1) Ohio News
- 130th Ohio General Assembly: There are no sessions or committee meetings scheduled this week for the Ohio House and Senate.
- 2015 Report Cards Will Be Delayed: Patrick O’Donnell from the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the release of the 2015 State Report Cards will likely be delayed from August 2015 until 2016. According to the article, Ohio schools will administer new assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium in the spring of 2015, but the consortium will not be able to set the passing scores for the tests until the fall of 2015, delaying the release of the report cards until 2016. The new assessments include those aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math and English language arts and “end of course exams” developed by PARCC. Of course the timeline could change if the legislature and governor approve HB597 (Huffman/Thompson) or other bills that would alter state standards and assessments.
See “Grades from spring Common Core tests may not be available until 2016; state report cards will be delayed” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, October 14, 2014 at
- Update on HB597/Common Core Hearings: The Ohio House Rules and Reference Committee, chaired by Representative Matt Huffman, held a hearing last week (October 14, 2014) on HB597 (Huffman/Thompson) Repeal Common Core Standards. The testimony was limited to proponents, who repeated previous concerns about the development of the common core standards; the amount of testing; the influence of business/corporate interests on schools; the inappropriate developmental level of some of the standards, especially in math; the lack of time, resources, and professional development to implement the standards; and the increased anxiety and stress caused by the new standards, testing, and consequences. Chairman Huffman plans another committee meeting for opponents to testify on the bill before the committee takes action, and would like the bill to be considered by the full House after the November election.
- ODE Announces Grants: The Ohio Department of Education, Office of Career-Technical Education, announced on October 15, 2014 the availability of $2.5 million in planning grants for Adult Career Opportunity Pilot Programs. Competitive grants of up to $500,000 will be awarded to five community colleges, Ohio technical centers, or technical colleges in fiscal year 2015 to develop Adult Career Opportunity Programs, to assist adults ages 22 or older, complete their high school diplomas and earn an industry credential or certificate. The funds will be distributed geographically among five regions. The application deadline is November 21, 2014.
- Should the State Receive a Report Card Grade?: Katie Wedell reports for the Springfield News-Sun that “…the Ohio Department of Education would have received a grade of D on its 2014 report card if it calculated a statewide score for all Ohio public schools combined the way it does for individual schools and districts.” According to the article, the State would have met only 14 out of 24 indicators if all student scores were aggregated. The State would have earned a B on the Performance Index and a D for graduation rates. The DOE reported statewide averages on the annual report cards in the past, but has not done so recently.
See “Ohio would have earned “D” on annual report card” by Katie Wedell, Springfield News-Sun, October 11, 2014 at
2) National News
- Grants to Support Special Education Announced: The U.S. Department of Education announced on October 8, 2014 the recipients of $121 million in grants from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The grants will support technical assistance centers; the IDEA Fiscal Data Center at WestEd in San Francisco; the Leadership Consortia in Sensory Disabilities and Disabilities Associated with Intensive Service Needs; special education early childhood education programs; special education low incidence programs; special education related services; special education minority institutions; and Parent Training and Information Centers.
The Office of Special Education Program grants (OSEP) also include $8.7 million for WestED in San Francisco to create a Center for Systemic Improvement (CSI). The center will provide technical assistance to states to improve intervention service programs for children with disabilities in local schools. The intervention services need to align with the U.S. DOE’s Results Driven Accountability Framework.
- Thirty States Still Providing Less State Funding for Schools: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a report on October 16, 2014 entitled Most States Still Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession by Michael Leachman and Chris Mai. The authors examined state budget documents and found that 30 states are providing less funding per K-12 student for the 2014-15 school year than before the recession in 2008-2009. Fourteen states have cut per student funding by more than 10 percent since the beginning of the recession.
Although the authors found that state funding for K-12 education programs increased this school year in some states, the increase has not made-up for the past cuts in 30 states. States providing less funding per student in 2014-15 than in 2008 are Oklahoma (down 23.6 percent), Alabama; Arizona, Idaho, Wisconsin, Kansas, North Carolina, Utah, Maine, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Illinois, South Dakota, New Mexico, Florida, Arkansas, Nevada, California, Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia, Tennessee, New Jersey, Colorado, and Vermont.
Some states have increased state per student funding in 2008-15. These include Ohio (.3 percent or $13 per student), Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Oregon, New York, Missouri, Minnesota, Wyoming, Maryland (5.4 percent), Rhode Island (5.6 percent), Washington (5.9 percent), Massachusetts (6.3 percent), Delaware (9.1 percent), Alaska (16.4 percent), and North Dakota (31.6 percent).
Budget information for Hawai’i, Indiana, and Iowa was not available to be included in the report.
The authors also describe the consequences of the state cuts to schools, which include reduced educational services and programs, and increased local taxes to support schools. The cuts in K-12 education programs have also “slowed the economy’s recovery from the recession”. According to federal employment data, by 2012 school districts had cut about 330,000 jobs and are still down 260,000 jobs compared to 2008. The authors question the capacity of school districts to successfully implement new content standards, assessments, teacher evaluations, and other reforms with fewer resources, including human resources.
See Most States Still Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession by Michael Leachman and Chris Mai, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 16, 2014 at
3) More Questions Raised About the Amount of Student Testing: Last week three organizations released reports and statements about the amount of student testing going on in schools, and as a result President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced their support for reviewing mandated assessments and the amount of time students spend on testing. The organizations include the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of Great City Schools, and the Center for American Progress.
- The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) reported on October 15, 2014 that many states are reviewing assessment systems to make sure that “every test is in the best interest of students and teachers.”
The CCSSO will ask its members to review state assessments for quality and alignment, assist school districts as they review formative assessments, eliminate redundant assessments, and increase the transparency of the state assessment systems by publishing an easily accessible list of all state assessments.
The CGCS is surveying its members to determine the number of tests administered, and will compile case studies to determine the amount of time spent on school-based testing and test preparation. CGCS will convene a special task force to review the findings, and make recommendations to streamline or eliminate assessments that are found to be of low quality, redundant, or inappropriately used; increase transparency; and work to ensure that assessment results are used to enhance classroom instruction, and curtail counterproductive “test prep” practices.
The two organizations also released a document entitled Commitments on High-Quality Assessments, which includes the following principles to guide the development and use of assessments:
-”Assessments should be high quality. We cannot waste student or teacher time with low quality tests. Assessments must be aligned with college- and career-ready standards. Assessments must measure students’ abilities to think critically, synthesize material from multiple sources, analyze problems, and explain and justify responses.
-Assessments should be part of a coherent system. Assessments should complement each other in a way that defines a coherent system of measures. Assessments should be administered in only the numbers and duration that will give us the information that is needed and nothing more. Multiple assessments of the same students for similar purposes should be minimized or eliminated.
-Assessments should be meaningful. Assessments are critical to improving instructional practice in the classroom and to helping parents make decisions. Therefore, the results of assessments should be timely, transparent, disaggregated, and easily accessible to students, parents, teachers and the public so they can interpret and analyze results, as needed.”
See “Chief State School Officers and Urban School Leaders Announce Joint Effort to Improve Student Testing”, October 15, 2014 at http://www.ccsso.org/News_and_Events/Press_Releases/Chief_State_School_Officers_and_Urban_School_Leaders_Announce_Joint_Effort_to_Improve_Student_Testing.html
See “Push to Limit Federal Test Mandates Gain Steam” by Alyson Klein, Education Week, October 13, 2014 at
- The Center for American Progress released on October 16, 2014 a report about student testing entitled Testing Overload in America’s Schools by Melissa Lazarin. The report examined how much time students spent taking state-mandated tests verses classroom, school, or district tests in 14 school districts in seven states during the 2013-14 school year. The school districts included in the report are the Columbus City Schools and South-Western City Schools in Ohio; the Denver Public Schools and Jefferson County (JeffCo) in Colorado; Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Sarasota County Schools in Florida; the Atlanta Public Schools and Cobb County School District in Georgia; the Chicago Public Schools and Elmwood Community Schools in Illinois; Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville and Bullitt County Public Schools in Kentucky; and the Shelby County Schools and Knox County Schools in Tennessee.
According to the report, ”Students are tested as frequently as twice per month and an average of once per month. Our analysis found that students take as many as 20 standardized assessments per year and an average of 10 tests in grades 3-8. The regularity with which testing occurs, especially in these grades, may be causing students, families, and educators to feel burdened by testing.”
The report also notes that students take more district tests than state assessments, and students spend on average 1.6 percent of instructional time or less on testing, or, on average, 15-16 hours on district and state exams. The report goes on to say, ”While the actual time spent taking tests might be low, a culture has arisen in some states and districts that places a premium on testing over learning. It is difficult to systematically document the prevalence of these activities. However, our research indicates that some districts and states may be administering tests that are duplicative or unnecessary; they may also be requiring or encouraging significant amounts of test preparation, such as taking practice tests.”
The report recommends that states and school leaders implement the new Common Core aligned assessments, because they include open-ended questions and are better assessments; provide schools and districts with more technical assistance and guidance about their assessment programs so that they are not duplicative or redundant; involve teachers in decisions regarding the effectiveness of assessments for improving instruction; refrain from test preparation and other practices and activities that might increase test anxiety; and improve the transparency of district-level assessments so that parents and the community are “…informed of all district and state tests, including when they are scheduled to occur, their purpose, their administration time, and whether they are required by the state or district. At a minimum, this information should be posted on school districts’ websites.”
See Testing Overload in America’s Schools” by Melissa Lazarin, American Center for Progress, October 16, 2014 at
- What is happening in Ohio? Recently proponents of HB597 (Huffman/Thompson), Repeal the Common Core Standards, have questioned the number of tests administered in Ohio’s schools in hearings on the bill. Debate last spring about HB487 (Brenner), the Mid Biennium Review-Education, also raised questions about the amount of testing. As a result, when the bill was signed into law in June 2014, the number of “end of course exams” was set at 7, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction was directed to report to the governor and General Assembly by January 15, 2015 ways to reduce the number and duration of state assessments. In contrast to the law, the State Board of Education had approved in 2013 graduation requirements that included 10 “end of course exams.” Recently introduced HB629 (Brenner/Gonzales) would limit to four the number of hours for state-mandated testing per student per year.
See proponent and opponent testimony on HB597 at http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/rules-and-reference
- Response from the White House: In response to the new reports about testing, President Obama said in a statement on October 15, 2014 that he is directing Education Secretary Arne Duncan “…to support states and school districts in the effort to improve assessment of student learning so that parents and teachers have the information they need, that classroom time is used wisely, and assessments are one part of fair evaluation of teachers and accountability for schools.”
See “As overtesting outcry grows education leaders pull back on standardized tests” Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 2014 at http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2014/1016/As-overtesting-outcry-grows-education-leaders-pull-back-on-standardized-tests
Also on October 15, 2014 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement, “Educators, parents, and policy makers need to know how much students are learning; that’s why thoughtful assessment of student learning and student growth, including annual assessments, is a vital part of progress in education. Assessments must be of high quality, and must make good use of educators’ and students’ time. Yet in some places, tests – and preparation for them – are dominating the calendar and culture of schools and causing undue stress for students and educators. I welcome the action announced today by state and district leaders, which will bring new energy and focus to improving assessment of student learning. My Department will support that effort.”
See also “Standardized Tests Must Measure Up” by Arne Duncan, Washington Post, October 17, 2014 at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/arne-duncan-standardized-tests-must-measure-up/2014/10/17/e0e699c4-54a4-11e4-892e-602188e70e9c_story.html
- Response from FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), Monty Neill executive director, issued a statement on October 12, 2014 recommending a moratorium on standardized tests, punitive sanctions on schools and districts, and the use of student scores to judge teachers. The moratorium would give states time to create new state assessment systems that support teaching and learning, and provide information about student achievement to parents, communities, and states.
See “Time for a Real Testing Moratorium” FairTest, October 12, 2014 at
- Response from the NEA: In a press release issued on October 16, 2014, Lilly Eskelsen, president of the National Education Association, said that the “…statements by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools and today’s report from Center for American Progress have confirmed that too often and in too many places, the education system has turned into a system of teach, learn and test with a focus on punishments and prizes.”
The NEA president recommended that the federal government return to “grade span testing” and using testing is a “way to guide instruction for our students and tailor lessons to their individual needs.”
She goes on to say, “As experts in educational practice, we know that the current system of standardized tests does not provide educators or students with the feedback or accountability any of us need to promote the success and learning of students. It also doesn’t address the main issues that plague our education system, like ensuring equity and opportunity for all students.”
See “NEA: Standardized Testing Mania Hurts Students, Does Nothing to Close Gaps”, National Education Association, October 16, 2014 at http://www.nea.org/home/60750.htm
4) New Recommendations for State Accountability Systems: Two reports about state accountability systems were released on October 16, 2014 at a briefing hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, D.C. See https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/events/1262
The first report, Accountability for College and Career Readiness: Developing a New Paradigm, by Linda Darling-Hammond, Gene Wilhoit, and Linda Pittenger, recommends a new framework for state accountability systems based on meaningful learning, professionally skilled and committed educators, and adequate and appropriate resources so that students are prepared for college or careers (CCR) when they graduate from high school. The framework is built on the following principles for effective accountability systems:
- Develop assessments that are more focused on 21st century learning skills and are used in ways that improve teaching and learning
- Create stronger, more multidimensional ways to evaluate schools and more sophisticated strategies to help schools improve
- Address the opportunity gap that has allowed inequalities in resources to deprive many students of needed opportunities to learn
- Develop an infrastructure that allows educators to acquire and share the knowledge and skills they need to enable students to learn, including quality preparation, professional learning, evaluation, and career advancement for individuals.
The proposed accountability system would include multiple measures of outcomes and also inputs. The following measures are proposed:
State and Local Assessment Results
-Consortium tests at designated grade bands (not every year) to validate local assessment results
-English-language proficiency gains
-Assessment of college & career ready (CCR) skills, such as AP, IB, CTE
Student Participation Measures
-Graduate rates (4,5, & 6 year)
-Secondary-year enrollment in IHE
School Climate/Opportunity to Learn
-Percent completing career and college ready courses of study
-Social-emotional learning & supports
See “Accountability for College and Career Readiness Developing a New Paradigm”, by Linda Darling-Hammond, Gene Wilhoit, and Linda Pittenger, October 16, 2014, Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education at
The second report, Next Generation Accountability Systems: An Overview of Current State Policies and Practices by the Center for American Progress and the Council of Chief state School Officers, provides examples of next-generation accountability concepts currently being implemented in some states in the following areas:
-Measuring progress toward college and career readiness
-Diagnosing and responding to challenges via school-based quality improvement
-State systems of support and intervention, including school support teams, pairing high-growth schools with low-performing schools, networks of low-performing schools, engaging external providers, and recovery school districts.
-Resource accountability, including new school funding formulas, increased transparency, and accountability.
-Professional accountability, including teacher evaluation systems, professional development, teacher preparation, teacher selection, retention, and tenure.
The Ohio Department of Education’s School Improvement Diagnostic Review (SIDR) is featured as an example of a state strategy to help low performing schools identify ways to improve.
The report also identifies the challenges that states, districts, and schools face in implementing new accountability systems, such as transitioning to new assessments; developing, implementing, and validating richer measures of student and school success; implementing school-quality improvement systems; enforcing resource accountability; and strengthening the teaching profession.
The report concludes with the following statement: “While innovation in one or two of the above categories represents a desire to move beyond status quo, states should take care that their reforms do not create unintended consequences or adverse incentives for various stakeholders in the system. Rather, states should ensure that accountability reforms affect student outcomes in a positive direction by designing their system for coherence and continuous improvement in a way that does not mask gaps in progress by individual groups of students. States can achieve this by creating a theory of action that articulates how the goals of the accountability system drive key design decisions and which supports and interventions will be given at various system levels to provide capacity along the way.”
5) Bills Introduced
- SB370 (LaRose) Voter Registration Awareness Day: Designates the fourth Tuesday in September as “Voter Registration Awareness Day.”•
1) Recruiting Students for Arts Day: The Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation is seeking high schools to participate in the Student Advocates Program. Selected high schools will send teams of students to serve as advocates for arts education on Arts Day, May 13, 2015 in Columbus, OH. The high school teams will participate in a range of activities (at their school and in Columbus) to prepare for Arts Day, and meet with their representatives in the General Assembly. The experience provides students with opportunities to learn about Ohio government and the value and importance of the arts and arts education as a part of a complete curriculum; hone public speaking skills; and network with students and teachers who are involved in the arts in other schools. The Student Advocates visit all legislative offices at the Ohio Statehouse on Arts Day as ambassadors of the arts and arts education, and are guests at the annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts ceremony and luncheon.
For information about this opportunity, please contact:
Shoshanna Gross, Shoshanna@OhioCitizensForTheArts.org
Telephone: 614.221.4064 Fax: 614.241.5329
Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation 77 South High Street, 2nd Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108
2) Register Now for a Conference on Sustaining Arts and Culture: The first ever Sustaining Ohio’s Arts & Culture Ecosystem Conference will be held on December 9, 2014 from 8:30 – 4:30 PM at the Ohio History Center in Columbus. The conference, which is hosted by the Ohio Arts Council, Ohio Citizens for the Arts, the Ohio History Connection, and Heritage Ohio, will provide information about strategies for boards, volunteers, and staff to use to strengthen Ohio’s arts and cultural organizations. Some of the topics that will be discussed include resources for financing arts and cultural organizations, organizing fund raising campaigns, capital and program planning, and creating advocacy networks. The keynote speaker will be Jamie Bennett, Executive Director of ArtPlace America. The cost of the conference is $25.00. To register go to https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50232/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=79231. For more information please contact Joyce Barrett, Heritage Ohio, at 614-258-6200
3) Researchers Say Policy Makers Must Broaden the Measures of School Success: Researchers at the University of Arkansas (U of A), led by Professor Jay Greene, published on October 14, 2014 the results of a second study, Learning from Live Theater Students Realize Gains in Knowledge, Tolerance, and More, showing the positive affects of culturally enriching field trips on students.
In September 2013 Professor Greene and researchers at U of A published a similar report which showed that students who were randomly chosen to participate in field trips to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in northwest Arkansas gained knowledge and showed more tolerance, empathy, and improved critical thinking skills compared to similar students who did not visit the museum. (See “The Educational Value of Field Trips,” by Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowen, EducationNext, September 9, 2013, at http://educationnext.org/the-educational-value-of-field-trips/)
In this recent study 49 student groups (totaling 670 students) were assigned by lottery to a control group or to a group to see theater productions of Hamlet or A Christmas Carol produced by TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
According to the report, “Among students assigned by lottery to see live theater, we find enhanced knowledge of the plot and vocabulary in those plays, greater tolerance, and improved ability to read the emotions of others.”
As a result of this study, the researchers conclude, “Our goal in pursuing research on the effects of culturally enriching field trips is to broaden the types of measures that education researchers, and in turn policy makers and practitioners, consider when judging the educational success or failure of schools. It requires significantly greater effort to collect new measures than to rely solely on state-provided math and reading tests, but we believe that this effort is worthwhile. By broadening the measures used to assess educational outcomes, we can also learn what role, if any, cultural institutions may play in producing those outcomes.”
Jay P. Greene is professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas; Collin Hitt and Anne Kraybill are doctoral students; and Cari A. Bogulski is a researcher.
See “Learning from Live Theater Students Realize Gains in Knowledge, Tolerance, and More” by Jay P. Greene, Collin Hitt, Anne Kraybill and Cari A. Bogulski, EducationNext, Winter 2015 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).