1) Ohio News
- 130th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will hold some committee meetings this week, but no sessions. The House and Senate Education committees will not be meeting.
- Ohio House Approves Bill Limiting Testing: The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, reported-out on November 17, 2014 two bills: HB228 (Brenner/Gonzales) Limits on Testing and HB343 (Stebelton) Education Programs, a controversial “catch all” bill that also repeals the state’s minimum salary schedule for teachers.
The Ohio House approved on November 20, 2014 HB228 (Brenner/Gonzales) by a vote of 88 to 4. The bill limits the amount of testing in each subject to 4 hours per year and makes other changes in law. Details about the HB228 are included below.
When it reaches the floor for a vote, HB343 is expected to be amended to require third-grade students, who pass the Ohio Achievement Assessment in reading in the fall, to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers reading assessment in the spring, rather than the Ohio Achievement Assessment as directed in the bill as amended. This change will save the state $1.2 million.
- Ohio Senate Approves Straight A Fund Bill: The Ohio Senate approved on November 19, 2014 SB241 (Sawyer), which adds two minority members from both the House and Senate to the Straight A Program Governing Board.
- Democrats Choose Leadership for 131st General Assembly: Ohio Senate Democrats informally voted on November 19, 2014 to retain their leadership team for the 131st General Assembly. Senator Joe Schiavoni will remain Senate Minority Leader; Senator Charleta Tavares, assistant minority leader; Senator Edna Brown, minority whip, and Senator Lou Gentile, assistant minority whip.
The House Democratic Caucus informally elected on November 18, 2014 a completely new leadership team for the 131st General Assembly, replacing Representatives Tracy Maxwell Heard, who is term-limited, Debbie Phillips, Mike Ashford, and Dan Ramos.
Representative Fred Strahorn was elected House Minority Leader; Representative Nicholas J. Celebrezze, assistant Democratic leader; Representative Kevin Boyce, Democratic whip; and Representative Nickie Antonio, assistant Democratic whip.
- Governor Kasich Supports the Common Core Standards: Henry J. Gomez reports for The Cleveland Plain Dealer that Governor John Kasich offered his continued support for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) at the Republican Governors Association conference in Florida on November 18, 2014. According to the author, when asked about the CCSS by NBC’s Chuck Todd during a panel discussion with other Republican governors, Governor Kasich replied that as long as local school boards and parents are writing the curriculum, he didn’t see anything wrong with reaching higher standards in math and science.
See “Ohio Gov. John Kasich finds himself the center of attention at forum with potential White House rivals” by Henry J. Gomez, Northeast Ohio Media Group, Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 19, 2014, at
2) House Passes Sub. HB228 – Limits on Testing: The Ohio House approved on November 20, 2014 by a vote of 88 to 4 Sub. HB228 (Brenner/Gonzales) Limits on Testing. Before the House voted, the bill was amended to allow students at career centers to substitute an “industry-recognized credential” in lieu of a technical skill exam.
The bill was reported-out by the House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, on November 17, 2014.
As introduced the bill proposed a new school funding formula to ensure that all school districts received at least $1000 per pupil in state aid. The bill changed directions on November 5, 2014 when the committee accepted a substitute bill that incorporated HB629 (Gonzales) Primary and Secondary Assessments, which included the provisions to limit testing in schools. One provision related to school funding reform was retained: The bill requires the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) by April 1, 2015, to report to the General Assembly an estimate of the cost to the state of guaranteeing each city, exempted village, and local school district a minimum state operating payment equal to the greater of $1,000, or the per-pupil amount computed for the district for fiscal year 2013.
The substitute bill limits the amount of time allotted for each statewide assessment prescribed in law to four hours per year per subject beginning in 2015-16. This provision is expected to reduce by half the projected amount of testing time for students.
The bill also does the following: delays statewide online testing to the 2016-17 school year; requires the ODE to study the impact of online assessments on student performance; provides flexibility for the administration of the kindergarten readiness assessment, including allowing schools to administer the assessment starting August 1 rather than the first day of school; requires the ODE to determine which components of the resident educator performance-based assessment may be used as part of the teacher evaluation system; and requires the Ohio Department of Education to estimate 1) the cost of implementing a per pupil funding floor and 2) to assess the readiness of schools to administer tests online. The bill would not affect the third grade reading assessment, diagnostic assessments, alternative assessments for students with disabilities, Advanced Placement exams, or International Baccalaureate assessments.
3) National News:
- U.S. House Chair Re-Elected: The House Republican Conference re-elected last week U.S. Representative John Kline (MN) to the chairmanship of the House Education and the Workforce Committee for the 114th Congress. Chairman Kline is expected to continue to press for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act) the Higher Education Act, and work to reduce the role of the federal government in state K-12 education.
- Maximizing Resources for Technology: The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, issued a letter last week to provide guidance for states, districts, and partnerships to better use federal grants to support innovative technology based strategies to support personalized learning. The guidance supports President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, introduced in June 2013, which aims to increase access to high-speed Internet to the classroom, affordable mobile learning devices, and high-quality learning content, and increase support for teachers to implement digital learning.
The letter includes examples of ways grantees may use federal funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to expand learning through technology, such as through professional development; student materials, resources and supports; educator communication and collaboration; and the purchase of devices.
Tina Thomas-Manning, Superintendent of the Reynoldsburg City Schools, and Matthew Miller, Superintendent of the Mentor Exempted Village, were among more than 100 school superintendents who were recognized at a White House ceremony on November 19, 2014 for leading their communities in digital learning. The recognition was held at the “ConnectED to the Future” conference.
- Collaborative to Create CCSS Resources: A coalition of 11 state education agencies is developing “open educational resources” (OER) in grades K-11 aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math and English language arts. The coalition is called the K-12 OER Collaborative, and includes the states of Washington, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, California, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, and Wisconsin. The group is facilitated by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
The purpose of the collaboration is to provide “additional choices for local education agencies”, “significantly reduce expenditures for instructional materials”, and “offer much greater flexibility with higher quality digital educational content.”
The open educational resources will be created through a competitive RFP process and include instructional materials for each course, including strategies, activities, and resources that allow teachers to differentiate instruction, and assessments, including performance tasks, formative assessments, summative assessments, and rubrics. Open educational resources are licensed under different copyright laws, so the materials will be available for coping and redistributing without additional cost, and states and local school districts will be able to adapt the materials to meet their needs. The collaborative intends to update the resources annually.
4) More Third Grade Students are Proficient in Reading: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced on November 19, 2014 that 95.8 percent of Ohio third graders in the 2013-14 school year met the “proficient” level for reading and were promoted to the 4th grade under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
The Third Grade Reading Guarantee became law in 2013 and requires students to be proficient in reading in order to be promoted to the forth grade. Schools are required to assess students at each grade level in grades K-3, and develop an improvement plan for students not reading at grade level. The improvement plan includes additional instruction provided by a qualified reading teacher.
The ODE also reported that about 91 percent of third grade students met the proficient standard by passing the Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) in reading in the spring 2014; 4 percent passed one of the alternative assessments; and .9 percent passed the OAA in the summer.
About 4.2 percent of students who did not meet the proficient standards for the 2013-14 school were retained in the third grade, but can move to the 4th grade once their reading skills have improved.
The report also notes that about 126,000 students (5.7 percent) are exempt from the Third Grade Reading law, because they have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), are learning English, have significant cognitive disabilities, or have been retained.
5) Smarter Balanced Sets Initial Achievement Levels: The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium announced on November 17, 2014 the initial achievement levels and threshold scale scores for grades 3-8 and high school assessments field-tested by schools last spring. The consortium also provided an analysis of the test results based on the new achievement levels.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which includes 22 states, has developed assessments based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) along with another organization, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Both organizations administered the new assessments to students last spring. Ohio is a member of PARCC.
The consortium announced the initial achievement levels, cut scores, and average scale scores on November 17, 2014, after delaying the announcement at an October 2014 meeting of member states. The achievement levels range from 1-4 and are based on the performance of 4.2 million students on the spring field tests. The threshold scores were determined through an open process that included recommendations from the public; in-person panels that included teachers, parents, representatives from higher education, special education, business, and communities; and advisory committees of testing and technology experts. PARCC announced last month that it will not determine threshold scores until next fall, after another round of assessments have been taken and scored.
The threshold scores set by the Smarter Balanced Consortium are said to be comparable to the scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which define “proficient” at a higher level than just being at “grade level”.
Based on the new achievement levels, the consortium estimated that more than half of the students who took the exams last spring did not meet the proficient level of 3 (on a scale of 1-4) on the tests for English/language arts and mathematics. Forty-one percent of 11th graders were proficient in English/language arts and 33 percent in math; 38 percent of students in elementary schools and 44 percent in middle schools were proficient in English/language arts; and 32 percent of students in elementary schools and 39 percent in middle schools were proficient in math.
In the 11th grade 11 percent of students met level 4 in English language arts and math. Level 4 is the highest level and indicates that the student is ready for entry-level, credit-bearing courses in college.
Although the consortium has 22 members, about 17 states expect to administer the assessments this school year. Member states are expected to adopt the threshold achievement levels after review, but some states, such as Vermont and New Hampshire, question the thresholds and other metrics. In a memorandum to the members of the Smarter Balanced Consortium, Rebecca Holcombe, Vermont’s Secretary of Education, opposes using the threshold method to establish the appropriate levels of performance, and recommends that scale scores be used. In addition, Secretary Holcombe also questions the validity of the proposed cut scores for determining “college and career ready”.
1) Election Recap – Arts: Americans for the Arts reports in its November 2014 Monthly Wire that 85 percent of the Congressional Arts Caucus won re-election on November 4, 2014 and about 70 percent of the Senate Cultural Caucus won re-election. Committee chairs in the Senate will all be new due to the election of a Republican majority, and in the House a new chair will replace Representative Jack Kingston, who did not run for re-election, on the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Education. Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) is expected to continue to chair the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee that oversees funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
American’s for the Arts’ analysis of the election’s impact on the arts is available at http://www.americansforthearts.org/events/webinars/on-demand-webinars.
2) Youth Arts and Humanities Programs Recognized: First Lady Michelle Obama presented the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards at a White House ceremony on November 10, 2014 to 12 national recipients and one international program. The awards are sponsored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The annual awards recognize outstanding after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities programs sponsored by museums, libraries, performing arts organizations; educational institutions (e.g., preschools; elementary, middle, and high schools; universities; and colleges), arts centers, community service organizations, businesses, and eligible government entities. The recipients were selected from a group of finalists, which included the Circle Round the Square, Paper Circle from Nelsonville, OH. An application for the 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards is available at http://www.nahyp.org/how-to-apply/
The following programs were recognized this year:
- ¡City Arts! Community AfterSchool Program, Providence ¡City Arts for Youth! Inc., Providence, Rhode Island.
- everybody dance! after-school program, The Gabriella Foundation, Los Angeles.
- Project STEP Inc., Intensive String Training Program for Black and Latino Young People, Boston.
- Job Training in the Arts, Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, Aurora, Colorado.
- Workshop Houston, Middle School Program, Houston.
- New Ballet Ensemble, Memphis, Tennessee.
- New Victory Usher Corps, The New Victory Theatre, New York.
- Publicolor Inc., Continuum of Design-based Programs, New York.
- Teens Make History, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis.
- TeenSpace Circle of Mentoring, Santa Ana Public Library, Santa Ana, California.
International Spotlight Award:
- Salaam Baalak Trust, New Delhi and Mumbai, India.
3) Do the Arts Belong in STEM?? Anne Jolly asks in an Education Week article how teachers can combine instruction in the arts, math, science, technology, and engineering without compromising student attainment of higher level skills and knowledge in both STEM and in the arts?
To answer that question the author suggests using problem-based learning and projects involving design, in which students must use creativity and imagination to develop a plan to solve a problem; meet expectations and standards in the arts and STEM standards; and communicate about their project effectively.
The author concludes that, “A STEM program is just one part of a child’s education, focusing on math and science. But our children need a well-rounded, quality education that enables them to make informed decisions that will impact the world and the way they live.”
“We need students who are motivated and competent in bringing forth solutions to tomorrow’s problems. When push comes to shove, it’s not STEM vs. STEAM—it’s about making every student a fully-literate 21st-century citizen.”
See “STEM vs. STEAM: Do the Arts Belong?” by Anne Jolly, Education Week, November 18, 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).