Common Core Implementation

We've outsourced this post on Common Core State Standards to guest contributor Christina Hank. Christina is a Curriculum Coordinator for Medina City Schools. You can read more of her work at, and you should definitely follow her on Twitter at @ChristinaHank

There’s been a lot of confusion around what’s happening to curriculum in Ohio education. Let’s break it down into two pieces: standards and assessments.


Standards are the platform for everything that is taught in a school district, we go above and beyond I the standards to address all the needs of children, such as social and emotional growth. By themselves, standards do not impact anything in our classrooms; they are documents that sit on shelves. It is in how we implement the standards and integrate their intent into our teaching practices that they have any role in teaching and learning.

So, what are the standards in Ohio?

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—The CCSS are a set of standards in grades kindergarten through twelve in English language arts and mathematics. Many states have adopted this as a common set of standards.

Are included in…

Ohio’s New Learning Standards—Ohio’s New Learning Standards is the title given to all of Ohio’s standards in all contents (including the CCSS in English language arts and math).


Standards are not the same as their assessments, even though we are seeing “Common Core” used interchangeably with everything that is happening right now. Though the assessments of our new learning standards are rooted in the standards and attempting to assess the intent of these standards, the assessments are a separate piece of educational reform.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)—PARCC is one of two national testing consortia develop assessments for the CCSS in English language arts and math. Ohio and 21 other states belong to this consortium, which means Ohio’s students will be taking the same test as students in all of those other states (unlike Ohio’s current assessments with are only taken by students in the state). In each subject (English language arts and math), the test is structured to have two optional tests in the fall (may not be finished by 2014-2015) and two tests in the spring. The first of these spring tests in each subject will be around March and will be a performance-based assessment. The second of these will be in May and will be an End of Year test.

Are included in…

Next Generation Assessments—This all-encompassing term includes both Ohio-developed tests in social studies and science as well as the PARCC tests in English language arts and math.


As it is almost the start of the 2013-2014 school year (where is the summer going?!), we’re entering the final year of Ohio Achievement/Graduation Assessments and getting ready for our first year of Next Generation Assessments in 2014-2015.

English 2014-2015:
  • MS: PARCC Tests for grades 3-8 (National)
  • HS: PARCC End of Course exams (National)
Mathematics 2014-2015:
  • MS: PARCC Tests for grades 3-8 (National)
  • HS: PARCC EOC in Alg 1, Geo, Alg 2 OR Math 1, Math 2, Math 3 depending on student track (National)
Social Studies 2013-2014:
  • MS: Continue with OAA in MS.
  • HS ONLY: our self-created EOC Assessment in U.S. History and Government


  • MS: Grade 4 and 6, grade-level tests (not cumulative). New SS tests will be "Next Generation Assessments" reflective of PARCC tests
  • HS: State created EOC in U.S. History and Government
Science 2014-2015:
  • MS: Grade 5 and 8, grade-level tests (not cumulative). New science tests will be "Next Generation Assessments" reflective of PARCC tests
  • HS: State created EOC in Biology and Physical Science

$50 million. 3 years. No clue.

More on that awful Gates study

Though science does sometimes prove things that are not intuitive, science does depend on accurate premises. So, in this case, IF the conclusion is that “you can’t believe your eyes” in teacher evaluation — just because you watch a teacher doing a great job, this could be a mirage since that teacher doesn’t necessarily get the same ‘gains’ as the other teacher that you thought was terrible based on your observation — well, it could also mean that one of the initial premises was incorrect. To me, the initial premise that has caused this counter-intuitive conclusion is that value-added — which says that teacher quality can be determined by comparing student test scores to what a computer would predict those same students would have gotten with an ‘average’ teacher — is the faulty premise. Would we accept it if a new computer programmed to evaluate music told us that The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ is a bad song?

One thing that struck me right away with this report is that the inclusion of student surveys — something that aren’t realistically ever going to be a significant part of high stakes teacher evaluations — is given such a large percentage in each of the three main weightings they consider (these three scenarios are, for test scores-classroom observations-student surveys, 50-25-25, 33-33-33, and 25-50-25.)

Conspicuously missing from the various weighting schemes they compare is one with 100% classroom observations. As this is what many districts currently do and since this report is supposed to guide those who are designing new systems, wouldn’t it be scientifically necessary to include the existing system as the ‘control’ group? As implementing a change is a costly and difficult process, shouldn’t we know what we could expect to gain over the already existing system?

[readon2 url=""]Read the whole piece[/readon2]

Obama's 2nd term plan for education

In a newly published policy brochure, the President outlines his second term plan for education

President Obama’s plan for America’s future: Highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 so we can compete and win in the 21st Century economy:

1. Cutting tuition growth in half over the next ten years. We can make college more affordable by continuing tax credits to help middle-class families afford college tuition, doubling the number of work-study jobs and creating incentives for schools to keep tuition down.

2. Recruiting and preparing 100,000 math and science teachers. We can out-compete China and Germany by out-educating them. The STEM Master Teacher Corps and investments in research and innovation into the best ways to teach math and science will help improve math and science education nationwide.

3. Strengthen public schools in every community. Because we can’t compete for jobs of the future without educating our children, we must prevent teacher layoffs. We also must expand Race to the Top to additional school districts willing to take on bold reform. The President will offer states committed to reform relief from the worst mandates of No Child Left Behind, like incentives to teach to the test, so they can craft local solutions.

4. Train 2 million workers for good jobs that actually exist through partnerships between businesses and community colleges.

Education News for 05-02-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Northeast Ohio schools welcome electronic devices to promote learning (Plain Dealer)
  • Cellphones and other electronic devices, once banished to school lockers, are becoming part of classroom lessons in some area school districts. From pop quizzes through text-messaging to lab results loaded onto electronic tablets to looking up information on smart phones, teachers are finding ways to engage students with the latest devices. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Disabilities in kids are increasingly nonphysical (Dispatch)
  • Growing numbers of American families say they’re raising a child who has a disability, and the most-prevalent conditions are less and less likely to be physical disorders. A report released yesterday by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution found that the top five chronic childhood conditions that limit typical activities are some type of developmental, behavioral or mental problem. Read More…

  • State recommends fiscal emergency for Monroe schools (Middletown Journal News)
  • The state could soon take over financial control of the Monroe School District. Officials with the Ohio Department of Education confirmed Tuesday Monroe’s fiscal recovery plan was not accepted and they recommended to the state auditor’s office the district be placed into fiscal emergency, which would be a first for any Butler County school system. Read More…

  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson pitches school reform plan to lawmakers; concerns over charter school provisions linger (Plain Dealer)
  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson on Tuesday formally pitched his education reform plan to state lawmakers, asking them to approve his proposal without making any changes. But charter school advocates, who have influential allies in the Statehouse, already are voicing objections. Read More…

  • Cleveland schools plan still has some critics (Dispatch)
  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers hopes to approve legislation by the end of May to overhaul Cleveland schools, but they still must resolve a final sticking point with charter school advocates who say the plan could limit school-choice options. Concerns about the tax-funded, privately operated schools are the “biggest obstacle,” said Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, after a two-hour hearing on the bill yesterday. Read More…

  • Envirothon competition teaches students outdoor science skills (Hamilton Journal News)
  • The competition was billed as The Area IV Envirothon, but area science teachers found the 62-school regional competition as a way to entice their students into learning and applying science outdoors. Franklin’s team trains all year for the event. Badin’s geared up the week before. Both looked to be enjoying themselves, Tuesday on the Pleasant Vineyard Ministries campground. Read More…

  • Ex-CEO of Cleveland schools works on Chaney plan (Vindicator)
  • A retired chief executive of Cleveland schools is working as a consultant in the Youngstown schools. Eugene Sanders, who retired Feb. 1, 2011, from the Cleveland school district helm, is working through his Sanders Transformation Group at Chaney’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics school. Read More…

  • High-schoolers’ COTA passes stay in Columbus schools budget (Dispatch)
  • Next year’s Columbus City Schools general-fund budget would grow by about 1.9 percent and maintain COTA bus privileges for high-school students, according to a preview that Superintendent Gene Harris presented to the school board last night. If approved by the Columbus Board of Education, the general-fund spending plan would grow by $13.5 million, to about $741 million. Read More…

  • Law Day offers Ross County students chance to argue case (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Students at several area high schools were more likely to approach the bench than the chalkboard Tuesday as they took part in moot court sessions led by local attorneys. The courtroom simulations at Chillicothe, Southeastern and Unioto high schools were part of an effort by the Ross County Bar Association to spark student interest in the legal process for Law Day, which was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhowser in 1958 to mark the nation's commitment to the rule of law. Read More…

  • Online summer school has lower cost, more flexibility (Dispatch)
  • Some Olentangy students will go white-water rafting and ballroom dancing as part of a physical-education class this summer. Others will earn gym credit online. The district is one of many across the country moving summer-school classes online, in some cases to cut costs but often to provide students with a more-flexible schedule. Read More…

  • School reevaluating bullying prevention, other programs after bomb threats (WTOV-Steubenville)
  • A week after a student was accused of making bomb threats because she was being bullied, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School officials said they are reevaluating how they deal with social issues. Cecilia Abdalla, program assessment coordinator at the JVS, said they have an anti-bullying presentation to students at the beginning of each school year. Read More…

Education News for 04-30-2012

Statewide Education News

  • It's simple: preschool works, but it costs (Enquirer)
  • Every year 500 families are wait-listed for a preschool spot in Cincinnati Public Schools. Unfortunately, when a 3-year-old’s brain is ready to learn, it really can’t wait. You can’t hold it in abeyance, even if you’re Ohio, the state that has slashed $13.3 million from preschool education over the last three years and now ranks dead last of 39 states that offer state pre-K support. Read More…

  • Blue-ribbon mentor (Dispatch)
  • Lynn Elfner, CEO of the Ohio Academy of Science, will retire at the end of this year. By late Saturday afternoon, more than 1,200 students will have packed up their experiments, folded their poster boards, gathered their ribbons and trophies if they won them and headed back to all points across Ohio. Another year, another Ohio State Science Day. Read More…

  • A big payout? (Dispatch)
  • Work continues on Columbus’ casino, expected to open later this year and generate millions in state and local revenue. Ohio will reap hundreds of millions of dollars a year after casinos start opening in May. Even more will pour in if horse-racing tracks withstand a court challenge and open lottery-run slots parlors in coming years. Read More…

  • Legislature considers teachers' benefits (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Teachers may have to work longer and pay more into their pension system if a proposal to the Ohio Legislature is accepted. The Legislature is moving on public pension reform, and three of the funds have updated their proposals. The most significant updates are in the State Teachers Retirement System, or STRS. Read More…

  • More teachers retiring earlier (Dispatch)
  • Groveport Madison High School teacher Jack Wills plays a small blues concert on his guitar for students each year before final exams. Wills, who teaches Chinese, will perform his last show this year. He decided last month to retire at the end of the school year, joining the larger-than-anticipated number of educators heading to the exits. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Tech prep aims for job skills (Marion Star)
  • Tech prep partners are working to make sure students can get skills needed in the workforce. Funding cuts have forced those helping in this effort to consolidate and streamline services. The cuts come as schools face increased requirements. The end game remains the same: making sure high school tech prep programs meet state requirements and giving students an opportunity to continue their education beyond high school. Read More…

  • New 'Green Ribbon' honors Loveland High's recycling work (Enquirer)
  • Environmental sciences teacher Tracy Burge remembered the first time she tried getting her Loveland High students interested in recycling two years ago. As she dug in cafeteria trash bins, “up to my elbows in spaghetti,” pulling out soda cans and other materials, “they all stood back and watched me,” she said Monday. “Then as I continued to do it, one or two brave souls joined me.” Read More…

  • Some charter school supporters urge opposition to Cleveland schools reform legislation (Plain Dealer)
  • Some charter school backers say the Cleveland school reform legislation would unfairly limit school choice options in the city and are taking their concerns directly to state lawmakers. The plan would allow Mayor Frank Jackson to appoint a Transformation Alliance panel that could block future charter schools from opening in the city unless they meet a set of academic criteria the panel would later develop. Read More…

  • Educators, businesses partner to bring math, science to students (News Herald)
  • Area educators will spend their summer brainstorming how to adjust their teaching style to improve student engagement. Teachers from Lake County schools as well as officials from area colleges and local businesses will work together, specifically in the area of math and science, to construct a teaching model that gets students thinking and incorporates necessary skills from the working world. Read More…

  • Berkshire, Mayfield school districts honored for 'green' efforts (News Herald)
  • Energy efficiency, zero waste programs in their food service operations and community eco-friendly gardens that support local charities are all features that describe Ohio's Green Ribbon School state awardees. These include Berkshire Schools in Geauga County and Mayfield Schools in Cuyahoga County, which received honorable mention in the recognition program. Read More…

  • Breakthrough charter schools play central role in Cleveland school district's plans (Plain Dealer)
  • Charter schools were once the bad guys in the minds of school district officials, who considered them a horde of profiteers out to pillage students and dollars from traditional public schools. Not anymore. At least not when it comes to the Cleveland school district and its chosen charter partner, Breakthrough Schools. Read More…

  • Fairmont teacher case costs district $70,000 (Dayton Daily News)
  • The legal fees incurred trying to terminate the contract of a Kettering Fairmont High School English teacher have cost the school district more than $70,000 in the last year. And, according to Michael Togliatti’s lawyer, John Doll, the case is “far from over.” Read More…

  • Catholic schools report $15M deficit (Enquirer)
  • Two-thirds of the elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati operated at a deficit last year, spending $1.15 for every $1 they raised, the archdiocese reported in its first-ever financial study. At least 61 of 80 reporting grade schools had operating losses averaging about $239,000 each. The total shortfall for all 80 schools was $15 million. (Ten elementary schools and the 23 high schools were not in the report.) Read More…

  • Schools react with anti-bullying programs (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Most students today are too young to remember the killing spree in Littleton, Colo., that changed the way the American education system looks at violence in schools. The attitude of "it can't happen here" disappeared April 20, 1999, when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked into Columbine High School and took the lives of 12 students and a teacher, wounded 24 others and then took their own lives. Read More…

  • Boardman questions allocation of Local Govt. funds (Vindicator)
  • “The more things change, the more they stay the same” is the popular government maxim. It’s especially true of the Local Government Fund — a chunk of state tax funds given to counties, cities, townships and villages throughout Ohio — and how it’s divvied up once it gets to Mahoning County. Read More…

  • Bioscience employers need workers (Springfield News Sun)
  • Bioscience companies are coming to Ohio expecting to find qualified workers, and industry advocates are working to keep pace with their growing demand. From 2004 to 2010, more than 400 biology, medicine or science-related companies began operations in the Buckeye State. Read More…

  • Speaker helps students prepare for standardized tests (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Burt Lancaster won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Elmer Gantry, the con man-turned-evangelist whose fiery oration whipped tent crowds into a frenzy. He could have taken a few pointers from Cheryl Carter, director of the North Central State College Urban Center in Mansfield. Carter had more than 700 Malabar Intermediate School students on their feet Friday morning, cheering, applauding and shouting a pledge to bring their "A game" to three days of Ohio Achievement Assessment testing next week. Read More…

  • 2 Dublin high schools pit skills in global test (Dispatch)
  • Students in two Dublin high schools will take a test next month to compare their math, reading and science skills with those of students in other countries. Dublin Jerome and Scioto high schools were selected among 100 high schools in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada to take an early version of the PISA-based Test for Schools. The test is made by the same group that created the Programme for International Student Assessment, a test given every three years to a sample of schools around the world to compare scores among nations. Read More…

  • Chardon students focusing on something positive as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame prom nears (News Herald)
  • Chardon High School students will be rockin’ out in style at their prom May 5 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Not only was the school voted the winner of a contest for a $5,000 prom package, but numerous additional donors have come forward, ramping up the value to about $150,000, according to Matt Radicelli, founder and owner of Rock the House Entertainment Group. Read More…

  • Closing of Columbus schools has upside (Dispatch)
  • Yes, their school buildings are closing. But for the kids at Moler Elementary, and some from Heyl Elementary, there are perks, too. Because they’re being moved this fall to a middle-school building — Southmoor, which is being closed as a middle school — they’ll enjoy a gymnasium. They’ll have a separate cafeteria, music and art rooms and an auditorium with a nice, big stage. Columbus’ elementary buildings typically have combination gyms/lunchrooms/auditoriums. Read More…

Editorial & Opinion

  • But it’s good for you (Dispatch)
  • The concerted push on the part of politicians, school officials and some parents to get students to eat more-healthful meals has run into resistance: It turns out that some kids just don’t want what they’re selling. Like other school districts around the country, several suburban districts in central Ohio have seen lunch sales fall after instituting lower-fat and reduced-calorie menus. Read More…

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.