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7 State Board of Education Members call Superintendent Dick Ross a "Prime Suspect"

Seven members of the State Board of Education have written a letter to State Superintendent Dick Ross demanding an independent investigation in to the practices of ODE as they relate to the illegal rating of charter school sponsors and the potential unconstitutionality of the Youngstown plan developed in secret without the boards knowledge.

Here's their letter in full
Superintendent Richard Ross
Ohio Department of Education
20 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215
August 3rd, 2015
Dear Dr. Ross,

We are taking a beating in the media, and we deserve it.

Our collective failure to properly oversee the administration and employees of ODE allowed the improper ratings of charter school sponsors. Unless we do a full and thorough investigation of ODE, matters could get much worse. You may believe that the evaluation incident was an isolated one, but we would be negligent in the performance of our duties if we accepted that as truth without looking further into ODE practices.

Unfortunately, the proposal to bring in three outsiders to determine how the sponsor evaluation should be completed falls far short of what is required for the public to regain confidence in ODE. Like it or not, you are a prime suspect in what has occurred. Mr. Hansen may have taken the fall, but you were his boss. Whether by mismanagement, or deliberate instruction to Mr. Hansen, you are culpable as well. We need more than an evaluation of how we move forward. We need an investigation into ODE practices that allowed this to happen. We cannot correct the mistakes of the past if we refuse to examine those mistakes, determine what they are, determine how they occurred, evaluate how to prevent them from occurring in the future, and taking the corrective action to assure this does not happen again.

We need to look at more than the evaluation issue. We need to look at how and why we have failed to investigate complaints brought to our attention. Our practice of having sponsors investigate their schools is a huge conflict of interest that results in an entirely unreliable and incredible investigative outcome.

If we are serious about our credibility, the board, not you, must engage an independent firm to investigate you and the Department of Education to determine compliance with the laws and administrative rules of the State of Ohio, the laws and administrative rules of the United States, and the policies and procedures of the Ohio Department of Education all as applied to the oversight, operation and licensure of community schools in the State of Ohio. The firm or individuals selected must be experienced in conducting similar investigations, have no vested interest in the outcome, and reflect the bipartisan nature of our board. The investigation should have a deadline and all appropriate information gathered should be available to the public as soon as possible (so long as it does not interfere with the gathering of information as part of the investigation).

Such investigation must include a determination of the role you and ODE played in formation of “The Youngstown Plan.” It is important to determine how that plan has bypassed Article VI Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio which states, “Provision shall be made by law for the organization, administration and control of the public school system of the state supported by public funds: provided, that each school district embraced wholly or in part within any city shall have the power by referendum vote to determine for itself the number of members and the organization of the district board of education, and provision shall be made by law for the exercise of this power by such school districts.” The faulty sponsor evaluations ignored the law. Are we now participants in ignoring Ohio’s Constitution?

Such investigation must include an audit of all contracts between the Ohio Department of Education and sponsors of community schools and all contracts between community schools and their sponsors to determine compliance. As the State Auditor has recently reported, he investigates financial issues. It falls on us to investigate legal matters to assure there is no area of law being ignored by community schools or their sponsors. Community school contracts are subject to many rules and laws. Given that ODE has overlooked the law on one known occasion creates the need to assure there are no other violations of the law being overlooked. If there are any violations, we must then determine if ODE had any part in those violations.

Such investigation must determine the accuracy of investigations conducted by sponsors of their sponsored schools at the request of the Department of Education and must further determine if complaints made to you and/or ODE have been set aside, ignored or otherwise not investigated. We look forward to working with you to implement the recommendations listed above as we work to restore the public’s confidence in the Ohio Department of Education.

Very truly yours,

Pat Bruns
Member, District 4

Michael Collins
Member, District 6

Stephanie Dodd
Member, District 9

Ann Jacobs
Member, District 1

Mary Rose Oakar
Member, District 11

Roslyn Painter-Goffi
Member, District 5

A.J. Wagner
Member, District 3

House Bill 64 (State Budget) Analysis

The following analysis is based on the final version of House Bill 64 (state budget) as signed by the Governor.

K-12 Education
School Funding
  • Increases state aid to school districts by approximately $350.9 million in FY 2016 and $154.4 million in FY 2017 prior to deductions for charter schools and vouchers.
  • Maintains the existing school funding formula but adds new support for transportation, as well as incentive funding tied to the third grade reading guarantee and graduation rates.
  • All school districts are guaranteed that they will not receive less funding than they received in FY 15 in state foundation aid over the biennium.
  • Increases the foundation formula from $5,800 per pupil in FY 2015 to $5,900 in FY 2016 and $6,000 in FY 2017.
  • Limits the gain cap or the funding increase that a school district can receive under the formula to 7.5 percent in each year of the biennium. Exempts capacity aid (the capacity measure determines a districts ability to raise local revenues), transportation supplement, graduation rate appropriation, and third grade reading guarantee appropriations from the cap in both FY 2016 and FY 2017.
  • Reduces payments to school districts from the elimination of the Tangible Personal Property Tax and Kilowatt Hour Tax by between 1% and 2%, depending on the property wealth of the school district. The Governor vetoed the Tangible Personal Property (TPP) supplemental foundation aid in FY 2017 that was intended to guarantee that districts do not receive less funding (state foundation aid and TPP reimbursements) than FY 2015 levels. This veto, coupled with the elimination of the minimum per-pupil provision, reduces approximately $95.5 million in FY 2017 for nearly 120 districts that are reliant on the TPP replacement payments (Revised estimates from the Legislative Services Commission 7/2/2015). The Governor retained the TPP supplemental foundation aid for districts in FY 2016.
  • Provides approximately $278 million in FY 2016 and $283 million in FY 2017 for Joint Vocational School Districts (JVSD).
  • Requires a school district or charter school to pay a JVSD for student special education and related services if the cost of providing those services is greater than the amount the JVSD receives under the funding formula.
  • Creates a School Transportation Joint Task Force to study the “appropriate formula” for paying for student transportation and the responsibility of school districts, nonpublic schools and community schools. Requires the task force to submit a report by February 1, 2016.
  • Repeals the requirement that Legislative Services Commission maintain an online database of current and historical revenues and expenditures for all school districts.
  • Requires the state superintendent to verify that the state achievement tests in 2015-2016 will be administered once during a testing window in the second half of the school year and that the amount of time spent taking these tests is reduced in order to provide more time for instruction.
  • Requires any entity which grades state assessments to send a school a list of individual scores for all students within 45 days or by June 30 - whichever is earlier (3rd grade ELA tests results due by June 15).
  • Extends for one year (through 2015-2016) a provision that prohibits any school from being required to administer state assessments online. Requires ODE to furnish assessments free of charge.
  • Prohibits general revenue funds from being used to purchase assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
  • Exempts students enrolled in a chartered nonpublic school which is accredited through the Independent School Association of the Central States (ISACS) from the high school graduation assessments and the requirement to take the high school end-of-course exams, unless the student is attending the school under a voucher program. Specifies that non- ISACS chartered nonpublic schools may forgo the end-of-course exams if the school administers an alternative assessment to all of its students.
Safe Harbor
  • Prohibits districts from using value-added ratings from 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 for evaluations or employment decisions unless the district and teachers collectively agree to use them. Requires that evaluations be based solely on performance if no other measure of student academic growth is available.
  • Changes the first year that state report card ratings must have an overall letter grade to 2017-2018.
  • Prohibits report card ratings from being used to determine EdChoice voucher eligibility and academic distress commissions through 2016-2017.
  • Extends “student safe harbor” by two years. Through 2016-2017, schools are prohibited from utilizing student scores on state assessments or end-of-course exams as a factor in any decision on student retention, promotion or granting course credit. (Note: this does not apply to the retention provision of the third grade reading guarantee).
  • Revises the alternative framework of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) as follows:
    o Decreases the student academic growth measure to 35% (from 42.5%)
    o Increases the teacher performance measure to 50% (from 42.5%)
    o Specifies the remaining 15% shall be one or a combination of student surveys, teacher self-evaluations, peer reviews, student portfolios or any other component deemed appropriate by the district.
  • Requires the Educator Standards Board to develop standards for school counselors that align with the American School Counselor Association’s professional standards, and are in keeping with the core elements of an effective school program.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to develop a standards-based framework for the evaluation of school counselors and requires each school district by September 30, 2016, to adopt an evaluation policy that conforms to the state framework.
Voucher Programs
  • Increases the maximum amount of an EdChoice voucher for a high school student from $5,000 to $5,900 in FY 2016 and $6,000 in FY 2017.
  • Increases the maximum amount of the Autism and Jon Peterson Special Needs voucher programs from $20,000 to $27,000.
Charter Schools
  • Requires the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) by July 1, 2016, to submit to the House and Senate Education Committees, a plan that would expand ODE’s authority to directly authorize charter schools and makes recommendations for a ratings rubric for the evaluation of charter school sponsors.
  • Allows charter schools with the highest rated sponsors to receive local tax dollars if approved by local school boards and voters.
  • Permits a charter school to operate a preschool program if its sponsor is rated "exemplary,” and if the charter receives a grade of “C” or better on either the value-added or performance index score for grades four through twelve or if a school serving grades K-3 receive a “C” or better for improving literacy. A charter school may not receive operating funds for students enrolled in a preschool program, but is permitted to receive early childhood expansion funds.
  • Requires a feasibility analysis regarding the establishment of 16 charter schools for gifted children located in the different ESC regions of the state.
  • Changes the definition of “internet- or computer-based charter school” to include a charter school that offers career-technical education even if that instruction provides some classroom-based instruction.
  • Requires that high-performing charter schools be given the right of first refusal in the sale or lease of school district real property (this establishes a more specific rank order to current law that generally provides charter schools a right of first refusal).
  • Increases the amount of money that may be used to pay for school facilities from $100 to $200 per student.
  • Authorizes e-schools to receive $25 per pupil for facilities.
Other K-12 Provisions
  • Establishes the Joint Education Oversight Commission, consisting of five members from the Senate and five members from the House, to review and evaluate education policies and programs.
  • Requires the State Board of Education, by July 1, 2016, to adopt rules exempting consistently high-performing teachers from the requirement to complete any additional coursework for the renewal of an educator license.
  • Extends the deadline for the 2015-2016 state report cards from September 15, 2015, to January 15, 2016. Extends until January 31, 2016, the deadline for ODE’s reports regarding students with disabilities for 2014-2015.
  • Requires the State Board of Education by December 31, 2015, to update its plan for students to earn high school credits based on demonstrated competency and how 7th and 8th grade student can meet curriculum requirements. The provision requires school districts to comply with the plan in 2016-2017.
  • Makes eligible for high school graduation an individual who entered 9th grade for the first time prior to July 1, 2014, if the person completes one of the three pathways: (1) score at "remediation-free" levels in English, math, and reading on nationally standardized assessments, (2) attain a cumulative passing score on the end-of-course examinations, or (3) attain a passing score on a nationally recognized job skills assessment and obtain either an industry-recognized credential or a state agency or board-issued license in a specific vocation.
  • Makes eligible for high school graduation an individual who entered the 9th grade for the first time prior to July 1, 2014, and has not passed all of the Ohio Graduation Tests, if the person meets a combined graduation requirement established by rules adopted by the State Board of Education. Requires the State Board to adopt such rules by December 31, 2015.
  • Permits schools to enter into contracts with hospitals, health care providers or a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) in order to provide health care services to students.
  • Requires the Board of Building Standards to adopt rules for a staff member of a K-12 school or institution of higher education to use temporary barricades for security. Requires each school to train staff members on the use of barricades.
  • Appropriates $40 million over the biennium to expand early childhood education opportunities.
  • Appropriates $5 million in FY 2016 to support graduate coursework for high school teachers in order to receive credentialing to teach college credit plus courses. The provision gives priority to educationally disadvantaged high schools. Also appropriates $5 million in FY 2016 for competitive grants for universities to aid in the credentialing of teachers.
  • Appropriates approximately $42 million over the biennium for the Straight A Program.
  • Prohibits a school district or school from altering, truncating, or redacting any part of a student’s record so that any information on the record is rendered unreadable in the transfer of that record.
  • Allows students who enter the 9th grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2015, who are pursuing a career-technical instructional track, to take a career-based pathway mathematics course as an alternative to Algebra II.
  • Modifies mentoring under the Teacher Residency Program to specify that mentoring be provided during the first two years of the program and that the mentor be a licensed teacher (lead professional license not required).
  • Specifies that a career-technical education instructor teaching under an alternative resident educator license may not be required to complete the conditions of the first two years of the Ohio Teacher Residency Program.
  • Changes the deadline for the annual reading assessments under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee for Kindergarten students to November 1.
  • Grants parents of home-schooled students the ability to award a diploma to their children and requires the local superintendent to sign that diploma.
  • Specifies that up to $200,000 in each fiscal year, after providing matching funds for the school lunch program, be used by ODE to contract with the Children's Hunger Alliance to expand access to federal summer nutrition and school breakfast programs.
  • Appropriates approximately $315,000 in FY 2016 and $285,000 in FY 2017 to support the Chardon Pilot Program to assist in trauma-based recovery for students and teachers in Ohio.
  • Allows school districts to contract with public and private entities to provide academic remediation and intervention services to all students outside of regular school hours (current law allows for grades 1-6).
  • Prohibits the State Board of Education from requiring the payment of any fee for a license, certificate, or permit issued for teaching in a Junior ROTC program.
  • Changes the term of office of a joint vocational school district board member to one year if that member is appointed on a rotating basis by members of the board when there is an even number of member school districts under a plan on file with ODE.
  • Permits the State Board of Education to establish a Teacher of the Year program and permits voluntary contributions to the program.
  • Permits a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) school to admit out- of-state students and requires the school to charge tuition to those students.
  • Appropriates $2 million in each FY for Teach for America.
  • Abolishes the Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Council.
  • Provides 6.3 percent across-the-board reduction in income tax rates beginning in 2015.
  • Provides a 75 percent tax deduction for the first $250,000 in small business income for 2015, a 100 percent deduction in 2016 and 2017. Imposes a 3 percent flat tax rate on business income above $250,000.
  • Increases the cigarette excise tax from $1.25 to $1.60 a pack beginning July 1, 2015.
  • Creates the 2020 Tax Policy Study commission consisting of six members (three from the House and three from the Senate) to review Ohio’s tax structures and policies. Requires the commission to make recommendations on how to transition Ohio’s personal income tax to a 3.5% or 3.75% flat tax by 2018, how to reform Ohio’s severance tax by October 1, 2015, and the historic building rehabilitation tax credit by October 31, 2016.
  • Applies a means test to retirement income tax credits, beginning in 2015, only taxpayers with Ohio taxable income of less than $100,000 would be eligible for the credits. The lump- sum retirement credit and the lump-sum distribution credit may be claimed in lieu of, and not in addition to, the retirement income credit and the senior citizen credit respectively.
  • Increases the maximum allowable rainy-day fund from 5 percent of general revenue funds to 8.5 percent.
  • Eliminates the ability of local communities to conduct special elections in February and requires the payment – in advance – of 65% of the estimated cost of an election where a political subdivision places an item on the ballot in a special election.

Will Value-Added Reinforce The Walls Of The Egg-Crate School?

via the Shanker Institute

Academic scholars are often dismayed when policymakers pass laws that disregard or misinterpret their research findings. The use of value-added methods (VAMS) in education policy is a case in point.

About a decade ago, researchers reported that teachers are the most important school-level factor in students’ learning, and that that their effectiveness varies widely within schools (McCaffrey, Koretz, Lockwood, & Hamilton 2004; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain 2005; Rockoff 2004). Many policymakers interpreted these findings to mean that teacher quality rests with the individual rather than the school and that, because some teachers are more effective than others, schools should concentrate on increasing their number of effective teachers.

Based on these assumptions, proponents of VAMS began to argue that schools could be improved substantially if they would only dismiss teachers with low VAMS ratings and replace them with teachers who have average or higher ratings (Hanushek 2009). Although panels of scholars warned against using VAMS to make high-stakes decisions because of their statistical limitations (American Statistical Association, 2014; National Research Council & National Academy of Education, 2010), policymakers in many states and districts moved quickly to do just that, requiring that VAMS scores be used as a substantial component in teacher evaluation.

While researchers continue to analyze and improve VAMS models, it is important to step back and consider a prior set of questions:

  • Does the wide variation in teachers’ effectiveness within schools simply mean that some teachers are inherently better than others, or is there a more complex and promising explanation of this finding?
  • Is the strategy of augmenting human capital one teacher at a time likely to pay off for students? Or will relying on VAMS for teacher evaluations have unintended consequences that interfere with a school’s collective efforts to improve?

In this column, I bring an organizational perspective to the prospect of using VAMS to improve teacher quality. I suggest why, in addition to VAMS’ methodological limitations, reformers should be very cautious about relying on VAMS to make decisions that have important consequences for both teachers and their students.

Why Is There Variation In Teacher Effectiveness Within Schools?

In his classic analysis, “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital,” James Coleman (1988) argues that individuals’ human capital is transformed for the benefit of the organization by social capital, which “inheres in the structure of relations between actors and among actors” (p. S98). In education, this suggests that whatever level of human capital schools acquire through hiring can subsequently be developed through activities such as grade-level or subject-based teams of teachers, faculty committees, professional development, coaching, evaluation, and informal interactions. As teachers join together to solve problems and learn from one another, the school’s instructional capacity becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Unfortunately, U.S. schools were never designed to benefit from social capital. In fact, over 40 years ago, historian David Tyack (1974) and sociologist Dan Lortie (1975) depicted the school as an organizational “egg crate,” where teachers work in the isolation of their classroom. In egg-crate schools, teachers focus on their own students largely to the exclusion of others, and they interact minimally and intermittently with their colleagues. As a result, their expertise remains locked within their classroom (Darling-Hammond 2001; Hargreaves & Fullan 2012; Johnson 1990; Kardos & Johnson 2007; Little 1990). This egg-crate model was efficient for managing the “factory school,” but did not serve students well; nor does it support the instructional needs of today's teachers.

Therefore, when teachers in the same school continue to work in isolation, they cannot benefit from the social capital that their school might provide. As a result, wide differences in teachers’ effectiveness persist over time.

The Evidence On School-Based Improvement Efforts

Studies have persuasively documented the benefits of systematic efforts to improve student learning through school-based improvement initiatives (Bryk, Sebring, Allensworth, Easton, & Luppescu 2010; McLaughlin & Talbert 2001; Rosenholtz 1989). Successful efforts increase norms of shared responsibility among teachers and create structures and opportunities for learning that promote interdependence—rather than independence—among them. That is social capital at work.

Many who dismiss the potential of social capital to improve schools doubt that teachers can improve significantly over time. However, a recent study by Kraft and Papay (2014)showed that teachers working in more favorable professional environments—as rated by a school’s staff—improved throughout the ten years they analyzed, while those who worked in environments judged to be less supportive stagnated. This and other studies challenge the conventional view that teachers reach a “plateau” in their development relatively early in their career (Rivkin et al. 2005). Creating a school context that supports teachers’ work can have important, lasting benefits for students and faculty throughout the school, whereas simply swapping out low-scoring for a high-scoring individuals without changing the context in which they work probably will not (Ladd & Sorenson 2014; Leana 2011; Lohr 2012).

Threats To School-Based Improvement Efforts

Not only are personnel polices based on VAMS scores likely to have, at best, modest effects on a school’s success, they may inadvertently undermine improvement efforts that are already underway. How so? Here, I suggest several possible unintended consequences of increasing reliance on VAMS (for a more detailed discussion see here).

(Continue reading at the Shanker Institute)

Even Scaled Back, PARCC Still Has Big Problems

The Fordham Foundation has a good blog post detailing the impacts that PARCCs proposal to scale back testing would have
The spring 2015 testing window for PARCC extended from mid-February to mid-May. That’s a long time. Of course, schools were not required to administer exams throughout the full testing window—they could use as few or as many of the days within the window as they needed. But for students, parents, and educators, the three-month window probably made “testing season” feel unusually long and drawn out. (In contrast, Ohio’s old state exams were administered over the course of roughly one month.) It also meant that testing interrupted classroom instruction for more of the school year—and earlier.

The reason for the long testing window was fairly simple: The assessment system included two exams. The first, the “performance-based assessment” (PBA), was given in February–March, and the second— the “end-of-year assessment” (EOY)—was given in April–May. The PBAs focused on students’ application of knowledge and skills (e.g., solving multi-step problems, explaining mathematical reasoning), while the EOYs focused more on traditional assessment items like reading comprehension or straightforward multiple-choice math problems. See for yourself the differences in the sample PARCC exams.

But starting in spring 2016, PARCC will be administered in one thirty-day testing window, occurring in the traditional testing period of April–May. Importantly, while the earlier PBA testing window is erased, some of PARCC’s performance-based tasks will be preserved in next year’s summative exam.
This is clearly movement in the right direction, but fixes just a fraction of the problems PARCC has, and has created. We detailed these problems, with our suggested fixes a few weeks ago. We identified 4 broad areas that needed to be addressed. Testing time, technology problems, test content problems, and high stakes.

Law makers cannot simply cut back on some tests and think the job is done. Are we still going to have schools struggle to deploy tech heavy testing solutions, on unstable software platforms with inadequate bandwidth? Combining the PBA and the EOY testing into a single test is likely to exacerbate the content problems, not alleviate them - and yet more change applied to a system under constant change isn't an appropriate environment to have mis-matched stakes for students, teachers and schools.

The Ohio legislature needs to address the full range of problems, not just the politically convenient changes PARCC has recently proposed in the face of losing millions of dollars in funding.

Just Another Day In The Wild Wild West of Ohio Charterland

The Dispatch has an article chronicling the almost comical doings of the Imagine Columbus Primary Academy charter school.

Let's go down the list of shenanigans
six members who resigned in recent weeks amid ongoing concerns about a high-cost building lease, teacher turnover and adequate services for students.
Almost the entire board of the school resigned because they had so little control over the management company, thanks to Ohio's charter school laws that allow operators more power than the boards. So what's this lease issue that caused these resignations?
Board members complained that the $700,000 annual lease consumes too much of the school’s $1.3 million annual budget. According to the Franklin County auditor’s office, the building, at 4656 Heaton Rd., is valued at $1,164,600.

Schoolhouse Finance purchased the building in 2005 for $1.5 million and made $2.6 million worth of improvements, according to the auditor’s website. SchoolHouse sold the building in 2006 for $5.2 million to a real-estate investment trust, then leased it back from the trust to charge rent to the school.
That's not a school, that's a real estate scam designed to bilk tax payers. And if you need further proof there's this
The school opened in the 2013-14 school year, just months after another Imagine School that occupied the same building under a different sponsor was closed for poor academic performance.
Again, Ohio's ridiculous charter laws allows these for profit companies to sponsor shop, even after they have been closed down for terrible performance.

Why are the schools so terrible? Because so much money is being siphoned away with dodgy lease deals there was none left to spend on paying teachers
Sinoff said board members also tried to increase teacher salaries, concerned that low salaries of $30,000 a year were causing high turnover.
No wonder we're starting to see a number of charter schools teachers consider joining teachers unions. So what of this schools sponsor, the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center?
In an interview with The Dispatch hours before threatening to close the school, the education service center’s Lahoski said he was unaware of the board departures but he, too, wanted answers about how operators were spending the money they receive.
Providing so little oversight, the sponsor was totally unaware of the resignations, and only when the situation reached comically high levels of absurdity are they even beginning to think about closing the school.

So where is the Ohio Department of Education in all of this?
Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton said the agency oversees the educational service center and other charter-school sponsors and encourages them to hold school operators accountable.

“If a school isn’t doing what they are supposed to, we want the sponsor to step in,” he said.
Passing the buck and ignoring the problem as always. Meanwhile 150 young children are not getting the education they deserve and that tax payers have paid for. It's just another day in the wild wild west of Ohio Charterland

HB74 Takes Axe To State Testing

HB74 pass the Ohio House 92-1, and has a wide range of provisions affecting student testing.

HOUSE BILL 74 SUMMARY (As Reported by H. Education)

Academic content standards

  • Requires the State Board of Education, within 30 days of the bill's effective date, to provide an online opportunity on the website of the Department of Education to make comments on specific academic content standards.
  • Requires each academic standards review committee (established under current law), by September 30, 2015, to submit its review and determinations of the academic content standards and state assessments to the State Board and Department of Education.
  • Requires the State Board, by June 30, 2016, to review the current academic content standards, taking into consideration the input from the academic standards review committees and the comments posted on the Department's website, and to adopt revised academic content standards for each of grades K-12 in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Achievement assessments

  • Requires the Department of Education, within 30 days of the bill's effective date, to issue a request for proposals to provide the elementary achievement assessments and the high school end-of-course examinations for administration by school districts and schools beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Prohibits certain multistate consortia, or their agents or subsidiaries, from being eligible to submit a proposal to provide the elementary assessments and end-of- course examinations.
  • Limits to three hours per assessment the duration of the administration of each state elementary achievement assessment beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Limits to three hours per year the duration of the administration of each high school end-of-course examination beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Specifies that the bill's time limits do not apply to (1) assessments for students with disabilities, (2) the nationally standardized assessments that measure college and career readiness, (3) the third-grade English language arts assessment, (4) any diagnostic assessment for students who did not pass the third-grade English language arts assessment, or (5) substitute examinations in science, American history, or American government.
  • Reduces, from twice annually to once annually, the administration of the third- grade English language arts assessment beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, and prohibits school districts from being required to administer that assessment in the fall.
  • Eliminates the requirement for school districts and schools to administer all of the writing diagnostic assessments in grades K-3, and the requirement for the mathematics diagnostic assessments to be administered in kindergarten and first grade.
  • Requires the Department to specify not less than two mathematics diagnostic assessments that are approved for (1) identifying students as gifted in mathematics and (2) the student academic growth component of teacher evaluations.
  • Requires the reading diagnostic assessment to be completed by September 30 of each year for students in grades one to three.
  • Limits the duration of the administration of the kindergarten readiness diagnostic assessment to one hour.
  • Specifies August 1, instead of "the first day of the school year" as under current law, as the earliest date by which a student may take the kindergarten readiness diagnostic assessment.
  • Permits a school district or school to administer the kindergarten readiness diagnostic assessment all at one time or in portions at different times, so long as the assessment has been administered in its entirety by November 1 of the school year.
  • Requires the Department, by July 1, 2016, to make available a kindergarten literacy assessment that districts and schools may use in lieu of the kindergarten readiness assessment.
  • Requires the Department, by December 31, 2016, to complete a study comparing nationally normed, standardized assessments approved by the Department for specified purposes and the state elementary assessments administered during both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.
  • Eliminates the English language arts II and geometry end-of-course examinations.
  • Requires the State Board of Education, by March 1, 2016, to (1) compile a list of multiple assessments that are equivalent to the end-of-course examinations for use instead of the end-of-course examinations and (2) identify a table of corresponding score equivalents that correlate to the current achievement levels (advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic, and limited) for all end-of-course examinations.
  • Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, requires a district or school to notify the Department of any assessment in a subject area that it elects to use as an equivalent examination, and requires that the notification be made by September 15 of each year.
  • Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, authorizes a school district to use end-of- course examinations, substitute examinations, or equivalent examinations as final examinations for the related class or course of study.
  • Specifies that, for purposes of substitute examinations and equivalent examinations, a score of 2 on an Advanced Placement (AP) examination and a score of 3 on an International Baccalaureate (IB) examination are to be considered equivalent to a "proficient" score.
  • Prohibits a school district from charging a student for (1) any of the nationally standardized assessments that measure college and career readiness, (2) any end-of-course examination, (3) any substitute examination, or (4) any equivalent examination, unless the examination is an AP or IB examination.
  • Requires the Department to identify and approve at least two assessments that can be used for multiple purposes, including (1) a diagnostic assessment administered to third-grade students, (2) an assessment that permits a student to demonstrate an acceptable level of performance for purposes of the third-grade reading guarantee, and (3) an assessment used to identify students as gifted in specific academic ability fields in reading, writing, or both.
  • Requires the Department to develop a table of assessments that may be used for multiple purposes and for which a measure of student performance or aptitude is required, in order to reduce the total number of assessments administered by a school district or school.
  • Requires the Department, within 90 days of the bill's effective date, to determine which components of the resident educator performance-based assessment may be used as part of the teacher evaluation system.
  • Extends through the 2015-2016 school year a current provision prohibiting the Department from requiring school districts, other public schools, and chartered nonpublic schools to administer any state achievement assessment in an online format.
  • Requires the Department to conduct a comprehensive survey of the capacity and readiness of each school district for the online administration of the state achievement assessments based on recommended specifications for such administration of the assessments and to report the results of the survey to the Governor, the State Board of Education, and the chairpersons and ranking members of the House and Senate Education Committees by June 30, 2016.
  • Requires the Department to study the impact on student performance of the online administration of the state achievement assessments and submit results of the study to the General Assembly and Governor by June 30, 2016.
  • Requires the State Board, by November 1, 2015, to make a recommendation on whether to extend by one year the safe harbor provisions in effect for the 2014-2015 school year for students, public school districts and schools, and teachers.
  • Requires the Department, except as otherwise prescribed by federal law, to consider as an acceptable measure of technical skill attainment (1) an industry-recognized credential or (2) a license issued by a state agency or board for practice in a vocation that requires an examination for issuance of that license.
  • Prohibits the Department from requiring a student to take additional technical assessments regardless of whether the student has earned the credential or taken the licensure examination at the time the technical assessments would otherwise be administered.
  • Requires the State Board to periodically revise the nationally recognized job skills assessment that it selects for use as a pathway to high school graduation and to do so with input from individuals and educators who have a background in career- technical education.
  • Prescribes the manner in which the governing body of a school district, community school, STEM school, or educational service center must evaluate the student academic growth component of a teacher for purposes of teacher evaluations.
  • Requires, for the 2014-2015 school year only, a school district or school to use a different measure of student progress for purposes of teacher evaluations, if the district or school has entered into memorandum of understanding with the teachers' labor union stipulating that the value-added progress dimension rating for the 2014- 2015 school year will not be used when making decisions regarding dismissal, retention, tenure, or compensation.
  • Requires the State Board to submit recommendations to the Governor, to the chairperson and ranking members of the House and Senate Education committees, and to the State Board itself on how to revise by July 1, 2016, the framework for the evaluation of teachers to reduce the estimated time necessary to complete teacher evaluations.

State report cards

  • Specifies a schedule of deadlines by which the State Board of Education must adopt rules establishing the proficiency percentages required to be considered meeting performance indicators.
  • Removes the prohibition on the Superintendent of Public Instruction from establishing a performance indicator for passage of the third- or fourth-grade English language arts assessments that is based solely on the fall administration of those assessments.
  • Delays until July 1, 2017, the date by which the State Board must adopt the high school student academic progress measure.
  • Makes optional the inclusion of the high school student academic progress measure as an ungraded measure.
  • Delays until the 2017-2018 school year the assignment of a separate letter grade for the high school student academic progress measure and the inclusion of that grade in a district's or building's overall letter grade.
  • Requires that a district's or school's overall letter grades, component grades, and each performance measure grade be expressed as a percentage of total possible points, in addition to the required letter grades on the state report card.

The Full LSC analysis can be found below

HOUSE BILL 74 SUMMARY (As Reported by H. Education)

(c) Join the Future