Ohio Delays ESSA Submission to Federal Government

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."

Preparing Kids for State Tests: Less Time Than We Think!

All fifty states in the country are required to administer state assessments at the end of the school year to comply with the accountability measures laid out by the federal government. For example, all states MUST test students in English Language Arts (ELA) and math every year in grades 3-8 and also in social studies and science two times within that grade band. In addition, all states must require state tests in math and English at least one time in high school. Logically, schools want as many instructional days as possible to prepare their students for these high stakes tests that have serious implications for students, parents, buildings and districts across the United States. Given the traditional school calendar, school should be able to count on 180 days of instruction to prepare kids, right? Well, for numerous reasons, schools rarely, if ever, have even one student in attendance ready for instruction for 180 school days. In fact, when we look at all of the factors involved, the typical student is likely in their seat and available for instruction anywhere from 140 to 150 days every school year. Let's take a look at why.

Ohio's State Plan for ESSA

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December of 2016, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has been busy preparing Ohio's draft plan which must be submitted to and approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The draft plan must adhere to all state requirements outlined in ESSA and will serve as a blueprint for Ohio to address standards, assessments, accountability and special help for struggling schools. The ODE has sought stakeholder input over the past year through a host of meetings held throughout the state, a series of webinars covering each of the major topics and the opportunity for individuals to weigh in via electronic resources. Below is an outline of some of the major provisions in Ohio's ESSA draft plan.

Get Students Writing in 7 Easy Steps

As a high school principal for over twelve years, I continually promoted the virtues of writing. Additionally, I constantly encouraged teachers to engage their students purposefully in writing during class on a daily basis. Only, I didn’t have to grade all those writing assignments! I can vividly picture the English teachers I worked with leaving the building with bundles of essays they were taking home to spend their entire weekend grading. With six classes, it was not unlikely that these teachers had upwards of 150 essays to wade through. I almost felt guilty. Moreover, how was I to get the art teacher and the social studies teacher let alone members of the math department to get their kids to write in class? I made it my mission to explain at every opportunity why writing is so important for the development of our students. In the link below, Marquette University’s Writing Center gives specific reasons why learning to write really matters.

3 Essential Components of Educational Data Tools

Educators today are continuously bombarded with data about their schools, classrooms, and individual students. State assessment data is reported for up to 32 tests. Vendor assessments such as M.A.P., DIBELS, TerraNova, AIMSWEB and the suite of tests from ACT are just a few of the examples of data that educators must wade through to make informed decisions about their instruction with the ultimate goal of improving academic achievement. Add in classroom and district created common assessments and it is no wonder that teachers, principals, and administrators are searching for data tools with three essential components: 1) can provide quick and easy access to the data, 2) is simple to use, and 3) can be employed as a point of collaborative work..

The Moving Target May Be Moving Again

The Ohio State Board of Education has been discussing changing new state graduation requirements…that have not gone into effect yet! After a 30 plus year career in education as a teacher, principal and superintendent it seems the educational targets from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) are constantly moving. While it must be said that I respect policy makers for potentially correcting a wrong rather than stubbornly sticking to a mistake, it is not a good look. Protests from superintendents and local school boards from around the state signal a potential “dropout crisis” for the Class of 2018 unless the issue is addressed. Ohio as a state has a graduation rate that has been steadily rising the past several years and is in lock step with the national average at about 82%. Many educators fear that number could drop significantly unless adjustments are made. Moreover, some suburban districts who typically enjoy graduation rates between 96-98% are predicting a drop to 70-75% of their current juniors in some cases.

Academic Triage Before an Academic Autopsy

The standards era in education which was ushered in with the full force of a tropical hurricane under No Child left Behind (NCLB) has leveraged "accountability" into compliance with the common core, state testing, school "improvement" requirements and the inevitable comparisons of schools and districts across the state. Superintendents have been quite vocal in their dissatisfaction and mistrust of the reliability and validity of state local report cards (LRC).

2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools Announced

Congratulations to the 329 schools nationwide that have been recognized as "Blue Ribbon Schools" by the U. S Department of Education.

The recognition was announced recently by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King. This is one of the most prestigious awards that can be bestowed upon a school and one that is coveted by schools districts and communities across the country. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized over 7,500 schools since its inception in 1982.

ESSA Requires Non-Academic Accountability Measures

The standards era in education has produced a plethora of "accountability measures" enacted by the federal government and state legislatures that have relied heavily, if not exclusively, on standardized test scores. Educators across the country have long yearned for the day when the measure of a school's success would go beyond the simplicity of standardized tests and include a broader and deeper consideration of the qualty of the school experience for every child. New federal legislation has opened the door to make that happen and broaden accountability.

Making the N Size Small is Big!

State departments of education across the country are engaging their constituencies in the concept of "N" size. N size refers to the minimum number of students required in a group before the group is used for accountability and reporting purposes.