Arts on Line Education Update December 7, 2015

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
December 7, 2015


1) Legislative Update

131st General Assembly:  The Ohio House and Senate will hold sessions and hearings this week.

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet on December 8, 2015 at 4:00 PM in the Senate Finance hearing room.

The committee will receive a presentation from Chris Woolard and Marianne Mottley from the Ohio Department of Education about the state report card measures, and hear sponsor testimony on two bills:  SB241 (LaRose) Education Professionals-Employment and SB238 (Tavares) to designate the month of October as “Ohio Principals Month.”


More on SB241 (LaRose) Educational Professionals-Employment: Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley) introduced on November 10, 2015 SB241 Education Professionals-Employment.  The bill addresses, to some extent, the elimination of the educational service personnel ratios (Rule 3301-35-05(A)(4)) from Operating Standards by the State Board of Education in April 2015. SB241 is co-sponsored by Senators Burke, Gardner, Uecker, Tavares, and Yuko.

SB241 would do the following:

  • Requires that school districts provide students in grades K-12 with an education that includes fine arts, music, and physical education, and the comprehensive services of counselors, librarians or library media specialists, school nurses, and school social workers.

This provision is aligned to ASCD’s Global Recommendations for 2015 initiative.  This national movement advocates that states implement a comprehensive education system that includes student access to a well-rounded education in all subject areas; social emotional learning; health, mental health, and counseling services; and necessary supports to ensure student success.  The initiative also advocates for a more comprehensive accountability system for schools based on multiple measures of performance, including student achievement in all subjects taught and nonacademic factors that affect the conditions of learning.

  • Allows school districts to employ education professionals to provide the aforementioned courses and services, including counselor, librarian or library media specialist, school nurse, school social worker, teacher of fine arts, music teacher, physical education teacher.
  • Requires that the teachers employed in these positions hold Ohio teaching licenses in the appropriate subject area and grade level in the areas in which the person is teaching, and requires that each person assigned to any other position hold the appropriate content area or specialty certification or license required by the state board for that purpose.

This provision would ensure that school districts employ qualified individuals in these positions.

  • Requires the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to report on the state report card for the 2015-16 school year the number of licensed teachers employed in fine arts, music, physical education, and as counselors, school nurses, school social workers, and librarians/media specialists for each one thousand students.

This provision would provide parents and other taxpayers with more information about the types of courses and services available in a school district, and the qualifications of the teachers and service providers.

Researchers, stakeholders, and policy makers will have new data to better evaluate educational programs and services in school districts, and can use this information to recommend ways for school districts to become more effective and efficient.

  • Requires the ODE to recognize school districts that employ a minimum of five professional educators out of the seven categories per 1,000 students.

The intent of this provision is to provide an incentive for school districts to continue to provide comprehensive services and a complete curriculum for students, but still provide school districts with some flexibility in meeting this requirement.

All school districts that were complying with former Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Rule 3301-35-05(A)(4), as of April 2015, should receive a recognition for meeting these criteria, unless the school districts eliminated these positions.


Bills Introduced

  • HB401 (Brinkman) Chartered Nonpublic Schools:  The bill requires nonpublic schools that seek a charter to operate from the state of Ohio to do the following:

-Publish on the school’s web site a summary of the school’s cash flow and aggregate student enrollment data for the previous two school years.

-Post on the school’s web site the school’s policy regarding background checks for teaching and nonteaching employees and for volunteers who have direct contact with students.

-Make available to parents, guardians, and custodians of students enrolled in the school the curricula and reading lists for each grade level of the school.

-Requires the governing authority of each chartered nonpublic school to make available to parents, guardians, and custodians of students enrolled in the school the bylaws, constitution, and other related governance documents of the school.

-Requires the governing authority of each chartered nonpublic school to maintain minutes of its meetings, including minutes of its meetings in executive session, in a manner similar to that of a school district board of education under section 121.22 of the Revised Code, and make available to parents, guardians, and custodians of students enrolled in the school the minutes of such meetings, except for instances in which the governing authority enters into executive session.

The bill is available at


2)  Ohio News

More on Youngstown’s ADC: Judge Lou D’Apolito of the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas granted on December 3, 2015 a temporary restraining order regarding the appointment of Carol Staten to the new Youngstown City School District’s Academic Distress Commission (ADC).

According to law (HB70 Brenner-Driehaus) the president of the board of education of a school district subject to an academic distress commission is required to appoint a current teacher in the school district to the commission.  Brenda Kimble, president of the Youngstown Board of Education, appointed Carol Staten two weeks ago, but the appointment was challenged by the Ohio Education Association and the Youngstown Education Association, because Ms. Staten is not currently a teacher in the district, and is related to Ms. Kimble.  A hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for December 14, 2015.

Also last week, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Richard Ross, appointed businessman Brian Benyo as chair of the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission.  Mr. Benyo is president of Brilex Industries.

The Youngstown ADC will meet on December 9, 2015 for the first time, to begin a process to select a CEO for the Youngstown School District.  Other members of the commission are former higher education leader Laura Meeks, philanthropist Jennifer Roller, and former dean of Youngstown State University Barbara Brothers.

According to HB70, the CEO of a distressed school district is required to develop an academic improvement plan in consultation with community stakeholders.  The law gives the CEO authority to suspend union contract provisions and to close school buildings if necessary.

The Ohio Education Association and the Youngstown Education Association have filed a lawsuit to overturn HB70.



Status of the Charter School Grant: Doug Livingston of The Akron Beacon Journal reported last week that the federal government might be investigating the Ohio Department of Education’s handling of the controversy over the charter school sponsor evaluations.

The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) awarded the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) a $71 million five year federal charter school grant in September 2015.   But questions raised about the accuracy of the grant application led the U.S. DOE to request that the ODE provide additional information about charter school sponsors evaluations and charter school performance, before it is allowed to spend the grant money.  The purpose of the grant seems to be tied to HB70 (Brenner-Driehaus) and an academic distress plan to open more charter schools in the Youngstown City School District.

The grant was completed by the former head of the ODE’s Office of Quality Choice and Community Schools, David Hansen.  He resigned in July after the State Board of Education learned that he had left-out data about poor performing charter schools on sponsor evaluations.  The charter school grant application included inaccurate information about the performance of charter schools in Ohio.

According to the article, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission denied an Akron Beacon Journal request for emails sent between the U.S. Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Education about the grant proposal, citing among the possible reasons a civil or criminal investigation.

See “Federal government alludes to investigation in denying release of charter school emails,” by Doug Livingston, The Akron Beacon Journal, December 4, 2015 at


Data Shows Link Between Poverty and Student Achievement: The Ohio School Boards Association, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators released on December 2, 2015 an analysis of the relationship between student test score results and poverty prepared by Dr. Howard Fleeter at the Ohio Education Policy Institute (OEPI).

The analysis examines the test results from school districts on the FY15 PARCC exams in English language arts and math in grades 4-9 and the FY15 American Institute of Research (AIR) exams in social studies in grades 4 & 6 and science in grades 5 & 8.  The results are reported for school districts divided into quintiles based on the average percent of students scoring proficient or above; scoring advanced; and scoring limited on the four state exams, compared to the average percent of economically disadvantaged students in the school districts.

According to the report, there is a high negative correlation between the testing results in all four subject areas and the average percentage of economically disadvantaged students in the school districts.

In the highest performing quintile of school districts 88.3 percent of students scored “proficient” or better on the English language arts assessment, but the average percentage of economically disadvantaged students was only 17.9 percent.

In contrast, for the school districts in the lowest quintile for performance, 51.2 percent of students scored “proficient” or better, while the average percent of economically disadvantaged students was 75.7 percent.

According to the study, -1.0 is a perfect negative correlation, while 0.0 means no correlation. The performance correlation verses the percent of economically disadvantaged students is -.75 for the results of the English language arts exams;  -0.81 for the math exam; -0.69 for the science exam; and -0.73 for the social studies exam.

According to a statement issued by the OEPI, “This means that those districts performing the best on the tests have the lowest percentage of economically disadvantaged students, while districts with the lowest performance have the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students.”

The report recommends that lawmakers focus on strategies to better support economically disadvantaged students and address the significant disparities in test results.

“While the state’s school-funding formula does provide some resources to help students and districts meet the challenges they face, the performance results continue to be the same. That means much more work is needed to find solutions for these children.”

See “FY15 Preliminary PARCC Results Summary Tables 11-30 Final” by Howard Fleeter, The Ohio Education Policy Institute, at

See also “Ohio’s wealthier kids do better on state tests, group finds”, by Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch, December 2, 2015 at


Akron Beacon Journal Responds to Poverty Analysis:  Michael Douglas urges Ohio lawmakers to take action in response to the analysis of student test score results published by the Ohio Education Policy Institute in an Akron Beacon Journal editorial. According to the editorial, the current education system in Ohio cannot meet the constitutional standard of “thorough and efficient” when there are such huge gaps in student achievement based on poverty.

He writes, “So, there are lessons for Ohio and other states.  The next step shouldn’t be some sweeping program.  Rather, organize around the challenge, giving top priority to the burden of poverty, knowing all of us would benefit if gaps are narrowed significantly.”

See “‘Thorough and Efficient’?  Not close” by Michael Douglas, The Akron Beacon Journal, December 6, 2015 at


Some Preliminary Themes Emerge From Tour of Ohio’s Public Schools:  Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) issued an update on December 2, 2015 about the Columbus to Classroom Tour.  He and other legislators are visiting classrooms around the state to gather information about the status of Ohio’s public schools and ideas from parents, teachers, and students about how to improve them.

So far the Columbus to Classroom Tour has visited 10 Ohio schools in seven school districts since October, and has met with more than 200 teachers, parents, students and administrators.  Some of the themes that are emerging from the tour include:

-Students are the most important part of the conversation.  Legislation and education programs must always have the students’ best interests in mind.

-Testing is a major concern, along with “teaching to the test”.  Teachers do not have the freedom to create engaging lessons because they are preparing students for state tests; the rules and tests keep changing causing confusion and frustration; tests might not be the best way to gauge a student’s or district’s success.

-There is a technology gap in districts and schools.  The technology is outdated, not accessible in the homes, and unreliable during important moments, such as when the students are being tested.

The tour has visited schools in Columbus, Akron, Athens, Cincinnati, Richmond Heights, Shaker Heights, and Mayfield, and will continue in January 2016.



3)  National News

New Mexico Court Temporarily Halts Teacher Evaluations Based on Student Test Scores: Judge David K. Thomson, First Judicial District Court, State of New Mexico, issued on December 1, 2015 a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit, State, ex.rel. Stewart v. Public Education Department.

The injunction temporarily prevents the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) from imposing consequences as a result of poor teacher evaluations, including denying teachers the ability to renew their licenses or requiring teachers to be placed on growth plans.

The teacher evaluation process in New Mexico was implemented in 2012 and uses value-added (VAM) results to account for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. The lawsuit was filed by individual educators, legislators, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Albuquerque Federation of Teachers on February 18, 2015, and alleges that the PED teacher evaluation process is based on a flawed methodology, is error-ridden, harms teachers, and deprives students of high quality educators.

According to the ruling, the PED can continue to develop and improve its teacher evaluation system, but cannot use the evaluation to make consequential decisions about New Mexico’s teachers “…until the Court can be assured of the statistical validity of the data collection and reporting that feeds into the system.”  A trial on the merits of VAM will take place in April or May 2016.

See “Judge suspends penalties linked to state’s teacher eval system” by Chris Quintana, The Santa Fe New Mexican, December 3, 2015 at


Update on Teacher Evaluation Lawsuits: Lawsuits about state teacher evaluation systems have been filed in other states as well as New Mexico.  Some of the lawsuits challenge the process used to develop the evaluations, while other lawsuits challenge the substance of the evaluations, such as using value added scores.  The following are just some of the lawsuits that have been filed based on an October 6, 2015 article in Education Week by Stephen Sawchuk entitled “Teacher Evaluation Heads to the Courts” at


-Cook v. Bennett: April 16, 2013.  The lawsuit was filed by the Florida Education Association, and alleged that teachers in subjects without statewide standardized tests were being judged unfairly using a schoolwide growth formula on the progress of students they don’t teach or in subjects they don’t teach. A federal court judge ruled for the state in May 2014, and the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling in July 2015. The Florida Education Association will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

-Robinson v. Stewart: September 14, 2011.  The lawsuit was filed by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and alleged that a 2011 evaluation law, which contained merit-pay provisions, conflicted with the state constitution’s guarantee for teachers to collectively bargain wages. It also argued that the law impermissibly gave legislative authority to the executive branch. A state court judge ruled for the state in May 2013. An appeal was rejected in January 2015, and the state supreme court did not take up a jurisdictional review.


-Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. Louisiana:  June 7, 2012.  The lawsuit was filed by the (AFT) and alleged that a 2012 law tying teacher evaluations to tenure and pay scales violated a constitutional provision requiring legislation to pertain only to one subject.   A state court judge initially let the combined teacher-quality provisions stand, but after a second review struck down the law in March 2013. In October 2014, the state supreme court reversed the lower court’s ruling. The union said it will seek further changes through the legislature.


-Leff et al. v. Clark County School District:  June 18, 2015.  This lawsuit was filed by the NEA and alleges that a 2011 law that allows a district to fire a tenured teacher with two consecutive annual “ineffective” evaluation ratings without a due process hearing is unconstitutional, because teachers tenured before the law went into effect have vested contractual rights in their employment, and can only be terminated for cause following a hearing.  The case is in progress.

New Mexico

-State ex rel. Stewart v. Public Education Department.  February 13, 2015. The lawsuit was filed by the AFT. The Court issued a preliminary injunction suspending the teacher evaluation process on December 3, 2015. (See story above.)

-State ex rel. Stapleton v. Skandera. September 11, 2013.  This lawsuit was filed by the AFT, and alleged that Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera violated the state’s School Personnel Act by issuing new teacher-evaluation regulations after legislative proposals to that end failed.  A state court judge rejected the suit in November 2013, as did an appeals court in January 2015. The plaintiffs did not seek review in the state supreme court.

-NEA-New Mexico v. Skandera:  September 29, 2014. The lawsuit filed by the NEA-New Mexico alleges that the state education department impermissibly imposed its new evaluation system, overriding a law giving school districts control over teacher evaluation. In August 2015, a state court denied the state’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. The case will proceed to discovery.

New York

-Urbanski v. King:  March 10, 2014.  The lawsuit was filed by the NEA and the AFT in Rochester, and alleges that the state fails to fully account for poverty in the test-score-based formula used for evaluation, penalizing some teachers. The lawsuit also challenges VAM, and contends the state imposed regulations without public comment.

-Ahern v. King:  April 16, 2014.  The lawsuit was filed by the NEA and the AFT in Syracuse, and alleges that the state alleges that the state fails to fully account for poverty in the test-score-based formula used for evaluation, penalizing some teachers. The lawsuit also challenges VAM, and contends the state imposed regulations without public comment.

-Lederman v. King:  October 24, 2014.  The lawsuit was filed by a teacher, Sheri G. Lederman, of Great Neck, New York, and alleges that the state’s method for ranking teachers is subject to inconsistencies, rating her “effective” one year and “ineffective” the following year, despite garnering similar student-achievement-growth scores both years. A state court judge ruled in June 2015 that the lawsuit could proceed. Oral arguments in the New York Supreme Court (a trial court) were heard in August 2015.


-Taylor v. Haslam:  March 19, 2014.  The lawsuit was filed by the Tennessee Education Association in federal court, and alleges that a teacher missed out on a pay bonus because the test-score-based portion of her evaluation was based on only a fraction of her students. The lawsuit was combined with Trout v. Knox County Board of Education (filed on March 19, 2014), which also alleges that teachers missed-out on pay bonuses due to miscalculations of VAM portion of their evaluations.

-Wagner v. Haslam:  February 5, 2015.  The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Tennessee Education Association which challenged the use of a composite “schoolwide” growth measure for evaluating teachers in “nontested” subjects, such as art and music.  A federal court judge dismissed the lawsuit in June 2015.


-Houston Federation of Teachers v. Houston Independent School District: April 30, 2014.  The lawsuit was filed by the Houston Federation of Teachers, and alleges that standards for what constitutes enough student growth under the district’s evaluation system is vague; that the statistical evaluation method chosen is opaque; and that certain groups of teachers, such as those who teach English-language learners, are at risk of lower scores.  A trial is scheduled to begin June 20, 2016.


4)  Reports

Report Tracks Testing Trends in States: Education Commission of the States released on December 1, 2015 a report entitled “Testing Trends:  Considerations for choosing and using assessments” by Julie Rowland Woods.  The report examines recent state policies and laws about tests, testing, and accountability, and makes the following observations:

-States are limiting test administration time, eliminating duplicative assessments, and switching assessment providers, among other strategies to ease the testing burden.

-The testing landscape is in a continuous state of flux as many states shift consortia membership and assessment providers or change testing requirements.

-Tough transitions to new assessments, testing time and quantity, student opt-outs, and concerns about test results are challenges facing many policymakers.

According to the report,

“While federal law requires students to be tested in math, English-language arts and science in particular grades, states are still struggling to mount the resources and expertise necessary to fully implement college and career readiness standards, let alone new assessments aligned to these higher standards. New assessments are not only more demanding of students but also come with new administrative, technological and scoring challenges. Roughly half of states also struggle with pushback against the use of consortium-developed assessments, which many view as federal overreach into a historically state and local issue.”

The report cautions that two emerging trends in state testing policy, blending assessment items from different vendors, and using a college entrance exam to replace state tests, also have drawbacks.

While blending test items gives states a way address concerns about the cost of tests, the length of tests, and allows for the local development of some test items, this approach could compromise the comparability of results across states; could increase the time and cost for developing the tests; requires the state to conduct its own technical review of the tests; and raises questions about the validity of the tests.

Using a college entrance exam, such as the SAT or the ACT, to meet federal testing requirements in high school might reduce testing and increase the number of students who are prepared to enroll in college, but might not benefit students who are not on a college track.  Using one exam for multiple purposes also might compromise the assessment’s validity.

In addition, although states increasingly are requiring all students to take a college entrance exam, like the ACT or SAT, “…many colleges and universities are no longer requiring college entrance exam scores for admissions, and some research has shown that high school grades are just as likely to predict college success as college entrance exams.”

The report is available at



Thomas Johnson Appointed to OAC: Governor Kasich announced last week the appointment of Thomas H. Johnson, Mayor of Somerset, Ohio, to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) for a term beginning December 1, 2015 and ending July 1, 2020.  After retiring from a career in international banking, Tom Johnson returned to Somerset, OH, and been instrumental in the historical preservation of Somerset and initiating cultural and arts initiatives in Ohio’s Appalachian counties.  He was elected mayor of Somerset in 2010, and serves on the boards of several regional organizations, including Hocking College, Ohio Citizens for the Arts, Rural Action, and Ohio Historical Preservation.  Mayor Johnson is the recipient of the 2015 Governor’s Award in the Arts, and served on Governor Kasich’s 2014 Arts and Culture Capital Bill Committee, which recommended $3.4 million in funding specifically dedicated to 18 Appalachian arts projects.



Arts Provisions in ESEA Rewrite: The U.S. House approved the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA) (S1177) on December 2, 2015.  The bill replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) passed in 2002, and reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for another five years.

The bill departs from the NCLB by scaling back the role of the federal government in the areas of testing, teacher evaluations, academic standards, and whole school reform.

But the bill still includes provisions to ensure that schools serve students who are poor, learning English, and have special needs, and retains annual testing in grades 3-8 and once in grades 9-12 in math and English language arts, and once in science in grades 4-8 and 9-12.

It also requires state accountability systems to put a “much greater weight” on academics than on other factors when they are rating schools, and mandates that 95 percent of students in a school district participate in standardized tests. Students still have the right to opt out of tests, however.

House and Senate staffers worked for months behind the scenes on two separate versions of the bill.  A House and Senate conference committee approved a compromise bill on November 19, 2015.

The bill also includes a number of provisions that support arts education, including the following:

-Supports a well-rounded education (Section 8002 – Definitions (52)).  The bill includes the arts as part of the definition of a well-rounded education, which means that schools can use federal funds, such as Title 1, teacher training, and school improvement grants, to support arts education programs.  The arts are defined in the Senate committee report as dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts, and other arts disciplines.

-Includes $20 million for arts education (Section 4642. Assistance for Arts Education)  The bill authorizes dedicated and distinct funding under a new program called Assistance for Arts Education.  This means that federal funding for arts education will not be consolidated with funding for other federal education programs, which has happened to other programs.  The funding level is less than the $25 million currently available, which is used to support the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education program.  Funding has been used to support Arts Education Model Demonstration grants and Professional Development for Arts Educators grants.

The bill also includes a new Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program (Section 4104) which requires at least 20 percent of funds to support a well-rounded education, which includes “activities in music and the arts.”  The fund includes $1.65 billion in FY17 and $1.6 billion in FY18-20, and will be distributed through a formula.

-Authorizes a Pre-School Grant Program (Section 9212), which includes the arts within the definition of “Essential Domains of School Readiness.  The program also allows local preschool programs to coordinate with local arts organizations.

-Re-authorizes the Promise Neighborhoods Program (Section 4624).  This program provides support for extended learning time and partnerships between schools and community resources, and has included the arts as one of four competitive priorities.

-Requires local education agencies to report how they will implement a “well-rounded” program of instruction.

-Adds the arts to STEM.  An amendment proposed by Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) in the conference committee was approved, and supports schools that provide a well-rounded education programs that integrate academic subjects, including the arts, into courses in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

-Reauthorizes 21st Century Community Learning Centers.  (Title IV) This program supports afterschool and expanded learning time activities for students, and is a source of funding for afterschool arts programs.

-Provides some support for improving lower-performing schools.  The bill eliminates the School Improvement Grants program (SIG), which supported the successful Turnaround Arts initiative in low performing schools. Instead the bill requires states to set-aside seven percent of their Title 1 funds to improve student learning in five percent of the lowest performing schools.  The funds could be used to support a Turnaround Arts program.

-Relaxes some federal requirements, which could lessen the focus on students achieving in math and English, and restore student access to other subjects, including the arts. The bill replaces Annual Yearly Progress with multiple measures of school success.

-Allows arts educators to participate in professional development support under Title II, which is now adjusted to account for state poverty levels.

The U.S. Senate is expected to take-up action on the bill this week, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

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 (,Ohio Art Education Association (, Ohio Educational Theatre Association (; OhioDance (, and theOhio Alliance for Arts Education (



About OAAE

It is the mission of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to ensure that the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. We believe that: * All children in school must have quality arts education provided by licensed arts educators * All Ohioans have the right to expect quality arts education * All arts programs must have adequate resources * All arts and cultural organizations and artists have a critical role in arts education Learn more at
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