Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
November 2, 2015
131st General Assembly: Some committees will meet this week, but overall lawmakers will be focusing on the November 3, 2015 election. The House and Senate Education Committees are not scheduled to meet.
HB2 Becomes Law: Governor Kasich signed Am. Sub. HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner) into law on November 1, 2015. The bill was approved by the House and Senate in early October, but was only recently sent to the governor to be signed.
Am. Sub. HB2 adds several provisions to increase oversight of charter schools, and will go into effect in 90 days.
For details about the bill see
General Assembly Approves Additional Funds for Some Schools: The House and Senate approved on October 27, 2015 Am. SB 208 (Beagle) and sent the bill to Governor Kasich, who is expected to sign it into law.
The bill corrects a provision included in the state’s budget bill, Am. Sub. HB64 (Smith), that inadvertently increased income taxes for some small business owners.
In addition, the Senate amended the bill to address one of Governor Kasich’s line-item vetoes in the biennial budget, HB64 (Smith). The veto affected some school districts that had been held harmless in FY17 for the phase-out of reimbursements as a result of the loss of the Tangible Personal Property Taxes (TPP) and Public Utility Tangible Personal Property Taxes (PUTPP).
The Senate amendment restores about 96 percent of TPP/PUTPP reimbursements and state aid for some school districts, for about $44 million. The amendment doesn’t provide the full supplement of funds or funds for all effected school districts included in HB64, which would have cost $90 million. For example, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District still loses about $13.9 million. The bill also doesn’t cover joint vocational school districts.
The amendment also changes, beginning in FY18, the phaseout of TPP/PUTPP reimbursements, and limits school district losses to no more than five-eights of one mill’s worth of local property taxes, rather than two percent of total state and local support for a school district.
-SB234 (Carfaro) Student Enrollment-Children Services: Amends sections 3314.03, 3326.11, 3328.24, 5101.132, and 5101.134 and to enact sections 2151.4210, 3313.675, 3314.60, 3326.60, and 3328.60 of the Revised Code to require specified public and nonpublic school officials to search the Uniform Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System within thirty days of a student’s enrollment and to notify the county public children services agency if specified information is found during that search.
-SB235 (Beagle-Coley) Increased Value-Property Tax: Enacts section 5709.45 of the Revised Code to exempt from property tax the increased value of property on which industrial or commercial development is planned until construction of new commercial or industrial facilities at the property commences.
New House Speaker Elected: The U.S. House of Representatives elected Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) the 54th Speaker of the U.S. House on October 29, 2015. The new speaker replaces John Boehner (R-OH), who officially resigned from his 8th House District on October 31, 2015. Governor Kasich has not scheduled a special election to fill the seat, but candidates are already lining-up, including Representative Tim Derickson, Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City), Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, JD Winteregg of Troy, Eric Gurr of Middletown, and Scott George of Troy.
Washington Deal Averts Default: The U.S House and Senate approved last week a two-year budget and debt ceiling deal that will avert a government default this week. The bill also sets the stage for finalizing FY16 budget appropriations before a December 11, 2015 deadline. President Obama is expected to sign the measure on Monday.
The compromise package, negotiated with the Obama Administration before House Speaker John Boehner left office, cleans-up lingering issues as Paul Ryan takes over as Speaker of the House.
The deal allows the Treasury Department to raise its borrowing limit through March 2017, which will temporarily postpone debates about the debt ceiling limit.
The budget fix sets spending levels for FY16 and FY17, but will require the approval of separate legislation to finalize the details of the spending plans for government agencies. The $1.1 trillion budget plan for FY16 needs to be approved by December 11, 2015.
The deal also eases sequestration by including an increase of $80 billion, which will be split between domestic and defense programs.
See “House approves budget-and-debt deal to avert unprecedented default, sends measure to Senate” by The Associated Press, October 28, 2015 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/house-approves-budget-and-debt-deal-to-avert-unprecedented-default-sends-measure-to-senate/2015/10/28/d04cbca8-7db9-11e5-bfb6-65300a5ff562_story.html
Obama Administration’s October Surprise: The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) issued on October 24, 2015 a policy advisement on testing entitled Fact Sheet: Testing Action Plan. The advisement comes after months of national debate about the extent and purpose of high-stakes testing in public schools, including a movement by parents to opt their children out of standardized testing.
The Testing Action Plan includes a set of principles and steps to balance the role that “good assessment plays in guiding progress for students and evaluating schools and educators, while providing help in unwinding practices that have burdened classroom time or not served students or educators well.”
According to the plan, the Obama Administration admits that, “In too many schools, there is unnecessary testing and not enough clarity of purpose applied to the task of assessing students, consuming too much instructional time and creating undue stress for educators and students. The Administration bears some of the responsibility for this, and we are committed to being part of the solution.”
The Testing Action Plan supports a basic set of principles about testing to ensure that assessments are high quality and fair for all learners, including students with disabilities and those learning English. Testing should be used to identify what students know and can do, and inform instruction. Parents and students should know the purpose of the tests, and how the information will be used. Multiple sources of assessments should be used to measure student progress, including assignments, portfolios, and projects. Factors such as chronic absenteeism, discipline data, and other data about school climate should also be reviewed to help develop a comprehensive understanding of student needs and academic performance. The Testing Action Plan also recommends that testing be limited to 2 percent of classroom time, and “drill and kill” test preparation be eliminated.
In order to support the principles, President Obama has directed the U.S. DOE to provide financial support to states to develop and use better assessments; provide expertise to states and school districts to reduce time spent testing; and provide states flexibility from federal regulations to reduce reliance on student test scores for some decision-making.
The Testing Action Plan also calls upon Congress to reduce over-testing in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Both the House and Senate ESEA bills preserve annual tests in reading and math, but lessen the role of the federal government in decisions about state assessment policies.
The Testing Action Plan still maintains, however, that “Congress should ensure that a new ESEA maintains its civil rights purpose and a focus on the most vulnerable students. The law must require annual assessments of all students against state-developed college- and career-ready expectations, and must require that states and districts take action in schools that are failing students and communities – including the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools, schools where subgroups of students are continually falling behind, and high schools with low graduation rates. The law also must ensure accountability for states, districts, and schools that do not assess at least 95 percent of students, including in each subgroup. And, Congress must ensure the Department has the authority to implement the law.”
The U.S. DOE will provide more details about the Testing Action Plan in January 2016.
See the Fact Sheet: Testing Action Plan
Response to the “Testing Action Plan”: Last week’s announcement from the Obama Administration calling for a “balanced” approach to student testing stimulated a lot of discussion about the relevance and timing of the Testing Action Plan in the current debate over high-stakes testing. Articles about the Testing Action Plan appeared in all of the major newspapers, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and Education Week, etc. (See references below.)
According to an article in Education Week, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, offered measured support for the Obama Administration’s turnaround about testing, both saying that they appreciate that the president and the Department of Education are listening to students, parents, and educators about the problems with high-stakes testing.
But Michael Casserly, executive director of The Council of Great City Schools, warned that setting arbitrary caps on testing could lead to the wrong tests being eliminated, which was a big concern expressed by several superintendents in Ohio when the General Assembly debated legislation last spring to limit testing. Casserly’s organization issued the results of a survey about high stakes testing on October 24, 2015, and found that students were spending 2.34 percent of the school year on testing.
Education bloggers noted that the Testing Action Plan was strategically released just prior to the publication of the disappointing 2015 NAEP results. They called attention to the connection between the lack-luster results and the current federal and state-backed assessments and school/teacher evaluation policies, which stress annual mandated student testing in grades 3-8 in reading and math; rating schools, districts, and teachers based on student achievement and progress; and implementing school reform efforts that include closing neighborhood schools and opening privately operated charter schools.
Education historian and author Diane Ravitch writes, “[But] the 2015 NAEP scores released today by the National Assessment Governing Board (a federal agency) showed that Arne Duncan’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program had flopped. It also showed that George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind was as phony as the “Texas education miracle” of 2000, which Bush touted as proof of his education credentials.”
For some bloggers the president’s Testing Action Plan raised more questions than answers for policy-makers, administrators, and teachers with its contradictory and unclear recommendations about capping testing at 2 percent of classroom time, while providing states with more “flexibility” regarding the use of tests to evaluate teachers.
Arizona State University Associate Professor Audrey Amrein-Beardsley calculates that the two percent testing cap per student would work-out to 18 hours of testing for students who attend school 900 hours a year. She wonders how that recommendation would actually reduce testing? A recent survey by The Council of Great City Schools found that student testing in urban school districts was already consuming 2.34 percent of classroom time, so the president’s recommendations merely eliminated .34 percent of testing.
She also notes that while the U.S. DOE is directed to provide more flexibility regarding the weight ascribed to teacher evaluations based on student growth measures, states are still required to include growth in student learning in administrator and teacher evaluations, which are determined by …. student testing.
On the other side of the argument, Kevin Huffman, a fellow with New America, writes in an opinion piece for The Washington Post, that students are tested less than many people believe, and in some cases local assessments contribute more to over testing than state and national exams. He blames anti-testing activists, those opposing privatization of education, and the teachers unions for exaggerating the amount of testing conducted. He urges parents to learn more about the amount of testing in their local school district, and become more involved in decision making.
See “Obama encouraging limits on standardized student tests” by Josh Lederman, Education Week, October 26, 2015 at
See “Too Much Testing? Ed. Dept. Outlines Steps to Help States and Districts Cut Back” by Alyson Klein, Education Week, October 24, 2015 at
See Diane Ravitch’ blog on October 24, 2015 at http://dianeravitch.net/2015/10/
See “The Obama Administration’s (Smoke and Mirrors) Calls for “Less Testing” by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley Posted: 27 Oct 2015 at http://vamboozled.com/the-obama-administrations-smoke-and-mirrors-calls-for-less-testing/
See Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools by Kate Zernike, The New York Times, October 24, 2015 at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/us/obama-administration-calls-for-limits-on-testing-in-schools.html?_r=0.
See “How Should Educators Respond to the Obama Administration’s Concession on Test and Punish?” by John Thompson, The Huffington Post, October 25, 2015 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/how-should-educators-resp_b_8381348.html
See “Where did Obama administration’s 2 percent cap on standardized testing come from? You won’t believe it. (Or maybe you will.)” by Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post, October 26, 2015 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/10/26/where-did-obama-administrations-2-percent-cap-on-standardized-testing-come-from-you-wont-believe-it-or-maybe-you-will/
See “We don’t test students as much as people think we do. And the stakes aren’t really that high” by Kevin Huffman, The Washington Post, October 30, 2015 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-dont-test-students-as-much-as-people-think-we-do-and-the-stakes-arent-really-that-high/2015/10/30/3d66de1c-7e79-11e5-beba-927fd8634498_story.html
November 3, 2015 Election: Ohio voters will be going to the polls on November 3, 2015 to choose local representatives including mayors, members of city councils, members of boards of education, judges and clerks of municipal courts, and township trustees. Voters will also decide the fate of three statewide ballot issues:
Issue 1: To Reform the Way Ohio Draws its General Assembly Districts
Issue 2: Addresses the Use of Ohio’s Constitution for Monopolies
Issue 3: Legalizes Marijuana for Personal and Medical Use
Voters will also decide a total of 1,734 local issues, including 111 school issues. The number of school issues is lower than in past years, and includes 54 operating levies, 26 permanent improvement levies, a technology levy, two substitute levies, 11 combination levies, three bond issues, and 11 income tax renewals.
NAEP Achievement Rates Plateau: The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at the National Center for Education Statistics released on October 28, 2015 The Nation’s Report Card: 2015 Mathematics and Reading Assessments.
According to the report, “The 2015 trend in national average mathematics scores show a decline at both grades since the last assessment in 2013. Average scores for reading in 2015 declined at grade 8; there was no significant change in the reading score for fourth-grade students. Over the long term, however, scores were higher in 2015 in both subject and grades compared to the initial assessments in the early 1990s.”
NAEP is the nation’s longest continuous assessment of student achievement dating back to 1969. The results are based on a sampling of elementary and secondary students in all states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools every two years in math and reading, and occasionally in other subject areas and for other grade levels, including the arts.
NAEP results are reported as scale scores and achievement levels, and are considered very rigorous. The “basic” achievement level denotes partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade, and the “proficient” level represents solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students reaching the proficient level demonstrate “…competency over challenging subject matter, including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter.” The “advanced” achievement level “signifies superior performance”.
The 2015 NAEP was administered to 279,000 students in 4th grade and 273,000 students in 8th grade in early 2015.
The report shows that nationally 36 percent of 4th grade students scored proficient or above in reading and 40 percent proficient in math.
For 8th grade, 34 percent of students nationally scored proficient or above in reading and 33 percent in math.
In fourth grade mathematics, gains were reported in the District of Columbia, Mississippi, and the Department of Defense schools. Sixteen states had significant declines in their math scores, and the scores in thirty-three states were flat in comparison to 2013 scores.
In eighth grade, twenty-two states earned significantly lower scores than in 2013, while 30 states had flat scores. The scores in Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Florida dropped six points. Among the states that declined by four points were Race to the Top recipients Ohio, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. Maryland, Hawaii, New York, and the District of Columbia lost two points.
The results for the District of Columbia show gains in fourth grade reading and mathematics, but not in eighth grade. D.C. also continues to show the largest gap, 56 points, between the scores of white and black students.
The state with the biggest achievement gap between black and white students is Wisconsin, which also shows the lowest scores for black students.
The 2015 NAEP results also show no significant change in closing the achievement gap among groups of students, a major focus of federal education initiatives and spending through the No Child Left Behind Act and the Race to the Top Act.
NAEP Scores for Ohio: Ohio students continued to exceed the national average on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress even though some percentages dropped.
The percentage of 4th grade Ohio students scoring proficient or higher increased in reading, from 37 percent in 2013 to 38 percent in 2015, but dropped in math from 48 percent proficient in 2013 to 45 percent in 2015.
The percent of Ohio 8th grade students scoring proficient or higher in reading dropped from 39 percent in 2013 to 36 percent proficient in 2015, and from 40 percent in 2013 to 35 percent proficient in math in 2015.
See Ohio’s Profile at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/
See also “Ohio Kids’ reading, math scores down a bit,” by Catherine Candisky, Columbus Dispatch, October 29, 2015 at http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/ColumbusDispatch/Default.aspx
Brief Focuses on Types of School Evaluation Models: William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, issued on October 25, 2015 a policy brief entitled Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking: School Accountability, Multiple Measures and Inspectorates in a Post-NCLB World.
The brief identifies three types of school evaluation approaches, and makes recommendations about how to implement a better accountability system for students, parents, teachers, the community, and tax payers, as national disillusionment with test-based accountability systems grows.
Most states are currently using the test-based evaluation model, which is also part of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Race to the Top Act. The test-based model requires that all students be tested annually and the results be reported publicly. Schools, districts, and teachers are then rewarded or sanctioned, based on the results. According to the brief, this model has shown little or no effectiveness in improving student achievement, and has been linked to negative consequences, such as excessive testing, teaching to the test, and narrowing of the curriculum.
Another type of evaluation model focuses on using “multiple measures” to better evaluate schools in order to capture other important aspects of a successful school. According to the brief, the recently published U.S. DOE Testing Action Plan seems to embrace this model. Its effectiveness, however, depends largely on whether or not there are strong measures of inputs as well as outcomes.
Another evaluation model, which is used in some Western democracies, is an inspectorate model with self-evaluations. In this model site visits of schools are conducted by qualified accreditors. This model avoids the negative consequences of over testing, but is more expensive to implement, and its success is not clear.
According to the brief, no evaluation system is “…capable of overcoming deficiencies of a school or community lacking resources.” The brief goes on to say, “The greatest conceptual mistake of test-based accountability systems has been the pretense that poorly supported schools could systemically overcome the effects of poverty by rigorous instruction and testing.31 The system has inadequately supported teachers and students, has imposed astronomically high goals, and has then inflicted punishment on the most needy.”
The brief recommends the following be considered to improve state education evaluation systems:
-All parties must be accountable in the education evaluation system, including the state and policy makers, who allocate the resources
-Adequate student opportunities and resources to achieve each state’s goals must be available
-Multiple-measure should strive for balance and clarity
-Standardized test scores should be used cautiously
-Data aggregation into a single score should be avoided
-School visitation teams should be developed and implemented with a priority on higher need schools
-External reviews should focus on guidance and support rather than sanctions
-Reviewers should be trained and qualified and meet prescribed standards
-Multiple stakeholders should be involved in the design of state evaluation/inspectorate programs
See “Research-Based Options For Education Policymaking: School Accountability, Multiple Measures and Inspectorates in a Post-NCLB World” by William J. Mathis, NEPC, University of Colorado Boulder October 2015 at
More Problems Identified with Online Charter Schools: The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), James L. Woodworth, Ph.D., Lead Analyst, released on October 27, 2015 a report that combines the research about online charter schools and their impact on student academic growth from three organizations, CREDO, Mathematica Policy Research, and the Center on Reinventing Public Education.
According to the report, only .5 percent of students participated in online charter schools in 18 states, but enrollment has been increasing exponentially to 65,000 students nationally. Public investment in online charter schools has increased to $390 million annually.
The researchers found that online charter school students, including sub populations and students in poverty, had weaker growth in reading and math compared to their VCR (virtual control record), although there were some online charter schools that did show positive student growth.
The study also found that pre online mobility is the same for online charter students and their VCRs; few school-level practices had a strong relationship with academic growth; and the online aspect of the school matters more than being a charter school when comparing student results.
According to the report, “Academic benefits from online charter schools are currently the exception rather than the rule. Online charter schools provide a maximum of flexibility for students with schedules which do not fit the TPS [traditional public school] setting. This can be a benefit or a liability as flexibility requires discipline and maturity to maintain high standards. Not all families may be equipped to provide the direction needed for online schooling. Online charter schools should ensure their programs are a good fit for their potential students’ particular needs.”
The researchers also noted that state oversight policies may not be sufficient. Authorizers should “demand” that providers improve student outcomes, and states should also carefully examine online programs before allowing schools to expand.
The results for Ohio showed that students in online charter schools are even further behind in reading than the national average, but less behind in math. Ohio also has a larger number of online schools than other states.
Facts About School Choice: The National School Boards Association’s, Center for Public Education released on October 28, 2015 a study of school choice and all its “permutations”. The study was conducted to provide voters with basic information about the definitions of school choice, state and federal policies, and research about the impact of school choice on student achievement.
The study defines school choice in terms of choice within the public school system (magnet schools, charter schools, etc); outside the public school system (private schools and home schooling); and virtual schools.
According to the report, after two decades of choice policies, 87 percent of school-aged children attend public schools, including 4 percent who attend charter schools and 71 percent who attend traditional neighborhood schools. About 10 percent of students attend private schools; .5 percent attend private schools through vouchers; and 3 percent of students are schooled at home.
While students participating in some school choice options achieve at higher levels than others, “the results aren’t universally better than those produced by traditional public schools.”
Only one in four charter schools outperforms its traditional public counterpart in reading, and one in five does worse. English language learners, children from low-income families, and students of color benefit more from a charter school education.
At first glance, students who attend private schools seem to outperform students in public schools on national assessments. However, when the data is controlled for students’ family background, income, and location, fourth and eighth grade students attending public schools achieved at a higher level than students attending private schools.
The report includes the following observations:
-”There’s no reason to conclude that choice in itself will produce better outcomes. While many schools of choice do an exemplary job, the results aren’t universally better than those produced by traditional public schools.”
-”Non-public school choice should come with warning labels. Policymakers who are considering supporting parents who wish to choose private schools or homeschooling should be aware that very little is known about the overall efficacy of schooling outside of public schools.”
-”Expanding charter schools is not an overall reform strategy. Most charter schools are no better than their traditional public school counterparts. Merely having more of them will not raise performance. Rather, policymakers and educators should focus on learning from successful charter schools about policies and practices that can help improve all schools.”
The report includes a disclosure explaining that the National School Boards Association supports charter schools that are overseen by boards of education, and opposes vouchers, tax credits, tax subsidies for non public schools.
See “School Choice-What the Research Says”, The Center for Public Education, October 2015 at
AFTA Recognizes Arts Leaders: Americans for the Arts (AFA) recognized six leaders in the arts at The 2015 National Arts Awards on October 19, 2015 held in New York City. The awards are celebrated every October during National Arts and Humanities Month to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of national leaders who advance the arts across the nation.
This year AFA celebrated the work of the following artists:
-Sophia Loren – Carolyn Clark Powers Lifetime Achievement Award
-Lady Gaga – Young Artist Award
-Herbie Hancock – Outstanding Contributions to the Arts Award
-Alice Walton – Arts Education Award
-Joan and Irwin Jacobs – Philanthropy in the Arts Award
-Maria Bell – Legacy Award
AFTA Opens New Advocacy Tool: Americans for the Arts recently announced the launch of a new advocacy tool: The Arts Education Navigator. The Navigator provides access to more than 300 contributors and 75 partner organizations to support arts education advocates in all states.
The Navigator helps arts education advocates hone their skills by breaking advocacy into steps, including understanding your role, the policies in your state, trends in the arts education, developing a message, and identifying a target.
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 theOhio Alliance for Arts Education (www.oaae.net).