Education News for 01-28-2013

State Education News

  • Local taxpayers may pay heavy price for state legislature’s reading mandates (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • The state legislature in June invoked a “third-grade reading guarantee,” requiring school districts beginning in 2014 to keep children from advancing to the fourth grade…Read more...

  • Schools brace for teacher retirements after pension reform (Canton Repository)
  • Even before state lawmakers passed reforms to the state’s five pension systems, North Canton City Schools Treasurer Todd Tolson watched a mass…Read more...

  • Educators on edge as funding plan nears (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Gov. John Kasich is expected to release a new school funding formula this week, becoming the fourth Ohio governor to try to fix a funding system the state Supreme Court has said is inequitable and unconstitutional…Read more...

  • Ohio's state tests slated to get much harder in two years (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Ohio is about to raise the bar on its state tests for students in third through eighth grade. And just about everyone is predicting…Read more...

  • Local school officials brace for the worst as they wonder what Gov. John Kasich's budget will have (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Local school officials are bracing themselves for Gov. John Kasich's plan for funding schools…Read more...

  • Some on state board press for special meeting over Terhar controversy (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Several members of the Ohio Board of Education want a special meeting to discuss the controversy surrounding Board President Debe Terhar…Read more...

  • Ohio schools look at adding police officers (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Most Ohio high schools and some middle schools have an armed, uniformed police officer or deputy sheriff…Read more...

  • Schools move quickly to boost security (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Within days of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting last month, officials in Ohio schools began to sign off on safety updates that had long sat on the back burner…Read more...

  • Bill to get police in school (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Many students might not dwell on the possibility of violence erupting at their school, but some Reynoldsburg seniors say a plan aimed at encouraging off-duty law-enforcement officers…Read more...

  • Casino money 'drop in bucket’ for schools (Lima News)
  • School districts will take every dollar they can get, but officials don’t want the public to confuse casino tax money expected this week to be anything more than what it really is…Read more...

  • Incentive would help cops work as substitute teachers (Mansfield News Journal)
  • U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi wants to encourage off-duty police officers to serve as substitute teachers by giving them a break on their federal taxes…Read more...

  • New online tool reports teacher, school employees’ salaries (Springfield News-Sun)
  • A searchable online database of 2012 salary data for every public school employee in Ohio is now available online, thanks to a right-leaning Columbus-based think tank that published the information…Read more...

  • Kasich set to unveil school funding plan (Toledo Blade)
  • It’s been a decade since the Ohio Supreme Court issued its fourth and final ruling declaring the state’s funding of schools unconstitutional because it placed students in poorer districts at a competitive…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Chillicothe schools' orchestra spared from cuts for good measure (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • It’s been called the “crown jewel” of the Chillicothe City Schools. The orchestra program, which is the only one of its kind in the region…Read more...

  • CPS open enrollment plan meets opposition (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • The Cincinnati Public Schools board of education expects to vote tonight to open enrollment to out-of-district students…Read more...

  • School launches natural resources program (Springfield News-Sun)
  • The Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center will introduce a natural resources management program next school year, the school’s first new addition…Read more...

  • Chinese students show off talents at Toledo schools (Toledo Blade)
  • It was Pen Tsou’s classroom, but at least for a moment, another teacher took the lead…Read more...

  • Shared treasurer decision pending in Liberty, Hubbard (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • A decision will be made in May as to whether two neighboring school districts will share a treasurer…Read more...


  • Link performance to review of parents (Columbus Dispatch)
  • According to the Jan. 15 Dispatch article “Teachers’ pay might be linked to quality,” merit pay for teachers would be based on several things but “more on performance than experience…Read more...


  • Teaching the teachers (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Classroom teachers increasingly are feeling the heat to raise student achievement levels. It is quite appropriate that close attention is falling…Read more...

  • New emphasis (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Mental-health care is a critical and underserved need, as was underscored in the wake of recent shootings by mentally disturbed young men…Read more...

  • Protecting confidences (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The unfolding statewide scandal involving school districts accused of cheating on their state report cards makes abundantly clear why employees willing to blow the whistle…Read more...

  • Bad bet (Findlay Courier)
  • Ohio school administrators say they won't rely on state casino revenues to balance their budgets. That is a wise approach, considering their cut of gamblers' wagers at the state's casinos will never make up for state funding…Read more...

3rd grade retention plan could cost $500 million

One of the signature policy initiatives in the Kasich MBR is the proposed change in the 3rd grade reading guarantee.

Specifically, according to LSC analysis, the bill (SB316) makes several changes to the third grade reading guarantee beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. Under current law, the third grade reading guarantee requires school districts and community schools to retain in third grade a student who scores in the "limited" range on the third grade English language arts assessment, unless the student's principal and reading teacher agree that the student is academically prepared for fourth grade or the student will receive intervention services in fourth grade. The bill changes the "cut" score and applies the guarantee to all students who do not receive at least a "proficient" (or passing) score on the assessment. The "limited" score, which currently triggers the guarantee, is the lowest of five scoring ranges and two levels below "proficient."

In short, more students will be held back, and less flexibility will be granted to educators in determining if a student who misses the proficient level can proceed to the fourth grade.

None of this expansion is funded, so let's take a look at what this policy might additionally cost cash strapped schools.

In October 2011, a total of 126,569 3rd grade Ohio public school students participated in the Reading Achievement Test. Here are the aggregated results, according to ODE statistics.

Level Number Percent
Advanced 22,987 18.2%
Accelerated 23,619 18.7%
Proficient 28,038 22.2%
Basic 23,574 18.6%
Limited 28,351 22.4%

In recent years the number of students scoring proficient or higher has varied from a high of 67.5% to a low of 53.3%. Remember, according to the new proposal, any student scoring below proficient is likely to be held back and made to repeat 3rd grade.

Again, according to ODE statistics, the median cost per pupil in Ohio per year in 2011 was $9,567.89, with an average of $9,961.57.

Under the new rules, the 51,925 students who failed to reach the minimum proficiency standard would have been at risk of being held back. At a median cost of $9,961 per student, districts could be on the hook for a total of $517,224,925 to fund that many students repeating 3rd grade.

To put that into some perspective, the crisis in Cleveland public schools is caused by a budget shortfall of $65 million. This unfunded manade could pay for that shortfall 8 times over.

Science Fact

Corporate education reform science fiction, is having an unintended(?) science fact effect.

First the science

If VAM scores are at all accurate, there ought to be a significant correlation between a teacher's score one year compared to the next. In other words, good teachers should have somewhat consistently higher scores, and poor teachers ought to remain poor. He created a scatter plot that put the ratings from 2009 on one axis, and the ratings from 2010 on the other axis. What should we expect here? If there is a correlation, we should see some sort of upward sloping line.

There is one huge takeway from all this. VAM ratings are not an accurate reflection of a teacher's performance, even on the narrow indicators on which they focus. If an indicator is unreliable, it is a farce to call it "objective."

This travesty has the effect of discrediting the whole idea of using test score data to drive reform. What does it say about "reformers" when they are willing to base a large part of teacher and principal evaluations on such an indicator?

That travesty is now manifesting itself in real personal terms.

In 2009, 96 percent of their fifth graders were proficient in English, 89 percent in math. When the New York City Education Department released its numerical ratings recently, it seemed a sure bet that the P.S. 146 teachers would be at the very top.

Actually, they were near the very bottom.
Though 89 percent of P.S. 146 fifth graders were rated proficient in math in 2009, the year before, as fourth graders, 97 percent were rated as proficient. This resulted in the worst thing that can happen to a teacher in America today: negative value was added.

The difference between 89 percent and 97 percent proficiency at P.S. 146 is the result of three children scoring a 2 out of 4 instead of a 3 out of 4.

While Ms. Allanbrook does not believe in lots of test prep, her fourth-grade teachers do more of it than the rest of the school.

In New York City, fourth-grade test results can determine where a child will go to middle school. Fifth-grade scores have never mattered much, so teachers have been free to focus on project-based learning. While that may be good for a child’s intellectual development, it is hard on a teacher’s value-added score.

These teachers are not the only ones.

Bill Turque tells the story of teacher Sarah Wysocki, who was let go by D.C. public schools because her students got low standardized test scores, even though she received stellar personal evaluations as a teacher.

She was evaluated under the the D.C. teacher evaluation system, called IMPACT, a so-called “value-added” method of assessing teachers that uses complicated mathematical formulas that purport to tell how much “value” a teacher adds to how much a student learns.

As more data is demanded, more analysis can be done to demonstrate how unreliable it is for these purposes, and consequently we are guaranteed to read more stories of good teachers becoming victims of bad measurements. It's unfortunate we're going to have to go through all this to arrive at this understanding.