1) Ohio News
- 131st Ohio General Assembly: Lawmakers convened in Columbus on January 5, 2015 for the opening session of the 131st Ohio General Assembly. In separate chamber ceremonies members were sworn into office and leadership teams officially elected.
In the Ohio House Representative Cliff Rosenberger (Clarksville) was elected Speaker of the House and Representative Fred Strahorn minority leader.
Other members of the House Republican leadership team include Representatives Ron Amstutz Speaker Pro Tem; Barbara Sears, majority floor leader; Jim Buchy, assistant majority floor leader; Mike Dovilla, majority whip; and Dorothy Pelanda, assistant majority whip.
Members of the Democratic leadership team include Representatives Nicholas J. Celebrezze, assistant minority leader; Kevin Boyce, minority whip; and Nickie J. Antonio, assistant minority whip.
House Speaker Rosenberger also named Representative Ryan Smith from Bidwell as chair of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, replacing former chair Representative Ron Amstutz, who is now the Speaker Pro Tem.
In the Ohio Senate Senator Keith Faber was again elected Senate President and Senator Joe Schiavoni minority leader.
Other members of the Senate Republican leadership team include Senate President Pro Tem Chris Widener; Senator Tom Patton majority floor leader; and Senator Larry Obhof majority whip.
The Senate Democratic leadership team includes Senator Charleta Tavares assistant minority leader; Senator Edna Brown minority whip; and Senator Lou Gentile assistant minority whip..
The House and Senate participated in caucus meetings last week to discuss procedures and committee structures for this session, and expect to announce those details over the next weeks.
- ODE Awards Pilot Program Grants for Adult Diploma Pilot Program: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced on January 9, 2015 the institutions selected to receive $2.5 million in grants to establish pilot programs for adults to earn a high school diploma and workforce credentials.
The Adult Diploma Pilot Program was approved in 130-HB483 in June 2014. Its purpose is to support innovative competency-based education programs that allow an adult student (22 or older) to earn an industry credential and prepare for transition to postsecondary education by successfully earning a high school diploma.
The institutions selected include Stark State Community College, Pickaway-Ross Joint Vocational School, Miami Valley Career Technical Center, Cuyahoga Community College, and Penta Career Center. The institutions will receive $500,000, which can be used to create a competency-based or project-based learning module; develop a common assessment; survey the employment needs of a region; create a marketing plan to build capacity; identify industry credentials; and convert academic standards to competencies.
2) Opening Remarks Set Tone for this Legislative Session: Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger outlined their priorities for the 131st Ohio General Assembly in their acceptance remarks following their election to leadership posts on January 5, 2015. Both leaders expressed support for a bipartisan working relationship with the Democratic minorities in each chamber, and also the need for the General Assembly to act independently from other parts of government and respond to the will of the people of Ohio. They also emphasized the General Assembly’s role to ensure that all Ohioans have the “opportunity” to achieve their full potential through a high quality education and workforce development system. The following are some highlights from their speeches:
Ohio Senate: Senate President Keith Faber identified K-12 education as a key priority that should have bipartisan support this session. According to the Senate President, during the last legislative session the General Assembly provided nearly $1 billion in additional funding for K-12 schools, but the results were disappointing, leading him to conclude that money alone will not improve education outcomes. Saying that the “top down” Columbus-based “…command and control has done little to improve local schools and has left too many local schools with unfunded mandates that have only increased costs”, President Faber called for deregulating K-12 education, especially high performing schools, and encouraging local decision making to improve educational outcomes.
He also said that the General Assembly must address the increased cost of higher education, and asked public colleges and universities to reduce their costs by five percent this year.
Ohio House: Newly elected Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger outlined priorities for the Ohio House this session and announced a new initiative to address long-term issues called Ohio 2020. Describing himself as the son of an immigrant, growing up on the “doorstep of Appalachia”, and raised by parents who encouraged him to do his best, Speaker Rosenberger told the members of the Ohio House that the American Dream is still attainable, but you have to work for it, and “government cannot give it to you”. He said that it was the duty of the Ohio House to ensure that Ohioans have the mobility to move out of poverty, to find meaningful work, and “seek-out an education that provides for choice and that parents are not fearful of.” One of tools that citizens need to be successful is “an efficient education system for everyone”. He said that as Speaker education will be a top priority, because “a robust, well-rounded education is the engine that drives economic, cultural, and social stability.”
3) National News
- 114th Congress Convenes: Lawmakers in Washington D.C. convened on January 6, 2015 to start the first session of the 114th Congress.
Representative John Boehner from West Chester, Ohio, was re-elected speaker of the House of Representatives, and Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA) minority leader.
In the U.S. Senate, Senator Orin Hatch was elected Senate President Pro Tempore; Vice President Joe Biden will continue to serve as President of the Senate; Senator Mitch McConnell was elected majority leader; and Senator Harry Reid was elected minority leader.
- Lawmakers Reintroduce Bills to Ensure Educational Opportunities: Senators Jack Reed (Rhode Island) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) in the U.S. Senate, and Representative Marcia Fudge (Ohio) in the U.S. House of Representatives have reintroduced legislation that would establish standards for educational opportunities in schools and school districts.
The Core Opportunity Resources for Equity and Excellence Act would require that schools and school districts provide all students with equitable access to the resources necessary to achieve college and career readiness by high school graduation. The resources include high-quality teaching staff, including librarians; rigorous academic standards and curricula; appropriate class size; up-to-date materials and technology; effective library systems; effective family and community engagement programs; physically and environmentally sound buildings; and specialized support teams that include counselors, social workers, and nurses.
The act responds to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in March 2014. That report found disparities in educational opportunities offered students across the nation. For example, 57 percent of Black students, 67 percent of Latino students, 63 percent of students with disabilities, 65 percent of English language learners, and less than 50 percent of American Indians and Native-Alaskan students have access to the full range of math and science courses in high schools. Nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor, and many students attend schools with higher concentrations of inexperienced teachers.
- States Rated for Higher Education Support: The nonprofit advocacy group Young Invincibles released on January 7, 2015 state report cards assessing state support for postsecondary education. The report cards include a grade for each state in the following categories:
-Average Tuition Rate. The national average tuition of $8,474 and the rate of inflation are used as the baselines.
-Average State Appropriations Per Student. The national average of $5,906 per student is used as a baseline.
-Burden on Families. This measure includes the proportion of school revenue that is composed of tuition revenue and tuition as a percent of average income.
-State Aid to Students. This category includes three measures: average grant per student, average need-based grant per student, and how much those grants make-up the overall higher education budget.
-Education as a State Priority. The proportion of funds for higher education in the entire state budget.
According to report cards, the states that provide the most support for higher education are Wyoming, New York, Alaska, and Oklahoma, all scoring over 90 percent based on a 100 percent scale. New Hampshire received Fs in all categories and scored only 17 percent. Other low scoring states include Colorado (48 percent); Vermont (45 percent); Michigan (45 percent); and Oregon (44 percent).
Ohio’s final grade is 53 percent.
-Ohio earned a C- for Average Tuition Rate: “Ohio’s average 4-year tuition of $9,906 is higher than the national average, but has only increased 4 percent since the recession.”
-Ohio earned an F for State Appropriations Per Student: “Ohio allocates $4,523 per full-time student, which is below the national average, but has cut funding by 10 percent since the recession.”
-Ohio earned an F for Burden on Families: “Buckeye State families and students pay 62 percent of the cost that it takes to educate their student. This has increased 15 percent since the recession.”
-Ohio earned an F for Aid for Students: “Ohio contributes 6 percent of its higher education budget to student aid and provides only $175 in need based aid per full-time student. The national average is $350.”
-Ohio earned an F for Higher Education as a Priority: “In 2013, Ohio spent less than 5% of its budget on higher education, which was 14% less than four years ago.”
Final Grade F: According to the report, “Ohio is among the worst states in the country in spending on higher education and making it affordable for students and families.”
- Report Finds that Tuition Revenue Now Supports Public Colleges and Universities: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued in December 2014 a report entitled State Funding Trends and Policies on Affordability. The report was prepared for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), formerly chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, and is based on data from the U.S. Department of Education for all public sector colleges from fiscal years 2003 through 2012, the most recent data available at the time of this study.
According to the report, from fiscal years 2003 through 2012, state funding for all public colleges decreased by 12 percent, while median tuition rose 55 percent across all public colleges. The percent of state revenue supporting public colleges dropped from 32 percent in 2003 to 23 percent in 2012. As a result, public colleges began to rely less on state funding, and more on tuition revenue, which increased from 17 percent to 25 percent. Tuition revenue surpassed state revenue in fiscal year 2012.
The GAO authors write, “These increases have contributed to the decline in college affordability as students and their families are bearing the cost of college as a larger portion of their total family budgets.”
The report also found that in 2013 the federal government provided over $136 billion in loans, grants, and work study programs. Federal policies could be developed to encourage states to improve college affordability by better leveraging the federal investment in higher education.
See “Higher Education, State Funding Trends and Policies on Affordability”, GAO,” December 2014 at http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667557.pdf
4) State Board of Education to Meet: The State Board of Education will hold its organizational meeting on January 12 and 13, 2015 at the Ohio Department of Education, 25 South Front Street, Columbus, starting at 9:00 AM.
On Monday, January 12, 2015 recently elected and newly appointed members will take the oath of office led by Supreme Court Justice Judith L. French, and proceed with the election of the president and vice president of the board. Board Vice President Tom Gunlock, will lead the meeting until a new president is elected.
Following the organizational meeting the Board’s agenda includes committee meetings, recognition of Lori Michalec, Tallmadge City Schools, as Ohio’s 2014-15 Teacher of the Year; recognition of Ohio Teacher of the Year Finalists; and recognition of Jessica Tsoufiou, Plain Local Schools, as the recipient of the 2014 Milken Family Foundation Award.
On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, the Board will receive a presentation from the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.
The Board’s business meeting will convene later in the morning. The Board will consider the following resolutions at that time:
#5 Approve a Resolution of Intent to Amend Rule 3301-42-01 of the Ohio Administrative Code Entitled Criteria for Enrolling Eligible Adults in Public Secondary Education Programs.
#6 Approve a Resolution of Intent to Amend Rule 3301-102-10 of the Ohio Administrative Code Entitled Dropout Prevention and Recovery Academic Performance Rating and Report Card System.
#13 Approve a Resolution to Adopt the Revised Ohio Principal Evaluation (OPES) Framework to Align with Substitute House Bill 362.
#15 Approve a Resolution to Accept the Recommendation of the Hearing Officer and to Revoke the Registration of Autism Services for Kids, LLS, as an Autism Scholarship Provider, Pursuant to Section 3310.41 of the Ohio Revised Code and Rule 3301-103-06(E) of the Ohio Administrative Code.
#16 Approve a Resolution of Appointment to the Educator Standards Board.
#17 Approve a Resolution to Appoint a Member of the State Library Board.
5) Education Week Releases Quality Counts 2015: The Education Week Research Center released online on January 2, 2015 the latest version of its annual Quality Counts report on the status of preK-12 education systems in states. The full title of the report is Quality Counts 2015, Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown.
This issue of Quality Counts 2015 includes the annual “State of the States” report, which incorporates state scores on indicators in three categories: Chance for Success; School Finance; and K-12 Achievement.
The report also examines state and national policies and debates about early childhood education, which the report defines as preschool, day care, and other programs that support the academic and developmental skills of children from birth to age 5, and sometimes extend through grade three. The report looks at public funding for preschool, the latest research and studies, new technology for early learning, and the changing requirements for kindergarten. The report also includes the status of early childhood education programs in states in the Early Education Index, which includes data through 2013.
Highlights of Quality Counts 2015
To determine state ratings, the Education Week Research Center developed a grading methodology in which states rated the best receive 100 points on the indicators. Other states are then awarded points relative to the top state. The state score for each category (Chance for Success; School Finance; and K-12 Achievement) is the average of all indicator scores in the category, and the overall state grade is the average of the three category scores.
This year Education Week reports that the overall grade for the nation is C, which translates to a score of 74.3 out of 100 points.
The following are some highlights from the report arranged according to the three categories:
-The Chance for Success Index includes 13 indicators that describe lifelong learning opportunities starting with early childhood education and extending through postsecondary education and workforce training and employment. State data for this category was updated this year. The overall score for the nation is C+ (77.5). Scores for indicators improved for early educational foundations, but declined for postsecondary participation. A total of 30 states increased their scores, including Hawaii and Wyoming, which improved the most. Massachusetts scored the highest among states in this category with an A- (91.9). Other high scoring states are New Hampshire (A-); Connecticut (B+); Minnesota (B+); New Jersey (B+); and North Dakota (B+). The states scoring the lowest are Mississippi, New Mexico, and Nevada.
-The School Finance Index is based on data from 2012, which is the most recent data. This category includes measures for school spending patterns and the distribution of education dollars within each state. The overall national score for this category is C, which hasn’t changed over the past years. Wyoming ranks first with a B+. About 21 states earned between C- and C+, and 15 states earned a D+ or lower. Idaho scored the lowest receiving an F.
According to the report, the national average per pupil spending was $11,735 after adjusting for regional cost differences. Vermont spends the most at $18,882 per student, and Utah the least at $6,688 per student.
The report also includes state grades for the Wealth Neutrality Indicator, which shows how states support low property wealth districts, and the Restricted Range Indicator, which measures the difference in per pupil spending among districts at the 95th and 5th percentiles.
Alaska was the only state that provided higher funding for property-poor districts.
-The K-12 Achievement Index includes scores on 18 indicators related to reading and math achievement, high school graduation rates, and scores on Advanced Placement exams. The scores for indicators measuring Achievement Levels, Achievement Gains, Poverty Gap, and Achieving Excellence were published last year in Quality Counts 2014. The data for these indicators is based on the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is only released every other year.
The national grade for this category is C- (70.2), which is an improvement over 2012, when the score was 69.7. The top five graded states include Massachusetts with a B (86.2); New Jersey B (85.5); Maryland B (85.2); Vermont B (83); and Wyoming B- (80.6). The states with the lowest scores are New Mexico D (65.5); Nevada D (65); and Mississippi D (64.2).
There were 24 states and the District of Columbia that earned a D+ or lower, but overall scores in 27 states improved when compared to 2012.
Early Childhood Education
Quality Counts also includes a new feature that examines early childhood education programs in states. The new Early Education Index includes eight indicators: Preschool Enrollment; Preschool Enrollment Gains; Preschool Poverty Gap; Preschool Poverty Gap Change; Full Day Preschool; Head Start Enrollment; Kindergarten Enrollment; and Full-Day Kindergarten.
According to the report, the nation received a D+ (69.3) on the new Early Education Index, but there was also a lot of variability among the states on the indicators. Some states scored at the highest level on one indicator, for example, and then the lowest on another. The researches believe that one reason for the variability in scores is the complicated patchwork of public and private programs and institutions that serve early childhood education, and the laws that govern early childhood education programs address education, health and well-being, poverty, etc.
The states scoring the highest overall grade on the Early Education Index include the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The lowest scoring states are Idaho and Utah.
The report notes that the National Institute of Early Education Research found that 28 percent of 4-year-olds and 4 percent of 3-year-olds are enrolled in preschool. Enrollment of children from families with low income levels is lower (40 percent) when compared to higher income families (64 percent) according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
The researchers found that about 76 percent of kindergarten pupils are enrolled in full-day programs in 2013. However, only 15 states and the District of Columbia require children to enroll in kindergarten.
Ohio’s Scores: Ohio’s overall score of C (75.8) ranks Ohio 18th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia on the three categories in Quality Counts 2015. The following is a summary of Ohio’s grades and scores:
- Chance for Success: Ohio earned a B- (79.6) and ranks 25th among the states.
Early Foundations Grade (B) (85.1)
School Years Grade C+ (78.2)
Adult Outcomes Grade C (75)
- K-12 Achievement: Ohio earned a C- (71.3) and ranks 16th among the states.
Status Grade (Current levels of achievement based on NAEP): C- (71.2)
Change Grade (Improvements over time): D+ (67.3)
Equity Grade (Achievement between poor and nonpoor students): C+ (78.4)
- School Finance: Ohio earned a C+ (76.7) and ranks 18th among the states.
Equity (Includes scores on wealth-neutrality, the McLoone Index, the coefficient of variation, and restricted range: B (85.1)
Spending (Includes adjusted per pupil expenditures to account for regional cost differences; students funded at or above the national average, the spending index, which is per pupil spending weighted by the degree to which districts meet or approach the national average for expenditures, and spending on education as a percent of state taxable resources.): D+ (68.2)
- Early Childhood Index: Ohio’s overall score of D+ (68.9) is slightly lower than the national average of 69.3. Ohio ranks 34th among the states.
Preschool Enrollment for 3 and 4 year olds: 46.5 percent
Preschool Enrollment Gains: +2.3 percent
Preschool Poverty Gap: 14.7 percent
Preschool Poverty Gap Change: +3.5 percent
Full Day Preschool: 35.7 percent
Head Start Enrollment: 46.7 percent
Kindergarten Enrollment: 74.8 percent
Full-Day Kindergarten: 71.6 percent
See “Quality Counts 2015: Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown” at
1) AFA Strategic Plan for 2015-17: Americans for the Arts (AFA) released on December 11, 2014 its strategic plan for 2015-2017. The plan includes goals and strategies to increase recognition of the transformative power of the arts on individuals and communities and to increase AFA engagement at the state and local levels. The plan includes four goals that address the arts and arts education:
- GOAL ONE: “Lead and serve individuals and organizations to help build environments in which the arts and arts education thrive and contribute to more vibrant and creative communities.” To achieve this goal Americans for the Arts will launch the National Community Vision Initiative; continue to provide professional development opportunities to arts agency leaders; support the National Arts Marketing Project and the State Arts Action Network (SAAN); convene National Arts Policy Roundtables, Patrons events, community forums, and other dialogues; strengthen partnerships with non-arts organizations, such as National PTA, National League of Cities, etc.; strengthen partnerships with national arts service organizations; and support the Americans for the Arts Action Fund.
- GOAL TWO: “Generate meaningful public and private sector policies and more resources for the arts and arts education.” To achieve this goal, Americans for the Arts will continue to support Arts Advocacy Day, the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, and special forums; advocate for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Education, and other federal agencies focusing on the arts; strengthen business support for the arts through the pARTnership Movement, the BCA 10 event, the Arts and Business Council of New York, and other business partnerships; inform foundation leaders about using the arts to address community challenges; provide research results about arts-based problem solving; encourage civic engagement practices through Animating Democracy; work for favorable treatment of the arts in tax laws at the national, state, and local levels; encourage the use of the arts to support health initiatives in military and veterans communities; and strengthen and advocate for public art programs in communities.
Under this goal Americans for the Arts also will pilot a “multi-state arts education advocacy initiative that provides tools and resources for state leaders working toward sustained state level arts education policy adoption, including support of state longitudinal data systems, to ensure equitable access to an arts education.”
- GOAL THREE: “Build individual awareness and appreciation of the value of the arts and arts education.” To achieve this goal, Americans for the Arts will reinstate public opinion polling work; utilize mass media, social media, public service campaigns, and advertising to reach the public; continue to add relevant and current content on its website;
and continue to research, identify and encourage the use of the multiple and varied values of the arts in its messages.
Americans for the arts will also, “Continue to highlight the many positive impacts that an arts education has on students of all ages and backgrounds to demonstrate that the arts lead to a creative workforce and well rounded and engaged individuals.”
- GOAL FOUR: “Ensure the operational stability of the organization and its ability to respond creatively to opportunities and challenges.” To achieve this goal Americans for the Arts will engage our Artist Committee members to deliver the message of the importance of the arts in social media, mass media and partner activities; maintain a long term investment growth policy; cultivate and inform volunteer leadership; conduct the operations of Americans for the Arts in an entrepreneurial and focused approach; and continue to build recognition of Americans for the Arts as an influential arts organization.
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).