When House Bill 362 was amended to include changes to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System and quickly passed through both the Ohio Senate and House this week, legislators trumpeted their efforts as evidence that “Columbus listened to local concerns” and districts will have flexibility to modify their implementation of the system in the 2014-2015 school year.

Not so fast…

First, let’s look at the key changes to Ohio Revised Code that were adopted in HB362:

Student Growth Measures are still legislated to be 50% of a teacher’s evaluation unless a school district elects to use the “alternative framework” as described in ORC Section 3319.114 (a completely new section of ORC language).  Here is the exact wording of that section [emphasis added]:

ORC Sec. 3319.114

(A) Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, a district or school may choose to use the alternative framework prescribed by divisions (B) and (C) of this section when evaluating teachers under section 3319.111 of the Revised Code.
(B) If a district or school chooses to use the alternative framework for the 2014-2015 school year, that district or school shall calculate ratings assigned for teacher evaluations according to the following:
(1) The teacher performance measure, as defined by the department of education, shall account for forty-two and one-half per cent of each rating.
(2) The student academic growth measure, as defined by the department, shall account for forty-two and one-half per cent of each rating.
(3) Only one of the following components shall account for fifteen per cent of each rating:
(a) Student surveys;
(b) Teacher self-evaluations;
(c) Peer review evaluations;
(d) Student portfolios.

(C) If a district or school chooses to use the alternative framework for the 2015-2016 school year or any school year thereafter, that district or school shall calculate ratings assigned for teacher evaluations according to the following:
(1) The teacher performance measure, as defined by the department, shall account for forty-two and one-half to fifty per cent of each rating.
(2) The student academic growth measure, as defined by the department, shall account for forty-two and one-half to fifty per cent of each rating.
(3) The remainder shall be one of the following components:
(a) Student surveys;
(b) Teacher self-evaluations;
(c) Peer review evaluations;
(d) Student portfolios.
(4) The teacher performance measure and the student academic growth measure shall account for an equal percentage of each rating.
(D) The department shall compile a list of approved instruments for districts and schools to use, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, when evaluating the components described under divisions (B)(3) and (C)(3) of this section. Each district or school shall choose one of the approved instruments to evaluate the applicable component selected by the district or school under that section.

Items (A), (B), & (D) specifically address the options schools have for implementing “changes” to OTES in the upcoming school year.  Districts don’t actually have a great deal more flexibility to adjust the percentages of weighting of the components as Senate Bill 229 proposed, but are truly left with making only one or two specific decisions from a very limited menu of options.

The first decision a school district has is whether to use the existing law (50% of an evaluation based on student growth and 50% based on performance) or whether to adopt the “alternative framework”.

If the district chooses option #2, this makes the student growth and performance components 42.5% each, and then they are left with a second decision – which one additional component to choose across the district, for each teacher being evaluated, for the remaining 15%.

The district can opt to assign 15% of every teacher’s evaluation (every teacher, PreK-12, every subject area) to only one of the following components:

  • Student surveys
  • Teacher self-evaluations
  • Peer review evaluations
  • Student portfolios

But there’s a catch.  Look back at section (D) above:

The department [of education] shall compile a list of approved instruments for districts and schools to use, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, when evaluating the components described under divisions (B)(3) and (C)(3) of this section. Each district or school shall choose one of the approved instruments to evaluate the applicable component selected by the district or school under that section.”

School districts don’t have the autonomy to identify their own tools to use for these different components.  If a district chooses one of these alternative components, they can only select from a list that the Ohio Department of Education has to compile.

And that leads us to the final fatal flaw that is a consequence of the General Assembly’s delay in passing these changes to OTES and that we predict will result in no schools or districts electing to adopt an alternative framework for the 2014-15 school year, effectively rendering this law moot for another year:

  • House Bill 362 passed on June 3, 2014.
  • Governor Kasich must sign the bill.
  • The Governor’s office then files it with the Secretary of State.
  • The effective date of the law is the 90th day after it’s filed with the Secretary of State.

Looking at our calendar, today is June 5.  Let’s be generous and assume that HB362 is signed and filed with the Secretary of State today – then the law would officially go into effect 90 days from now on September 3rd. Every day that this bill is unsigned and not filed simply pushes the effective date further into the 2014-15 school year.

That is a full 1-2 weeks after most schools districts have already reconvened for the 2014-15 school year.  And what of those lists of options from the Ohio Department of Education?  Our past experiences tell us that the department won’t begin working on compiling those “approved instruments” until after the law actually takes effect, and won’t publish those final lists until well into the school year (see the dates on documents concerning Student Growth Measures).

What school district is going to blindly change their evaluation system to place 15% of the total score on a measure that, optimistically, won’t even be in the works until after the school year begins?  When the actual menu of choices for this additional evaluation component won’t actually be known until after teachers report back to their classrooms, and when the final choices will have been rushed to get published in the first place, what school board or teachers union in their right mind would even consider this as a realistic option?

This is the very reason that we called for quick passage of the SB229 changes to the evaluation system back in February:

Again, this bill received unanimous support in the Republican-dominated Senate and should be quickly adopted by the House so that the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio’s schools can begin to plan the necessary changes for next school year now instead of again scrambling to implement last-minute legislation as has become the norm under the Kasich administration.”

The inaction of Ohio’s General Assembly on this bill and the fact that it is simply not feasible to implement these substantive changes in the 2014-15 school year — even though the bill clearly states that they are effective for 2014-15 — demonstrate yet again that the GOP-dominated legislature has no clue about how schools operate in the real world.

Seriously — how do they not think about these things?

Thank you, Senator Lehner and Representative Stebelton for once again living in your own little bubble and ignoring the real world of education in Ohio.

#ReformFAIL

Evangelize!
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  • Think.

    The GOP-dominated legislature has no clue about how public schools operate in the real world, and they don’t care to know. In fact, GOP/ALEC “lawmakers” currently don’t need to think about ANY issue when they legislate, because ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, does all of the thinking, lawmaking, strategizing, and lobbying for them. Remember in November.

  • Mike Harris

    Let me start by saying that the republicans in office have literally attempted to destroy education in this state, have on some level succeeded, and in my opinion should all be removed from office based on past history. That being said, I say in this one case let’s either give the less extreme members some credit. I say that because the people that truly need to be removed in order to save education are mostly Stebelton (as well as Kasich). It’s true that we cannot forget that they all passed this terrible law in the first place, but at least some of them a year later fought with Stebelton and made this terrible law not quite as terrible as it once was. So it does seem that in this one case (probably the only time in the last four years), some of them listened to teachers a little. You did leave out that they did get into the law that teachers rated accomplished now only have to be evaluated once every three years and those rated skilled now only once every two years. That is a big improvement as well. I think instead of attacking all of them, in this one case you should focus most of your energy on Stebelton. The future of education in this state requires that this asshole specifically (and the others that followed him) need to be removed from the education committee as well as office at a level that no others can be compared. And then Kasich needs to continue to be blasted for his continuing attempts to take public education dollars and give them to his charter school friends. You get rid of those two guys and public education in this state has a significant chance of being saved.

  • BK

    Greg, you’ve been an invaluable resource and advocate for the past few years and I agree with you that there are problems with the entire system. I’m with Mike on this one, though. While this isn’t the bill I would’ve written and there are certainly problems with it, it’s MUCH better than the original mess we were given. The big story here is reducing the mandate that every teacher go through OTES every year. That’s a huge improvement.

  • Red Rover

    That’s the #1 play in the Democratic Party’s book. Let the Republican Party put something out there that’s completely awful, make a few things less bad (not even good, just less bad), and declare victory.

  • gregmild

    Sorry, I just saw your comment on today’s post and realized I missed this one. I DID finally mention the every other year change, but there’s still a sticky point in the law that could make or break implementation. The law talks about “average or above” student growth determining whether a “skilled” teacher gets evaluated every other year or every year. Under the current system, ratings aren’t calculated or reported as being “average”, but the middle three rating scores (2, 3, 4) are converted to the label of “Expected Student Growth”. If the legislature truly means “average”, meaning a rating of “3 or above”, then ODE will have to recalculate every single teachers Student Growth in eTPES since the formulas aren’t set up to identify teachers who scored “3 or above”. ODE is working to clarify what the legislators actually meant when they put in that language. I suspect they truly meant a 3 or above and everything will have to be recalculated (since you can only get a rating of “skilled” if you had Expected Student Growth and leaving that little provision in the law would seemingly be redundant otherwise). I can’t wait to see how this pans out… (and write about it, of course).

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