1) Ohio News:
- 130th General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will not hold sessions this week.
The House Rules and Reference Committee, chaired by Representative Huffman, will meet on October 14, 2014 at 6:00 PM in hearing room 313 to receive proponent testimony on HB597 (Thompson/Huffman) Repeal/Replace Common Core Standards.
2) National News
- Changes at the U.S. DOE: Education Week reports that the U.S. Department of Education has created a new Office of State Support to help implement and monitor federal grant programs in the states. The office will be part of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education directed by Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle, who is also the former Superintendent of Public Instruction in Ohio. The new office will provide states one point of contact for several federal grant programs, including No Child Left Behind, School Improvement Grants, Title III grants, and grants for teacher quality. The reorganization will merge the Office of Student Achievement and School Accountability (Title 1), the Office of School Turnaround (School Improvement Grants), and the Office of the Deputy Secretary’s Implementation and Support Unity (Race to the Top). Each state will be assigned a team of U.S. DOE staffers with expertise about federal grant programs, and each team will serve nine to 10 states. The one program that will not be included directly in the reorganization is special education. The reorganization will be phased-in by 2015.
See “Education Department Opens Brand-New Office of State Support” by Alyson Klein, Education Week, October 6, 2014 at http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/10/arne_duncan_opens_brand_new_of.html
- New York Teachers File Lawsuit Over State Tests: The New York State United Teachers Union filed on October 8, 2014 a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Northern District of New York against the New York State Department of Education over the use of state confidentiality agreements, which prohibit educators who administer Common Core assessments from sharing with others information, concerns, or the questions on the assessments. The lawsuit alleges that the confidentiality agreements violate the teachers’ First Amendment right to free speech and the 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. The lawsuit was filed by five teachers who believe that they should have the right to challenge unfair or inappropriate test content without the fear of punishment.
See “Teachers Union Sues Over Common Core ‘Gag Order’” by Jon Campbell, The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, October 9, 2014 at http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/2014/10/08/common-core-gag-order-teachers-union/16947473/
- What’s on the Ballot in Other States? Lauren Camera reports for Education Week that eleven states have statewide education issues on the November 4, 2014 ballot.
Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, and New York are asking voters to approve new funding for schools. In Colorado Amendment 68 would generate $400 million through gambling at horse racetracks for an education fund to support technology, school safety, and school facilities. Propositions to increase state taxes for K-12 education are on the ballot in Nevada and Illinois, and in New York voters will consider a bond issue to support classroom technology and preschool facilities.
In the state of Washington, which is under a court order to increase state funding for public schools, voters will consider Initiative 1351, which would direct the legislature to increase state funds to reduce class size, and provide support for librarians, counselors, and nurses in low income communities.
Amendment 3 is a proposal on the Missouri ballot to create a teacher evaluation system based on student performance data. If approved by the voters, the new teacher evaluations will be used to determine employment status and salaries for Missouri public school teachers.
See “Education Measures on Ballot in 11 States” by Lauren Camera, Education Week, October 7, 2014 at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/08/07ballots.h34.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2
There is also an arts-related referendum (Question 5) on the November ballot in Rhode Island. Question 5, the Creative and Cultural Economy Bond, asks voters to authorize $35 million in bonds to renovate arts facilities, support other arts projects, and revive the state preservation grants program. The bond issue has the support of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations, because of its positive impact on the economy of the state.
See “R.I. political, business leaders voice support for Question 5 on ballot” by Linda Borg, Providence Journal, October 4, 2014 at http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20141004-r.i.-political-business-leaders-voice-support-for-question-5-on-ballot.ece
- New York City is Eliminating Letter Grades: The New York City Schools plan to revise their school report cards, and eliminate letter grades (A,B,C,D, & F) in favor of “…measures like the strength of the curriculum and the school environment”, writes Kate Taylor for The New York Times. New York City Schools Chancellor, Carmen Farina, announced on September 30, 2014 the new report card measures after parents and educators complained that the overall letter grades, implemented in 2006 under former mayor Michael Bloomberg, were “too simplistic” and often “painted an inaccurate picture” of the schools. The new evaluation system, initiated by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be more holistic and rely less on student test scores. It will include two parts, a School Quality Snapshot for parents and the community, and a School Quality Guide for school leaders. The School Quality Snapshot will rate schools from poor to excellent on a series of questions based on the results of the school survey and student improvement on state English and math tests. The more detailed School Quality Guide will rate schools as “Not meeting target”, “Approaching target”, “Meeting target”, and “Exceeding target”.
The Ohio Department of Education is currently phasing-in a legislatively-directed accountability system for rating school districts and schools using letter grades A,B,C,D, and F.
See “New School Evaluations Will Lower Test Scores’ Influence” by Kate Taylor, The New York Times, September 30, 2014 at
- StudentsFirst Announces New President: Caitlin Emma of Politico’s “Morning Education” reports that the education advocacy/political organization StudentsFirst announced last week the selection of Jim Blew as its new president, replacing Michelle Rhee Johnson who resigned in August 2014. Ms. Johnson will continue to be involved in StudentsFirst through its Board of Directors. Mr. Blew has served as an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation and on campaigns for the Alliance for School Choice and the former American Education Reform Council.
StudentsFirst was created in 2010 by Michele Rhee Johnson, the former Chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools, and lobbies at the national and state levels for charter schools, parent trigger laws, teacher evaluations based on test scores, and eliminating teacher tenure. StudentsFirst also supports candidates running for office and state ballot issues. StudentsFirst has been financially supported by the Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and hedge fund managers John Arnold, David Tepper and Alan Fournier.
The Ohio chapter of StudentsFirst is directed by Greg Harris. Members of StudentsFirst Ohio have testified at the Statehouse on a several education bills (HB59 Biennial Budget, SB229 Teacher Evaluations, HB237 Common Core Standards), and oppose repealing the Common Core State Standards in HB597-Huffman/Thompson. The Ohio Department of Education recently announced the selection of StudentsFirst Ohio to be a “neutral third party” and serve as a resource for parents interested in implementing Ohio’s Parent Trigger Law. The Parent Trigger provision was included in HB59 (Amstutz) – the 2014-15 Biennial Budget, and applies only to parents in low-performing schools in the Columbus City School District. The law enables parents in eligible schools to petition the Columbus Board of Education to enact school reforms, including replacing the school with a charter school.
See “Morning Education” by Caitlin Emma, Politico, October 8, 2014 at
See “StudentsFirst Says It Won’t Play Politics with Columbus Schools Parent Trigger” by Bill Bush, Columbus Dispatch, September 16, 2014, http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/09/16/StudentsFirst_parent_trigger_Columbus_Schools.html
3) Superintendents Identify Common Core Challenges: The Center on Education Policy (CEP) released on October 8, 2014 a new report that includes the results of a national survey of school superintendents implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The report is entitled, “Common Core State Standards in 2014: Districts’ Perceptions, Progress, and Challenges” by Diane Stark Rentner and Nancy Kober. The report was prepared by researchers at the CEP, which is based in Washington, D.C. at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development. The CEP works to help Americans better understand the role of public education in a democracy and the need to improve the academic quality of public schools.
According to the report, “…..districts implementing the Common Core are facing increasing opposition to the standards while trying to reconcile misinformation and misunderstanding about their intent and impact. Districts are also managing other challenges and uncertainties related to curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessment. Yet despite these challenges and concerns, district leaders continue to validate the increased rigor of the standards and their potential to raise the level of student skills.”
The following are the key findings of the report:
- The views of district leaders about the rigor of the CCSS, their impact on learning, and necessary changes in curriculum and instruction:
-”About 90% of school district leaders in adopting states agree that the Common Core standards are more rigorous than their state’s previous math and ELA standards and will lead to improved student skills. The proportions of district leaders concurring with these views have increased substantially since 2011.
-More than 80% of district leaders agree that implementing the CCSS will require new or substantially revised curriculum materials and new instructional practices. The percentages of leaders who subscribe to these views have increased since 2011.”
- Timelines for fully implementing curriculum and instruction aligned to the CCSS and other key aspects:
-”In more than half of the districts in CCSS-adopting states, leaders do not expect their district to complete important milestones of CCSS implementation—such as adequately preparing teachers to teach the Common Core and implementing CCSS-aligned curricula—until school year 2014-15 or later.”
- Implementation challenges:
-”The vast majority of districts are facing major or minor challenges in implementing the Common Core. These include providing professional development, securing CCSS-aligned curricula, preparing for CCSS-aligned assessments, and finding enough resources to support all of the activities associated with implementing the CCSS.
-Nearly 90% of district leaders cite challenges with having enough time to implement the CCSS before consequences related to student performance on CCSS-aligned assessments take effect.
-In 2014, 34% of district leaders reported that overcoming resistance to the CCSS from outside the educational system was a major challenge, and 39% viewed this as a minor challenge. In addition, 25% of leaders saw resistance to the CCSS from within the system as a major challenge, and 49% as a minor challenge. Higher percentages of leaders reported major challenges due to resistance to the CCSS in 2014 than in 2011.”
- Efforts to provide outreach about the CCSS to stakeholders:
-”A large majority of districts in CCSS-adopting states have conducted outreach activities to explain to stakeholders how the CCSS are more rigorous than previous state math and ELA standards (84% of districts) and why student performance on CCSS-aligned assessments may be lower than on previous state tests (76%).
-Greater proportions of districts targeted outreach to principals and teachers and to parents and students than to other audiences, such as community members or business leaders.”
- District collaboration with other entities to implement the CCSS:
-”Nearly all districts have collaborated with at least one other entity in implementing aspects of the Common Core. For example, 75% of districts are collaborating with other partners to create CCSS-aligned curricula, and 65% are working with partners to develop interim and benchmark assessments to measure student mastery of the CCSS.
-In carrying out specific CCSS implementation activities, higher proportions of districts are collaborating with other districts in their state and their state educational agency than with nonprofits, institutions of higher education, or school districts in other states.”
- District participation in assistance from the state education agency (SEA) on CCSS implementation, and the views of district leaders about the helpfulness of this assistance:
-”The majority of districts in CCSS-adopting states have received assistance from their SEA on one or more aspects of implementation, such as teacher or principal professional development or informational meetings about the Common Core.
-Of the districts that reported receiving assistance from the SEA, about one-third found these services to be very helpful, and about two-thirds found them somewhat helpful. A very small proportion of districts—3% to 8%, depending on the service—did not find the SEA assistance helpful.”
The authors make the following observations and recommendations about the survey results:
-School district leaders see the potential of the CCSS, despite the challenges, and could be part of strategies to maintain or restore support for the standards and reduce misinformation about the standards.
-School district leaders reported that they didn’t have sufficient resources (curriculum and teacher preparation) to meet all of the milestones to effectively implement the CCSS, which means that students will not be adequately prepared in 2015 for the assessments and many schools will not meet state accountability requirements. Policy makers need to reconsider the timeline for implementing the standards and any consequences for not meeting student performance targets during this implementation period.
-”A broad coalition of support that involves SEAs, institutions of higher education and other related entities would be an important and valuable asset to district leaders hoping to maintain momentum for the standards over time.”
-”This report suggests the time is right for state leaders to assess the capacities of their SEAs and ensure there is enough staff expertise and resources to support the needs of local districts.”
See “Common Core State Standards in 2014: Districts’ Perceptions, Progress, and Challenges” by Diane Stark Rentner and Nancy Kober, Center on Education Policy, October 8, 2014 at http://www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=440
4) College Board Releases Assessment Results: The CollegeBoard released on October 7, 2014 the annual results for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Advanced Placement Exams (AP), and PSAT/NMSQT exams administered to students in 2014. This was the first time that the CollegeBoard released the results of all of these exams together. National and student profile information is included in the SAT 2014 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report and separate reports are prepared for each state.
- Overview of SAT Results: The CollegeBoard reported that 1.67 million students took the SAT in 2014 and 42.6 percent achieved the “college and career ready benchmark” of at least 1550. The CollegeBoard has found that at that score, 78 percent of students are more likely to enroll in college, 65 percent of students are more likely to achieve at least a B- average in their first year; and 54 percent are more than likely to complete a degree. The number of students meeting the benchmark remained the same as last year.
For subgroups of students, 15.8 percent of African American and 23.4 percent of Hispanic test takers met the benchmark for college and career ready. These percentages are also similar when compared to last year.
- Overview of AP Results: Nationally 1.48 million 11th and 12th grade students (21.9 percent) took an AP exam, and 13.2 percent of students achieved at least a score of three out of five on the exam, meaning that they would likely receive college credit for the course. The number of minority and under-represented students taking AP exams has increased by 7 percent compared to 2013, and the percent of low-income students taking AP exams has increased by 7.3 percent.
- Overview of PSAT/NMSQT Results: In 2014 3.7 million students took the Pre SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), and about 45.9 percent were minority students.
- 2014 Results for Ohio: The number of Ohio students who took the SAT exam in 2014 was 19,040, a drop from 22,205 students in 2013. Students in Ohio scored on average higher than the national average in reading (Ohio mean 555/national mean 497), math (Ohio mean 562/national mean 513), and writing (Ohio mean 535/national mean 487), and 64.4 percent met the College Board’s definition of “college and career ready”, scoring at least 1550 on the SAT.
Among subgroups of students 26.3 percent of African-American test takers in Ohio met the benchmark, compared to 15.8 percent nationally, and 56.9 percent of Hispanic students in Ohio met the benchmark, compared to 23.4 percent nationally.
There was also an increase in the number of Ohio students who took an Advanced Placement (AP) exam and scored at least a three out of five, to earn college credit for the course. In 2014 16 percent of 11th and 12th grade students took at least one AP exam, and 10.3 percent of students scored at least a three.
See SAT 2014 College-Bound Seniors State Profile at Reporthttps://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/sat/OH_14_03_03_01.pdf
- National SAT Results for Students Taking Arts and Music Courses: The SAT 2014 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report includes information about students who take the SAT test, including demographic and course-taking information. According to the report, the average number of years of study in arts and music courses in high school for SAT takers was 2.2 years. The SAT mean score for students taking arts and music courses was 534 in reading, 536 in math, and 523 in writing. These mean scores are higher than the national mean scores of 497 in reading, 513 in math, and 487 in writing, and higher than the mean scores of students who reported taking four years of math: 511 in reading, 517 in math, and 498 in writing.
The report also includes the SAT mean scores for students reporting no arts courses taken: 475 in reading; 497 in math; and 461 in writing.
The average number of years of study in the arts and music for Ohio students taking the SAT was 2.5 years. The SAT mean scores for Ohio students who reported taking 4 years of courses in the arts and music was 576 in reading; 575 in math; and 555 in writing.
See SAT 2014 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report at https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/sat/TotalGroup-2014.pdf
5) A Decade of Hit or Miss Reforms: Reporter and former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert describes some of the recent education reform efforts championed by millionaires and billionaires as “hit or miss” in an article for Politico Magazine. Starting with the failed “small schools” initiative, funded by Bill Gates at a cost of $2 billion, and another Gates initiative about defining and replicating teacher quality, Mr. Herbert writes that the big money crowd, corporate style reformers, and privatization advocates have “trotted” out one education experiment after another, including charter schools.
He writes, “Charter schools were supposed to prove beyond a doubt that poverty didn’t matter, that all you had to do was free up schools from the rigidities of the traditional public system and the kids would flourish, no matter how poor they were or how chaotic their home environments.”
He goes on to say that supported by corporate leaders, hedge fund managers, and foundations, billions of dollars have now been spent on charter schools, but “Charters never came close to living up to the hype”. Charter schools are “no more effective” than traditional public schools, and in some cases have led to racial segregation and isolation, and scandals.
He concludes, “While originally conceived as a way for teachers to seek new ways to reach the kids who were having the most difficult time, the charter school system instead ended up leaving behind the most disadvantaged youngsters.”
See “The Plot Against Public Education: How Millionaires and Billionaires are Ruining our Schools”, by Bob Herbert, Politico Magazine, October 6, 2014 at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/the-plot-against-public-education-111630.html#.VDceXb4fPBF
6) Bills Introduced
- HB629 (Brenner) Primary-Secondary Education Assessments: Regarding the administration of state primary and secondary education assessments.
- HB631 (Henne) Ohio Teacher Evaluation System Exemption: Excludes evaluations conducted pursuant to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System from the Public Records Law and exempts teachers participating in the Ohio Teacher Residency Program from those evaluations.
- Cleveland Playhouse Receives Arts Education Grant: The U.S. Department of Education announced on October 8, 2014 the 34 recipients of $13.4 million in grants to support arts integration in elementary and middle schools and professional development for arts educators to expand innovative arts education programs. The grants are supported by the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) program and the Professional Development for Arts Education (PDAE) program. The recipients include school districts and nonprofit organizations with expertise in arts education.
See “U.S. Department of Education Awards $13.4 Million in Grants to 34 Organizations to Enhance Teaching and Learning Through Arts Education”, U.S. Department of Education, October 8, 2014 at
The Cleveland Play House (CPH) is one of the recipients of a $444,050 grant from the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Program (AEMDD). The grant will be part of a four-year $2 million award to support a new program, the Compassionate Arts Remaking Education (CARE) program in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). The CARE program includes integrated theatre lessons and educator professional development to teach students in the CMSD 21st Century Skills, such as collaboration and creativity, social and emotional learning, and literacy skills.
The Cleveland Playhouse was founded in 1915 and is America’s first professional regional theatre. Arts education is a key part of CPH’s mission, and over 5000 students from CMSD annually attend free performances and tours. CPH regularly collaborates with schools and educators to integrate theatre lessons throughout the curriculum.
See “CPH Receives $2M Education Grant”, by Kelly Luecke, October 10, 2014 at http://www.clevelandplayhouse.com/news/cph-receives-2m-education-grant
- Wallace Foundation Announces New Arts Initiative: The New York based Wallace Foundation announced on October 1, 2014 a new $40 million four-year initiative called “Building Audiences for Sustainability” to help arts organizations attract new and retain existing audiences. The funds will support 25 performing arts organizations and their plans to expand their audience base. The project also includes a research component to gather information about the best strategies to attract and sustain audiences, and determine the financial impact of building audiences on an arts organization. Participating arts organizations will be announced in February 2015.
The project expands on the results of the Wallace Excellence Awards, a project which analyzed the audience-building efforts of 10 arts organizations, and resulted in the publication of The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Audiences by Bob Harlow.
See “The Wallace Foundation Announces Six-Year, $40-Million Initiative to Support – and Learn From – About 25 Performing Arts Organizations That Engage New Audiences”, October 1, 2014 at
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).