The state of Ohio has been hit hard this winter, resulting in schools having to cancel a higher-than-usual number of days of instruction.  Many districts (about a third according to the Toledo Blade) have already used up the state-allowed number of snow (or calamity) days and have reached the point where they will be required to make up those days at the end of the year.

To that end, Governor Kasich announced yesterday that he was going to instruct the General Assembly to enact a one-time exemption for this school year that would provide schools an extra four calamity days.

Big whoop.  Those extra days at the end of the year are, quite frankly, irrelevant anyway.

Said Kasich in his media event, “Giving schools a few extra snow days this year will be helpful and let everyone stay focused on the top priority when weather hits: keeping kids safe.”

Really, John Kasich?  He’s doing this so that schools can focus on keeping kids safe?  What the heck did he think schools were doing?  It is flat-out insulting that Kasich added this little byline to his statement and it completely reveals how his mind works and what he thinks about public education in our state.  It is appalling that Kasich expressly believes that schools aren’t already focusing on the safety of students when deciding whether to close schools.

Beyond that insult, Kasich’s impulsive request further solidifies how clueless he is about the impact of snow days on schools. Snow days represent a loss of instruction to students leading up to the almighty standardized tests — the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) and the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA).  Student performance on these tests are the key measure of school performance on state reports cards and hold dire consequences for high school students who need to pass the tests to graduate.  And this year for the first time, third graders must also attain a high enough score on the reading test in order to avoid be retained in third grade next year.

If the Governor was truly interested in helping schools and students avoid the harmful effects of snow days this year, he would instead be shouting from the mountaintops for a way to restore these lost days of instruction before the tests!

Days tacked on at the end of the year?  Meaningless.  Get rid of them or not, it won’t make a difference to the students.

What would make a difference is to find a way to give schools back those lost days of instruction from December and January.  This could be just as easily accomplished by the General Assembly by moving back the testing windows for the OGT and the OAA.  Instead of sticking by the current March and April testing windows as mandated by the state, push those tests back by two weeks to allow students more time with their teachers — time to make up for the lost instructional time.

Through such a change, districts, schools, and, most importantly, students would be given a fairer shot to demonstrate their proficiency on these standardized assessments that are used to judge their knowledge and skills.

Since Kasich and the current GOP-dominated General Assembly made these tests the most crucial component in judging students, teachers, schools, and districts, shouldn’t those being judged be allowed to make up the instructional time lost in order to perform at their best?

Instead of pandering to teachers and the public by expanding the number of snow days, Kasich should be pushing for a change to delay this year’s standardized tests.  

Of course, that would require him to actually understand or care about how schools work.

Evangelize!
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  • kelly wheeler

    Great commentary! I teach at a rural district and we have lost 12 days including today of instruction. I am a high school science teacher with the majority of my kids being sophomores. The OGT is fast approaching and these lost days are taking a huge chunk of preparation time that I need to get my kids ready for the OGT. I am feeling stressed! How wonderful it would be to delay the high-stakes tests for several weeks in order to get the most out of our students but that would take someone at the top with a brain to understand education. Like you mentioned, Kasich doesn’t get it. Extra days at the end of the year are a total waste. We need that extra days before the test! DELAY THE TESTS!!!

  • Mandy

    My husband, a high school History teacher, was just telling me this morning how worried he was about all of these missed days because the OGT is fast approaching. He does not think he will have enough time to squeeze in everything he needs to in order to make sure his students are ready for the test.

  • http://ohio15th.blogspot.com StubbornLiberal

    If testing days are not pushed back, then students are being set up for failure. You can just guess which people Kasich will blame– Teachers.

  • Kathy Fleischmann Stemmer

    True, I will be judged (50% of my evaluation) on meeting my SLO (student learning objective) which will be given in 4 weeks. A test that will determine if I have achieved a years growth, 3 months before the years end. Wait there is more this test will occur before the Regular Ed teachers will have instructed on the geometry and measurement sections covered in the test! I teach Special Education in a highly inclusive district.

  • Brenda

    I teach reading and math at the elementary level. I too would rather have the testing delayed than add more snow days. I think this is especially important to my third grade students who have the Third Grade Reading Guarantee hanging over their young heads. This is yet another example of how out-of-touch Kasich is with what is really important in education. Or, it’s just another way to ensure that public schools fail so that he can push more of our tax dollars into the pockets of his friends and donors who want to privatize education and make a profit from it.

  • gregmild

    Here’s an easy letter you can email to Ohio’s senators and representatives:

    The introduction of a bill to increase the number of snow
    days doesn’t fix the problem.

    Snow days represent a loss of instruction to students leading up to the standardized tests – the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) and the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA). Student performance on these tests are the key measure of school performance on state reports cards and hold dire consequences for high school students who need to pass the tests to graduate. And this year for the first time, third graders must also attain a high enough score on the reading test in order to avoid be retained in third grade next year.

    If we are truly interested in helping schools and students avoid the harmful effects of snow days this year, we would instead be lobbying for a way to restore these lost days of instruction.

    What would make a difference is to find a way to give schools back those lost days of instruction from December and January. This could be just as easily accomplished by the General Assembly by immediately moving back the testing windows for the OGT and the OAA. Instead of sticking by the current March and April testing windows as mandated by the state, push those tests back by two weeks to allow students more time with their teachers – time to make up for the lost instructional time.

    For senators, go to http://www.ohiosenate.gov/members/senate-directory

    For representatives, go to: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/members/member-by-county

  • Nancy

    This just goes to show how stupid Kasich thinks educators are. He’s up for election soon, and the tea party is looking for a different Republican candidate. He’s going to be nice for a short while to see if he can get the same teachers who voted for him the last time to vote for him again. I did not vote for him the last time, and I will not vote for him this time. My cry will be “Anybody but Kasich!” Soon the election bullying will start. I cringe when I think what our supposed leaders subject us and out children to every election. By mid-October none of us will want to watch TV. Thanks Kasich and cronies.

  • Nathanial Poling

    How about we move to all year round schooling like the rest of the world’s schools?

  • becca

    I LOVED year round school. If I had to make big changes in my instruction, I could do that because I had time. Kids needed the 2 week break and teachers also needed the 2 week break. Discipline was better, teachers were more rested. Win-win all the way around.

  • wetsu

    Election year stunt to gain favor with teachers clueless enough to forget what he has done to education and what he thinks of the profession.

  • Katietoo

    Better yet, how about we cancel the tests this year?! Oh how I would LOVE to be able to truly TEACH rather than cramming in factoids so that they can pass a stoopid test. High stakes tests have done nothing to improve teaching and learning in the past decade of their use. NCLB and RttT are harming kids. A gal can dream can’t she?

  • Baumby Baumberger

    He can’t do that because that won’t allow them enough time to send the tests to the over paid companies in South Carolina to have the GED certificate holders grade them.

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