As Ed Reforms Fail, Legislators Admit They Don't Understand What They've Done

If the the latest results from NAEP testing is to be any guide, Corporate Education reformers have more evidence that their reforms have failed. If test and punish was supposed to raise test scores, their approach is failing miserably.

The average performance of the nation’s high school seniors dropped in math from 2013 to 2015, but held steady in reading, according to results of a biennial test released Wednesday.

The results, from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also showed a drop in the percentage of students in private and public schools who are considered prepared for college-level work in reading and math. In 2013, the last time the test was given, 39 percent of students were estimated to be ready in math and 38 percent in reading; in 2015, 37 percent were judged prepared in each subject.


The lower-grade results were released last fall, and they showed a similar decline in math.

The math tests are scored from zero to 300, and in 12th grade, the average dropped to 152 in 2015 from 153 in 2013, a statistically significant decline. The 2015 average was two points higher than in 2005, the first year a comparable test was given.

Corporate education reform booster, Frederick Hess noted on twitter

As we noted in response, more time testing, less time teaching hasn't been a roadmap to student success. Which brings us nicely to the latest nonsense from the Ohio General Assembly - the architects of much of the test and punish policies Ohio has been enamored with. 

You probably only need to read the headline in this Dispatch article to have your frustration levels rise. "Ohio legislators hope to pin down ‘value added’ rating for student progress". Legislators have been crafting education reform policy based largely on flawed Value-Add systems that to this day, they do not understand.

Ohio’s value-added measure is a major part of its system for evaluating student progress and teacher effectiveness, but some lawmakers admit they have too little understanding of how it works.

They hope to change that soon.

Reps. Ryan Smith and Bob Cupp, two of the more influential House Republicans on education issues, introduced a one-paragraph bill last week that calls for a review of the value-added system.

Each said there is no plan right now for changes, but they want an in-depth discussion about it. For such a major component of district report cards and teacher evaluations, there appears to be a lack of understanding of the value-added measure both inside and outside the Statehouse.

“I don’t particularly understand it. I think it will be an opportunity to inform,” said Cupp, R-Lima. “I think there’s a lot of broad-based questions about it.”

They could start by doing a search of the JTF archives for VAM and Value Add to begin to understand that this measure has been, is and will continue to be a wholly inappropriate measure currently used. 

While ignorant legislators have ignored education experts and instead listened to the profiteers, students have learned less and teacher retention and recruitment has hit crisis levels. 

High Stakes Causing Teacher Enrollments Crisis

A crisis has been brewing in education since 2008. Teacher-preparation programs have been seeing declining numbers of enrollments, and declining number of graduates, all at a time when record number of experienced teachers are leaving the profession either through retirement or seeking second careers. 

The national problem shown in the chart above is also being replicated here in Ohio. According to Federal title 2 data, in the 2011-2012 academic year, 6768 individuals completed teacher preparation programs at one of 51 Ohio institutions. In the 2015 report, just 6066 individuals completed teacher preparation programs.

Even the Dispatch has noticed

The number of newly awarded bachelor’s degrees in education has dropped by more than one-fourth in Ohio since the 2003-04 school year, challenging the state’s reputation as a fount of new teachers.

Given the historical surplus, that might be OK, except that the prospective new teachers aren’t seeking degrees in the specialties in which they’re needed most. That leaves school districts scrambling for teachers each year, especially in middle and high school math and science, plus foreign languages, physical education and other areas.

In 2003-04, Ohio’s public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities awarded 55,207 bachelor’s degrees, and 6,759 of them, or 12.2 percent, were in education. By 2014-15, the number of bachelor’s degrees had risen to 69,592, but only 4,983 were in education, shrinking the share of education degrees to 7.3 percent.

It is no surprise that enrollments and hence graduations are down. For a while corporate education reformers could blame the great recession, but now, years after recovery, the problem continues to deteriorate. Corporate reformers have created a less attractive work environment that is clearly unable to recruit enough high quality individuals. 

Nobody went in to education to suffer the joys of high-stakes anything. That much should now be obvious to everyone. What good does having high stakes do, when it drives away the very educators who are desperately needed to do the work?

Olmsted Falls Superintendent to ODE “We Will Not Waste Our Teachers’ Time”

Another letter to ODE from a Superintendent expressing concern with the report card based on unreliable test results


In a recent letter to the leaders of the Ohio Department of Education and the president of the State Board of Education, Olmsted Falls City Schools Superintendent Jim Lloyd wrote that his school system will be taking full advantage of “safe harbor” enabling districts to exclude student progress as part of teacher evaluations. Dr. Lloyd’s letter was blunt and to the point:

 “While we did our very best to provide an online testing environment for our students that would not yield confounding results, the online testing experience for our students in 2014-15 represented an epic fail due to the online platform that was utilized by the testing company.  

As a result, we firmly believe that our students’ performances do not fairly represent their achievement or growth…Therefore, as the leader of the Olmsted Falls City School District, I cannot in good conscience require my building principals to use student test results to evaluate our teachers in any form or fashion.  

Moreover, we will not waste our teachers’ time by creating last minute district or building level student learning objectives in order to retro-fit a growth measure into a teacher evaluation computer programming system that we did not create nor do we want to use.”

Local School Board President "Disgusted", Slams ODE

We posted a letter to ODE yesterday by Summit County Superintendents challenging the recent PARCC test results, today we have another hard hitting letter to ODE from the President of the Board of Education for Firelands Local Schools. Here it is.

Dear State of Ohio School Board Members,

As a parent of three elementary school children and board president of a rural school district in Northern Ohio, I am disgusted with our districts recent report card ratings from the State of Ohio. Our district, previously labeled with characteristics of excellence and distinction, has been berated by the same State with D’s and F’s. 

So what has changed in the last 2-3 years? School districts have been forced to comply with Federal and State strong-arming and top-down governance with a complete loss of local control, while being mandated to enforce Common Core, PARCC standardized testing, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, and Ohio Principal Evaluation System with minimal effective implementation practices. Well our community fought back and, due to the overwhelming grass-root resistance in the state, the PARCC test was abolished. Yet we are still being “graded” on the same test that was deemed ineffective by the State of Ohio. 

Meanwhile, the same State of Ohio is fleecing its taxpayers of its hard earned tax dollars to fund incompetent charter schools with no governance, transparency, or proof of actual value. Nor were these charters forced to enact the same mandates as the public schools. How can two completely different models of best educational practices be funded by the same foundation and both be deemed worthy? And here’s the kicker, these unjust practices were enforced by the same State Departments that have been embarrassed with lies, corruption, and resignations. Yet here we are 120 miles from Columbus defending the “grade” bestowed upon us from the same agency that has created every barricade and obstacle in our path.

It’s time that we stand up and tell the state to stop meddling with our children’s education. I know that we have both taken the vow to protect the children of our district and state and to create a positive and enriching environment for each child to excel. What has been created is toxic! Not only for the children, but the staff and administration too. The State deserves better and our children certainly deserve better. They are our future!

Let’s regain control of our state and local school boards. I beg you to give us the tools locally so that our district and teachers can have some flexibility to adapt educational opportunities to what fits in our community. One that helps each child meet their unique goal and sense of accomplishment and pride. Not a one-size fits all fear over a standardized test score!

Lastly, please don’t belittle me with Mr. Kasich’s “Our local school boards select the curriculum” speech. We all know that curriculum is chosen to meet the state mandates not each district’s unique needs, challenges, and goals.


Ben Gibson

President of Firelands Local School Board

Superintendents Challenge Test Result Validity

The Summit County Superintendents Association have written to the Interim State Superintendent, challenging the results of recent PARCC tests. Here's there letter:

Dear Dr. Rivera:

We are dedicated to providing the best education possible for the students we serve. This is our purpose. As such, we welcome transparency and accountability.

 There is significant concern however among school districts regarding the recently released state report card. We believe the recent testing results do not reflect the quality of education being offered in our school districts. 

 We strongly challenge the validity of the recently published testing results.

  • This validity concern is exemplified by the fact that the overall value added grade distribution of the districts that took the test using paper and pencil vs. those districts that took the test online are profoundly different.

o   A significant number of school districts that took the test online had test scores that plummeted.

o   A significant number of school districts that took the test with paper and pencil had excellent test scores.

o   This makes no sense.  

  • This validity concern is also demonstrated by the fact that current testing penalizes school districts for promoting college and career readiness programs. It forces school districts to choose between looking good on a report card OR providing opportunities for students. This makes no sense.

o   This is exemplified by school districts that had accelerated middle school students take tests at the high school level, what was best for the students. In such circumstances, the testing falsely showed the middle schools as plummeting in performance.

  • The validity is finally called into question by the Governor’s Office itself, which declared due to test inconsistencies that students and school personnel may not be evaluated based upon the results. 

 We are further concerned about the inconsistency of the testing from year to year. The inconsistency causes significant negative issues and confusion for our personnel and our district’s citizens.

The state has asked us to invest in technology to support online testing. We are asking the state address inconsistencies in the existing testing system.

Again, we welcome transparency and accountability. We embrace our purpose, which is to provide the best education possible for the students we serve. We desire to be a part of a constructive solution and offer our support in creating that solution. 

 We look forward to a dialog so we may work together.

Members of the Summit County Superintendents’ Association


America’s K-12 Facilities Underfunding by $46 Billion Annually

The Center for Green Schools has issued a report that looks at K-12 facilities investment. They find that going forward our nation will under-invest in school buildings by $46 billion annually.

As usual with school funding issues, a large part of the problem stems from the funding systems, whereby local communities are asked to provide the bulk of funding, causing massive inequities in poor communities when compared with richer counterparts.

This will be a growing problem in Ohio, now that the Governor's successive budgets have placed a larger and larger burden on local communities to fund school operations, so that the state can instead offer tax cuts to wealthy citizens and businesses. This will undoubtedly leave communities with less room for capital investment in future years.

Here's the report: