In an earlier blog, I highlighted a number of important proposals in Ohio's plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) spent over a year gathering input from stakeholders across the state via webinars and face-to-face regional meetings with educators, parents and interested citizens. After compiling the results and reporting the subsequent plan that Ohio prepared to submit to the federal government, the backlash took place. Many who participated in the feedback sessions complained that they were not heard or that their thoughts were not incorporated into the final plan. Consequently, State Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Paolo DeMaria decided to withhold Ohio's submission until the end of September to "...allow more time to review statewide testing and other issues before finishing the plan."
In mid-March, the ODE released to the public the draft state plan. However, the ensuing storm of criticism caused the ODE to re-think their approach and to pull their plans to offer the document to the USDOE for consideration. At the same time, the superintendent announced the creation of a "five-year vision for education in the state" signaling a much higher standard and goal for the state's education future than simply focusing all efforts on compliance with ESSA.
The loudest complaints about the draft plan surrounded testing and accountability. Here is a synopsis of some of the most contentious issues that will be discussed further this summer.
Other issues will surely arise as the ODE moves through the summer and finalizes Ohio's ESSA proposal for submission at the end of September. However, we should pay close attention to an initiative that can potentially have a much more profound impact on education in Ohio. That initiative is the superintendent's vision of a 5 year strategic plan for education in Ohio. This ambitious move, if done correctly, can have a much greater impact on the education of children in Ohio than any accountability system. I believe the current superintendent has the ability to create a vision for education in Ohio that will hold high expectations for all and return the focus to the education of the whole child rather than test scores. The superintendent deserves our support and participation in this all important process.