1) Ohio News
- 130th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate are not in session, but some committees are meeting this week.
- Early Voting Decision Upheld: A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction on September 24, 2014 issued by U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus on September 4, 2014 in NAACP v. Husted. The decision found that Senate Bill 238 (LaRose), signed into law on February 21, 2014, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by eliminating the number of days and hours for early voting in Ohio, including the “Golden Week”, when a person can register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed the decision to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and last week appealed the decision to the full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court. Early voting in Ohio is scheduled to begin on September 30, 2014 unless the courts intervene.
See the decision at http://electionlawblog.org/wp-content/uploads/6th-early.pdf.
2) National News
- Students Facing Hours of Testing: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium released on September 25, 2014 the “Spring 2015 Test Administration Update” for schools and districts. The update includes the recommended amount of time that schools and districts should schedule for grade level exams and end of course exams in English language arts and math; the estimated release dates for PARCC test manuals and technology guidelines; student registration dates; and when to expect the next round of PARCC practice tests. The update is based on information compiled from the spring field tests in 2014. Over one million students in 16,000 schools in 14 states participated in those field tests.
The consortium is recommending that schools schedule about 10 hours of testing time for elementary school students and about 11 hours for students in middle and high schools. The amount of testing-time to be scheduled is a little longer than previous recommendations, but a typical student should be able to complete the exam in 6.5-7.5 hours, according to a PARCC analysis.
According to Education Week 17 states plan to use the Smarter Balanced test next spring, and nine states and the District of Columbia plan to use the PARCC assessments. Twenty-four states have selected other tests or are still deciding.
See “Common-Core Assessment Group Revises Testing Time” by Catherine Gewertz, Education Week, September 25, 2014 at
See “Spring 2015 Test Administration Update” PARCC, September 25, 2014 at http://parcconline.org/update-session-times
- Grants Awarded for Gifted Education: The U.S. Department of Education announced on September 24, 2014 the recipients of a $3.9 million grant to increase the number of minority and other underrepresented students in gifted and talented programs through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education grant program. The grants will support partnerships between institutions of higher education and school districts, and help these partnerships expand to other schools or districts. The grants are targeted at programs that service students who are economically disadvantaged, limited in English language skills, or have disabilities.
Receiving the grant awards are the University of Connecticut $500,000; the University of Hawaii $470,988; the University of Arkansas at Little Rock $368,205; George Mason University (VA) $490,526; Purdue University (IN) $493,702; the University of St. Thomas (MN) $295,551; the College of Charleston (SC) $493,204; the University of Southern California $379,411; Duke University (NC) $258,117; and Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia $393,170.
See “U.S. Department of Education Awards $3.9 Million to Partnerships to Support Underrepresented Students in gifted and Talented Programs”, U.S. DOE, September 24, 2014 at http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-awards-39-million-partnerships-support-underrepresented-
- The Number of Homeless Students Increases: The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro recently released a report entitled Homeless Children and Youth Consolidated State Performance Report Data, Schools Years 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13.
According to the report during the 2012-13 school year 1,258,182 homeless students were enrolled in public schools. This represents an 8 percent increase from the 2011-12 school year. The number of homeless students who stay at night in shelters, doubled-up, or stay in hotels/motels also increased. The number of homeless students who are unsheltered has decreased from 51,897 in SY2010-11 to 41,635 in SY2012-13. The report also includes information about subgroups of homeless students and the academic achievement of homeless students. The number of homeless unaccompanied youth is 75,940; the number of homeless migratory children and youth is 16,490; and the number of homeless children with disabilities is 200,950. Overall for SY2012-13, 44 percent of homeless students were proficient on state assessments.
See “Homeless Children and Youth Consolidated State Performance Report Data, Schools Years 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13”, National Center for Homeless Education at the University of North Carolina-Greensboror, September 2014 at
- Washington State Legislature Held in Contempt of Court: The Education Law Center reports that the Washington State Supreme Court ordered on September 11, 2014 the Washington Legislature to comply with its decision in the school funding case McCleary v. State of Washington. The Supreme Court held the State in contempt for not beginning to phase-in funding for the “basic education”, which the court had ordered the Legislature to complete by the 2017-18 school year. A basic education includes full-day kindergarten; pupil transportation; materials, supplies, and operating costs; class size reductions; and salaries.
In the 2012 McCleary decision the Court found that the State had not met its constitutional obligation to provide “ample” funding for a basic education, and set 2018 as a deadline for the Legislature to act. In this decision the Court found that the State had not made “sufficient progress” to meet the 2018 deadline.
See “Washington Supreme Court Holds Legislature in Contempt on School Funding” by Molly A. Hunter, Esq. Director, Education Justice at the Education Law Center, September 16, 2014 at http://www.educationjustice.org/news/september-16-2014-washington-supreme-court-holds-legislature-in-contempt-on-school-funding.html
3) Teacher Due Process Laws in States Differ Widely: Stephen Sawchuk examines for Education Week the laws governing teacher due process rights in the states. Due process laws ensure that teachers are not discharged without having the opportunity to respond to the charges made against them. The June 10, 2014 Vergara v. California decision in California has brought more attention to teacher due process laws, which some see as protecting ineffective teachers who should be fired. The Court found, in the Vergara decision, that the due process laws in California violated the rights of students to a quality education.
According to Mr. Sawchuck’s analysis, state due process laws differ in several ways, including the probationary period and requirements that teachers need to meet before receiving continuing contract status; the forum prescribed for the due process hearing; the time line for completing the process; the types of evidence that can be introduced; etc. Some states, like New York and California, have established different processes for cases of misconduct verses performance.
One of the issues that critics of due process are most concerned about is the length of time that it takes to fire an ineffective teacher. According to the article, some states do not have any time limits for the process, and so it can go on for years and cost the school districts hundreds of dollars. Proponents of reforming teacher due process laws recommend that the entire dismissal process be limited to 90 days, while the American Federation of Teachers recommends that the process be limited to 100 days. Lawmakers in Connecticut revised their teacher due process laws with the Connecticut Teachers Union in 2012, and the amount of time between a teacher receiving a dismissal notice and a decision being made is now 85 days.
See “Due Process Laws Vary Across States” by Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week, September 23, 2014 at
4) More Research on Teacher Evaluations: An article in Education Next summarizes the work of researchers, who examined the design and performance of new teacher-evaluation systems being implemented in four urban school districts. The researchers based their work on data on students and teachers between 2009-2012, and found some promising practices, but recommend improving teacher evaluations by improving classroom observations rather than test-score gains. The researchers, Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, Matthew M. Chingos, senior fellow, and Katharine M. Lindquist, research analyst, found the following in their analysis of the teacher evaluations:
- ”Teacher-evaluation scores based on a number of components, including teacher- and school-level value-added scores, classroom-observation scores, and other student and administrator ratings, are substantially better in predicting future teacher performance than traditional systems based on paper credentials and years of experience.”
- ”Observation scores are more stable over time than value-added scores. Significant increases in the ability to predict observation scores can be obtained by increasing the weight assigned to observations with relatively little decrease in the ability to predict value-added.”
- ”The observation system in place should make meaningful distinctions among teachers. An observation system that provides only two choices, satisfactory and unsatisfactory, for example, will result in similar ratings being given to most teachers.”
- ”Observations conducted by evaluators from outside the building have higher predictive power for value-added scores in the next year than those done by administrators in the building.”
- ”The quality of information garnered from classroom observations depends on how many are conducted. Requiring two observations (independent of who conducts them) increases both the stability of observation scores and their predictive power for value-added scores in the next year. Adding additional observations continues to increase the stability of observation scores, but has no further effect on their predictive power for future value-added scores.”
- ”Teachers with students with higher incoming achievement levels receive classroom-observation scores that are higher on average than those received by teachers whose incoming students are at lower achievement levels. This finding holds when comparing the observation scores of the same teacher with different classes of students.”
- ”When classroom-observation scores are adjusted for student background characteristics, the pattern of observation scores is much less strongly related to the incoming achievement level of students than is the case when raw classroom-observations scores are used.”
The researchers recommend the following to improve teacher evaluation systems:
-”Teacher evaluations should include two to three annual classroom observations, with at least one of those observations being conducted by a trained observer from outside the teacher’s school.
-Classroom observations that make meaningful distinctions among teachers should carry at least as much weight as test-score gains in determining a teacher’s overall evaluation score when both are available.
-”Most important, districts should adjust teachers’ classroom-observation scores for the background characteristics of their students, a factor that can have a substantial and unfair influence on a teacher’s evaluation rating. Considerable technical attention has been given to wringing the bias out of value-added scores that arises because student ability is not evenly distributed across classrooms (see “Choosing the Right Growth Measure,” research, Spring 2014). Similar attention has not been paid to the impact of student background characteristics on classroom-observation scores.”
See “Getting Classroom Observations Right” by Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Matthew M. Chingos, and Katharine M. Lindquist, Education Next, September 2014 at
5) Report on Federal Expenditures on Children: The Urban Institute released on September 24, 2014 a report that provides a variety of information about federal, state, and local expenditures on children through 2013, and projects spending through 2024, if policies remain the same.
According to the report, over 80 federal programs benefit children, including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Social Security, Title I, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In addition there are federal tax expenditures that support children, such as the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, the dependent exemption, and the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Federal outlays have grown from $562 billion in 1960 to about $3.5 trillion in 2013, with dramatic increases in outlays for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Federal spending in real dollars for children has grown also, from $18 billion in 1960 to $351 billion in 2013.
But the report states that federal outlays and expenditures are projected to decline as a share of the economy between 2013 and 2024 across all spending categories except health. In real dollars, the largest projected decline is in federal funding for K–12 education, which is projected to fall by 12 percent, from $43 billion in 2013 to $38 billion in 2024.
The report notes, “The projected declines in federal expenditures on children over the next decade are troubling. Without changes to current law and a righting of the structural imbalance between revenues and spending, we risk not only the well-being of our children but the well-being of the nation as a whole.”
The following is a summary of the other key findings in the report:
- “Federal expenditures on children totaled $464 billion, up slightly from $460 billion spent in 2012, but well below the peak of $499 billion in 2010 (all figures are in inflation-adjusted 2013 dollars.)”
- ”The “kids’ share” of the total federal budget (the share of outlays allocated to children) was 10.2 percent in 2013, a half-point increase from 2012. The kids’ share of tax expenditures fell by a half-point to 8.8 percent of all tax expenditures. The kids’ share of the economy dropped in 2013, with total expenditures on children falling slightly over the past year from 2.9 to 2.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).”
- The largest single federal program that benefits children is Medicaid, which spent $72 billion on children in 2013. The largest tax expenditure that benefits children is the earned income tax credit.
- Spending on children fell about 5 percent in programs subject to the Budget Control Act of 2011, but some programs for children were exempt from sequestration, and grew overall. Federal spending increased in Medicaid and SNAP, and through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). After the ARRA ended, federal spending fell by $34 billion between 2011-12.
- ”In 2011, 62 percent of spending (not including tax expenditures) on children was from state and local sources. Nearly all (96 percent) state and local spending on children is for either education or health.”
- Spending on children by states and localities fell during the recent recession. State and local governments were not able to restore federal funds provided through the ARRA.
- ”Two tax credits—the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit—have played a growing role since the late 1980s in providing federal support for children. By contrast, the dependent exemption, which provided 68 percent of all federal support to children in 1960, has dwindled to just 8 percent of federal spending on children in 2013.”
- ”In 2013, 63 percent of total expenditures on children were made through means-tested programs (51 percent) and tax provisions (12 percent).”
- ”In total, federal spending under current law is projected to increase by nearly $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years, reaching $4.8 trillion in 2024. Children’s programs will receive a very small portion of the growth—just 2 cents of every dollar of the projected increase.”
- ”Total expenditures on children, including both outlays and tax expenditures, are projected to fall relative to the size of the economy, from 2.8 percent of GDP in 2013 to 2.3 percent in 2024.”
See “Kids’ Share 2014: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2013” by Heather Hahn, Julia Isaacs, Sara Edelstein, Ellen Stelle, and C. Eugene Steuerle, Urban Institute, September 24, 2014 at
6) Standards for Charter School Accountability Proposed: The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University released on September 18, 2014 a new report that includes recommendations for state legislatures and policy makers to enact to “level the playing field” between traditional public schools and charter schools, and increase the transparency and accountability of charter schools.
The authors of the report note that state laws and oversight have not kept pace with the expansion of charter schools, which serve over 2.5 million students in 6,000 independently managed schools.
According to the report, “While most charter operators are working hard to meet the needs of their students, the lack of effective oversight means too many cases of fraud and abuse, too little attention to equity, and no guarantee of academic innovation or excellence.”
The report is the result of a two-year examination of the rapidly expanding charter school industry and the “unforeseen challenges that now threaten the public’s continued trust and the sector’s ability to meet its goals.” A working group led by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) and Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER) came together to address the following questions:
-”How does the rapid expansion of charters impact equity across all sectors?”
-”Does this new model of education increase the availability of high-quality schools for all children?”
-”Are independently operated schools fully accountable to the public that funds them and entrusts their children to them?”
Among the report’s recommendations are:
- Traditional districts and charter schools should work together to ensure a coordinated approach that serves all children. Unified school plans should be developed by school districts, authorizers, and charter schools, and the impact of new charter schools on a community should be examined before new charter schools are allowed to open. Academic standards should also be developed so that all tax-payer funded schools provide a quality education.
- School governance should be representative and transparent.
-Governance and Transparency: Currently only 10 states require parent representation on charter school boards. Governing boards must operate like public bodies representing the communities they serve.
-Management Contracts: Require full public financial disclosure by charter management organizations of their expenditures and profits; prohibit anyone with a financial relationship with a management organization, or the staff of any authorizing agency, from serving on the governing board of any charter school; require that the charter school’s governing board (not the management organization) directly select, retain, and compensate the school attorney, accountant, and auditing firm to ensure independence from a management company.
- Charter schools should ensure equal access (enrollment and retention) for interested students and prohibit practices that discourage enrollment or disproportionately push enrolled students out of the school.
-Enrollment: Some charter schools, for example, require parents to volunteer a certain number of hours in the school; require entrance exams; place certain students on “wait lists” when seats are available; and establish other barriers to screen students.
-Retention: Some charter schools counsel parents to withdraw their students, because of a lack of a “good fit.”
- Charter school discipline policies should be fair and transparent. Researchers have found that some charter schools have harsher discipline policies than traditional public schools, and that some charter schools even impose fines on students for disobeying rules, such as failing to tuck in a shirt.
- All students deserve equitable and adequate school facilities. Districts and charter schools should work together to ensure that facility arrangements do not disadvantage students in either sector. Co-locating a charter school in a traditional public school often causes more problems as schools compete for the same resources and students.
- Online charter schools should be better regulated for quality, transparency, and the protection of student data.
- Monitoring and oversight of charter schools are critical to protect the public interest.
- Charter schools should be funded by the state.
According to the report, “Most state charter school laws were written in the 1990s, when the schools were expected to be only a small component of state systems of public education. There was little concern that ineffective or unethical charter operators would use schools as nightclubs, or that for-profit corporations would buy up property and lease it back to schools at a substantial profit.”
See “Public Accountability for Charter Schools Standards and Policy Recommendations for Effective Oversight”, Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, September 14, 2014 at http://annenberginstitute.org/sites/default/files/CharterAccountabilityStds.pdf
1) October is National Arts and Humanities Month: Celebrate, recognize, engage, promote, support, and enjoy the arts and humanities during October, because it’s National Arts and Humanities Month! Americans for the Arts (AFA) organizes this nation-wide initiative (started in 1993) to recognize the importance of the arts and humanities in our communities and lives! AFA provides tools and resources for local organizations to host Creative Conversations, and hosts the National Arts Awards and the Best Business Partners in America 10 Gala in New York City during October as part of National Arts and Humanities Month.
The Ohio Arts Council has on its web site information about Arts and Humanities events in Ohio and also a list of ideas about how individuals and communities can recognize and promote Arts and Humanities Month. Suggestions include sharing information about the importance of the arts and humanities with state legislators, local government officials, boards of education, and local media; asking local businesses to feature student artwork in their workplace or store-front; use social media to highlight local artists and arts events.
To learn more about Arts and Humanities Month see http://www.oac.state.oh.us/events/artsandhumanitiesmonth.asp and http://www.americansforthearts.org/events/national-arts-and-humanities-month
2) Fostering Careers in the Arts: Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, writes that it is ironic that schools are cutting the arts from their curricula and the arts are not encouraged with the same rigor as other careers at a time when policy makers and national leaders are trying to develop “present and future generations of creative, innovative thinkers”. According to Chairman Chu the arts and the culture economy contribute more money ($504 billion or 3.2 percent) to the gross domestic product (GDP) than tourism and agriculture, making careers in the arts an important investment in America. Careers in the arts also contribute to civic and economic framework and the quality of life of a community. She writes, “By increasing access to arts education, we are not only equipping our children with creative reasoning, but we are helping to cultivate arts appreciation within a new generation.”
See “Fostering Creative Career Exploration” by Jane Chu, Media Arts, September 19, 2014 at http://www.creativecareersinfo.com/careers/fostering-creative-career-exploration
This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education. The purpose of the update is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities. The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (www.omea-ohio.org), Ohio Art Education Association (www.oaea.org), Ohio Educational Theatre Association (www.ohedta.org); OhioDance (www.ohiodance.org), and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (www.oaae.net).