HB555 and What It Means for Ohio’s Schools

It wasn’t that long ago when I followed the report card legislation from first mention, through the Yes, it’s happening/No, it’s not” debates, to the 11th hour NCLB waiver application, and finally to the May 30, 2012, NCLB waiver approval.

In May we were left knowing that the NCLB waiver application submitted by the state of Ohio included provisions for revising the current report card system for Ohio’s schools.  In March, I posted the information available at that time about the potential new system:

Ohio’s No Child Left Behind Waiver Proposal

  • Ohio was one of the states to request a waiver from the regulations of NCLB.  Unfortunately, I cannot find last night’s slides about this on ODE’s website, but I did find it with OEA.
  • Ohio proposed 5 elements: 1) Replacing that undoable AYP expectation that Ohio will reach 100% proficiency by 2014, 2)  Reform SES, specifically Title I funding, 3) Targeted assistance for low-performing schools, 4) Cutting red tape, and 5) Institute a new letter report grading system.  Let’s go through these one at a time.
  • 1.  Replacing AYP:  Proposed the new goals of implementing CCSS (done), and cut achievement gap by half over six years.
  • 2.  Reform SES funding in Title I:  Aim to give schools more control over selecting intervention services.  Instead of allowing parents to dictate providers of services, services must have a proven track record, and schools would have final say.
  • 3.  Target Assistance:  New designations of “Priority” (lowest 5% of schools), and “focus” (at least 10% of schools with larget subgroup achievement gap and graduation gap and not making progress)
  • 4.  Cutting Red Tape:  Attempt to combine some of the reports required by districts (TIFF, SIG, CCIP), but Sawyer said the federal government did not sound on board with this proposal.
  • 5.  Completely Overhaul the current district/school rating system in Ohio……which is going to require it’s own section header:

NCLB Waiver Proposal (Continued): #5–Overhaul Ohio’s Ranking System (Pending legislation)

  • For the most updated information about the new report cards, be sure to read my other post in which I follow the legislation.
  • Current rating system is excellent with distinction, excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch, academic emergency.
  • SB316 would modify state level report cards to reflect grade level ratings, and if it passes, the new report cards would begin this fall based on data from this school year.
  • Schools/Districts would receive a letter grade in four areas:  Student performance (aka “Performance Index”), Student progress (aka “Value-Added”), School/District Performance (Percent of indicators met), and Gap Closing.
  • 1.  Student Performance

  • What you’re seeing:  The Student Performance rating is Ohio’s old “Performance Index,” which was based on a percentage score out of 120 indicators.  Under the new rating, a district gets an A if they meet 90% of the indicators, B if they meet 80%, C = 70%, D = 60%, and F = 59% and below.  Also note the bottom line in the boxed area that will denote your building/district’s rank out of Ohio’s public schools.
  • 2.  Student Performance:

  • What you’re seeing:  This rating is based on the school’s/district’s previous 2 years of data.  If a school exceeds expectations for 2 years, it receives an A; if it exceeds 1 year and meets 1 year, it gets a B; if it meets both years, it gets a C; if it meets 1 year and fails another, it gets a D; and if it fails both years, it gets and F.
  • 3.  District Performance:

  • What you’re seeing:  This grade is based on the % Ohio meets out of 26 indicators (previous “Percent of Indicators Met” on Ohio’s current reports).  90% = A, 80% = B, 70% = C, 60% = D, and 59% and below = F
  • 4.  District Performance Gap

  • What you’re seeing:  The district performance gap will replace AYP.  It is based on 6 years of data.  Schools/Districts receive a grade (A, B, C, D, or F) based on how well  (%) they met specific % growth in the areas of Reading/LA, Math, and graduation rates.  If the school does not have a graduation rate (ex. a middle school), the performance gap will only include the LA and Math scores.  The overall performance gap letter grade will be an average of the letters in each of the 3 (or 2, as applicable) areas.  An A = 4 points, B = 3, C= 2, D = 1, and F= 0.  Add and divide by three to get the letter for this area.
  • To get the school’s/district’s OVERALL LETTER GRADE, add up the letter point values from each of the four areas (A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, and F = 0) and divide by 4.
  • Under these new guidelines, out of the 291 current “excellent” districts and 91 current “excellent with distinction” districts, only 22 will receive an A using simulated data from 2011:

  • Sorry for the bad iPhone pic (and my writing), but I thought it was important enough to post, and I can’t find it online.  For another perspective on the new grading system, see think tank Shanker Institute’s analysis.
  • For more on the new school rating system and better graphic representations, see here.
  • For info on how these new ratings might affect charter schools, see this State Impact Ohio post from 4/5

When I read yesterday’s Dispatch article about the proposed HB555, it seems to me like most of the currently proposed provisions resemble those of last March.  Specifically, we are looking at an A-F system that would replace current designations, raise benchmarks, show a drop of 35% or more in marks, and it would factor in standardized test scores, evaluations of grade-level reading abilities in elementary school, college and career preparedness in high school (remember that new 10th grade College and Career Readiness assessment Michael Sawyers mentioned at the OH Statewide Education Conference a couple weeks ago?), and the percentage of kids in AP and dual-enrollment classes.

My Thoughts on How NOT To Stress Out About An Already Too-Stressful Educational Climate in Ohio

I guess I’m talking more to myself here than anything because I, too, am stressed about how much is coming at teachers in Ohio.  There is very little in public education that is untouched by the hands of reform right now.  And yes, if we jump on every bandwagon that comes at us, we’ll be reforming ourselves (and our teachers) into total resistance.  Right now, we cannot do anything to affect the outcome of the new report card system.  When it comes down to it, those in charge will make the numbers on those report cards reflect what they want them to reflect, which may not be a reflection AT ALL of what we are working so hard to do inside our schools as we transition to new standards and work on shifting our paradigms.  I would put these report cards on the back burner:  we cannot prepare for them, we cannot affect them, we cannot change them.

What we can do, instead, and what is a much better use of our time is communicating clear and consistent messages to our communities.  I advise focusing on three messages:

  1. Changes are coming to our schools.  Some good, some not as good.  But our schools and teachers are rising to the challenge.  Even if the data is a bit shaky at first, we will quickly meet new expectations.
  2. Our teachers are continuing to provide excellent educational opportunities to students even as they undergo intense professional growth themselves and make adjustments to their classrooms.  Shaky data does not represent bad teaching or bad teachers; it’s a result of adjusting to a new system.  (Maybe put this in relevant terms, “Imagine if your workplace switched from biweekly paychecks to monthly paychecks and you got paid once a month on the last day of the month.  You can prepare as much as you want in advance, but making that shift is going to be a challenge until you get adjusted and used to it.”)
  3. Education is changing.  What you experienced in school is not the same as what your kids need to experience.  We’re working to prepare them for a different kind of future–one that didn’t exist before the technology craze of the 21st Century.

To me, these clear and consistent messages are what we need to be sharing with our communities because they somehow encompass everything that is happening.  These messages provide proactive preparedness so when the data and misinterpretations of that data in 2014-2015 (with new assessments, teacher evaluations, new reporting systems, etc.) try to present one message about public education in Ohio, our communities are informed enough to be critical of that information.  We can prepare for the unprepareables (like the report cards) by getting people informed.

Edit:  If you’re a superintendent, you should be on Twitter.  Twitter can be a POWERFUL tool for communicating positive messages about your district.  Need an model?  Try following @DrJoeClark, superintendent of Nordonia Schools.  I have never been to Nordonia, couldn’t even point it out on a map of Ohio (though I’ve seen their buses in our district for sports, so I assume they’re close!), but from just his consistently positive messages about what going on around his district, in classrooms, at board meetings, I feel good about Nordonia Schools.  Start making your communities feel good about your districts 🙂

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One thought on “HB555 and What It Means for Ohio’s Schools

  1. Pingback: When the System Strikes, Refute. « Turn On Your Brain

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