Massive ODE Survey Rejects Corporate Reforms, Embraces Fresh Ideas

As part of the ESSA stakeholder engagement plan, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) conducted an online survey. There were 11,287 responses, and the findings were presented to the State Board of Education during their November meeting. The survey results can be viewed in full below.

The results of this survey are a body blow to corporate education reformers. The feedback was overwhelmingly supportive of teachers, and rejected over-testing and test based accountability. A step through the results as presented by ODE itself via powerpoint demonstrates this.

No where did any stake holder express keen interest in ideas such as merit pay or school takeovers. 

A varied curriculum that prepares students to be good citizens was valued significantly higher than simply more "rigorous academics" - which nowadays has come to mean higher cut scores in standardized tests. Speaking of tests...

Less testing, more funding, more teacher engagement and a vastly different way of evaluating teachers were all ideas expressed by respondents as changes they would like to see. A far different vision for the future of public education in Ohio than corporate education boosters have been pushing.

What respondents want to see, judging by the responses shown above, is a focus on the whole child. This is an area of focus we would like to see law makers shift to in the up coming budget. These ideas would do more for student growth and well-being than testing and "accountability" will ever achieve - and law makers seen as pursuing this enlightened agenda would likely be rewarded by stakeholders.

Clearly, many people see the path forward for vulnerable students not via expanding the number of poor quality charter schools, but instead focusing on the underlying issues of poverty, health and unstable home lives.

Bottom of the list of preferred measures for student success? Test scores.

We can only hope the legislature take all this feedback seriously and begin to address the needs of the whole child, and the underlying causes of problems in struggling communities, rather than their incessant push for "accountability" on the backs of education professionals working in oftentimes difficult circumstances. It would be refreshing to see ODE champion this new direction. True success lies down this road, and there's a pent up political demand for it.

Here's the full survey results