1) Ohio News
- 130th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate are not meeting this week, and no committee meetings are scheduled.
- Ohio Facts 2014 Available: The Ohio Legislative Service Commission released in September Ohio Facts 2014, a compilation of data and facts about Ohio organized in eight categories: demographics, economy, natural resources and environment, public finances, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, health and human services, and justice and public safety systems.
The section on K-12 education includes information about sources of revenue for schools, property valuation per type of school district, spending on school choice programs, etc. According to the document, enrollment in K-12 public schools declined by over 5000 students and K-12 enrollment in private schools declined by over 2000 students between FY2013 and 2014.
- ODE Retracts Teacher Value-Added Scores: Patrick O’Donnell reports for The Plain Dealer that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) removed teacher value-added information on the ODE website on October 22, 2014 after the contractor, SAS, discovered an error in how the student scores were assigned to teachers. Value-added scores are now used as part of teacher/principal evaluations, but the article notes that using value-added scores in this way is controversial.
See “Glitch causes state to pull back teacher “value added” student growth scores” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, October 24, 2014 at
- School Issues on the November Ballot: The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office reports that 1675 local issues will be on the November 4, 2014 ballot, including 164 school issues. A list of the issues is available at
- Ohio Voters Support Early Childhood Education: A poll conducted for the First Five Years Fund found bipartisan support in Ohio for investments in early childhood education, with 80 percent of respondents ranking the issue as very or extremely important. The poll was conducted in Ohio by the Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates. The poll also found that 76 percent of respondents believe that investments in early childhood education programs would help Ohio’s economy; 75 percent support an increase in federal investment to help states provide more access to high quality early childhood programs for low and moderate income families; and 71 percent support using the state’s budget surplus to provide more funding for early childhood education.
See “Ohio Speaks: Investing in Early Childhood Education is a Top Priority”, First Five Years Fund, at
- Education Issues to be Considered During Lame Duck Session: Hannah News reports that Representative Gerald Stebelton, chairman of the House Education Committee, said in an recent interview that the House Education Committee will consider changing the state’s “end of course exam” in physical science to biology, and that he hopes that the full House will vote on HB460 (Brenner/Driehaus) Community Learning Process/School Restructuring, in the lame-duck session after the November 2014 election. Chairman Stebelton also said that there is not enough support in the House to repeal the common core standards, HB597 (Huffman/Thompson), but there is a need to review the scope and focus of K-12 assessments, which might be addressed through HB629 (Brenner-Gonzales).
2) National News
- Chicago Schools Chief Plans to Pilot PARCC Assessments: The Chicago Sun-Times reported on October 22, 2014 that Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett wants to pilot assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in selected schools this year, and is seeking a delay in the full implementation of these assessments aligned to the common core standards.
The Illinois State Board of Education denied the request for delay in July 2014, but Dr. Byrd-Bennett reiterated her intent to administer the PARCC assessments to 10 percent of students this year, and continue to use the Illinois Standard Achievement Test and Prairie State Achievement Exam for the other students at a Chicago Board of Education meeting on October 22, 2014.
Dr. Byrd-Bennett is quoted in the article as saying, “At present, too many questions remain about PARCC to know how this new test provides more for teachers, students, parents, and principals than we are already providing through our current assessment strategies.”
Principals have told her that some schools lack computers and bandwidth to support the online version of the test, and the assessments take hours to administer, reducing instructional time.
The article notes that some parents are supporting the delay or have already opted their children out of the PARCC assessments. According to the article, parents who took the sample PARCC assessment last spring report that it was “poorly written”, tricky, and students need a lot of computer training to take the test, which means less time for instruction.
See “CPS wants to delay new test even though state already said ‘No’” by Lauren Fitzpatrick, Chicago Sun-Times, October 22, 2014 at
3) Study of D.C. Voucher Program Released: The Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, released on October 7, 2014 a preliminary report about the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The OSP provides vouchers to eligible low-income children to attend private schools, and is funded by the U.S. Congress. The voucher program was originally approved through the DC School Choice Incentive Act of 2003, which was funded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004. The OSP was reauthorized under the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) of 2011. The reauthorized law expanded the scholarship amount, prioritized the types of student recipients, and revised the accountability requirements for private schools.
The report includes the following key findings:
- ”Just over half of all DC private schools participate, with a smaller core set involved since the program began.”
About 33 private schools have been continuously involved in the program since the 2005-06 school year. Currently 52 private schools accept students, a decrease from a high of 68 in 2005-06. Since the program was created nine private schools that had participated in the program converted to charter schools; four private schools closed; and five have withdrawn from the program.
The report states, “These trends suggest that changes in the 2011 law have not drawn more private schools into the OSP.”
- ”Participating schools are more likely now than in the past to report tuition rates above the OSP scholarship amounts, to have no religious affiliation, to serve grades 9-12, and to have less diverse student populations.”
The characteristics of the private schools participating in the OSP program have changed over the years. More high schools are now participating (36 percent compared by 22 percent in 2005-06); fewer religious schools are participating (62 percent compared to 68 percent in 2005-06); and the schools serve fewer minority ethnic groups.
“Most important, a larger proportion of participating schools under the SOAR Act have published tuition rates that are above the legislated scholarship amount, while relatively few did under the earlier DC Choice Incentive Act (e.g., 64 percent in 2011–12 versus 39 percent in 2005–06. The extent to which families pay the difference will be examined in future evaluation reports, taking into account patterns suggesting that OSP students cluster in participating schools that do not charge tuition above the voucher cap.”
- ”Private schools that currently participate in the OSP have been operating longer, are more likely to be religiously affiliated, and have larger class sizes than other private schools in DC.”
Participating schools have been in operation an average of 75 years compared to 50 years for nonparticipating schools. The average teacher pupil ratio is 9, compared to 7 for nonparticipating schools. Religious schools account for 64 percent of participating schools, compared to 29 percent for nonparticipating schools.
- ”Compared to the public schools parents may be considering, participating schools are smaller, serve a higher share of White students, and are clustered in affluent areas of the city.”
Participating private schools enroll an average of 243 versus 348 students in traditional public and charter schools; have lower pupil-teacher ratios (on average 9 students per teacher versus 12 students per teacher) compared to traditional and charter schools; and have a higher proportion (35 percent) of White students than public schools (6 percent). Fifty-seven percent of OSP schools are located in the four most affluent sections of the city, in wards (clusters of neighborhoods) with average annual household income above $100,000 (Wards 2, 3, 4 and 6).
- ”The number of applications taken has fluctuated, mostly along with funds available to admit new students.”
In spite of the greater funding available under the first two years of the SOAR Act, there were fewer eligible applicants than during the comparable period of the earlier statute.
- ”Under the SOAR Act, OSP applicants represent fewer than 5 percent of eligible DC students. The law sets clear residency and family-income criteria to determine student eligibility.”
There are an estimated 53,000 children in DC who are eligible for the voucher.
- ”SOAR Act applicants are less likely to have attended a low-performing school than DC students potentially eligible for the program, but as likely to have attended a charter school.”
- ”Most OSP applicants live in the lowest income neighborhoods in the District, where there are fewer participating private schools.”
Sixty-nine percent of applicants live in wards with the lowest average household income, but only 43 percent of participating schools are located in these wards.
- ”Older students, and those from disadvantaged schools and families, use the scholarship at lower rates than others.”
Students from schools identified as needing improvement (SINI schools) use the vouchers less than students from non-SINI schools or private schools, and fewer students from disadvantaged families use the voucher.
See “Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: An Early Look at Applicants and Participating Schools Under the SOAR Act” by Jill Feldman, Juanita Lucas-McLean, Babette Gutmann, Mark Synarski, Julian Betts, and Marsha Silverbert, Institute of Education Sciences, October 7, 2014 at
4) Charitable Support for Public Schools Increases: Researchers at Indiana University, Ashlyn Aiko Nelson and Beth Gazley, have published the results of a study of nonprofit support for public schools in the journal Education Finance and Policy. (Note: A draft of this study was released in February 2014 and is available on the Social Science Research Network’s website at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2363032)
The study found that philanthropic support for public schools, from foundations, PTAs, booster clubs, etc. increased nearly 350 percent between 1995-2010 and totaled $880 million in 2010, but did not offset the reduction in tax revenues for schools during the recent recession. The researchers also found that philanthropic organizations support wealthier schools more than high-poverty schools, and the growth in the number and financial support of the school charities did not reduce public financing of schools.
The study is based on an analysis of IRS reports filed by school-supporting organizations between 1995-2010. The number of school charities increased during that time from 3,475 to 11,453, and the money raised, adjusted for inflation, increased from $197 million to $880 million. The percent of school districts that received support from at least one nonprofit organization also increased from 12 percent in 1995 to 29 percent in 2010. The study found that nonprofit charitable organizations were more likely to serve large school districts and school districts with more capacity, which the researchers defined as school districts with higher property values, higher percent of residents with a college education, higher household income, and low unemployment rates. The study also found that the amount of charitable revenue raised in a school district declines as enrollment increases.
The study notes that the number of nonprofit school charities has increased as states reduce state support for K-12 education and enact school funding formulas that cap the amount of revenue that school districts can raise through property taxes, in an attempt to increase equity among school districts.
Even though the amount of charitable contributions for public schools have increased, the researchers also found that the funds raised, less than one percent of the total spent on education by federal, state, and local governments, did not compensate for the 12 percent decrease in tax receipts to support schools since the start of the recession in 2008. In 2013 tax receipts were still five percent lower in inflation-adjusted terms than at the start of the recession.
See “The Rise of School-Supporting Nonprofits” by Ashlyn Aiko Nelson and Beth Gazley, Education Finance and Policy, Fall 2014 at http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/EDFP_a_00146?journalCode=edfp#.VEvZeb4fPBE
See the press release at http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2014/10/voluntary-school-support-study.shtml
5) 2014 Opportunity Index Released: Opportunity Nation released on October 20, 2014 the 2014 Opportunity Index, a composite measure for each state, over 2600 counties, and the District of Columbia, based on 16 key economic, education, and community factors that affect upward mobility for Americans. This is the fourth year the Opportunity Index has been published by Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan national coalition that includes more than 300 businesses, non-profits, educational institutions, and community leaders, and Measure of America, a Project of the Social Science Research Council.
The 2014 National Opportunity Index shows that access to opportunity has increased by more than 6.3 percent nationwide since 2011 as a result of increases in employment, internet access, and high school graduation. However, there are several “critical” measures that need to be improved, including median income, which is 4.4 percent lower than in 2011; the poverty rate, which is 11.2 percent higher than in 2011; income inequality, which is 2.7 percent higher than 2011; and the number of disconnected youth, who are defined as Americans ages 16-24 who are not in school or working. The number of disconnect youth decreased from 5.8 million in 2013 to 5.6 million in 2014, but is still too high, and has an impact on the stability and quality of communities.
The ten states with the highest Opportunity Index scores are Vermont, Nebraska, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, and Iowa. The ten states with the lowest Opportunity Index scores are Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Nevada.
Ohio was rated 31st on the Opportunity Index with a composite score of 53 out of 100. Ohio received a score of 53.2 for economy; 51.2 for education; and 54.6 for community. Ohio’s composite score is slightly higher than the national average score of 52.8.
See “New 2014 Opportunity Index Data Released” by Cara Willis, Opportunity Nation, October 20, 2014 at
See Ohio’s Opportunity Index at http://opportunityindex.org/#4.00/40/-97/-/Ohio.
6) Are the Common Core Standards Developmentally Appropriate? Alice G. Walton examines the concerns of child development experts regarding the common core standards and responses to those concerns in an article in Forbes.
The article explains that two hundred child development researchers and educators signed a joint statement in 2010 “expressing serious reservations” about the common core standards. The concerns include the “unrealistic” content requirements, such as requiring students to count to 100 by the end of kindergarten; standardized instruction; high-stakes testing; and the stress that students are experiencing in school.
Opponents believe that the common core K-3 standards could create more harm than good, because there is no research that standardized instruction for young children will lead to academic success later on. What children do need, according to the experts interviewed, is “rich play-based nonacademic experiences” until the age of six or seven. This is because children between the ages of 4-7 ”… are undergoing especially rapid changes in cognitive ability, but this neurological and psychological development occurs at all different rates.”
Other child development experts believe that the high stakes-testing attached to the standards is the greater problem, especially when children ages 5-7 are expected to sit for 6-8 hours of testing. They recommend fewer and shorter assessments in the early grades.
There are also proponents of the standards who say that the problem lies in how schools are implementing the standards. For example, while some schools have aligned the common core standards to a complete curriculum with time for the arts, science, social studies, and play, other schools have just doubled-up on math and language arts. Proponents of the common core standards say that the standards were never designed to “encompass all of what students need to study and learn” and were only to be part of the school day.
See “The Science of the Common Core: Experts Weigh In On Its Developmental Appropriateness” by Alice G. Walton”, Forbes, October 23, 2014 at
7) Bills Introduced
-HB638 (Beck) Budget Stabilization Fund Deposit: Requires an annual deposit to the Budget Stabilization Fund equal to 5 percent of General Revenue Fund revenues for the preceding fiscal year.
-HB639 (Beck/Adams) Income Tax Phase-Out: Phases out the income tax and income tax expenditures over ten years.
-HB642 (Fedor) School District Teacher Evaluation Safe Harbor: Provides a three-year performance rating safe harbor for school districts and schools and provides a three-year student academic growth rating safe harbor for teacher evaluations.
-HB643 (Duffey) Election Law-Free Speech Protection: Reviews provisions of the Election Law to ensure that Ohioans’ constitutional right to free speech is protected.
-SB373 (Schiavoni) Bullying Prevention-Education: Requires the State Board of Education to establish criteria and procedures for the awarding of bullying prevention and education funds to school districts and makes an appropriation.
- Nominations for the 2015 Governor’s Awards for the Arts Extended: The Ohio Arts Council announced last week the extension of the nomination deadline for 2015 Governor’s Arts Awards until Monday, October 27, 2014 at midnight. The deadline for submitting support letters has also been extended until Monday, November 3, 2014 at midnight. The Governor’s Awards in the Arts recognize individuals and organizations in Ohio for their outstanding contributions to the arts in the following categories: arts administration, arts education, arts patron, business support of the arts, community development and participation, and individual artist. Information about the nominating process is available at http://www.oac.state.oh.us/events/GovAwards/Default.asp
- Inspirational! Brian Richardson, a music teacher in the Philadelphia public school system, writes a delightful and inspirational article for TakePart. In the article Mr. Richardson explains why he is so happy to teach music in spite of the budget cut-backs, salary cuts, crumbling facilities, and the lay-offs (he has been laid-off twice in four years) in his school, and it all has to do with the 600 students he teaches in his K-8 school. He is happy because he gets to teach kindergartners how to sing their names; first graders to breathe to relieve stress; and second graders to play instruments and do something with useful with “anxious” hands. He is happy because the girls in his fourth-grade class teach him how to choreograph a dance, and he gets to discuss questions about culture, identity, politics, and the future with seventh graders who want to talk about the “best rapper”. He is also there at lunch-time for the “sensitive souls”, the girls and boys who don’t fit in with any clique.
He writes, “Most days, I don’t think about deprivation. I get to touch the souls of hundreds of young people, and I am enriched. I get to pour my heart into my job, and most days I receive even more love than I give. I get to teach music, and I smile because I’m a lucky man.”
See “Despite Cuts, Here’s Why Arts Education Matters to Kids of Every Age” by Brian Richardson, TakePart, October 16, 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).