SB21 Decoded

A number of readers have asked us to decode the Ohio House's version of SB21, which is likely to be passed into law.

In the area of teacher qualifications, after July 1, 2013, third grade students who have been retained or are on a reading improvement plan shall be assigned to a teacher who has at least one year of teaching experience and satisfies one of the following criteria:

a) K-12 reading endorsement on their teaching license
b) Master’s degree in reading or literacy
c) Rated “most effective” for reading instruction for the most recent two years based on student growth measures
d) Rated “above expected value added” in reading instruction as determined by criteria established by ODE for the most recent consecutive school years
e) Passed a rigorous test of principles of scientifically research-based reading instruction approved by the State Board of Education
f) Holds a teaching license for P-3 or 4-9 issued on or after July 1, 2017

The House version limited or did away with qualifications in the Senate version that allowed for evidence of completion of a program of scientifically research-based reading instruction programs approved by the department (limited to until July 1, 2016) or the teacher is an effective reading instructor as determined by criteria established by the department (eliminated).

The House version of the bill also expands who may offer services in the following ways:

  • A teacher with less than one year of experience provided they meet one of the qualifications and is assigned a teacher mentor who meets one of the qualifications
  • Through July 1, 2016, a teacher who has successfully completed training on reading instruction approved by the department
  • A teacher other than the classroom teacher to whom the student is assigned provided the teacher meets the qualifications, the teacher and the principal agree and the assignment is documented in the student’s reading improvement plan
  • A speech language pathologist may provide reading intervention and remediation services

Additionally, the House version of the bill allows school districts who cannot furnish the number of teachers to satisfy the qualifications to submit a staffing plan to the Ohio Department of Education. ODE may grant extensions of district staffing plans through the 2015-2016 school year.

Other provisions of the House passed version of SB 21 include:

  • Specifies that retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee is triggered by failure to attain at least the “equivalent level of achievement” as determined by ODE
  • Exempts English language learners enrolled in U.S. schools for less than three years
  • Exempts students with significant cognitive disabilities from diagnostic tests on a case-by-case basis as determined by ODE
  • Requires the State Board of Education to adopt competencies for reading credentials and training by January 31, 2014. Requires all new applicants seeking an educator license for grades P-3 or 4-9 to pass an examination aligned with these competencies. Requires reading endorsement programs to align to these new competencies not later than July 1, 2016
  • Requires school districts and community schools that receive a D or F on the K-3 literacy progress measure on the new school district report cards and less than 60% of students score at least proficient on the third grade English language arts assessment submit a reading achievement improvement plan.

Thanks to OEA's Government Services for their expertise in helping to decipher SB21.

SB316 analysis Part II

We published our first look at SB316, the mid biennium review education bill, here. OEA has just published their analysis of the bill, which you can read in full, here (pdf).

We'd like to pull out a few sections that go into greater detail than our original analysis, specifically on teacher evaluations and school choice.

Teacher evaluations

  • Extends the annual deadline for completing teacher evaluations from April 1 to May 1.
  • Specifies that the statutory requirements regarding teacher evaluation in Ohio Revised Code Section 3319.111 prevail over conflicting provisions of collective bargaining agreements entered into on or after the bill’s effective date rather than on or after September 29, 2011. (OEA supports the date change that fixed the back dating issue, but continues to oppose this language and its placement because it restricts educators’ voices in teacher evaluation.)
  • Specifies that a teacher be evaluated under the teacher evaluation framework, only if the teacher spends at least 50 percent of their time employed providing student instruction.
  • Allows for third-party evaluators, such as Educational Service Centers, to be contracted by the board to perform evaluations (requires that an evaluator must hold a credential from the Ohio Department of Education). Does not require individuals hired by third parties to conduct evaluations to possess a superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, vocational director, administrative specialist or supervisor license.
  • Restores current law allowing teacher evaluations to be conducted by persons designated in a peer review agreement entered into by an employer and its teachers.
  • Allows a teacher who is rated “accomplished” to complete a project instead of the second observation of an evaluation.
  • Requires only one annual evaluation instead of two for teachers on limited or extended contracts.
  • Requires at least three formal observations instead of two observations for teachers who are under consideration for nonrenewal.
  • Excludes students who have 60 or more unexcused absences for the school year in the calculation of student academic growth data for an evaluation.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to develop by June 30, 2013 a standards-based teacher evaluation framework for state agencies that employ teachers. Further, requires these state agencies to adopt the framework. (Note: Teachers employed by County Boards of Developmental Disabilities will fall under the ODE teacher evaluation framework.)
  • Requires the district to annually report the number of teachers receiving each evaluation rating aggregated by the teacher preparation programs for which the teachers graduated and graduation year to ODE. Also requires ODE to establish guidelines for the report and explicitly prohibits using teachers’ names or other personally identifiable information.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to adopt a resolution when they update the teacher evaluation framework.

School "Choice"

  • Removes provision creating regional gifted charter schools.
  • Removes changes to community school sponsor rankings (will likely be addressed in HB 555).
  • Specifies that unless the General Assembly enacts performance standards, a report card rating system, and closure criteria for community schools that operate dropout prevention and recovery programs by March 31, 2013, those schools are subject to permanent closure under the existing criteria that applies to other community schools. Stipulates that only the performance ratings issued to schools that operate dropout programs for the 2012-2013 school year and later count in determining if a school meets the closure criteria.
  • Allows for single-gender community schools without a comparable school for the other gender.
  • Requires ODE to post community school contracts on the Internet.
  • Revises the definition of a community school sponsor to explicitly include the local school district boards, educational services centers that agree to the conversion of a school building, and “grandfathered” sponsors.
  • Permits a person from serving on five instead of two governing authorities of start-up community schools at the same time.
  • Allows a community school to operate in a residential care facility, as long as the school was operating in Ohio prior to May 1, 2005, regardless of whether the school was operating from or in the facility on that date.
  • Retains current law on community school sponsorship and trigger for prohibiting an entity from sponsoring additional schools.
  • Requires that each time a school district completes an evaluation of a child with a disability or reviews a child’s IEP that the district send by letter or electronic means a notice to the child’s parent about voucher programs.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules establishing procedures for awarding EdChoice vouchers to students already attending a nonpublic school when the school receives its charter.
  • Requires ODE to disaggregate data by grade not age for students participating in the EdChoice Voucher or Cleveland Voucher programs.

New criteria for dropout schools proposed

Charter operators have long used a loophole in Ohio's lax charter laws to skirt and avoid accountability. Some of those loopholes are getting smaller. Gongwer

Dropout recovery charter schools have long been shielded from Ohio's closure laws for poor performance but the Department of Education revealed details Monday on how it might fairly grade those schools.

Advocates for the schools that serve students age 17 to 22 who either dropped out of school or who are at risk of doing so have said their institutions should be graded differently from traditional schools because they work with challenging student populations.
ODE staff laid out eight criteria by which they said the state could score the dropout recovery schools in an equitable manner.

The eight criteria are as follows:

  • Academic growth, If this standard were adopted, however, it would only apply to students who are engaged and participating a certain number of days out of the year.
  • The schools' graduation test passage rate as a cumulative rate. It would not be the same indicator as for traditional schools, which is first-time passage of the test in 10th grade.
  • The schools' extended graduation rate. Designed to give schools credit for graduating students in four years, five years, six years, seven years."
  • Credits earned as an indication of progress toward a diploma.
  • College and career readiness with the former including apprenticeships and two-year and four-year degrees.
  • Community collaboration. A measure of working on an individualized education plan for these students and measuring whether those (plans) exist for students.
  • Sustained enrollment and attendance, which addresses that challenge of getting students to participate.
  • Sponsor rating, which would attempt to address the uniqueness of dropout recovery schools in their mission and population.

Only time will tell if these criteria are meaningful enough and vigorously pursued to have any meaningful impact on students academic achievements.

Why Pay for Performance Should Get the Sack

The following article discusses the problems with perfoamcne pay in the financial sector, the heat of capitalism. Extrapolating this compensation gimmick to educators as corporate education reformers are seeking to do continues to be proven problematic

By Bruno S. Frey, Professor of Economics at the University of Zurich and Margit Osterloh, Professor (em.) for Business Administration and Management of Technology and Innovation, University of Zürich; and Professor, Warwick Business School. Cross posted from VoxEU

As the bonus culture in the financial sector once again comes under attack, this column rubbishes the typical defence that banks need to pay top dollar to attract the best talent.

Scientific literature has extensively dealt with variable pay-for-performance. Despite the fact that serious problems linked to this approach have thus become obvious, many authors continue to support compensation according to predetermined performance criteria because they are committed to the traditional concept of the ’homo oeconomicus’.
Overall, there has been a marked change of opinion in academia (see for instance Bryson and Freeman 2008 on this site). The idea that people are solely self-interested and materially orientated has been thrown overboard by leading scholars. Empirical research, in particular experimental research, has shown that under suitable conditions human beings care for the wellbeing of other persons. Above all, they are not solely interested in material gains (see eg Frey and Osterloh 2002). Recognition by co-workers is greatly important. Many workers are intrinsically motivated, ie they perform work for its own sake because it is found challenging and worth undertaking. This applies not only to qualified employees but also to persons fulfilling simple tasks. They often are proud of their work and performance.

There are four major arguments against variable pay-for-performance:

  • In a modern economy, it is practically impossible to determine tasks that are to be fulfilled in the future precisely enough so that variable pay-for-performance can be applied. In a society continually faced with new challenges, superiors oftentimes find it impossible to fix ex ante what an employee will have to do in the future.
  • It would be naïve to assume that the persons subjected to variable pay-for-performance would accept the respective criteria in a passive way and fulfil their work accordingly. Rather, they spend much energy and time trying to manipulate these criteria in their favour. This is facilitated by the fact that employees often know the specific features of their work better than their superiors. The wage explosions observable in many sectors of the economy can at least partly be attributed to such manipulations, eg when managers are able to contract easily achievable performance goals.
  • Variable pay-for-performance results in employees restricting their work to those areas covered by the performance criteria. In the literature, this is known as the ’multiple tasking’ problem. This may induce employees to spend considerable time and energy during their work trying to find a better-paid job with another firm. They therefore neglect their tasks insofar as they are not contractually fixed by the performance criteria.
  • Variable pay-for-performance tends to crowd out intrinsic work motivation and therewith the joy of fulfilling a particular task. However, such motivation is of great importance in a modern economy because it supports innovation and helps to fulfil tasks going beyond the ordinary.

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A simple honest question for SB5 supporters

As we await the official release of the 2011 Ohio school report card data due tomorrow, we were looking over the 2009/2010 data and a question occurred.

Here's the breakdown of charter school performance in Ohio, taken from the ODE community Schools rating table

Designation Total Percentage
Academic Emergency 76 23.8%
Academic Watch 53 16.6%
Continuous Improvement 97 30.4%
Effective 32 10.0%
Excellent 27 8.5%
Excellent with Distinction 1 0.3%
Not Rated 33 10.3%
Grand Total 319 100%

Here's the question. If charter schools can;

  • Compensate their teachers based on any criteria they choose since they are unencumbered by a union contract (ie merit pay)
  • Employ teachers without offering a continuing contract (ie tenure)
  • Fire or lay off teachers for any performance based criteria without need to follow a union contract (ie no seniority)
  • Avoid class size limits created by a union contract
  • Be free to impose any legal work place restrictions or rules they wish
  • Be unencumbered by any union contract provision and be free from a whole host of regulations

Why is it that their performance is so darn terrible (over 70% are less than effective!) as to be embarrassing even though they have been operating with SB5 like "tools" for years?

Why would anyone think applying these SB5 "tools" to traditional public schools will have any positive impact when we have evidence that when they are applied to charter schools the results are disastrous for students, teachers and the local school districts.? Can anyone answer that?

Top 3 Today

Your top 3 news stories for today

    We discuss the impacts reckless budget cuts are having on school districts around the state
  2. Kasich appoints anti-union lobbyist to State Board of Ed
    Plunderbund highlights the news of anti-union lobbyist Bryan Williams being appointed to the State board of Education, at the same time his organization holds a massive fundraiser for SB5 supporters, a fundraiser that also includes a lecture by an anti-union extremist.
  3. Governor Wants Parts Of Disputed Union Bill Placed In State Budget
    Debate over a new state law that restricts public employee unions took a new twist Tuesday when Gov. John Kasich said he wanted to insert parts of it related to teachers into the pending state budget. Inclusion of the language in the budget could prevent a referendum such as the one opponents of the collective bargaining statute want to conduct at the Nov. 8 election.

    Mr. Kasich told reporters Tuesday that he wanted to incorporate into the budget "the criteria to reward teachers for good effort," apparently referring to a section of the public employee collective bargaining law dealing with performance-based pay for educators.

    "That wording that's in five, there'll be some part of it put into the budget. I'm not exactly sure ... how all that language will play, but I'm very concerned about getting that going, so that schools have an opportunity to develop criteria for assessing good performance," the governor said.

    More on this development tomorrow.