Education News for 04-22-2013

State Education News

  • Some high-rated districts failing with gifted students (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Most Ohio schools earn passing grades for making progress with gifted students…Read more...

  • Columbus schools pitch data safeguards (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Columbus principals would have to get permission to change students’ grades at the end of the school year under rules the superintendent is proposing…Read more...

  • Changes made to state report cards (East Liverpool Review)
  • Changes made by the Ohio Department of Education have report cards for schools taking on a whole new look, according to a report…Read more...

  • Huffman wants to make school funding more stable (Lima News)
  • State Rep. Matt Huffman is working on a school funding plan he says will create a consistent and steady increase in education money…Read more...

  • Controversy downplayed; Naming of Ramos, Patterson to academic commission (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • Local school officials said that concerns about the appointment of Raul Ramos and Henry Patterson Jr. to the Academic Distress Commission…Read more...

  • Students to take OAA tests this week (Newark Advocate)
  • This week, students will begin taking this year’s Ohio Achievement Assessments. One of the best things parents can do to help their students do well on the test…Read more...

  • ACT, AP can cut college costs (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Data included on the state report cards for high schools about how students performed on the SAT, ACT and AP tests can translate into money saved for families…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Buckeye Local School District does administration shuffle (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • A reshuffling of administrators in the Buckeye Local School District will result in a familiar face returning to Edgewood High School next year…Read more...

  • Cleveland District considers using money from sale of headquarters to offer more (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Although the Cleveland School District is leaving its longtime offices on East Sixth Street this summer, school board member Eric Wobser wants the district to increase…Read more...

  • Columbus shuffling principals (Columbus Dispatch)
  • More than 1 in 4 Columbus schools will get new principals this fall as the district makes new efforts to rescue poorly performing schools…Read more...

  • Parents to rally over teacher contract talks (Dayton Daily News)
  • Parents and teachers rallied Friday in front of the Springboro Board of Education in support of the district’s teachers and in opposition to the school board…Read more...

  • Vermilion to expand student drug testing (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • Drug testing at Vermilion High School will expand to include all students next school year, Superintendent Phil Pempin announced yesterday…Read more...

  • Newark schools preparing for curriculum shift (Newark Advocate)
  • For decades, there have been students sitting in their classrooms wondering, “Why do I have to learn this?” and “When am I going to use this in the real world?”…Read more...

  • After no deal to end Strongsville teachers strike (Sun Newspapers)
  • Yet another negotiation session in the seven-week teachers strike failed to produce a deal…Read more...

Survey shows disturbing patterns

The latest Metlife survey, conducted annually since 1984, shows educators under incredible stress as they cope with large budget cuts coupled with increased demands.

The whole survey is worth a read, but we've pulled out some of the most important findings.

Principals and Teachers Give Positive Ratings to the Job Teachers Are Doing

Nearly all principals (98%) give positive ratings to the classroom teachers in their school. This level is similar to the ratings provided by principals in 1986 (95%). The majority of principals (63%) say that their teachers are doing an excellent job and an additional 35% describe the job teachers are doing as pretty good.

In contrast to teachers’ ratings of their principals, the most experienced principals are most likely to rate their teachers highly. Principals with more than 10 years’ experience as a principal are more likely than those with six to 10 years’ experience or those with five years’ or less experience to rate the classroom teachers in their school as excellent (72% vs. 56% vs. 59%).

Of course corporate education reformers will continue to claim too many teachers are not performing in the classroom, despite all the available evidence.

As a consequence of the relentless teacher bashing, and budget cuts, politicians are causing serious moral problems with the workforce, as is evidenced in the next two findings

Teacher Job Satisfaction Continues to Decline

Teacher satisfaction has declined to its lowest point in 25 years and has dropped five percentage points in the past year alone, from 44% to 39% very satisfied. This marks a continuation of a substantial decline noted in the 2011 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher; teacher satisfaction has now dropped 23 percentage points since 2008.

Stress among teachers has increased since 1985

In 1985—the last time this question was asked and when job satisfaction was also low—more than one-third (36%) of teachers said they felt under great stress at least several days a week. Today, that number has increased; half (51%) of teachers feel under great stress at least several days a week. Elementary school teachers experience stress more frequently.

They are more likely than middle school or high school teachers to say they feel under great stress at least several days a week (59% vs. 44% vs. 42%). The increase since 1985 in the number of elementary school teachers who experience great stress at least several days a week is also noteworthy—59% today compared to 35% in 1985

Corporate reformers are also having negative impacts on Principals too

Most principals say that their responsibilities today have changed compared to five years ago and that the job has increased in complexity

Moreover, three-quarters (75%) of principals agree that the job of the principal has become too complex, a view shared by principals regardless of demographic characteristics such as school level, school location, the proportion of low-income or minority students, or the proportion of students performing at or above grade level in English language arts and math.

Half (48%) of principals feel under great stress several days a week or more. This finding is perhaps not surprising given the previously cited results that most principals feel their jobs are too complex, their responsibilities have changed during the past five years, and that they have a high degree of accountability with varying levels of control over decisions

The ever increasing Rube Goldberg machines being constructed by corporate education reformers is making the job of principal all but impossible. The survey notes

It is important to note that as educators begin to implement new, higher standards, many face other competing mandates related to teacher and student assessment as well as decreasing teacher morale,and reductions in budgets and other resources such as staff, professional learning opportunities, and time for collaboration.

When asked about limited resources and what would help them most in addressing the needs of diverse learners, majorities of teachers consistently say other teachers. In 2009, nine in 10 teachers agreed that other teachers contribute to their success in the classroom, including 51% who strongly agreed. Most teachers and principals also said that greater collaboration among teachers and school leaders would have a major impact on improving student achievement.

Given limited resources, teachers believed opportunities for collaborative teaching would have a major impact on their ability to address different learning needs of individual students.

Yet most teachers continued to report that their time to work with other teachers remained the same or had been reduced.

On top of these strains being faced by teachers, the strains being felt by principals is leading to teachers taking on additional leadership roles

As the job of the principal has become more complex with the need to balance instructional leadership, high-stakes accountability, and non-academic management, the survey has documented the emergence of teachers more prominently as leaders in their schools, districts and beyond. The voice of the teacher as an educator has also become a voice of leadership in education.
Teachers Are School Leaders; Many Have a Formal Leadership Role in Their School Half (51%) of teachers currently have a formal leadership role in their school, such as department chair, instructional resource, teacher mentor, or leadership team member. Teachers who have a formal leadership role are more experienced; they are more likely than other teachers to have at least six years of teaching experience (86% vs. 73%). These teacher leaders are also more likely to report that their school’s budget has decreased during the past 12 months (60% vs. 51%), perhaps reflecting a greater need among these schools to have teachers take on more responsibilities.
In the context of additional challenges for leading schools toward greater improvement, the continuing decline in teacher morale identifies itself as an urgent priority. During a time when expectations and standards are increasing for effective teaching and learning, teacher morale is yet another declining resource, one that is associated with schools with diminished budgets and other resources, fewer students meeting standards and fewer colleagues highly rated for how well they are doing their job. Teacher leadership emerges as a potential resource for translating big challenges into opportunities, served by hybrid roles for teachers as leaders and as a method for addressing professional growth and satisfaction.

It's time that politicians began to properly value and respect their most valuable asset the education system has - the educators who work in it.

ODE publishes propaganda

1. Information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
2. The dissemination of such information as a political strategy.

That aptly describes the latest document published by the Ohio Department of Education, titled "Myths vs. Facts about the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System". The document lists 10 alleged myths about the teacher evaluation system being created. We thought we'd take a closer look at some of these alleged "myths".

1. Myth: The state is telling us what to do in local evaluations.

ODE, under a bulleted list discussing local board flexibility in creating evaluations, state "The percentages within the given range for student growth measures for the teachers in that district;" This is no longer true for teacher who have Value-add scores. These teachers (over 30% of Ohio's teaching corps) will have 50% of their evaluation based on student test scores. On this, local boards have zero flexibility, it's a state mandate. We judge aspects of this myth to actually be true

2. Myth: This is just a way to fire teachers.

ODE goes to great length to discuss how these evaluations will be great for teachers in identifying areas of improvement (though no money has been allocated for professional development). Utterly lacking is any discussion of the provision within HB153 prohibits giving preference based on seniority in determining the order of layoffs or in rehiring teachers when positions become available again, except when choosing between teachers with comparable evaluations. It is no secret that corporate education reformers such as Michelle Rhee desperately want to use evaluations for the basis of firing what they purportedly measure to be "ineffective" teachers. After all, this is exactly the process used in Washington DC where she came from. It's far too soon to call this a myth, it's more like a corporate educators goal.

3. Myth: One test in the spring will determine my fate.

It's nice that ODE stresses the importance of using multiple measures, but once again they fail to acknowledge that HB555 removed those multiple measures for 30% of Ohio's teachers. For those teachers their fate will be determined by tests. This myth is therefore true.

5. Myth: The state has not done enough work on this system – there are too many unanswered questions.

How can it be a myth when even this documents fails to state that "we're ready". SLO's have yet to be developed, Common Core is almost upon us but no one knows what the tests will be, the legislature keeps changing the rules of the game and no where near enough evaluator training has taken place to evaluate all of Ohio's teachers. Ohio isn't ready for this and that's a fact, not a myth.

6. Myth: “Value-Added” is a mysterious formula and is too volatile to be trusted.

This is perhaps one of the most egregious points of all. Study after study after study has demonstrated that Value add is volatile, unreliable and inappropriate for measuring teacher effectiveness. Their explanation conflates the use of value-add as a diagnostic tool and its use in evaluating teachers. Those are 2 very different use cases indeed.

As for it being mysterious, the formula used in Ohio is secret and proprietary - it doesn't get more mysterious than that! This claim by ODE is simply untrue and ridiculous, they ought to be embarrassed for publishing it. This myth is totally true and real and backed up by all the available scientific evidence.

7. Myth: The current process for evaluating teachers is fine just as it is.

Their explanation: "Last year, 99.7 percent of teachers around the country earned a “satisfactory” evaluation, yet many students didn’t make a year’s worth of progress in reading and are not reading at grade level." Right out of the corporate education reformers message book. Blame the teacher. Still think this isn't going to end up being about firing teachers? This myth is a straw-man, no one argues the current system is ideal, but the proposed OTES is dangerously constructed.

8. Myth: Most principals (or other evaluators) don’t have time to do this type of evaluation, so many will just report that teachers are proficient.

ODE states "Fact: Most principals are true professionals who want the teachers in their buildings to do well." But wait a minute, in Myth #7 these very same principals were handing out "satisfactory" grades like candy to 99.7% of teachers. Which is it? Are they professionals who can fairly evaluate teachers, or aren't they? We wrote about the massive administrative task faced by school administrators almost 2 years ago. Nothing has happened to alleviate those burdens, other than a $2 billion budget cut. This myth is 100% true.

9. Myth: This new evaluation system is like building the plane while we’re flying it.

ODE states: "Fact: Just as the Wright brothers built a plane, tried it by flying it, landed it, and then refined the plane they built, the new evaluation system was built, tried and revised. "

We'll just point out that 110 years have passed since the Wright Brothers first flew and the world has developed better design and project management tools since then.

10. Myth: It will be easy to implement the new teacher evaluation system.

Has anyone, anywhere said this? Or did the ODE brainstorming session run out of bad ideas at 9, and this is all they could come up with? Talk about ending with a straw-man, which frankly, given the rest of the document is probably the most appropriate ending.

ODE ought to withdraw this piece of propaganda from public view.

Education News for 07-24-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • More school districts than usual go to ballot (Dispatch)
  • Three dozen school districts in Ohio are asking voters for more money on the Aug. 7 ballot, the most levies in a special election in seven years. Not since 2005, when 51 tax issues for schools appeared on the ballot, have there been more. August ballots typically have fewer school levies than general and primary elections. In the past decade, August ballots have averaged 35 school levies, about a third of them approved. The high was 105 levies in 2005; the low was 18 in 2009. In central Ohio, Groveport Madison, Buckeye Valley and North Fork Local are on next month’s ballot. Read more...

  • State starts inquiry into Toledo Public Schools records (Blade)
  • The Ohio Department of Education has started an investigation into whether Toledo Public Schools violated state law when the district manipulated some students' attendance data to improve state report-card scores, a probe that could result in serious sanctions against educators who were involved. Some might even lose their jobs. The investigation was ordered after TPS Superintendent Jerome Pecko admitted to The Blade last week that schools retroactively withdrew and re-enrolled chronically absent students to erase their poor attendance records. Read more...

  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich, despite his vow against tax hikes, will back the Cleveland schools' proposed 15-mill levy (Plain Dealer)
  • COLUMBUS – Gov. John Kasich, who has vowed to revolt against anything resembling a tax hike and signed an anti-tax pledge with a powerful Washington conservative group, is making an exception and backing the proposed 15-mill Cleveland school levy. "The schools are doing it the right way because they're fixing their problems first, and then asking for more resources. If the governor lived in Cleveland he would vote for it and the governor will give the mayor whatever help he needs," Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement. Read more...

  • Districts shift start dates for local schools (Dayton Daily News)
  • School is starting more than a week earlier than usual at two of the Dayton area’s largest public districts this year, and about a week and a half later than it had been at another district. “In May, our kids take a lot of tests — AP (Advanced Placement), SAT, International Baccalaureate, college placement and, of course, the state tests,” said Jim Schoenlein, Kettering City Schools superintendent. “They will now get a couple more weeks of preparation as compared to some others.” Read more...

Local Issues

  • Westerville teachers union weighing strike (Dispatch)
  • The teachers union in Westerville might consider striking if labor negotiations don’t improve with the school board, according to emails sent by union leaders and obtained by The Dispatch. Leaders of the Westerville Education Association, the union that represents about 1,000 teachers in the district, have not returned emails or calls over the past week. But in a half-dozen emails in recent weeks, the union’s leaders discouraged teachers from preparing classrooms early for the upcoming school year or volunteering at certain school events. Read more...

  • CPS teachers excited about new curriculum (Enquirer)
  • CORRYVILLE — New national curriculum standards being piloted at Cincinnati Public Schools this fall will better prepare kids and “bring teaching back to life.” That was how Shroder High School teacher Denise Pfeiffer described it as she joined six other CPS teachers Monday in a presentation to the school board. The teachers were among 46 employees of the region’s largest district who attended a week-long conference last week on the new Common Core Standards. Read more...

  • Chillicothe City Schools' computer network to get $140,000 upgrade (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • CHILLICOTHE - The Chillicothe City Schools' aging computer network, which has been prone to crashes in recent years, will receive a $140,000 upgrade this summer, the board of education decided Monday. The upgrade, which should be complete by September, mainly will focus on the high school, middle school and Mount Logan and Tiffin elementary schools. Allen and Worthington elementary schools received upgrades several years ago. Read more...

  • Riverdale finances 'not good at all' (Courier)
  • MOUNT BLANCHARD - Riverdale School finished the fiscal year with a balance of more than $300,000, but district Treasurer Jodie Ribley said the figure is well below where it should be. "Some of the other county schools have carryovers of $1.3 million right now, we only have $346,000," Ribley told Riverdale school board on Monday. "That's barely enough to cover payroll and no other expenses throughout the month." The district's payroll is about $200,000, she said, and "our expenses each month run between $400,000 and $600,000. Read more...


  • Grading Ohio school principals is a good idea (Plain Dealer)
  • As school districts strive to improve education, it makes sense that Ohio insist that principals be held accountable for student achievement along with teachers. According to Ohio's budget bill, Ohio school districts must create a system for evaluating principals and teachers by 2013. Both principals and teachers are to be graded on similar terms -- half on student achievement and the other half on observations and other measures. And those grades will matter. Schools can base hiring, retention and pay raises on whether principals are rated as accomplished. Read more...

  • Don't be quick to predict outcome of Cleveland's latest school tax levy campaign (Plain Dealer)
  • It's tempting to predict the failure of the Cleveland School District's recently announced campaign to raise school taxes by about 50 percent. The local economy is still in the dumps. Many parents remain disengaged. And school officials are making the same tired promises as their many predecessors. History, however, suggests a knee-jerk forecast could make me look foolish. The Cleveland district's last successful tax request was in 1996 and won approval after early predictions that city voters would reject it. Read more...

Education News for 07-09-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • Principals will start seeing the same scrutiny as teachers when new evaluation system goes statewide next fall (Plain Dealer)
  • CLEVELAND - Teachers have been under increasing scrutiny the last few years, as Ohio and other states roll out new teacher evaluation plans. That spotlight also is falling on principals. Ohio will require school districts statewide to have an evaluation system for principals up and running by the 2013-14 school year, the same time that the new teacher evaluations take effect. Though districts already evaluate principals to varying degrees, Ohio has edged toward a more standard and rigorous measure of principal quality for a few years. Read more...

  • Ohio plans tougher high-school tests (Enquirer)
  • Ohio is ready to swap its statewide graduation test for a series of more rigorous high school exams beginning in 2014-15. The tests are designed to measure student readiness for college or a career, something the Ohio Graduation Test could never do, said James Herrholtz, associate superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education’s division of learning. “The OGT is a low hurdle,” he said. “It was never really designed to measure whether a student is college-ready.” Read more...

  • Reading guarantee for Ohio 3rd-graders starts with September screenings (Plain Dealer)
  • CLEVELAND — Much of the talk about Ohio's third-grade reading guarantee has centered on whether it's better to hold back a struggling student who can't read instead of promoting him to the next grade. But the new mandate involves a lot more than the retention issue. And some school officials are worried about how they're going to pay for it. Starting this year, school districts and charter schools will have to screen all students in kindergarten through third grade by Sept. 30. Read more...

  • Westerville phasing out popular magnet schools (Dispatch)
  • Longfellow Elementary School in Westerville never struggled in academics. Among central Ohio elementary schools in the 2010-11 school year, its state test scores were the highest, and they were seventh-best in the state. Students could land a coveted seat only by winning a lottery. But because of budget cuts, Longfellow closed for good this summer, as did Central College Elementary, another high-performing public school in Westerville. Both will consolidate into Hanby Elementary School. Read more...

Local Issues

  • Funny Math (The Other Paper)
  • Calculating data is boring, entering it into a computer system is mundane. Even the word data inspires narcolepsy. Maybe that’s why Columbus City Schools employees allegedly tried to liven up the process a bit by living on the data-entry edge; allegedly fudging attendance figures every June before submitting their State Report Card data to the Ohio Department of Education. After all, there’s surely nothing more thrilling than possibly misleading taxpayers and the state watchdogs in a ploy to enhance district graduation rates. Read more...

  • NB teachers reject contract (Courier)
  • NORTH BALTIMORE - A North Baltimore teachers' union recently rejected a contract offered by its school board. Terms were not released. According to the North Baltimore Education Association, teachers have been in negotiations with the North Baltimore school board since May. In June, school board declared an impasse in negotiations until a mediator could be contacted. On June 30, the current contract expired and the teachers' association has been working under the previous negotiated agreement. Read more...

  • Dayton-area young readers get a boost (Dayton Daily News)
  • DAYTON — Montgomery County-Dayton region has been selected to join a national effort to improve reading proficiency among third-grade students. The region will become a charter member of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, a 124 member organization charged with implementing strategies to enhance the reading skills of low-income students. “Until third grade, children learn to read,” said Robyn Lightcap, director for ReadySetSoar, a local organization aimed at improving kindergarten readiness. Read more...

  • Shawnee High School grads create app for Android (Lima News)
  • LIMA — First the fun, then the function. That's the idea behind a series of new applications for Android that two 2008 Shawnee High School graduates helped create. The app, “TapDeck,” will be available this month, Adam Kriegel said. The name plays off “tape deck,” and also the company he and fellow Carnegie Mellon University graduates formed, TapAudio LLC. At the moment, a gimmicky tape recorder allows the user to record up to 10 seconds of audio that can be scrambled in a variety of ways, Kriegel said. Read more...

Education News for 03-28-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Legislators fear reading mandate in Kasich proposal will cost schools too much (Dispatch)
  • State lawmakers raised concerns yesterday about Gov. John Kasich’s plan to help students who struggle with reading and hold back youngsters who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade. While no one questioned the goal of ensuring that third-graders read proficiently before being advanced, many asked where cash-strapped school districts were supposed to come up with the money to pay for tutoring, summer school and other services that would be required. Read More…

  • TPS board seeks delay of new state report card (Blade)
  • The Toledo Board of Education Tuesday collectively blasted a proposed new state school report card system that would drop the grade for most districts and would especially hit Toledo Public Schools hard. The proposed system would do away with designations such as "academic emergency" and "excellent" that rate schools and districts, and would use an A through F scale instead. Had the new system been used last year, TPS would have been one of only two districts in the state to receive an F. Read More…

  • Ohio wants to expand free online tutoring (Dayton Daily News)
  • Free tutoring will soon be just a click away for more Ohio college students. The Ohio Board of Regents has invited all Ohio universities and colleges to join the Ohio eTutoring Collaborative. The goal is for all 107 institutions of higher learning in the state to join, making the service available to more than 600,000 students. About 2,400 students at 21 participating schools used the tutoring service in fall 2011. Central State University, Sinclair Community, Clark State Community and Edison Community colleges are among participants statewide. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Youngstown schools Board eyes cost-cutting options (Vindicator)
  • Youngstown - Closing buildings, cutting all overtime and instituting pay-to-play are among the options city school board members must consider as ways to save money. Lock P. Beachum Sr., school board president, said at a school board meeting Tuesday that the possibilities he listed aren’t his recommendations. “These are the things you’ve got to look at,” he said. “I probably won’t be here. This is my last term.” Beachum said he wants to leave office with the district in stable financial shape. Read More…

  • Job cuts likely if $450,000 budget trim gets OK at Paint Valley (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • BAINBRIDGE - Five teachers and a secretary likely will lose their jobs if the Paint Valley Board of Education approves about $450,000 in proposed budget cuts at a special meeting Monday. Superintendent Gary Uhrig said the reduction in force, which also would eliminate two positions currently being filled by long-term substitute teachers, is necessary because the district stands to lose $363,000 in federal funding that was doled out in 2010 for schools to hire, re-hire and retain school employees. Read More…

  • Hamilton board continues to shuffle administrators (Journal-News)
  • HAMILTON — The Hamilton City School District continues to shuffle administrators as it has appointed five new principals and six elementary deans of students for the 2012-13 school year. The new principals include two elementary principals — Katherine Huber and Victoria Kowalk — two middle/freshman principals — Jeffrey Miller and Brandon Stanfill — and one secondary assistant principal — Robyn Jordan. Read More…

  • T.J. Lane to undergo competency evaluation (News-Herald)
  • T.J. Lane, the suspect in the Chardon High School shooting, will undergo a competency evaluation to determine if he is fit to face charges. Geauga County Juvenile/Probate Judge Tim Grendell ordered the evaluation Tuesday. Due to the evaluation, the probable cause/bindover hearing set for next Tuesday will be held at a later date. The bindover hearing will decide if there is enough evidence to move the case to adult court. It is not known whether Lane’s defense requested the evaluation or if the prosecution opposed it. Read More…


  • Full speed ahead on Cleveland school reform (Plain Dealer)
  • Mayor Frank Jackson's school reform initiative is making clear progress toward a broad consensus -- welcome news to anyone concerned about the future of this community and an incentive to keep working, full speed ahead. Those efforts must continue even as Jackson and his allies aim to introduce their still-evolving legislation to the Ohio General Assembly this week. No significant bill ever emerges from the legislative process exactly as presented. But introducing legislation will compel all parties to keep searching for consensus. Read More…