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Voters Everywhere Reject Vouchers

According to data compiled by Edd Doerr of Americans for Religious Liberty, voters in every state when confronted with the opportunitity to weigh in on school vouchers and tax payer funeded private school issues have rejected the idea every time. Here are the results:

  • Nebraska 1970 Tax code vouchers 57-43 against
  • Maryland 1972 Vouchers 55-45 against
  • Michigan 1978 Vouchers 74-26 against
  • Washington, DC 1981 Tax code vouchers 89-11 against
  • Utah 1988 Tax code vouchers 70-30 against
  • Oregon 1990 Tax code vouchers 67-33 against
  • Colorado 1992 Vouchers 67-33 against
  • California 1993 Vouchers 70-30 against
  • Washington State 1996 Vouchers 64-36 against
  • Colorado 1998 Tax code vouchers 60-40 against
  • Michigan 2000 Vouchers 69-31 against
  • California 2000 Vouchers 71-29 against
  • Utah 2007 Vouchers 62-38 against
  • Florida 2012 Vouchers 55-45 against
  • Hawaii 2014 Vouchers 55-45 against
  • Nebraska 1966 Bus transportation 57-43 against (%)
  • Idaho 1972 Bus transportation 57-43 against
  • New York 1967 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 72-28 against
  • Michigan 1970 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 57-43 against
  • Oregon 1972 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 61-39 against
  • Washington State 1975 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 60-39 against
  • Alaska 1976 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 54-46 against
  • Massachusetts 1986 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 70-30 against
  • Maryland 1974 Auxiliary services 56-43 against
  • Missouri 1976 Auxiliary services 60-40 against
  • Massachusetts 1982 Auxiliary services 62-38 against
  • South Dakota 2004 Auxiliary services 53-47 against
  • California 1982 Textbook aid 61-39 against

Senate Passes Contentious Testing and K-12 Deregulation Bill

On March 25, the Ohio Senate passed SB3 along party lines. This omnibus education bill has a number of components. Testing, evaluations, deregulation and some other miscellaneous provisions.

Here's a breakdown of the major components

Deregulation
  • Exempts qualified school districts from several requirements of current law regarding teacher qualifications under the third-grade reading guarantee, teacher licensing, mentoring under the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, and class size restrictions.
  • Qualifies a school district for the above exemptions if, on its most recent report card, the district received (1) at least 85% of the total possible points for the performance index score, (2) an "A" for performance indicators met, and (3) at least 93% and 95% for the four-year and five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, respectively.
  • Qualifies for an alternative resident educator license an individual who has not completed coursework in the subject area for which the individual is applying to teach.
The provisions are asinine. They eliminate all the regulations that made a district high performing in the first place. What parent wants to send their child to a high performing district where class sizes are very large and being taught by unlicensed amateurs? What district wants that? Even the President of the Senate admits as much in a Dispatch article
“I understand the angst of saying we’re going to open it up willy-nilly to let the superintendent hire his brother to teach physics,” he said. “The superintendent has got to be responsible. The school board that is elected needs to be responsible for that decision.”

Testing
  • Limits the cumulative amount of time spent on the administration of state assessments to 2% of the school year beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Limits the cumulative amount of time used for taking practice or diagnostic assessments used to prepare for state assessments to 1% of the school year beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Exempts from the time limitation assessments administered to students with disabilities, diagnostic assessments for students who fail to attain a passing score on the third-grade reading guarantee, assessments used to identify gifted students, and for alternatives to certain end-of-course examinations.
  • Eliminates the current requirement that school districts and schools administer diagnostic assessments to students in grades one through three in writing and mathematics, but retains diagnostic assessments for kindergarten students and reading assessments for students in grades one through three beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Requires that school districts and schools administer the English language arts assessment to third graders at least once annually, instead of twice as under current law, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
It's a pity that the Senate can't wait for their own panels investigation and recommendations on addressing the testing overload crisis before passing these vague measures.

Evaluations
  • Modifies the alternative framework for teacher evaluations, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, by increasing (to 50%) the teacher performance measure, decreasing (to 35%) the student academic growth measure, and permitting districts and schools to use a combination of specified components for the remainder of each evaluation.
  • Prohibits student academic growth from accounting for more than 35% of each principal evaluation, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, if the State Board of Education prescribes a state framework for principal evaluations.
  • Requires the State Board, by July 1, 2015, to take the necessary steps to modify any framework it prescribes for the evaluation of principals in order to comply with the bill's provisions.
  • Specifies that if the State Board prescribes an assessment for participants in the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, each district or school may (1) require the participant to pass that assessment, or (2) assess the participant using the participant's annual teacher evaluation.
These measures are heading in the right direction, but still less reliance on student growth measures is needed to create an evaluation framework that will improve educator quality.

Miscellaneous
  • Requires the School Facilities Commission, by December 15, 2015, to develop and submit to the General Assembly a legislative proposal assisting school districts to receive funding under the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.
  • Increases the competitive bidding threshold for school building and repair contracts from $25,000 to $50,000.
  • Removes a requirement that the State Board adopt a measure, to be reported separately from the district's or school's report card, for the amount of extracurricular services offered to students.

In Teaching Experience Counts, Studies Find

Much of the impetus for new teacher evaluation systems has been based upon the belief that teaching experience is less important than demonstrating competence via student test scores. This belief has become popular among corporate reformers for providing a potential mechanism to remove older more expensive teachers and replace them with cheaper less experienced teachers.

We have published hundreds of articles and studies here at Join the Future pointing out the dangers of relying upon student test scores for the purposes of evaluating teacher quality. Study after study has found the measures to be unreliable and unfair. Worse, it exploded that amount of testing students are having to needlessly endure, and sapped the morale of educators dealing with an unfair system to the point where an exodus of talented educators form the profession is real and happening.

Now comes evidence that the premise itself, that experience doesn't add to quality over time, is fatally flawed.

The evidence comes in the form of 2 new studies. The first in a paper published by Harvard, titled Productivity Returns to Experience in the Teacher Labor Market: Methodological Challenges and New Evidence on Long-Term Career Improvement, the researchers conclude
We find consistent evidence across models that teachers improve most rapidly during their first several years on the job but also continue to improve their ability to raise student test scores beyond the first five years of their careers. This directly contradicts the standard policy conclusion that teachers do not improve after the first three to five years of their career. Finally, we find suggestive evidence across multiple modeling approaches that teachers continue to improve even later in their careers, particularly in mathematics.
The second in a working paper, published by the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), titled RETURNS TO TEACHER EXPERIENCE: STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND MOTIVATION IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, the author finds
We use rich longitudinally matched administrative data on students and teachers in North Carolina to examine the patterns of differential effectiveness by teachers’ years of experience. The paper contributes to the literature by focusing on middle school teachers and by extending the analysis to student outcomes beyond test scores. Once we control statistically for the quality of individual teachers by the use of teacher fixed effects, we find large returns to experience for middle school teachers in the form both of higher test scores and improvements in student behavior, with the clearest behavioral effects emerging for reductions in student absenteeism. Moreover these returns extend well beyond the first few years of teaching. The paper contributes to policy debates by documenting that teachers can and do learn on the job.
These findings should come as no surprise. The claims that experience don't count beyond the first few years was always a spurious argument, running counter to most people's own working life experience and observations.

It is past time to discard corporate education policies designed to cheapen public education, and instead embrace quality through team working, professionalization, and ongoing career training

May 2015 School levies and issues

Just 102 school levies and issues will appear on the May 5h ballot this year. This is significantly down from 2014 (149) and 2013 (141). About one third of the requests are for new money.

The table below lists all the issues and levies that will appear on ballots. When you vote, we urge all the supporters of Join the Future to consider supporting their local schools.

County District Type Description
Allen Elida Local School District Levy Renewal
Ashland Hillsdale Local School District Levy Renewal
Ashtabula Grand Valley Local School District Levy Renewal
Auglaize New Bremen Local School District Levy Renewal
Belmont Shadyside Local School District Levy Renewal
Belmont Shadyside Local School District Levy Renewal
Butler Edgewood City School District Levy Substitute
Carroll Brown Local School District Levy Renewal
Clark Northeastern Local School District Income Tax Additional
Clark Springfield City School District Levy Renewal
Coshocton Coshocton County Joint Vocational School District Levy Additional
Crawford Crestline Exempted Village School District Income Tax Additional
Crawford Wynford Local School District Levy Renewal
Crawford Wynford Local School District Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Brooklyn City School District Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District Levy Additional
Cuyahoga Garfield Heights City School District Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Warrensville Heights City School District Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Westlake City School District Levy Additional
Darke Ansonia Local School District Levy Renewal
Defiance Ayersville Local School District Combo Additional
Delaware Big Walnut Local School District Levy Substitute
Fairfield Walnut Township Local School District Levy Additional
Fayette Miami Trace Local School District Combo Additional
Geauga Kenston Local School District Combo Additional
Geauga West Geauga Local School District Levy Renewal
Greene Beavercreek City School District Levy Renewal
Greene Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local School District Levy Replacement
Greene Xenia Community City School District Levy Renewal
Greene Xenia Community City School District Income Tax Renewal
Greene Yellow Springs Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Hamilton Lockland Local School District Levy Additional
Hamilton Northwest Local School District Combo Additional
Hamilton Winton Woods City School District Bond N/A
Hancock Arcadia Local School District Levy Renewal
Hancock McComb Local School District Levy Renewal
Hardin Ridgemont Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Henry Patrick Henry Local School District Levy Renewal
Huron Monroeville Local School District Levy Additional
Knox Mount Vernon City School District Levy Renewal
Lake Lake County School Financing District Levy Renewal
Licking Heath City School District Levy Renewal
Licking North Fork Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Licking Southwest Licking Local School District Levy Renewal
Lorain Avon Local School District Levy Additional
Lorain Clearview Local School District Levy Renewal
Lorain Columbia Local School District Levy Renewal
Lorain Columbia Local School District Levy Renewal
Lorain Firelands Local School District Levy Renewal
Lorain Keystone Local School District Levy Additional
Lorain Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City School District Levy Additional
Lucas Springfield Local School District Levy Additional
Mahoning South Range Local School District Levy Additional
Marion River Valley Local School District Levy Additional
Medina Cloverleaf Local School District Levy Renewal
Mercer Celina City School District Levy Renewal
Mercer Parkway Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Miami Bethel Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Miami Tipp City Exempted Village School District Levy Additional
Miami Troy City School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Brookville Local School District - I Levy Renewal
Montgomery Brookville Local School District - II Levy Renewal
Montgomery Kettering City School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Northridge Local School District Combo Additional
Montgomery Valley View Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Montgomery Valley View Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Ottawa Genoa Area Local School District Levy Renewal
Ottawa Genoa Area Local School District Levy Additional
Pickaway Logan Elm Local School District Levy Renewal
Pickaway Logan Elm Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Portage Aurora City School District Levy Renewal
Portage Crestwood Local School District Levy Renewal
Ross Zane Trace Local School District Income Tax Additional
Sandusky Woodmore Local School District Levy Renewal
Sandusky Woodmore Local School District Income Tax Additional
Seneca Seneca East Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Shelby Jackson Center Local School District Levy Renewal
Stark Fairless Local School District Levy Additional
Stark Lake Local School District Combo Additional
Summit Coventry Local School District Levy Renewal
Summit Manchester Local School District Levy Renewal
Summit Manchester Local School District Levy Renewal
Summit Mogadore Local School District Levy Additional
Summit Stow-Munroe Falls City School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Hubbard Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Lakeview Local School District Combo Additional
Trumbull Liberty Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Lordstown Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Lordstown Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Maplewood Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Newton Falls Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Warren Kings Local School District Levy Renewal
Warren Warren County Joint Vocational School District Levy Replacement
Wayne Norwayne Local School District Levy Renewal
Wayne Orrville City School District Levy Renewal
Wayne Rittman Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Wayne Southeast Local School District Bond N/A
Williams Edon Northwest Local School District Income Tax Additional
Wood Bowling Green City School District Levy Renewal
Wood Bowling Green City School District Levy Renewal
Wood North Baltimore Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Wood Rossford Exempted Village School District Levy Additional

Governor Kasich’s Tax Shift Plan Lacks Voter Support

Via One Ohio Now

Governor Kasich’s recently proposed tax shift is only supported by a quarter of Ohio voters, with support dropping and opposition increasing significantly once plan specifics are divulged. Opposition is broadest and most intense when voters learn how different the bottom three-fifths and wealthiest one percent would be treated by the plan. Resistance to the plan is also fueled, in part, by voters’ fundamental opposition to both tax shifts and cutting state income taxes for the wealthiest Ohioans. Key findings from Global Strategy Group’s recent poll of 504 registered Ohio voters are as follows:

A plurality of voters oppose the tax shift plan initially. When only provided with a brief overview of Governor Kasich’s plan – increasing the state sales tax while cutting the state income tax – a plurality of Ohioans (44%) reject the plan, while only one-quarter of Ohioans (26%) support it. An additional three-inten (31%) say they do not know enough to answer initially.

Resistance to the tax shift increases dramatically once plan specifics and implications are detailed. Opposition soars (jumping 28 points to 72% oppose) when voters learn that under the tax shift plan the bottom three-fifths of taxpayers as a group would actually see an increase in their state and local taxes while the wealthiest one percent of Ohio’s households would receive the largest tax cut. Only one-fifth of voters remain supportive of the plan (18%) after the lopsided impact of the shift is revealed.
  • A majority of Democrats (80%), Independents (64%) and Republicans (65%) oppose the plan after hearing this information.
  • Opposition exists across political ideologies, with liberals (82%), moderates (75%), and conservatives (65%) all opposing the plan.
  • Even a majority of Ohioans with household incomes over $80,000 a year oppose the plan by a wide margin (64% oppose/27% support).
Voters do not support the policy behind the tax shift. When asked about the idea of paying for a reduction in state income taxes with an increase in the state sales tax, three-fifths of voters (62%) say they oppose the idea including majorities across political parties and ideologies, while only 27% are supportive.

Instead, Ohioans want to see taxes increased on the wealthy. Voters are clear in their rejection of the proposal’s heavy tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans, as three-fourths of voters (74%) believe Ohio should increase taxes on the wealthiest Ohioans and profitable businesses to ensure they pay their fair share. Only 16% said they would like to see taxes cut for the wealthiest Ohioans and profitable corporations.

And voters would rather see investment in public services than a reduction in the personal income tax rate. When presented with a variety of statements suggesting investment in various state services like public health, education, and public safety over a personal income tax cut, voters agree with all of them.

69% of Voters would rather invest in Ohio’s public schools than cut state income taxes.

All statements receive majority agreement across political party and ideology.

Herculean Efforts By Educators To Mitigate PARCC Catastrophe

Ohio's new standardized tests have been criticized on a number of fronts. Questions about them being developmentally appropriate, results not being available for months, the length of time it takes to administer the tests, the implementation costs, and the technology deficiencies and failures.

The Dispatch reported on the latter set of problems, and they appear to have been widespread, and astronomical in number

Pearson, the testing company that created the state’s new Common Core-aligned English/language arts and math exams, has fielded roughly 9,600 phone calls, emails and chats from Ohio districts since testing started on Feb. 16.

Most of the queries — 86 percent — were related to problems with administering the test, including registering students, getting them into online test sessions and responding to test policies and procedures such as make-up testing.
To understand the full extent of the technology problems PARCC faces, those 10,000 calls must be put in context.

First, only 60% of Ohio's schools administered PARCC online, the rest chose to use paper and pencil. We can only assume that those 40% were the least prepared or capable of offering online testing as a solution this year. how many calls would have been made to Pearson if those schools had had to perform their testing online? How many of those 250 or so school districts will be ready next year?

Secondly, many of the problems we addressed in-house by district staff

Some educators think the number of glitches actually is larger. District technology staffers often turned to one another instead of waiting for a response from a help line answered by the state and Pearson.
No doubt the wait times were lengthy given the sheer volume of problems being experienced.

Nor do these numbers reflect the insane amount of effort districts went to in order to try and mitigate problems before they occurred

The transition at Grandview Heights went seamlessly for students, thanks to nearly 1,000 hours of planning and preparation by staff members, said Jamie Lusher, the district’s chief academic officer. The district tested 780 students.
That's over 1 hour per students, a pattern repeated elsewhere
Bexley schools purposely delayed testing by a week so that any glitches found early would be resolved by the time the district’s students logged in for their exams, Ross said. Also, the district’s technology department spent more than 200 hours preparing devices and planning for administration of the tests. Only 332 high-school students took the exam online; the rest used paper and pencil.
Almost 3 hours preparation per student!

It simply shouldn't be a requirement that Herculean efforts be needed in order to avoid an epic catastrophe. how can you have a high stakes system under these conditions
“If you have a classroom with three to five technical issues and you may have to reset the device, that’s not closing it up and starting it back up again,” said Paul Ross, technology director at Bexley schools. “With some of those device issues, you have to reinstall the test application on the fly. We’re talking about a disruption occurring while testing.”

That has to be solved quickly, he said, or students will have to make up the test.
This years' testing results ought to be treated as a test run, it would be grossly unfair to judge educators and schools on the basis of a product that is barely functional.
(c) Join the Future