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
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.