On Thursday, Governor Kasich introduced the education version of his “budget reform” bill via Senator Peggy Lehner. As had been anticipated, Kasich is rolling out his mid-biennium budget revisions in multiple bills in the hopes that by dividing the legislation across different committees he has a chance of getting them passed by the General Assembly before Memorial Day when it is expected that the House of Representatives will adjourn in order to campaign for the November election.
The full text is 521 pages long, though as with the other sweeping legislation a great deal of the pages are taken up with the formality of reprinting entire sections of unchanged language that accompanies the proposed changes. I encourage you to spend some time scanning the bill to see the full scope of the changes as I won’t discuss everything here. For example, there are a large number of changes being enacted that appear to drastically increase state oversight of home day care and early childhood in general (I can’t overstate it when I say there are a lot of changes). Note: this does not include The Cleveland Plan that is expected to have a separate bill if it can ever find a sponsor.
For those not accustomed to looking at legislation, here are some quick tips:
- Plain text represents unchanged language
- Words that are
struck outrepresent current language that is being proposed to be removed
- Underlined words and sections represent proposed additions to the law
Below, I’ll identify the section number that should allow you to find it easily when looking in SB316. I’ll provide a brief summary of the section and it’s impact on education. Again, this is not a comprehensive list or full analysis, but I wanted to highlight these items as soon as possible since the turnaround of this legislation in the committees is expected to be short and you should contact your Senator quickly to voice any concerns you may have.
Sec. 3302.022 — Adopts performance indicators for dropout prevention and recovery programs operated by school districts or community schools for the purposes of creating state report cards for each program. Five indicators include the number of state indicators met, performance index score, student academic growth on ODE-approved tests, and the graduation rates of five-year and six-year cohort groups.
Sec. 3302.03 — The proposed changes in this section overhaul the process of assigning ratings to Ohio schools and districts, eliminating the descriptive titles and replacing them with letter grades of A-F. This mirrors the changes proposed by the Ohio Department of Education that we wrote about recently. This would legislate the exact same changes put forth by Ohio as a part of the No Child Left Behind waiver request, negating the need for the U.S. Department of Education to approve this particular component (which has been deemed an unnecessary part of the waiver request).
Sec. 3302.04 — Specifically translates some of the current school ratings (i.e., Academic Watch, Academic Emergency) to corresponding letter grades for legislation purposes. The addition of this language flaws the ODE proposed switch to letter grades as evidenced by the ODE comparison chart of grades recently released. This section directly translates current ratings to letter grades, a process that has been stressed as being inaccurate by ODE in their quest to change the measures used to rate schools.
Sec. 3302.21 — Removes Career-Technical education from the six-item ranking system for schools adopted in HB153 (Ohio Budget Bill). This ranking system is still fraught with problems and the additional changes in the next section do little to help.
Sec. 3302.25 — Related to the need to be able to rank schools on their expenditures as required by the previous section, it redefines instructional expenditures as “classroom” and administrative expenditures as “nonclassroom.” Kasich has claimed that data shows that Ohio spends too much on nonclassroom expenditures, so he now needs to try to collect some data to see if he was right.
Sec. 3313.608 — SIGNIFICANT modifications to the “Reading Guarantee” that could have major implications on many different levels. The proposed changes put certain things into absolute terms, leaving no choice but retention of a child in third grade. Or, in one case, no choice but to promote a child to fourth grade. First, the basis of this item is that a student demonstrates proficiency on the state’s third grade standardized test. Some of the key additions are:
- a student who has been on a reading improvement and monitoring plan under division (C) of this section for two or more years shall not be promoted
- No limited English proficient student who has had less than two years of instruction in an English as a second language program shall be retained under division (A)(1) of this section.
- If the individualized education program (IEP) of a student receiving special education and related services…requires the student to take the assessments prescribed by section 3301.0710 of the Revised Code [Ohio Achievement Assessments], the district shall base the decision of whether to retain the student on the student’s ability to meet the academic goals specified in the individualized education program.
- [For each student who does not demonstrate proficiency] the district shall provide intense remediation services until the student is able to read at grade level.
Sec. 3314.016 — This section revises some of the sponsorship rules of community schools while adding information about how sponsors will be ranked. The rankings and sponsorship qualifications compare community schools and sponsors to one another, NOT to public school districts. Here are the three most interesting additions:
- Develop a composite performance index score that measures the academic performance of students enrolled in new start-up community schools sponsored by the same entity and annually rank all entities that sponsor new start-up schools from highest to lowest according to the entities’ scores.
- No entity that sponsors a conversion community school shall be permitted to enter into contracts…to sponsor additional conversion schools if the entity is ranked in the lowest twenty per cent of community school sponsors on the ranking prescribed
- No entity that sponsors a new start-up community school shall be permitted to enter into contracts…to sponsor additional new start-up schools if the entity is ranked in the lowest twenty per cent of community school sponsors on the ranking prescribed
Basically, charter school sponsors will be ranked using a newly created performance index score that is a composite of all sponsored schools. Then that list of ranked sponsors will be used to identify those sponsors that are eligible to open up a new school by virtue of avoiding the bottom 20%. A strangely low benchmark considering that the new grading system for schools requires at least a 70% to be ranked at a C or above and under the new system, 74 percent of charter schools would grade out at a D or F.
Sec. 3319.111 — Changes to the teacher evaluation system just implemented by House Bill 153 and not yet in practice statewide, but already necessitating revisions? Two key changes are elimination of the option to have a peer review model for conducting evaluations (teachers are prohibited from evaluating teaching) and the addition of the option for a local school board to contract with an outside entity of qualified individuals to conduct evaluations. Basically, the district’s currently employed practitioners can not have their expertise tapped to use in the evaluation and improvement of their peers. But if a district needs additional assistance they can hire consultants from outside of the school district. We can only hope those extra evaluators are reasonably priced and aren’t simply retired administrators or teachers looking to double-dip, right?
This also provides some additional definition surrounding those employed by a district who are subject to this specific evaluation process:
- this section applies to any person who is employed under a teacher license issued under this chapter, or under a professional or permanent teacher’s certificate …and who spends at least fifty per cent of the time employed providing student instruction.
Looks like nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other similar positions will avoid being scored by student test scores that are generally disconnected with their day-to-day efforts.
Oh yeah, one other small piece on this section: “Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code, the requirements of this section prevail over any conflicting provisions of a collective bargaining agreement entered into on or after September 29, 2011.” Teacher evaluations will not be collectively bargained in any way, shape, or form.
Sec. 3319.58 — Changes to teacher retesting do not eliminate the requirement, but will delay implementation for at lease another three years as it is now dependent on results of the new teacher evaluation system. Under this model it is applied to individual teacher performance instead of school/district performance. Meanwhile, teachers in charter schools are still linked to the school being in the bottom 10% of rankings. Instead of taking the tests required for licensure, the state department is tasked with identifying an appropriate content test for educators to pass. Still no empirical evidence to support this law as a method to improve instruction. Key sentences that explain the changes:
- the board of education of each city, exempted village, and local school district shall require each classroom teacher who is currently teaching in a core subject area and has received a rating of ineffective on the evaluations…for two of the three most recent school years to register for and take all written examinations of content knowledge selected by the department as appropriate to determine expertise to teach that core subject area and the grade level to which the teacher is assigned.
- the governing authority of each community school…and governing body of each STEM school…with a building ranked in the lowest ten per cent of all public school buildings according to performance index score…shall require each classroom teacher currently teaching in a core subject area in such a building to register for and take all written examinations of content knowledge selected by the department of education as appropriate to determine expertise to teach that core subject area and the grade level to which the teacher is assigned
Sec. 3333.0411 — A teacher’s evaluation results (from 3319.111 above) will be reported to the Board of Regents and the teacher’s preparation program (i.e., university) will ultimately be graded based on the quality of its graduates.
Sec. 267.30.56 — You may remember that HB153 included a small reward for the top-performing school districts of $17 per student. For 2012, when the criteria is a ranking of Excellent or Excellent w/Distinction, the total earned by schools is estimated to be around $15 million dollars. In a shrewd move by both the Kasich administration and ODE, and as a result of their gaming the system and dropping schools down a notch with the switch to letter grades, the funding to schools through this provision will fall by over $14 million. In 2013, the requirement changes to pay out only to districts receiving an ‘A’ grade, a designation the ODE constructed to be excessively high. As a result, the projected numbers would result in payouts of slightly over $900,000. I’ll save you some math — it’s a manufactured reduction of 94% in bonuses earned by the highest-performing districts across the state.
We’ll be following the progress of this bill as it proceeds through the Ohio Senate over the next few weeks and you should too. We expect this bill to receive much less attention than The Cleveland Plan and believe we should be concerned about what the General Assembly will try to slide in while we’re distracted. Last year, Kasich admittedly used Senate Bill 5 as a smokescreen to implement major educational deformed measures into his budget bill. His pleas to push forward The Cleveland Plan could signal how integral it is that he divert our attention once again.