Budget brings 2 dead policies back to life

The Governor's 4,200 page budget bill (HB 59) sees the reanimation of 2 education policy ideas that were overwhelmingly rejected in the previous legislature due to their unpopular and deeply destructive nature.

The first provision sees the Governor once again push the corporate reform idea of a statewide parent trigger. Here's the change in law he is proposing

Sec. 3302.042. (A) This section shall operate as a pilot project that applies apply to any school of a city, exempted village, or local school district that has been ranked according to performance index score under section 3302.21 of the Revised Code in the lowest five per cent of all public school buildings statewide for three or more consecutive school years and is operated by the Columbus city school district. The pilot project shall commence once the department of education establishes implementation guidelines for the pilot project in consultation with the Columbus city school district.

(B) Except as provided in division (D), (E), or (F) of this section, if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the students enrolled in a school to which this section applies, or if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the total number of students enrolled in that school and the schools of lower grade levels whose students typically matriculate into that school, by the thirty-first day of December of any school year in which the school is subject to this section, sign and file with the school district treasurer a petition requesting the district board of education to implement one of the following reforms in the school, and if the validity and sufficiency of the petition is certified in accordance with division (C) of this section, the board shall implement the requested reform in the next school year:

Over objections to this idea in the previous budget, the policy was scaled back to be a pilot program solely affecting Columbus City Schools. Since this "pilot" began, and despite many of the real and perceived problems with Columbus City Schools, not a single attempt has been made to pull "the parent trigger". Despite the failure of this pilot program, and without any working evidence that such a policy mechanism could succeed, the Governor wants to once again spread this community busting idea throughout the entire state.

Here's what people thought of the idea last time around

For further discussion on the failures of parent trigger laws, our previous posting can be found here.

The second zombie policy idea to be resurrected by the Governor was even more solidly rejected when it was introduced as HB136. HB136 sought to eliminate the restrictions on Ohio's current voucher programs (ʺEd Choiceʺ and "Cleveland Scholarship") and instead open participation statewide on the basis of family income. The idea was so bad that even the author of the bill called it a "potential doomsday" for public education. The bill prompted more than 400 boards of education to pass resolutions opposing the idea and the bill died before receiving a floor vote.

Now it's back, under Sec. 3310.032

Sec. 3310.032. (A) A student is an "eligible student" for purposes of the expansion of the educational choice scholarship pilot program under this section if the student's resident district is not a school district in which the pilot project scholarship program is operating under sections 3313.974 to 3313.979 of the Revised Code and the student's family income is at or below two hundred per cent of the federal poverty guidelines, as defined in section 5101.46 of the Revised Code.

(B) In each fiscal year for which the general assembly appropriates funds for purposes of this section, the department of education shall pay scholarships to attend chartered nonpublic schools in accordance with section 3310.08 of the Revised Code. The number of scholarships awarded under this section shall not exceed the number that can be funded with appropriations made by the general assembly for this purpose.

(C) Scholarships under this section shall be awarded as follows:
(1) For the 2013-2014 school year, to eligible students who are entering kindergarten in that school year for the first time;
(2) For each subsequent school year, scholarships shall be awarded to eligible students in the next grade level above the highest grade level awarded in the preceding school year, in addition to the grade levels for which students received scholarships in the preceding school year.

(D) If the number of eligible students who apply for a scholarship under this section exceeds the scholarships available based on the appropriation for this section, the department shall award scholarships in the following order of priority:
(1) First, to eligible students who received scholarships under this section in the prior school year;
(2) Second, to eligible students with family incomes at or below one hundred per cent of the federal poverty guidelines. If the number of students described in division (D)(2) of this section who apply for a scholarship exceeds the number of available scholarships after awards are made under division (D)(1) of this section, the department shall select students described in division
(D)(2) of this section by lot to receive any remaining scholarships.
(3) Third, to other eligible students who qualify under this section. If the number of students described in division (D)(3) of this section exceeds the number of available scholarships after awards are made under divisions (D)(1) and (2) of this section, the department shall select students described in division (D)(3) of this section by lot to receive any remaining scholarships.

(E) A student who receives a scholarship under this section remains an eligible student and may continue to receive scholarships under this section in subsequent school years until the student completes grade twelve, so long as the student satisfies the conditions specified in divisions (E)(2) and (3) of section 3310.03 of the Revised Code.

Once a scholarship is awarded under this section, the student shall remain eligible for that scholarship for the current school year and subsequent school years even if the student's family income rises above the amount specified in division (A) of this section, provided the student remains enrolled in a chartered nonpublic school.

Eligibility for private school vouchers, in a few short paragraphs is opened up statewide, even if students in a school district have schools rated excellent to attend. When traditional public schools are suffering such draconian budget cuts, siphoning tax payer money to private schools cannot be a reasonable policy. This is, in short, a public education privatization provision.

Major evaluation change slipped into HB555

Over the Holidays, the Governor signed the latest education bill, HB 555. StateImpact has a decent rundown of most of the items that were addressed in the bill. However, one major piece of policy change made in HB555 has gone totally unreported, not surprisingly since it was done in the 11th hour, with no testimony or hearings. Indeed, we're doubtful many lawmakers even knew it had been slipped in there.

Sec. 3319.112. (A) Not later than December 31, 2011, the state board of education shall develop a standards-based state framework for the evaluation of teachers. The state board may update the framework periodically by adoption of a resolution. The framework shall establish an evaluation system that does the following:

(1) Provides for multiple evaluation factors, including student academic growth which shall account for fifty per cent of each. One factor shall be student academic growth which shall account for fifty per cent of each evaluation. When applicable to the grade level or subject area taught by a teacher, the value-added progress dimension established under section 3302.021 of the Revised Code or an alternative student academic progress measure if adopted under division (C)(1)(e) of section 3302.03 of the Revised Code shall be used in the student academic growth portion of an evaluation in proportion to the part of a teacher's schedule of courses or subjects for which the value-added progress dimension is applicable.

If a teacher's schedule is comprised only of courses or subjects for which the value-added progress dimension is applicable, one of the following applies:

(a) Beginning with the effective date of this amendment until June 30, 2014, the majority of the student academic growth factor of the evaluation shall be based on the value-added progress dimension.

(b) On or after July 1, 2014, the entire student academic growth factor of the evaluation shall be based on the value-added progress dimension. In calculating student academic growth for an evaluation, a student shall not be included if the student has sixty or more unexcused absences for the school year.

If you're not familiar with legislative language, here's the summary

HB 555 radically changes the method of calculating evaluations for about 1/3 of Ohio's teachers. If a teacher's schedule is comprised only of courses or subjects for which the value-added progress dimension is applicable - then only their value-add score can now be used as part of the 50% of an evaluation based on student growth. Gone is the ability to use multiple measures of student growth - ie Student Learning Objectives or SLO's.

Teachers and school districts have spent countless months collaborating on the development and implementation of an evaluation system originally detailed in HB153 - only to now find the rules of the game changed at the 11th hour. Furthermore, the change is regressive. We have detailed the growing list of research that demonstrates the very real and serious problems with heavy reliance on value-add, and the need to offset these problems by using multiple measures of student growth. See here, here, here, and here for examples.

SB316 analysis

The education portion of the mid biennium review (MBR), SB316, has now been completed. Below is the synopsis document produced by Ohio's legislative services commission (LSC).

Some of the highlights and lowlights:

  • Third-grade reading guarantee – retention
  • Requires the State Board of Education to determine the "cut" score, progressively adjusting it upwards until the retention requirements apply to students who do not receive at least a "proficient" score. Prohibits the State Board from designating a level lower than "limited." Not later than December 31, 2013, requires the State Board to submit to the General Assembly recommended changes to the scoring ranges of the state achievement assessments necessary for the successful implementation of the common core curriculum and assessments in the 2014-2015 school year.

    It's a huge unfunded mandated (only a paltry $13 million was attached to this effort), with only a few exceptions for students carved out. We suspect this provision will be revisited in the very near future once legislators start hearing from angry parents.

    Also included int he law is a section that, not later than February 28, 2013, the State Board of Education and the Early Childhood Advisory Council jointly to develop legislative recommendations on the state's policies on literacy education of children from birth to third grade. From birth!

  • District and building academic performance ratings
  • This didn't make the bill. The legislature received a lot of push back from a broad range of interests that didn't like the idea of downgraded schools in short order, right before tougher common core standards were also to be introduced.

  • Performance indicators for dropout prevention and recovery programs
  • These are some of the worse charter schools in the country, not just the state. They have avoided accountability for poor performance for a long time. Initially SB316 contained provisions to hold them accountable, however those provisions were also stripped and replaced with provisions requiring the adoption of performance indicators for dropout prevention and recovery programs operated by school districts and community schools with provisions for a separate rating system specifically for community schools that operate dropout prevention and recovery programs, to be used beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. No rush there, then.

  • Reports of district and school spending
  • This provision initially passed in the original budget has been delayed 12 months.

  • Teacher evaluations
  • This section of SB316 fixed a lot of the ridiculous provisions contained in HB153. You now have to actually be in a classroom at least 50% of the time to be covered, test scores of students who are absent more than 60 days (!) won't be counted, nor those defined as habitually truant. the new law makes quite a few structural changes and some nuanced changes. We urge educators to take a little time to read this entire section (page 19, thru 21)

  • Teacher retesting
  • Remember the provision that would have required all teachers in the bottom 10% of schools to retake the PRAXIS test? That's gone, replaced with a different retesting provision. It now applies, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, to teachers employed by school districts when the teacher has been rated "ineffective" on evaluations for two of the three most recent years. (Retains the law applying the requirement to teachers employed by community schools and STEM schools when the teacher's building is ranked by performance index score in the lowest 10% of all public schools.) The law also adds that if a teacher employed by a school district passes the required exams, the teacher, at the teacher's own expense, must complete professional development targeted at the deficiencies identified in the teacher's evaluations. The district may terminate the teacher if the teacher (a) does not complete the professional development or (b) receives an "ineffective" rating on the teacher's next evaluation after the professional development.

  • Nonrenewal of teacher and administrator contracts
  • Extends the deadlines for a school district or educational service center (ESC) to notify a teacher that the person's contract will not be renewed for the following school year, from April 30 to June 1.

  • Charter schools
  • There is a host of provisions affecting charter schools starting on page 38 that we are still digesting.

SB316 bill analysis

The State Constitution - Article VI

A lot of people seem to either not know, not understand, or forget, that the Ohio constitution lays out a very clear duty for the state in the delivery of public education. Here's the full text, with the most relevant pieces highlighted.

Article 6 - Education

§ 01 Funds for religious and educational purposes The principal of all funds, arising from the sale, or other disposition of lands, or other property, granted or entrusted to this State for educational and religious purposes, shall be used or disposed of in such manner as the General Assembly shall prescribe by law.

(Amended, effective July 1, 1968.)

§ 02 Schools funds

The General Assembly shall make such provisions, by taxation, or otherwise, as, with the income arising from the school trust fund, will secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state; but no religious or other sect, or sects, shall ever have any exclusive right to, or control of, any part of the school funds of this state.

§ 03 Public school system, boards of education

Provision shall be made by law for the organization, administration and control of the public school system of the state supported by public funds: provided, that each school district embraced wholly or in part within any city shall have the power by referendum vote to determine for itself the number of members and the organization of the district board of education, and provision shall be made by law for the exercise of this power by such school districts.

(Adopted September 3, 1912.)

§ 04 State board of education

There shall be a state board of education which shall be selected in such manner and for such terms as shall be provided by law. There shall be a superintendent of public instruction, who shall be appointed by the state board of education. The respective powers and duties of the board and of the superintendent shall be prescribed by law.

(Amended November 3, 1953.)

§ 05 Guaranteed loans to residents attending colleges and universities To increase opportunities to the residents of this state for higher education, it is hereby determined to be in the public interest and a proper public purpose for the state to guarantee the repayment of loans made to residents of this state to assist them in meeting the expenses of attending an institution of higher education. Laws may be passed to carry into effect such purpose including the payment, when required, of any such guarantee from moneys available for such payment after first providing the moneys necessary to meet the requirements of any bonds or other obligations heretofore or hereafter authorized by any section of the Constitution. Such laws and guarantees shall not be subject to the limitations or requirements of Article VIII or of Section 11 of Article XII of the Constitution. Amended Substitute House Bill No.618 enacted by the General Assembly on July 11, 1961, and Amended Senate Bill No.284 enacted by the General Assembly on May 23, 1963, and all appropriations of moneys made for the purpose of such enactments, are hereby validated, ratified, confirmed, and approved in all respects, and they shall be in full force and effect from and after the effective date of this section, as laws of this state until amended or repealed by law.

(Adopted May 4, 1965.)

§ 06 Tuition credit program (A) To increase opportunities to the residents of this state for higher education, it is hereby determined to be in the public interest and a proper public purpose for the state to maintain a program for the sale of tuition credits such that the proceeds of such credits purchased for the benefit of a person then a resident of this state shall be guaranteed to cover a specified amount when applied to the cost of tuition at any state institution of higher education, and the same or a different amount when applied to the cost of tuition at any other institution of higher education, as may be provided by law.

(B) The tuition credits program and the Ohio tuition trust fund previously created by law, which terms include any successor to that program or fund, shall be continued subject to the same laws, except as may hereafter be amended. To secure the guarantees required by division (A) of this section, the general assembly shall appropriate money sufficient to offset any deficiency that occurs in the Ohio tuition trust fund, at any time necessary to make payment of the full amount of any tuition payment or refund that would have been required by a tuition payment contract, except for the contract's limit of payment to money available in the trust fund. Notwithstanding Section 29 of Article II of this Constitution, or the limitation of a tuition payment contract executed before the effective date of this section, such appropriations may be made by a majority of the members elected to each house of the general assembly, and the full amount of any such enhanced tuition payment or refund may be disbursed to and accepted by the beneficiary or purchaser. To these ends there is hereby pledged the full faith and credit and taxing power of the state.

All assets that are maintained in the Ohio tuition trust fund shall be used solely for the purposes of that fund. However, if the program is terminated or the fund is liquidated, the remaining assets after the obligations of the fund have been satisfied in accordance with law shall be transferred to the general revenue fund of the state.

Laws shall be passed, which may precede and be made contingent upon the adoption of this amendment by the electors, to provide that future conduct of the tuition credits program shall be consistent with this amendment. Nothing in this amendment shall be construed to prohibit or restrict any amendments to the laws governing the tuition credits program or the Ohio tuition trust fund that are not inconsistent with this amendment.

(Adopted November 8, 1994)

What teachers didn't tell the governor

The Governor's education Czar, Robert Sommers, and his assistant Sarah Dove have finally published their report based upon feedback received via a web form regarding their corporate education reform proposals. The report can be read below.

We don't need to mention how this report lacks any scientific validity, because the reports authors do that for us

This summary is not meant to be a scientific compilation of the information. It is intended, rather, to present the general sentiment of the productive comments received. It is acknowledged that in any particular category, comments were received that would range across the entire spectrum of pros and cons.

It's one of the few honest things said in this highly charged and political document. Despite admitting that the methodology of this study is not sound, almost every single section of this document begins with the phrase "Teachers believe". In many cases what is asserted that teachers believe is not even supported by the actual feedback teachers provided. Earlier in the year, in a 5 part series, we published many of the actual comments teachers provided as input to this process. You can find that series here:

The report concludes with recommendations from a "steering committee". But we're never told who served on that committee, only that

"Robert Sommers, Director of the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education, and Sarah Dove, Ohio’s Teacher Liaison, assembled a steering committee consisting of a cross-section of teachers representing schools and educators across the state.

When a document presents recommendations, do readers not deserve to know who exactly are making these recommendations, what the process for approving them was, and if there was any dissension?UPDATE: Commitee list is burried at the end of the document in the appendix, with no mention of who each person is, or who they represent.

Furthermore, for a process that had very little stakeholder input at all, this recommendation stood out for its audacity

The Ohio Department of Education must commit to providing increased communications with teachers about new evaluation and compensation models.

Little effort has been expended by the Department of Education in educating teachers on where the state is and where it is headed in the areas of evaluation and compensation. By providing teachers with a “big picture” version of the state’s evaluation framework, the state can lay the groundwork for educated and committed teachers. The Department of Education must reach out and collaborate with key stakeholders to assist with getting the needed communications to teachers and leaders across the state. ODE should develop and implement a strategic communications plan to identify key messages, important milestones and identify who is responsible for sharing information.

We agree, but are left wondering why this wasn't done during the preparation of this document?

At the end of the day however the biggest question we are left with is this, what is the point and purpose of this document from the governor's office? The Department of Education has already released its framework for evaluations. The ESB has worked for 2 years on the details of an evaluation system and local school districts and education associations have been working together on developing systems to meet RttT requirements. This flimsy, unscientific, political document, developed by an unnamed steering committee has added nothing to any of these efforts.

Ohio Evaluation Comp Reform

HB 153 Teacher Retesting Provision Facts

House Bill 153 contains a provision for retesting teachers in the lowest ranked 10 percent of all public schools (Sec. 3319.58 below).

Sec. 3319.58
(A) As used in this section, "core subject area" has the same meaning as in section 3319.074 of the Revised Code.

(B) Each year, the board of education of each city, exempted village, and local school district, governing authority of each community school established under Chapter 3314. of the Revised Code, and governing body of each STEM school established under Chapter 3326. of the Revised Code with a building ranked in the lowest ten per cent of all public school buildings according to performance index score, under section 3302.21 of the Revised Code, shall require each classroom teacher teaching in a core subject area in such a building to register for and take all written examinations prescribed by the state board of education for licensure to teach that core subject area and the grade level to which the teacher is assigned under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code. However, if a teacher who takes a prescribed examination under this division passes that examination and provides proof of that passage to the teacher's employer, the teacher shall not be required to take the examination again for three years, regardless of the performance index score ranking of the building in which the teacher teaches. No teacher shall be responsible for the cost of taking an examination under this division.

(C) Each district board of education, each community school governing authority, and each STEM school governing body may use the results of a teacher's examinations required under division (B) of this section in developing and revising professional development plans and in deciding whether or not to continue employing the teacher in accordance with the provisions of this chapter or Chapter 3314. or 3326. of the Revised Code.

However, no decision to terminate or not to renew a teacher's employment contract shall be made solely on the basis of the results of a teacher's examination under this section until and unless the teacher has not attained a passing score on the same required examination for at least three consecutive administrations of that examination.

The Facts:

  • According to ODE, this law will not take effect until the 2012-2013 school year because the ranking system to determine the lowest 10% of districts is not required to be in place until September 2012.
  • Under 3319.074, the core subject areas are defined as follows:
    “Core subject area” means reading and English language arts, mathematics, science, foreign language, government, economics, fine arts, history, and geography.
  • The “current examinations prescribed by the state board of education for licensure to teach that core subject area” are:
    a) Praxis II content exam(s) AND Principles of Learning and Teaching for all content areas except world languages
    b) American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL/LTI) exams (2) for world languages AND Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching
    c) Information about these exams and links to the testing companies can be found at the ODE website here.
  • Every teacher would have to take a minimum of two exams
  • There are only seven Praxis II testing dates per year, and not all tests are administered on all dates. Certain tests are only offered three or four times per year. It may take multiple days for teachers to take all required tests.
  • Tests are administered primarily via paper and pencil at testing sites throughout the state. Some tests are moving to computer-based administration, but still must be taken at a designated testing center. Testing sites would likely not be able to handle the thousands of teachers who would be required to take tests beginning in 2012.
  • Fees for taking the Praxis exams are as follows:
    a) $50 registration fee charged once per testing year
    b) Praxis II computer-based tests range from $50-150 per test
    c) Praxis II paper-delivered tests range from $65-90 with most being $80
    d) The average cost for a teacher taking ONE content test and the Principles of Learning and Teaching is $230. Teachers with multiple certificates/licenses teaching in more than one core area will cost more.
    e) World language teachers will have to take the Praxis II PLT ($50 registration + $90 test = $140) in addition to the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview ($134) and Writing Proficiency Test ($65) for a total of $339
  • By using this year’s performance index scores and identifying the lowest 10% of buildings and then identifying teachers in those buildings who taught in the core areas last year, some sources estimate that over 6,000 teachers would need to be retested.
  • By law, teachers are not responsible for the cost of taking these exams, so districts in the lowest 10% will be put under the additional financial burden or retesting their teachers.

This new law is bad because...

  • Requiring teachers in core subjects in the lowest 10% of buildings to be retested places a huge financial burden on districts already struggling with budget cuts in these tough economic times.
  • Retesting teachers wastes planning and preparation time and takes the focus off of the classroom and students when we need to focus on the essentials-- a high quality education for all Ohio students.
  • Testing teachers does not help them improve their performance. Ongoing formative feedback that addresses the complexities of the teaching profession and individualized support allows teachers to improve their performance.
  • The tests required for licensure are not designed to diagnose problems teaching performance and do not reflect the complexity of interacting with diverse students. They are only valid to measure knowledge of specific subjects that new K–12 educators will teach, as well as general and subject-specific teaching skills and knowledge.
  • Requiring that all teachers in core areas be tested in identified buildings is unfair. Master Teachers, National Board Certified teachers and other teachers who have demonstrated practice at an advanced or accomplished level would be forced to take the tests by law. And, teachers who were never required to take these exams for certification or licensure will now be forced to take them by law.
  • Testing centers will not be able to handle the huge increase in the number of test-takers this law requires.
  • This retesting provision drains money away from districts and gives it to large testing corporations.