Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
February 29, 2016
•131st Ohio General Assembly: Activities have slowed-down at the Statehouse as lawmakers prepare for the upcoming March 15, 2016 Primary Election. The Ohio House and Senate will not hold sessions this week, and there are only a few committee meetings scheduled. The House and Senate education committees are not meeting.
-Senate Selects New President Pro Tempore and Member: Senate Republicans elected on February 24, 2016 Senator Larry Obhof as Senate President Pro Tempore, replacing Senator Chris Widener, who resigned from the Senate in January 2016. Senate Republicans also selected Representative Bob Hackett to fill the 10th Senate District seat formerly held by Senator Chris Widener. Rounding out the Senate leadership changes, Republicans elected Senator Gayle Manning as Senate majority whip.
The selection of Senator Obhof as second in charge in the Senate sets him up as a possible replacement for Senate President Keith Faber, whose term will end this year due to term limits. Other Senators who have expressed interest in the position are Senators John Eklund and Bill Coley.
See “GOP leadership vote may preview Ohio Senate’s next chief,” by Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, February 17, 2016 at http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/02/17/senate-president-race-could-see-preview-vote-next-week.html
-Capital Reappropriations Bill Signed: Governor Kasich signed SB260 (Coley) Capital Reappropriations into law on February 21, 2016. SB260 reappropriates and re-purposes $1.5 billion in capital appropriations for 2017-18, but does not include new capital appropriations, which will be included in a bill that is expected to be introduced soon.
•State of the State Scheduled for April: Governor Kasich will present the annual State of the State address at the People’s Bank Theater in Marietta on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 7:00 PM. The House and Senate approved the request to move the State of the State (SOTS) address away from the Statehouse in Columbus on February 24, 2016.
•House Education Committee Delays Decision on SB3: A plan to amend SB3 (Hite-Faber) High Performing School Districts and undo some of the charter school reforms included in HB2 (Dovilla-Roegner), was delayed last week as critics voiced opposition to some of the proposed changes.
The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Brenner, removed SB3 from its agenda, and reported that work was continuing on amendments, and that the bill might be ready for a vote in March or April.
According to The Akron Beacon Journal, The Plain Dealer, and The Columbus Dispatch, some of the changes will set-back the accountability provisions for charter schools included in HB2, signed into law on November 1, 2015. Being discussed are changes that would hold charter school sponsors harmless for report card scores for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years; delay attendance tracking for students attending charter schools; allow e-schools to be paid for offering 900 minutes of instruction rather than requiring students to participate in 900 minutes of instruction; and measure student progress in charter schools using the “similar students measure” developed in California, rather than using Ohio’s value-added student growth measure. California uses a less rigorous system to measure student growth, because it doesn’t have a value-added system like Ohio’s.
All three of the newspapers published last week articles criticizing the proposed charter school amendments, which would affect the new charter school accountability reforms, which went into effect on February 1, 2016.
See “Charters pushing for amendments that some worry could weaken new reforms” by Jim Siegel and Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch, February 19, 2016 at http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/02/19/charters-pushing-for-amendments-that-some-worry-could-weaken-new-reforms.html
See “No Retreat on Charter School Reforms,” Editorial Board, The Akron Beacon Journal, February 22, 2016 at
See “Latest efforts to weaken Ohio charter school reforms trace, again, to campaign dollars,” by Brent Larkin, cleveland.com, February 26, 2019
•Bill Introduced to Increase the Number of Degrees Awarded: Chancellor of the Department of Higher Education, John Carey, announced on February 22, 2016 some legislative changes that the Kasich administration would like to make to increase the number of individuals earning college degrees and improve efficiencies at state institutions of higher education. The policy changes are included in HB474 sponsored by Representative Tim Brown (Bowling Green).
The changes include allowing some community colleges to offer bachelors degrees, and expanding 3 + 1 programs, which allow students to take up to three years of courses at community colleges, where tuition is lower than at four-year colleges, and then complete a degree at a four-year institution.
For high school students who don’t qualify for the College Credit Plus program, the bill would allow them to receive college credit for successfully completing college math and reading remediation courses.
To reduce the cost of tuition, the bill would require Ohio to join the Midwest Exchange Program, which would allow students to enroll in higher education programs in other states and pay a lower tuition rate than out of state students.
The bill also includes recommendations to reduce costs at institutions of higher education from the Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency in Higher Education. These include updating campus completion plans to integrate graduation and career counseling programs; ensuring that undergraduates are financially literate about college costs, loans, and scholarships; reducing the cost of storing and processing data; developing strategies to increase building utilization; and conducting a study about income sharing-agreements to help students avoid or lessen the burden of student loan debt.
•PTP Legislation Could Be Introduced: Senator Cliff Hite and Secretary of State Jon Husted told an audience on February 26, 2016 at Ohio State University that school officials must find a way to reduce pay-to-participate (PTP) fees or lawmakers will introduce legislation within the next two years.
The Senator and Secretary have met frequently with parents, students, and school leaders across the state to discuss the high fees that some school districts are charging students to participate in co-curricular activities, including sports, school clubs, theater, band, choir, art, and other programs.
According to an article in The Plain Dealer, some students pay as much a $1,200 a year to play in sports. The fees are making it more difficult for students from lower and middle class families to participate, but the fees help school districts pay for these opportunities, which could be eliminated without the additional funding. School districts report that they must use operating revenue to cover the full cost of the co-curricular programs, and the fees only offset the cost a little.
Senator Hite and Secretary Husted hope that school officials can find a solution that addresses local concerns and situations, and ensures that all students can participate in co-curricular activities, before lawmakers impose legislation to ban fees, cap fees, mandate requirements, etc.
See “Ohio schools pressured to reduce pay-to-play fees” by Jackie Borchardt, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 27, 2016 at
-HB474 (Brown) Higher Education-College Credit Plus: With respect to the coordination and administration of higher education programs and the College Credit Plus program.
-HB475 (Schuring) Motion Picture Tax Credit: Authorizes motion picture companies to transfer the authority to claim refundable motion picture tax credits to other persons, adjusts how the credit is calculated, increases the total amount of credits that may be awarded per year, removes the limit on the maximum credit amount that may be awarded to a motion picture, and creates a job training program for resident film crew members.
-SCR15 (Obhof-Faber) U.S. Constitution Tenth Amendment-Repeal: Reasserts the principles of federalism found throughout the Constitution of the United States of America and embodied in the Tenth Amendment, notifies Congress to limit and end certain mandates, and insists that federal legislation contravening the Tenth Amendment be prohibited or repealed.
•Confirmation Hearings Begin for U.S. Secretary of Education: The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander, held a confirmation hearing on February 25, 2016 for Acting U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King, Jr.
President Obama appointed Dr. King as acting secretary following the resignation of Arne Duncan in December 2016.
Dr. King told the panel that “….decisionmaking around the most appropriate supports, interventions, and rewards in our schools is rightly shifting back to states and districts–and away from the one-size-fits-all mandates of No Child Left Behind.”
He also told committee members that protecting the civil rights of vulnerable students is a proper role of the federal government.
According to Education Week the hearing was “collegial.”
The committee will vote to confirm President Obama’s appointment of Dr. King to U.S. Secretary of Education on March 9, 2016, followed by a full Senate vote.
See “John King Gets Collegial Confirmation Hearing as Education Secretary Nominee,” by Alyson Klein, Education Week at
•House Education Committee Holds Hearings on ESSA Implementation: The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Representative John Kline (R-MN), held two hearings last week entitled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education” and “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act.”
The first hearing focused on President Obama’s proposed FY17 budget for the U.S. Department of Education. Acting U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. John B. King, described the K-12 priorities of the budget to increase equity, support the teaching profession, expand preschool, and ensure that students complete college.
Overall the Obama administration proposes to increase by 1.9 percent the budget of the U.S. Department of Education to $69.4 billion in discretionary funding. But programs like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are flat-funded, which some lawmakers on the committee questioned.
During the second hearing, Dr. King was asked how the U.S. DOE would implement the Every Student Succeeds Act “…in a manner consistent with the letter and intent of the law.” According to Education Week Dr. King assured committee members that the federal government will not use federal money or new flexibility to push states to adopt policies that are not aligned with ESSA.
See “John King Quizzed on Charters, Teachers, Spending at House Budget Hearing” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, February 24, 2016 at
See “John King Pressed on Federal Control, Accountability at ESSA Oversight Hearing,” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, at
Representative John Kline, chair of the House Education & Workforce Committee, later released the following statement on February 26, 2016:
“The Every Student Succeeds Act is based on a promise to reduce the federal role and restore state and local control over K-12 education. That’s the promise Congress made, and it’s our responsibility to keep that promise. State and local education leaders are eager to move forward with their own innovative reforms on their own terms, and the Department of Education must be a partner – not a dictator – in those efforts. Today’s hearing reaffirmed congressional intent behind the Every Student Succeeds Act, and we will remain actively engaged in the implementation process to ensure the letter and intent of the law are upheld. We appreciate Dr. King’s candor and his willingness to join us today. I look forward to working with him in the months ahead to help the department get this right so all children can receive the excellent education they deserve.”
•U.S. DOE Releases ESSA FAQ: The U.S. Department of Education released on February 26, 2016 Transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Frequently Asked Questions. The document provides guidance to support states, LEAs, and schools during the transition from NCLB to ESSA in the following areas: Transition, ESSA Flexibility; Title 1 Program and Requirements; Title II Part A Programs and Requirement; Title III Part A Programs and Requirements.
•Some Pennsylvania Schools Might Close Due to Lack of Funds: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published on February 25, 2016 an article saying that the Pennsylvania Department of Education sent a memo to school officials with a checklist for school districts forced to close due to lack of funding. According to the article, the Department of Education advises that closing schools would be an “unprecedented event,” but provided the checklist to ensure that school officials had some guidelines if closure was necessary.
Lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf have not been able to finalize a state budget for FY2015-16 for the past nine months, leaving school districts scrambling for funds. The governor’s proposed budget for FY16-17 includes an increase in the sales taxes to fund education and close a $2 billion deficit.
See “Budget crisis prompts state Department of Education to prepare shutdown checklist for school districts,” by Tony Raap, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 25, 2016 at http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/10039305-74/budget-district-districts
•Tennessee Testing Glitches Lead to Changes in Teacher Evaluations: According to Chalkbeat Tennessee, there were a number of technical problems with the first round of online testing in schools in Tennessee in early February, leading Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to ask lawmakers to allow teachers to decide if they wanted to keep student test score results as part of their teacher evaluations for this year. About 20 school districts had to switch to paper versions of TNReady, the new exam for Tennessee students, developed by Measurement Inc. A platform failure at Measurement Inc. was the cause of the online testing problems. Tennessee has a five year $108 million contract with Measurement Inc. to administer the new TNReady assessments.
See “After testing debacle, Tennessee set to exclude student scores from teacher ratings” by Laura Faith Kebede and Grace Tatter, Chalkbeat Tennessee, February 17, 2016 at http://tn.chalkbeat.org/2016/02/17/after-testing-debacle-tennessee-set-to-exclude-student-scores-from-teacher-ratings/#.VtCa3MeDAw0
•NEPC Bunkum Awards Announced: The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) announced on February 22, 2016 its 10th annual “2015 Bunkum Awards,” a tongue-in-cheek tribute to think tanks and research foundations for the “worst example of educational policy research in a think tank report.”
This year the top Bunkum Award goes to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) for their report Separating Fact from Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools.
According the NEPC, the charter report is a “…fetching, sleek publication adorned with 15 charming photos of smiling children keeping watch over 21 easy-to-digest, alleged “myths” followed by responses that the report generously describes as “facts”. Yet Separating Fact from Fiction might more honestly be titled: Playing 21 with a Stacked Deck or Blackjacked 21 Attempts to Club Sound Policy.”
Here are some of the reasons why the Bunkum goes to the NAPCS and its report:
-The “facts” are often “outright misleading or unresponsive to the “myths”, which are often exaggerated or misrepresented.
-The authors are anonymous.
-The report includes 47 citations, but only one is from a peer-reviewed journal. Two-thirds of the citations are from articles published by organizations that advocate for charter schools, but a quick search of Google Scholar for “charter school” found 41,500 results.
-The report has no “methods” section, “…so the reader is adrift as to why the report selected the biased set of documents it did and why it ignored a vast and easily accessible body of scholarly literature.”
-The report’s “facts” about charter school funding are based on a previously “debunked” study.
The 2015 Bunkum Award video presentation and the Bunkum-worthy report and the review are available at http://nepc.colorado.edu/think-tank/bunkum-awards/2015.
•Another Study of National Assessments: Researcher Gary Phillips at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) released on February 22, 2016 another analysis of the rigor of national standardized assessments.
According to this study, the cut scores for achievement levels of the PARCC, Smarter Balance, and ACT Aspire assessments in grades 4 and 8 were compared to the cut scores for achievement levels (basic, proficient, and advanced) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
The study found that PARCC Achievement Level 4 (signifying college readiness) aligned with NAEP Achievement Level Proficient in math, and with NAEP Achievement Level Basic in English language arts.
The Smarter Balanced’s Achievement Level 3 and ACT Aspire’s Achievement Level 3 were comparable to the NAEP Achievement Level Basic in both math and English language arts.
According to the study, the NAEP cut scores for proficient mean that the student is well-prepared and in command of the contend, but there is no evidence that 4th and 8th grade proficiency on NAEP predicts college readiness.
See “National Benchmarks for State Achievement” by Gary Phillips, AIR, February 22, 2016 at http://www.air.org/resource/national-benchmarks-state-achievement-standards
•Ohio Celebrates 213th Anniversary: The first constitution of the State of Ohio was approved by Congress and signed by President Thomas Jefferson 213 years ago on February 28, 1803. Edward Tiffin was elected Ohio’s first governor and convened Ohio’s first General Assembly in Chillicothe on March 1, 1803. Later the capital was moved to Columbus in 1816.
An exhibit about Ohio’s founding will be in the Statehouse Rotunda from March 1-7, 2016.
•Controversial Report Cards Released: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released on February 25, 2016 a second round of state report card grades for the 2014-15 school year showing a decline in academic measures with only six school districts earning an A on the Performance Index. Last year 37 school districts earned an A.
The report cards for school districts, charter schools, career technical schools, and dropout recovery schools included grades for the performance index, value-added, gap closing, and gifted education. Report card grades for graduation rate and K-3 literacy, and data about the “prepared for success” measure were released in January 2016.
The report cards are controversial, because some of the scores are based on data derived from PARCC assessments (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) in math and English language arts, which lawmakers dropped in June 2015 due to a series of problems. The problems included the length of the assessments, which had to be completed over several days; technical difficulties with the online assessments, which made it difficult for students to complete the tests; and a delay in scoring and setting cut scores for the new assessments, which led to a six month delay in releasing the report cards, making it difficult for teachers to use the information to inform instruction.
Some parents also opted their students out of the tests in response to the testing problems, which caused district and school report card grades to drop, because students not taking the exams earned a zero.
As a result of the problems with the PARCC assessments, Ohio officials hired AIR (American Institutes of Research) to administer assessments in all subject areas this school year. AIR also agreed that the new exams would be scored and returned in time for the 2015-16 report cards to be released by September 2016.
In addition, state lawmakers exempted until the 2017-18 school year most students, schools, districts, and teachers from consequences that would have resulted from failing report card scores, and the ODE recently announced that for this year it would report scores for schools and districts with a zero and without a zero for the students who opted out of the test.
But some lawmakers and school officials do not believe that the “safe harbor” provisions are enough, and asked last week why the ODE released the questionable report cards at all.
Representative Theresa Fedor, a former teacher, and A.J. Wagner, a member of the State Board of Education, said last week that the report card results only confuse the public, because the state has already dropped the exams that the report cards are based on, because they were problematic. There is also evidence that students who took pen and paper exams did better than students taking the computer version. They believe that it will take years to vet and establish baseline scores for the new state exams to prove that they are reliable and valid, and asked state officials to “pause” the release of the report cards.
In northeast Ohio representatives from the Stark Education Partnership and other county and district officials also asked the State Board of Education to halt the release of state report cards.
The Stark County Educational Service Center, which serves 22 school districts, held a news conference on February 23, 2016 and reported that the state report card grades released on February 25, 2016 for the 2014-15 school year dropped significantly for area schools compared to 2013-14. In 2013-14 there were 13 school districts that received an A and 4 that received an F; while in 2014-15 there were only 4 districts with As, and 12 districts with an F.
The officials stated that the report card data in math and English language arts is flawed, because the PARCC exams took so long to administer and in some cases students couldn’t complete them, because of the technical difficulties with the online version.
Stephen Dyer at Innovation Ohio also questioned the validity, reliability, and rigor of the new tests. He writes in this 10th Period blog:
“This new report card data won’t probably end up meaning much because the tests coming in this year are different and there are so many opt-outs, appeals and incomplete data. So I don’t know how valuable this set will be beyond this year. I think it’s problematic that more than 20% of school district grades are Fs when districts never earned more than single digits in previous years.”
He also believes that the state is putting too much emphasis on the state assessments which “drive funding”, school closures, and levy success.
See “How Do We Know The New State Report Card is More Accurate?” by Stephen Dyer, 10th Period at Innovation Ohio, February 26, 2016 10th Period, at http://www.10thperiod.com
On the other side of the discussion, supporting the release of the report cards last week, was Ohio Interim Superintendent Lonny Rivera, who said in a press release that, “We’ve long expected that grades might decline as we began to raise the bar for our students and schools.” He went on to say that he was confident that Ohio students would do better as they become more accustomed to the standards and assessments.
Also siding with the release of the report cards was Aaron Churchill at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. In a statement released on February 25, 2016 he states that schools and districts performed better in the past, because the assessments were not as difficult as the new ones aligned to the new standards, and this year’s report card results are a “much-needed reset of academic expectations” and a more “honest gauge of how students and schools are performing”.
•Ohio’s Law Restricting Political Speech Unconstitutional: The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2014 lower court ruling on February 24, 2016 striking an Ohio law that prohibited false statements in political campaigns. (Susan B. Anthony v. Steven Driehaus)
The decision was made by a three judge panel that found the Ohio law unconstitutional, because it restricted free speech under the First Amendment and was not narrow enough to achieve the state’s interest to promote fair elections.
The decision stems from a 2010 ruling by the Ohio Elections Commission, which found that the Susan B. Anthony List and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) had made false-statements about U.S. Representative Steve Driehaus during an election campaign. The organizations challenged Ohio’s law against making false campaign statements, and U.S. District Court (Southern District of Ohio) Judge Timothy Black ruled in their favor on September 11, 2014. According to Judge Black’s decision, the problems that result from false campaign statements are outweighed by those that could occur if the government has the power to determine which political statements are true.
A decision to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court has not been made.
See “Court strikes down Ohio ban on knowingly or recklessly false statements about candidates” by Eugene Volokh, The Washington Post, February 24, 2016 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/02/24/court-strikes-down-ohio-ban-on-knowing-or-reckless-falsehoods-about-candidates/
•Survey on ELA and Math Standards Available: The Ohio Department of Education posted on February 23, 2016 an online survey about the English language arts and math standards as part of the process to review and revise the standards. Individuals and groups are urged to complete the survey, which will be used in the revision process. The purpose of the review is to ensure that the standards reflect the most recent research and experience of educators. The deadline to complete the survey is April 5, 2016.
The ODE is also accepting nominations for an advisory committee to analyze the survey results, and work groups to create the draft standards.
Interested individuals should submit a nomination form by March 11, 2016. The department will notify selected individuals by early April, 2016.
The department will then hold a second round of comments sometime in the fall for the public to respond to the draft standards.
•Resource Available to Learn About Judges: The March 15, 2016 Primary Election in Ohio will include a number of candidates seeking judicial positions, including Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justices of the Supreme Court, and Judges of the Court of Appeals and Court of Common Pleas.
The website judicialvotescount.org was created in 2014 to provide voters with biographical information about judicial candidates, and information about the offices they are seeking and Ohio’s Court System.
The website is sponsored by the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, Chief Justice O’Connor, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Ohio Newspaper Association and the Ohio Association of Broadcasters.
•Jim Mahoney Finds New Role at Battelle for Kids: Long-time executive director of Battelle for Kids, Dr. Jim Mahoney, announced on February 26, 2016 that he will become executive director emeritus sometime this summer. In his new role Dr. Mahoney will continue to advise, speak, and write for the organization, but a new executive director will be selected by the Battelle for Kids’ Board of Directors to oversee daily operations.
Dr. Mahoney was one of the original founders of Battelle for Kids in 2001, and has served as executive director for 15 years.
A well-known and respected educator in Ohio, Dr. Mahoney has also served as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and adjunct professor.
•AFTA Action Summit: Americans for the Arts is holding its annual Action Summit on March 7-8, 2016 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The schedule of events includes legislative and budget briefings; the Congressional Arts Kick Off; and visits to Congressional Offices.
John Maeda, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), will present the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy on March 7, 2016 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Dr. Maeda is known for converging the design and technology industries, and, as former President of Rhode Island School of Design, led an effort to transform STEM to STEAM. He has received numerous awards, including the White House’s National Design Award.
•High School MCAs Project Begins: The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards announced in January 2016 the selection of schools and teachers for the High School Model Cornerstone Assessment Pilot Project, and began field testing high school Model Cornerstone Assessments (MCAs) in dance, media arts, theater, music, and visual art in February 2016.
The MCAs are a component of the 2014 National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) to benchmark student achievement in grades 2, 5, 8, and at three levels in high school: proficient, accomplished, and advanced.
According to the MCA project website, MCAs serve as formative and summative assessments throughout an instructional unit; create the foundation for collecting and benchmarking student work that demonstrates standards-based student achievement; produce authentic performance assessments that document a range of learning over a range of time; capture students’ higher order thinking and skill development in the four artistic processes of Creating, Performing, Reflecting, and Connecting; and contribute to the professional development of educators
The NCCAS completed field testing the MCAs at the middle and elementary levels in 2015, and will soon post benchmarked examples of student work at
The project is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and is being conducted by national arts education organizations in conjunction with the National Consortium for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS).
This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Research and Information 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).