Arts on Line Education Update June 6, 2016

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
June 6, 2016

131st Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate are on break.

The Ohio Senate posted last week its schedule for the remaining months of the 131st General Assembly.

The Senate intends to hold hearings and sessions on the following dates:

  • September 27 – 29, 2016
  • October 4-6, 2016
  • November 9-10, 2016
  • November 15-16, 2016
  • November 30, 2016
  • December 1, 2016
  • December 6-8, 2016

“If needed” dates are also scheduled.

The House previously announced its schedule, which only includes dates in November and December 2016.



Governor Signs Autism Bill into Law: Governor Kasich signed HB299 (Blessing III, Rezabek) into law on May 31, 2016.  The law permits the temporary, legal, and permanent custodians of a qualified child to apply for an Autism Scholarship of up to $27,000 per student.  Access to the scholarship is currently restricted to qualified students with natural or adoptive parents.  To qualify for the scholarship students must be identified as having autism, and have an individualized education plan developed by their school districts of residence.



Members Appointed to the Community Schools Dropout Recovery Study Committee:  Some of the members of a special study committee created in 131-HB2 (Dovilla, Roegner – Charter School Accountability) to develop a definition of quality for dropout recovery charter schools were announced last week.

The committee will include Stephen Lyons of the Columbus Partnership; Monique Hamilton, Superintendent of Cruiser Academy, a dropout prevention and recovery school; Alex Johnson, President of Cuyahoga Community College; Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering); Michael Drake, President of The Ohio State University; Representative Andrew Brenner; and Buddy Harris, head of the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Innovation.

Members representing higher education, career-technical education, and the Ohio 8 urban school districts still need to be appointed.

The committee is expected to meet in June to examine how dropout recovery schools are evaluated and funded.  The committee is required to submit its recommendations to the chairpersons of the House and Senate Education committees by August 1, 2016. A recent audit of 14 dropout recovery charter schools by State Auditor David Yost found large discrepancies between student attendance and reported enrollment at the schools.



This Week at the Statehouse: The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) will meet on June 9, 2016 at 1:30 PM in hearing room 313.

The OCMC Education, Public Institutions and Local Government Committee will meet on June 9, 2016 at 9:30 AM in hearing room 017.

The agendas for the meetings were not available.





Cleveland Leaders Plan Initiative to Support At-Risk Youth: According to an article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, civic, health care, education and business leaders in Cleveland are developing a plan to ensure that at-risk youth in Cleveland have access to social services and mentors to address generational poverty and decrease youth violence.

The effort is being led by Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and others in response to the senseless violence that led to the deaths of 120 people in Cleveland last year.

The initiative, which will be announced in July, will coordinate selected programs and services for youth in Cleveland, following an assessment of hundreds of social, health, and mental health services available in Cleveland for at-risk youth.

See “U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, others to unveil plan focused on Cleveland’s at risk youth,” by Leila Atassi, The Plain Dealer, June 2, 2016 at


CEO for Youngstown Selected: The Youngstown Academic Distress Commission, chaired by Brian Benyo, announced on May 31, 2016 that it had selected Krish Mohip from Chicago as the CEO of the Youngstown City Schools.  Dr. Mohip currently works as a principal for the Chicago City schools, where he has been assigned to improve poor-performing schools.

According to an interview with WKBN, Dr. Mohip intends to reach-out to stakeholders to listen to ideas and concerns, and ultimately find ways to support principals and teachers so that all students have access to high quality instruction.

See “Youngstown City Schools CEO Selected,” by Abbie Schrader and Julie Bercik, WKBN 27, May 31, 2016 at


Lower than Expected Test Scores Require State Board Fix: Patrick O’Donnell at The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will ask the State Board of Education to lower the cut scores on two statewide high school end-of-course tests in geometry and integrated mathematics II at their June 13-14, 2016 meeting.

Jim Wright, director of curriculum and assessment sent State Board members a memo last week explaining that fewer students met the proficiency targets on these exams than predicted, and the difference between predicted results and preliminary results on these two exams was greater when compared to predictions for other exams.  The State Board of Education set the cut scores for the high school exams in January 2016 based on predicted achievement.

State Board of Education member A.J. Wagner shared the memo and other documents with reporters on June 3, 2016 in order to notify parents, students, teachers, and school administrators about the proposed change, and the consequences for students who are preparing to graduate.

The tests were developed by American Institutes of Research (AIR), which became the vendor for all statewide assessments in Ohio this school year. Students completed the exams, which are part of the requirements for graduation, in the spring.

Preliminary test scores show that 24 percent of students taking the geometry exam scored at proficient or above, compared to the predicted results of 59 percent, and 21 percent of students taking the integrated mathematics II exam scored at least proficient, compared to the predicted results of 56 percent.  Lowering the cut scores will increase the number of students who are considered proficient.

See “Scores on Ohio’s high school math tests much lower than expected, sparking debate over graduation requirements,” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, June 3, 2016 at




Responses to the Proposed ESSA Accountability Rules: The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released on May 26, 2016 draft accountability rules for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

According to U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, the rules provide a “balance” between a federal interest to protect the right of all students to a quality education, and state and local control of K-12 education policies.

Lawmakers, stakeholders, and education organizations have now reviewed the draft rules, and are responding both positively and negatively. Here are some of the responses:

Responses from Democrats: The Washington Post reports that, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), who helped pass the bipartisan law, support the draft rules, which promote equity and protect the civil rights of students.

In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King on May 25, 2016, Senator Murray and Representative Scott also requested that the rules require states to recommend even greater academic gains from low-achieving subgroups of students to narrow statewide achievement gaps.

But Senator Murray and Representative Scott also want the USDOE to ensure that both state and local educational agencies develop and implement processes to meaningfully engage stakeholders in the implementation of this new law.

In another letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King on May 11, 2016, they say that they are receiving reports that states are not conveniently scheduling meetings for teachers to participate in the development of the state plans.  States are also appointing representatives to teams working on state ESSA plans, rather than allowing organizations to select their own representatives, and are not providing stakeholders enough time to take advantage of the law’s new flexibility to develop new approaches for statewide accountability systems.




See “Education Department proposes rules for judging schools,” by Emma Brown, The Washington Post, May 26, 2016 at

Responses from Republicans: Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), and Representative John Kline, chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, issued a press release on May 26, 2016 expressing disappointment and concern about the efforts of the USDOE to add requirements through the rules that Congress rejected.

Both Senator Alexander and Representative Kline went on to say that they will hold hearings on the proposed accountability rule, and overturn it if ESSA is not implemented in the way that Congress intended.

See their statement at

ASCD: David Griffith, Senior Director of Government Relations for the ASCD, identified several issues with the proposed accountability rules, saying that the USDOE is imposing a more aggressive timeline than is practical.  ASCD fears that states and districts will not have enough time to carefully plan new accountability systems, and will revert to the current systems driven by testing.

The ASCD also believes that the rules should specify that Title II funds for professional development should not be spent on unrelated activities.

The rules about educator evaluation systems should clarify that multiple measures, in addition to student achievement, be included, and student achievement shouldn’t be measured solely by test scores.

The USDOE should also provide more guidance for school districts that must conduct needs assessments under Title IV – the Student Success and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program by providing examples of appropriate assessments that could be used.  The rules should also make clear that Title IV funds are not just for Title I schools, and avoid placing limits on the use of the Title IV funds.

See “ASCD responds to USDOE proposed ESSA Accountability Rules” at

American Federation of Teachers: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, released on May 26, 2016 a press release reacting to the proposed ESSA accountability rules.

According to the press release the proposed accountability rules provide “good guidance to states on appropriate inclusion of English language proficiency in accountability systems,” but fail in other areas. For example, the rules offer specific punitive consequences for when fewer than 95 percent of students participate in tests.  Rather than reducing the reasons for parents to opt students out of testing, the proposed rule adds another “high stakes consequence,” which will only “inflame” the opt-out movement.

The press release also states that, “The department seeks to impose a more aggressive timeline than the new law provides for districts to implement these new accountability systems. Without enough time to put them in place, states will revert back to what they have—a test-driven accountability system. This will maintain the old test-and-punish accountability systems and an overly prescriptive federal role in schools. That is not the reset ESSA promised.”


NAFME: The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and members of the Music Education Policy Roundtable submitted on May 25, 2016 a letter to the USDOE regarding certain provisions in ESSA that support a well-rounded education.

NAFME is requesting that State plans and State report cards to the U.S. Secretary of Education include dis-aggregated data about educators teaching out of their credentialed areas for all teachers, including those in music.

The letter asks that States be encouraged to include student access and participation rates in music education programs as “other indicator determined by the State” in their accountability plans.  It also wants the USDOE to provide States with guidance about how to implement music and arts programs as whole school reforms under Schoolwide Programs and Targeted Assistance Programs.

States should also be provided with guidance about using music education programs to engage parents and families.

The rules should also clarify that funds for mentoring new teachers should be used to mentor all teachers, and that measures of student achievement include achievement in music and other subjects that constitute a well-rounded education.

Under Title IV States should be required to break-down State and LEA funded activities to support a well-rounded education in their Consolidated State Progress Reports, and include music and the arts in needs assessments required under the Student Success and Academic Enrichment Grants.

See “Department of Education Releases Draft Accountability Rules,” National Association for Music Education, May 31, 2016 at

See the guidance document at

Other Controversial Provisions in the Proposed Rule: In addition to the 95 percent testing requirement options, Education Week published several articles last week that identify other controversial provisions in the proposed accountability rules for ESSA, including the following:

  • Summative Rating and Ranking:  States are required to develop an accountability system that provides a “summative rating” for every school, which will then be used to rank and identify the lowest 5 percent of schools based on achievement.  Some find this rule troubling, because some states are moving away from giving schools and districts a “single” rating, because these ratings are often based on arbitrary decisions, and mask important factors that parents should know about their schools.
  • Parental Right to Opt Students Out of Testing:  Under ESSA parents are allowed to opt students out of testing based on their state laws, and the federal government can’t interfere.  This provision is not addressed in the proposed accountability rules.  In fact, the rules provide States with mostly punitive options for school districts and schools that do not test at least 95 percent of students and subgroups of students.

See “Education Department Releases ESSA Accountability Rules,” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, May 26, 2016 at

See “Proposed ESSA Rules Aim to Walk Fine Line on Accountability,” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, June 1, 2016 at


NASBE Adds to Online State Policy Database: The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) launched on May 17, 2016 an online database of state policies for college, career, and civic readiness.  The database includes regulations and practices that govern state education systems in the states and U.S. territories.  With this addition, NASBE’s State Policy Database now includes information about state regulations for college, career, and civic readiness policies, including state academic standards; student assessment requirements; and policies affecting educator effectiveness, such as professional program standards and licensing requirements.

NASBE is also preparing additional state policy databases for education data privacy, school discipline, and health.




Public Education and Its Role in a Democracy: The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) released on June 2, 2016 a policy brief entitled “The Purpose of Education:  Truing the Balance Wheel” by Dr. William Mathis, Managing Director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

This brief is one in a series of briefs entitled “Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking.”

This brief examines the belief championed by Horace Mann that education is a “great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery,” and that universal education is the bedrock of democracy.

According to Dr. Mathis, Horace Mann advocated that education should be “‘…universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aim should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.’”

Unfortunately, the author writes that the purpose of universal public education as a benefit to society has been replaced by the “ascendance of test scores and international economic competitiveness.”

Achievement gaps among subgroups of students have been misinterpreted as an “indicator of school failure rather than as a measure of unequal opportunities.”  And, the solutions imposed by school reformers punish schools and communities regardless of the vast differences in the circumstances of students.

Dr. Mathis writes that the belief in the power of universal education and its role in our democracy has been undermined by “substantial disparities in educational resources, opportunities, and outcomes.”

And the inequities are growing.  Labor market trends show that disparities in American family incomes have been increasing over the past five decades, widening the income gap between families in the top and bottom 20 percent of income distribution by nearly 300 percent between 1947 and 2010 in 2011 dollars.

In order to true the balance and equalize educational opportunities, the author recommends that the full range of social and economic needs of children be assessed, including those that extend beyond the traditional boundaries of schools.

He writes, “Fair housing policies, investments in distressed neighborhoods, good jobs, and policies that reduce income disparities are all essential.9 Serious efforts to promote equal opportunity must be as broad and pervasive as the range of social and economic factors contributing to the current divide.”

The author also calls attention to other federal and state policies that have undermined universal education, including the re-segregation of schools, the dis-equalizing effects of privatization, and the lack of fair and equal educational opportunities.

The brief recommends that, “Policymakers and the general public embrace the broad goals of education, including civic responsibility, democratic values, economic self-sufficiency, cultural competency and awareness, and social and economic opportunity.”

All schools should have the “fundamental educational resources they need to promote student success: effective teachers and principals, appropriate class sizes, challenging and culturally relevant curriculum and supportive instructional resources, sufficient quality time for learning and development, up-to-date facilities and a safe environment.”

Schools in high-poverty neighborhoods should have the support to provide “wrap-around services including nutritional supports, health clinics, parental education, extended learning time, recreational programs, and other services needed to meet the social, physical, cognitive, and economic needs of both students and families.”

Policies that focus on high-stakes testing, punishment, and allow for school re-segregation should be replaced by policies that promote equal opportunities and “renew public commitment to public education.”



Negative Effects of Vouchers: Mark Dynarski at Brookings published on May 26, 2016 a report entitled, “On negative effects of vouchers.”  In this report the author examines several studies about the achievement of public school students who received vouchers to attend private schools in Louisiana and Indiana through state sponsored programs, and found that the voucher students scored lower on reading and math tests compared to similar students who remained in public schools.

According to the report, “The magnitudes of the negative impacts were large, too. In Louisiana, a public school student who was average in math (at the 50th percentile) and began attending a private school using a voucher declined to the 34th percentile after one year. If that student was in third, fourth, or fifth grade, the decline was steeper, to the 26th percentile. Reading declined, too: a student at the 50th percentile in reading declined to about the 46th percentile. In Indiana, a student who had entered a private school with a math score at the 50th percentile declined to the 44th percentile after one year.”

The studies used rigorous research designs, and made adjustments to take into consideration of other factors that would lead to the results, such as the particular tests that were used.

The results raise questions about the rationale for a public policy in support of voucher programs, which were generally established so that students could escape lower achieving schools, when the students receiving the voucher achieve less than when they attended the public schools.

The author suggests that voucher programs should be studied further in order to “make the case that they are a good or bad investment of public funds.”

See “On the negative effects of vouchers,” by Mark Dynarski, Brookings, May 26, 2016  at



Drama Therapy Helps Students with Autism:  An article in The Atlantic describes how some schools are using the arts as a method to teach students with autism some of the rules of social interaction.

The article reports that Vanderbilt University Associate Professor Blythe Corbett has created the SENSE Theatre program for students ages 7-18 to help students with autism develop social skills.  The 40-hour program teaches students with autism role-playing, improvisation, singing, and how to learn lines by working with trained peer models.  The key to the success of the program is finding something that interests the students, and using that interest to help students with autism to develop strategies to converse, recognize faces, and manage stress.

A study of Dr. Corbett’s program showed that compared to students in a control group, the students in her program “…were better able to recognize faces, understand different perspectives, and regulate anxiety.”

The study also showed that the brains of the students in her program had changed and were more similar to children without autism.  The changes were discovered through brain imaging techniques, and could mean that helping the students to focus on identifying social cues and stimuli from others, as part of learning how to act, reinforced certain patterns in their brains.

The article also refers to other programs that are also finding similar benefits using drama therapy for children with autism, including programs at the University of Kent and at The Ohio State University, which teaches students to use Shakespeare’s rhythm of iambic pentameter to better communicate under certain circumstances.

See “Improvement in Social Competence Using a Randomized Trial of a Theatre Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Corbett BA, Key AP, Qualls L, Fecteau S, Newsom C, Coke C, and Yoder P. Journal Autism Development Disorder, 2016 Feb; 46(2):658-72. at

See “Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids with Drama:  Schools are exploring new ways to teach children the rules of informal interactions,” by Laura McKenna, The Atlantic, June 1, 2016 2016 at

This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.

The purpose of the update is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities.

The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (, Ohio Art Education Association(, Ohio Educational Theatre Association(; OhioDance (, and the Ohio 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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