. The Ohio Department of Education would be allowed to approve applications for blizzard bags and online learning any time after August 1, 2013, and boards of education would be able to substitute blizzard bags or online learning for three of their contingency days, with the approval of the ODE. Boards of education could also update their contingency plans at any time during the 2013-2014 school year, rather than by September 1, 2013.
The bill also clarifies that graduation ceremonies that have already been scheduled can be held even if the district adds attendance days at the end of the school year, and excuses graduating seniors from attending school after their graduation ceremony has been held. Some of these provisions are also included in SB273 (Gardner).
SB284 would also delay until June 30, 2014 the requirement that the Ohio Department of Education report student scores on the Ohio Achievement Assessments to the Ohio General Assembly. This provision corresponds to the delay granted to school districts regarding the administration of the assessments. However, the results of the third grade reading assessment must be reported by June 16, 2014.
The bill is expected to be reported by the Senate Education Committee this week, and move on to the full Senate for consideration. Lawmakers are expected to reconcile SB284 and HB416. Both bills have emergency clauses, and would go into effect immediately.
Proceeds from the Sale of School Property: The Senate approved on February 19, 2014 SB231 (Gardner/Hite) Proceeds from Property Sales. The bill would allow school districts to use the proceeds from the sale of school district property for permanent improvements and capital needs.
Straight A Program: The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, reported HB342 (Brenner/Driehaus) Straight A Program, on February 19, 2014. The bill would permit an educational service center to be a partner or the lead applicant of an education consortium seeking a grant under the Straight A Program and modifies the goals of program. The bill was amended to include the following:
- States that if two or more Straight A Fund proposals have similar scores, the proposal saving the most money will be funded.
- Reduces the current $5 million cap on grants for a single school to $1 million.
- Stipulates that if an educational service center (ESC) is the lead applicant then at least one school in that ESC’s area must be part of the consortium.
- Permits county boards of developmental disabilities to participate in the program.
- Clarifies that an ESC can apply for the grant with non-member school districts, as long as one school district in the application is a member of the ESC.
World History Requirement: The Senate Education Committee also reported out on February 19, 2014 SB96 (LaRose) High School Social Studies Curriculum. The bill would require students to earn one credit of world history and civilizations in order to graduate.
Student Expulsions: The House Education Committee reported on February 19, 2014 HB334 (Hayes/Hottinger) Student Expulsion. The bill would allow superintendents to extend the amount of time that a student is expelled if there is reason to believe that the student poses an “imminent threat”; allows superintendents to stipulate conditions under which a student can return to school; and requires schools to develop a plan to deliver educational services to the student who is expelled. Currently students can be expelled a maximum number of 80-days, unless the student has committed a crime. The bill was amended to limit a required psychological evaluation for students who are expelled to determine whether or not a student poses a danger to him/herself or others. The cost of the evaluation would be shared by the parent and the school, unless the school district requires the evaluation.
Voting Bills Signed Into Law: The House approved on February 19, 2014 two controversial Senate bills, SB205 and SB238, that change voting procedures in Ohio. The House changes in the bills were agreed to by the Senate the same day, sending the bills to Governor Kasich, who signed them on February 21, 2014.
SB205 (Coley) prohibits any public office or employee to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters. The law allows the Secretary of State to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications for general elections in even-numbered years, but only when the legislature appropriates money for it. The bill also clarifies that voters are responsible for accurately completing absentee applications and absentee ballots, which could be discarded by boards of election if found incomplete.
SB238 (LaRose) closes a time during early voting in which voters could register to vote and vote at the same time. As a result, the number of days for early voting was reduced from 35 to 28 or 29 days before an election.
Another controversial voting bill, SB216 (Seitz) Provisional Ballots, is still in the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee, chaired by Representative Dovilla. The bill reduces the number of reasons that require voters to cast provisional ballots; allows provisional ballots to count as voter registration for future elections; reduces the number of days after the election in which provisional voters can verify their identity to the board of elections; and addresses counting provisional ballots cast in the right polling place, but wrong precinct, and those cast in the wrong precinct and polling place.
Campaign to Support Public Schools Launched: The National School Boards Association (NSBA), in partnership with its state organizations, recently announced a new campaign to highlight the successes of public education called Stand Up 4 Public Schools.
According to NSBA President David A. Pickler. “Well-funded and well-organized critics are undermining public schools and working to eliminate school board governance as we know it. But the conversation is beginning to change – and YOU are part of this shift. In local communities across America, public schools are the ‘great equalizer’ able to empower every child to fulfill his or her potential, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic circumstance, or religious affiliation. Many Americans today understand the myths of ‘choice’ and are choosing public education.”
To counter the anti-public school message Stand Up 4 Public Schools has prepared a tool kit, talking points, fact sheets, and will engage celebrities such as Montel Williams, Khan Academy Founder Sal Kahn, and Magic Johnson, to advocate for public education. The campaign will include ads about how public schools support the democratic founding principles of our nation and how public schools have provided individuals with opportunities to achieve and succeed.
Information is available.
NEA Calls for Correcting the CCSS Course: The president of the National Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel, called for state leaders to make a “strong course correction” regarding the Common Core State Standards in a statement issued on February 19, 2014. Included in the statement are the following recommendations:
“1. Governors and chief state school officers should set up a process to work with NEA and our state education associations to review the appropriateness of the standards and recommend any improvements that might be needed.
2. Common Core implementation plans at the state and local levels must be collaboratively developed, adequately resourced, and overseen by community advisory committees that include the voices of students, parents, and educators.
3. States and local school districts must place teachers at the center of efforts to develop aligned curriculum, assessments, and professional development that are relevant to their students and local communities.
4. States must eliminate outdated NCLB-mandated tests that are not aligned with the new standards and not based on what is being taught to students in the classroom.
5. States must actively engage educators in the field-testing of the new assessments and the process for improving them.
6. In any state that is field-testing and validating new assessments, there must be a moratorium on using the results of the new assessments for accountability purposes until at least the 2015-2016 school year. In the meantime, states still have other ways to measure student learning during this transition period—other assessments, report cards, and student portfolios.
7. Stakeholders must develop complete assessment and accountability systems. It takes more than one piece of evidence to paint a picture of what students are learning. Testing should be one way to inform effective teaching and learning—not a way to drive it.”
The statement is available.
Washington Senate Says No to New Teacher/Principal Evaluations: The Capitol Record reports that the Washington State Senate failed to approve legislation (SB5246) which would have revised the state’s teacher/principal evaluation. The proposed new teacher evaluation system “suggested” that local education agencies use student standardized test data as part of the evaluation, to meet a requirement dictated by the federal government in Washington’s Race to the Top Grant. According to the article some State Senators said that their current teacher evaluation system is working fine and see no need to change it.
See “Senate rejects changes to teacher evaluations, 19 to 28“, by Christina Salerno, The Capitol Record, February 18, 2014.
Florida Tweaks the Common Core State Standards: The Florida State Board of Education approved on February 18, 2014 several changes in the Common Core State Standards and renamed them “Florida Standards”. The changes include adding standards for creative writing; cursive writing; and 52 standards for calculus. The new Florida Standards also incorporate science and social studies, which are not part of the Common Core State Standards.
See “Florida Board of Education OKs Common Core Changes” by Brandon Larrabee, The Ledger, February 18, 2014.
Indiana Posts New State Standards: Education Week reports that the Indiana Department of Education released for public comment a draft of new content standards for math and English language arts to replace the Common Core State Standards. The Indiana legislature approved the CCSS in 2010, but passed a law last year to develop Indiana-based standards. The new Indiana College and Career Ready Standards were developed by the state’s Academic Standards Evaluation Panels. The Indiana State Board is scheduled to vote on the standards April 9, 2014.
See “Indiana Releases Draft of New Academic Standards to Replace Common Core” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week State EdWatch Blog, February 20, 2014.
Preparing for Online Assessments: A new white paper prepared by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the eLearn Institute, and Education Networks of America (ENA) provides a comprehensive overview of the online assessments and protocols developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). These new assessments are referred to as the “next generation of assessments.” The white paper includes information about the time table for implementing the new assessments; the cost per student; other organizations that are developing online assessments; estimated testing time; technology needed to administer the assessments; field-testing and pilots; security considerations; frequently asked questions, and recommendations. The white paper also includes information from a case study of a small, medium, and large school district implementing the new assessments. The school districts studied include the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (TN), the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (IN), and West Side School District #202 (ID).
The authors of the white paper conclude, “It will be an extremely difficult and complex process to achieve the promise of online assessments and realize the benefits of the CCSS. There are going to be challenges and obstacles to overcome in the near future. In fact, the whole area of collecting meaningful performance data for student learning is just in its beginning stages.”
See “Raising the Bar: Becoming Assessment Ready” by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the eLearn Institute, and Education Networks of America (ENA), February 19, 2014.
Class Size Matters: The National Education Policy Center released on February 18, 2014 a policy brief entitled Does Class Size Matter? by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Northwestern University. The brief examines research studies about the impact of class size; identifies examples of poor-quality studies “that fail to isolate the causal impact of class size”; identifies several positive outcomes for reducing class size; and makes policy recommendations.
According to the author, even though class size has been “one of the most-studied education policies”, policy-makers have ignored the research that supports smaller classes, especially for low-income and minority students,
The research shows that implementing smaller classes increases student engagement, time on task, and personalized instruction, and reduces time spent on classroom management. The brief makes the following recommendations:
- ”Class size is an important determinant of student outcomes and one that can be directly influenced by policy. All else being equal, increasing class sizes will harm student outcomes.”
- ”The evidence suggests that increasing class size will harm not only children’s test scores in the short run but also their long-term human capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class sizes will be offset by more substantial social and educational costs in the future.”
- ”The payoff from class-size reduction is larger for low-income and minority children, while any increases in class size will likely be most harmful to these populations.”
- ”Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size-reduction policy against other potential uses of funds. While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall.”
See “Does Class Size Matter?” by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, National Education Policy Center, February 18, 2014.
SAT/ACT Don’t Matter: Researchers William Hiss, former Dean of Admissions for Bates College, and Valerie Franks, released on February 5, 2014 a study that shows that high school grade point averages (GPAs) are important factors to use to determine student success in college.
The study examined the cumulative GPAs and graduation rates of students who submitted a standardized test score (submitters) when applying for college, and those who did not (non-submitters). Student records from 33 public and private colleges and universities that have optional standardized testing policies for admissions were included in the study. These colleges and universities use a variety of criteria to admit students instead of standardized test scores such as the ACT and SAT. The total number of student records included in the study was 123,000, from institutions ranging from 50,000 to 350 students.
The researchers found the following results:
- ”With approximately 30 percent of the students admitted as non-submitters over a maximum of eight cohort years, there are no significant differences in either Cumulative GPAs or graduation rates between submitters and non–submitters. Across the study, non-submitters (not including the public university students with above-average testing, to focus on the students with below-average testing who are beneficiaries of an optional testing policy) earned Cumulative GPAs that were only .05 lower than submitters, 2.83 verses 2.88. The difference in their graduation rates was .6 percent. With almost 123,000 students at 33 widely differing institutions, the differences between submitters and non-submitters are five one-hundredths of a GPA point, and six-tenths of one percent in graduation rates. By any standard, these are trivial differences.”
- ”College and university Cumulative GPAs closely track high school GPAs, despite wide variations in testing. Students with strong HSGPAs generally perform well in college, despite modest or low testing. In contract, students with weak HSGPAs earn lower college Cum GPAs and graduate at lower rates, even with markedly stronger testing. A clear message: hard work and good grades in high school matter, and they matter a lot.”
- ”Non-submitters are more likely to be first-generation-to-college enrollees, all categories of minority students, women, Pell Grant recipients, and students with Learning Differences (LD). But across institutional types, white students also use optional testing policies at rates within low single digits of the averages, so the policies have broad appeal across ethnic groups.”
- ”Non-submitters support successful enrollment planning in a broad range of ways. They apply Early Decision at higher rates, increase enrollments by minority students, expand geographic appeal by enrolling at colleges far from their homes, and allow for success by Learning Difference students.”
- ”In a surprise finding, non-submitters display a distinct two-tail or bimodal curve of family financial capacity. First-generation, minority and Pell-recipient students will need financial aid support, but large pools of students not qualifying for or not requesting financial aid help balance institutional budgets.”
- ”Non-submitters may commonly be missed in consideration for no-need merit financial awards, despite better Cum GPAs and markedly higher graduation rates than the submitters who receive merit awards. Institutions may want to examine their criteria for merit awards, especially the use of standardized testing to qualify students for no-need merit funding.”
See “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies In American College and University Admissions” by William C. Hiss and Valerie W. Franks, February 5, 2014.
- HB454 (Gonzales) Concealed Carry-School Safety Zone: Expands and clarifies the authority of a concealed handgun licensee to possess a handgun in a school safety zone.
- SB284 (Coley) Schools-Calamity Days: Provides additional calamity day relief for schools and declares an emergency.
Donna Collins Selected as the New Director of the OAC: The Ohio Arts Council, Jeff Rich chairman, announced last week that Donna Collins has been selected as the Executive Director of the Ohio Arts Council to replace Julie Henahan, who plans to retire in July 2014. Ms. Collins is currently the executive director of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, since 1998, and the executive director of the Ohio Citizens for the Arts and Foundation, since 2001. She has been recognized in Ohio and nationally for her advocacy efforts on behalf of arts education, the role of the arts and economic development, and the impact of the arts on the well-being of communities. She is a known leader and has served on a number of arts organizations in Ohio and nationally, including the Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, BalletMet, the Athens Area Citizens for the Arts, the Cultural Data Project/Ohio, the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network, Americans for the Arts, and the State Arts Action Network.
According to Jeff Rich, “Ohio is blessed to have such an incredibly hard working, dedicated leader in Donna Collins. We at the council know she will move us to the next level of success for all Ohioans.”
See the OAC press release.
Elyria Receives Grant to Infuse the Arts: Carol Harper reports for Northern Ohio’s The Morning Journal that Franklin Elementary School, Elyria City Schools, has been awarded a five-year $1.25 million grant from the Stocker Foundation, Patricia O’Brien, executive director, to increase literacy and arts education. According to the article, the grant will be used to implement the New Beginnings program, which focuses on increasing academic achievement from preschool through grade five; using technology to inspire learning and drive innovation; inspiring greater learning through the arts; and building a community of practice. Franklin Elementary will also add two more preschool classes in the fall for 4-year-old children to attend four days a week. The Stocker Foundation has awarded Elyria City Schools over $450,000 in the past four years to improve literacy skills.
The author writes that arts will be infused throughout the curriculum to “catalyze students’ interest and curiosity and open them up to deeper learning.” The program includes an artist residency program that is tied to the curriculum at each grade level; parent workshops that support arts learning outside the classroom; and information for parents about why the arts are important for improving student academic achievement.
The article describes the work of the Stocker Foundation, which was founded in 1979 in Elyria by Beth K. Stocker and her three daughters. The Foundation has awarded about $46 million in grants in areas of arts and culture; community needs; education; health; social services; and women’s issues. In 2010 The Stocker Foundation began a focus on improving reading and literacy for underprivileged children in pre-kindergarten through third grade.
See “The Stocker Foundation donates $1.25 million to Franklin Elementary School in Elyria” by Carol Harper, The Morning Journal, February 19, 2014.
State Band and State Choir Seeking Students: The Ohio State Fair is seeking talented young musicians in grades 9-12 for membership in both the All-Ohio State Fair Band and the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir for this year’s Ohio State Fair, which will run from Wednesday, July 23, 2014 through Sunday, August 3, 2014. The members of the All-Ohio State Fair Band and All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir are required to arrive at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus before the Fair opens, and remain housed on site throughout the duration of the Fair. Band and choir members will learn all of the music during this time and perform daily at various times and locations while the Fair is open. The total number of performances is nearly 200 during the 12-day Fair.
Membership in the band and choir is based on several factors, including a recommendation from a choral or band director. The application deadline is March 31, 2014. Applications are available.
For more information call 1-888-OHO-EXPO or 1-614-644-FAIR.