Just checking date stamps
Three Guiding Questions To:
- Drive Reflection
- Measure Impact
- Energize Change
- Is the product I’m producing meeting the needs of those who are consuming it?
- Am I sharing information in ways that is accessible to all, and in a manner I would expect if I were the end user?
- Do I regularly examine my practice through a lens and framework other than my own?
I can’t even begin to express my outrage at John Kasich for his comments about public education in Ohio. As a parent of three high performing students in the Mason City School District, I can speak without reservation to the non-dilapidated nature of the educational experiences they receive on a daily basis. As a Superintendent for Batavia Local Schools, I also get a chance to see first hand the care with which my teachers prepare experiences for students to be successful in a future that will look very different and one that requires new sets of skills. Given the Governor’s lack of presence inside of K-12 buildings, I openly question how he is qualified to make such an egregiously erroneous statement.
He (John Kasich) called Ohio’s K-12 education system “dilapidated” and said it’s training people on a model designed over 100 years ago. (Source: Focus Education, January 12, 2017)
After three years of writing on the topic of educational accoutability (and feeling thoroughly discouraged at the continued assault on public education and the effort to unbundle and privatize a public good), I’m going to devote some energy to sharing other voices I read whose mindset and worldview on public education is the same.
Below are two letters I wrote this week in response to the release of the final ESSA regulations on testing, accountability, and school improvement.
The first letter was sent to members of the Ohio Senate Education Committee, urging the creation of a Statewide ESSA task force and presenting them with a number of specific policy proposals that will go a long way towards fixing issues with Ohio’s testing and accountability system.
The second letter was sent to members of the State Board of Education, urging them to be more inclusive of voices at the local level when crafting policy, in order to implementation issues to be identified and solved prior to policy adoption. This would help end the constant change and revision process that occurs with Ohio’s education policy due to a lack of meaningful local input and the resulting unintended consequences that must be fixed.
Feel free to use either of these letters (in whole or part) if the ideas resonate with you.
Now that the final ESSA regulations have been released by the U.S. Department of Education, work on Ohio’s ESSA plan will undoubtedly accelerate. The final regulations continue to underscore the necessity of engaging all stakeholders in the decision making process for state ESSA plans. While significant progress has been made by ODE in engagement and outreach around ESSA in the past six months, I am still worried that the feedback will not be meaningfully incorporated into our state plan.
Enclosed you will find a letter I recently sent to all members of the State Board of Education urging the creation of a task force to vet and make recommendations on the ESSA plan for consideration by the full Board. I continue to be concerned that the methods of collecting feedback by ODE do not bear substantial weight on final product outcomes. Similar to the powerful results that were achieved by the Senate Testing Committee, and modeled after stakeholder groups used by USDOE in the regulation process for ESSA, a state level task force dedicated to ensuring the voices of those who must implement and live with State policy are heard is critical to the success of Ohio’s ESSA plan. As I stated in my letter to the State Board, quality solutions are generated when all stakeholders are at the table who are affected by statewide education policy changes.
In the coming months there are a number of critical decisions that must be made that will have a significant impact on the direction of education in Ohio. Below are recommendations for policy decisions that I believe will benefit our State and have the potential to reduce the friction that has plagued our education system for far too many years. (Please also note these closely mirror several recommendations by the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network).
- Utilize the flexibility from the final ESSA regulations to submit our State plan in September 2017 in order to allow for additional contemplation and input from stakeholders.
- Incorporate the summative ratings as defined in the final ESSA regulations (comprehensive support and improvement, targeted support and improvement, and unidentified schools) and move away from a single summative A to F rating system.
- Move to the federal minimum amount of required standardized testing (This would require a change in ORC 3301.0710, 3301.0711, and 3301.0712), and replace the high school end of course exams with the ACT.
- Identify a high school graduation composite score on the ACT that is lower than the current college remedial free levels (with both sets of scores disaggregated by subgroup and reported on the local report card).
- Re-index the prep for success measure on the local report card to allow for College Credit Plus participation to be factored at an original weight of ‘1’ instead of as a bonus index of ‘0.3’.
- For tests in grades 3 – 8, release 100 percent of the items annually (with the exception of field test items) along with an item analysis for each test. This practice occurred until the mid 2000’s under the old OAT/9th grade proficiency system, and the data was extremely valuable to teachers and school districts seeking to improve performance.
- Eliminate the use of value-added scores and other student growth measures from the teacher evaluation system, and simply maintain the performance side of OTES and OPES, which is working well.
- For the classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020, allow for students to graduate by earning 15 points across seven exams with no minimum subscore threshold.
Finally, I do believe that the voices of Ohioans were accurately captured in the 10 regional ESSA meetings hosted by Philanthropy Ohio. Their white paper summarizing the feelings of the participants should be closely studied and utilized as Ohio moves forward with ESSA planning. This report can be accessed at: https://www.philanthropyohio.org/resources/shaping-ohios-essa-plan
Thank you for taking time to consider these proposals and I look forward to continuing to partner with you as we work to shape an educational system in Ohio that serves all students well.
Members of the State Board of Education:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak in front of you during public session at the November 15th State Board meeting. I recognize the number of important issues facing the Board at the November meeting and appreciated your willingness to thoughtfully listen and dialogue throughout the lengthy public participation session.
The account of the morning Standards & Graduation Requirements Committee (below) reinforced the concern I have that not enough thought has gone into the impact of the implementation of State Board policy on graduation once it reaches the local level. The news account does an accurate job capturing the number of moving parts that are in play when trying to figure out who is on track and not on track to graduate for the Class of 2018 and beyond. The fact that our student information system (DASL) has not yet delivered an electronic tool to aide in the calculation of graduation points speaks to the deep level of implementation concerns for students who are just over eighteen months from graduation day.
Woolard said estimates of students on-track versus not are “conservative,” and DeMaria cautioned repeatedly against jumping to conclusions based on Tuesday’s presentation because a lot of important information isn’t yet available, including data on the other two graduation pathways.
Aside from amassing exam points, student can graduate by earning a remediation-free score on the ACT or SAT, or by both passing the WorkKeys job-skills assessment and earning an industry recognized credential.
The first statewide administration of the ACT or SAT (districts choose which to administer) isn’t until spring 2017. The state likewise lacks data on students’ progress toward work credentials, and so far has little information on students’ use of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and College Credit Plus as substitutes for end-of-course exams, said Woolard. Also limited is state data on how many students will qualify for an exemption from standard graduation requirements per an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
“We are not attempting to project a graduation rate because of these limitations,” DeMaria told the board. “It’s outside our abilities at this particular time to speculate what might those numbers be.”
Source: Focus Education, Hannah News Service, November 15, 2016
While I believe that the temporary modifications to the point system proposed by Vice President Elshoff will alleviate the short term issue faced by the Class of 2018 and is an appropriate solution that will allow for a more orderly transition, there must be a process moving forward to help ensure that local districts do not continue to end up in this position each time there is major educational policy change from the State Board.
A solution I am proposing is for the creation and utilization of a task force any time there is a significant policy proposal that would impact all students across the state. Similar to the constitution of the Senate Education Testing Committee, a task force would be comprised of State Board members, ODE staff, legislative members, local superintendents, teachers, local board members, and parents. The focus of such a group would be to vet policy proposals and identify potential local level implementation issues and solutions prior to policy implementation. Each task force would be convened as a work group under the appropriate State Board committee, and the work of the task force would be part of the reporting process to the entire State Board during monthly meetings at such times in which task forces are convened. A task force such as I have outlined above would be a perfect tool to aide in the discussion and review process of the coming State ESSA plan.
I can’t help but think that if such a process had been in place for the graduation requirements, we could have avoided many of the implementation issues that are currently plaguing local districts and a smoother, more graduated rollout of the new requirements could have been jointly developed.
As I stated in my public testimony, I believe there is a big difference between the type of feedback gathered electronically and the quality of solutions generated when all stakeholders are at the table who are affected by statewide education policy changes. If the goal is a reduction in the friction between various educational entities in the State of Ohio, a good first place to start is ensuring a process is created where meaningful input and participation is actively sought by the State Board from all end users who must ultimately enact and abide by State Board policy.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal and I look forward to partnering with the State Board as we work together to improve educational outcomes for all of Ohio’s children.
Below are recommendations I provided to fix and enhance Ohio’s graduation pathway system given the current issues faced by the Class of 2018 and beyond. These are aligned with policy proposals from the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network as well as a larger statewide coalition of Superintendents under the leadership of Dr. Jim Lloyd from Olmsted Falls.
Members of the State Board of Education:
As a proponent for high standards and increased pathway options for Ohio’s students to qualify for graduation, I support the general direction of the State Board of Education, the Legislature, and the Governor as we all work to ensure Ohio’s students graduate with the tools necessary to be competitive in a rapidly changing economy.
The immediate assigning of high stakes graduation points via an immature assessment system that has changed twice in the past two years.
A troubled graduation point system that has been sold to the public in one manner but has under-advertised subscores which are graduation barriers.
A lack of options for students who are not seeking an industry credential or a college education, but simply wish to enter the workforce upon graduation.
To address the issue of brand new, unproven, and technologically challenged assessments (in the case of PARCC) being used to assign high stakes graduation points to students, along with the disconnect between the public’s understanding of needing 18 points to graduate and the reality that there are required subscore components, I recommend:
Eliminating the subscore rule for quality points (the expectation that students earn at least 4 points in English, 4 points in math, and 6 points across the science and social studies tests) and simply requiring students to earn 18 straight quality points.
Keep the subscore rule, but reduce the number of quality points necessary to graduate to 14, with a one (1) point per year escalator back to 18 quality points by the class of 2022.
To address the lack of pathway options for career oriented students, I am recommending the following cut score only options as pathways to graduation:
Determine a high school graduation benchmark composite score on the ACT that is appropriate for all students as a minimum high school graduation expectation, but is lower that the remedial free expectation across three tests, which is only appropriate for college bound students. For example, students can qualify to graduate by earning a composite score of 16 on the ACT, which could be escalated in subsequent years as appropriate (ex. 17 beginning with the Class of 2020 and 18 with the Class of 2022).
Allow the WorkKeys to be used as a standalone test option to qualify for graduation, with a minimum score of 14 necessary to qualify for a diploma.
The current industry credential option, while positive in theory, is actually the most difficult to achieve, as it cannot be completely qualified for in many cases until the end of the senior year, and it requires:
passing all industry credential aligned courses
passing the industry credential exams
earning a passing score on the WorkKeys exam
Furthermore, as there is uneven access to vocational educational options across the state, this pathway is more difficult for some than others.
In talking with many employers, having employees who can pass a drug screen, are dependable, and have the foundational knowledge to be trainable are all traits that are sought. These employers are willing to provide on the job training for the right candidates, and a qualifying score on the WorkKeys assessment itself can be a potential standalone option for many of Ohio’s students.
Finally, I would urge you to consider additional pathways beyond standardized test scores that could be utilized to qualify for graduation. In a world of work that values inspired ideas, collaboration, innovative thinking, and creative solutions to complex problems, a rigorous portfolio pathway with authentic demonstrations of student work is a necessary option that should garner serious consideration. For information on this topic, I recommend reviewing the work from Ohio’s Performance Assessment Pilot Project as well as the Yellow Springs Schools Project Based Learning Initiative.
Thank you for taking the time to consider these recommendations, and for your service to the State of Ohio.
As we are still awaiting part 2 of the 14-15 local report card at the end of February 2016, it’s important to keep in mind that the 2015-2016 version is right around the corner with a tentative September 2016 release date. One of the jobs the State Board still has in front of it is setting the proficient or better percentage to meet individual test indicators for the 15-16 report card. In a report to the State Board Accountability Committee, ODE is recommending a 50% elevator methodology for the 15-16 school year, with a return to and 80% threshold in the 16-17 school year. As the AIR tests are brand new this year in ELA and Math, I believe that ODE should stick with the 14-15 methodology for one more year before proceeding with increasing the rates. Below is part of an email I sent to several State Board members on this issue:
In reading the minutes of the Accountability Committee, I wanted to raise a concern I have with ODE’s proposed indicator percentages for the 2015-2016 report card:
Update Report Card Indicators
Woolard reported the committee needs to set new performance targets for the AIR tests for the 2015-16 School Year report card. This committee and the state board decided to look at the statewide percentage and set targets for each test based on the statewide percentage. Target percentages were lowered during testing transition, and the idea was to get back to 80% beyond 2014-15. Woolard presented a table with the recommended targets for 36 assessments in grades 3-11. ODE’s recommendation is to split the difference for 2015-16 and set each test target for the percentage that is midway between the 2014-15 approved target and 80%, which is the desired target for 2016-17. Committee members requested more data before setting the targets.
Just a quick thought about this. In 14-15 the indicator percentage was set at the state proficient or better rate for each new PARCC and AIR assessment.
As we once again have brand new assessments in grades 3 – 10 in both ELA and Math with AIR, I would urge consideration of the following:
- Set the indicator percentage for any brand new AIR assessments at the State proficient or better rate for 15-16.
- Increase the rate to half way between the 15-16 percentage and 80% for the 16-17 school year.
- Finalize the move to an 80% proficient or better rate for the 17-18 school year.
Any assessments that are in their second year during 15-16 (science and social studies) could follow Dr. Woolard’s plan (in red above), and the junior year OGTs could remain at 85%.
This plan will allow for a return to the 80% level within three years while still allowing for the same year one flexibility that was afforded when students took the PARCC exams for the first time.
I had the chance to provide testimony at the State Board meeting today on behalf of the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network regarding concerns with ODE’s posted timeline for developing the State ESSA plan. Below are the written comments, followed by feedback I provided to ODE in response to their request for electronic submission of ESSA ideas (which you can submit at: email@example.com)
Overall, the message was well received, and I feel confident that the process will slow down a bit. Now the important part is making sure that interested voices from around the state are truly heard, and that ideas from practitioners in the field are listed to and incorporated into Ohio’s ESSA plan. It’s the only way forward if the Department is serious about rebuilding trust between Columbus and the local school districts.
Ohio State Board of Education Comments
Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network
February 8, 2016
Good afternoon President Gunlock, Vice President Elshoff, and members of the State Board of Education. My name is Keith Millard, and I serve as the Superintendent of the Batavia Local School District. Today I am here representing over forty school districts and Superintendents that are part of the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network.
The passage of the Every Child Succeeds Act presents an opportunity to come together as an educational community in the State of Ohio in order to fix issues around testing and accountability that we all agree are plaguing our system.
The spirit of ESSA is to return control of educational policy to states and local boards of education, and for all stakeholders to have the opportunity to provide meaningful input in the crafting and development of state plans.
As the law must not be fully implemented until the 2017-2018 school year, there is time afforded to create a strategic engagement plan that will allow for all voices to be heard as Ohio shapes a plan that will significantly impact the next generation of school children across the state.
While we appreciate the urgency surrounding creating a plan to transition from ESEA to ESSA, we urge the State Board and the Department to not act with undue haste. In our estimation, the timeline presented by the Department to the State Board in January for the development of a final plan is accelerated at a pace that far exceeds where other States are, and will not allow for the type of meaningful engagement that ESSA intends for, especially at the local level.
In researching ESSA implementation plans of other State Departments of Education, a timeline similar to the one presented to the State Board in January 2016 has not been found. States such as Utah, Minnesota, Kentucky, New York, Texas, Florida, Virginia, and Arkansas either have no ESSA transition information listed on their Department websites or a scant mention that transition planning is underway.
In the timeline laid out by the Oregon Department of Education, a deadline for the completion of their preliminary draft plan is August 31, 2016, and this date is qualified by a statement that the date is ‘tentative pending submission date and guidance from the US Department of Education’.
The Vermont Agency of Education is proposing to spend a full year drafting their ESSA plan, with a target date of January 2017 for completing a submission draft for the US Department of Education.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, in a letter to the US Department of Education dated January 21, 2016, asks for clarification on the due date of ESSA plans, and proposes that plans should be due ‘no earlier than June 2017’.
Finally, In a letter to Deborah Spitz, the acting assistant US Secretary for Education, that was dated January 11, 2016, Peter Zamora from the the Council of Chief State School Officers also specifically asks for guidance on when state ESSA plans will be due to US Department of Education.
Given the ambiguity around the due date for ESSA plan submission, the fact that ESSA regulations will not be fully developed by the US Department of Education until October 2016, and the fact that many other states have yet to announce an ESSA transition timeline or have timelines that stretch into late 2016 or 2017, a recalibration of the timeline and engagement process for Ohio’s ESSA plan is in order.
For district superintendents, local boards of education, parents, and most importantly Ohio’s school children, it is critical that a robust engagement plan preclude any work on developing an initial draft of Ohio’s ESSA plan.
In a letter to Chief State School Officers dated February 2, 2016, John King, the Acting Secretary of Education, references numerous times that States AND Districts must work together in the development of a high quality assessment system, which is a critical component of State ESSA plans.
In Wisconsin’s January 21st letter to the US Department of Education, it states:
“(ESSA) provides us with an opportunity to explore different methods to tackle achievement gaps and ensure all students graduate college and career ready. In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, State Education Agencies need to be able to have a comprehensive and transparent stakeholder engagement process. Similarly, Local Education Agencies need to have the ability to plan and consult.”
Given the unique opportunity to craft a meaningful State plan that best represents and serves the needs of all Ohioans, the Superintendents of the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network urge the following:
- The new state superintendent must play an important role with ESSA, and the implementation timeline should be adjusted to allow for the State Superintendent to be named prior to major work beginning.
- Superintendents, principals, teachers, school Boards, and parents must have the opportunity to provide input to the State’s ESSA plan. We strongly recommend the Department break reauthorization tasks down into component groups similar to the ESSA State Plan Development Project laid out by the Oregon Department of Education, which includes local input in the areas of standards and assessment, accountability, school improvement, educator effectiveness, and communications.
- A comprehensive communications and outreach plan must be developed and shared, and include focus sessions and work groups that should be held throughout the State.
- Local superintendents must play an integral part of the process in crafting the State’s ESSA plan. As the conduits between the Department and our local communities, there is a wealth of knowledge about what works and what needs to be improved in State education policy. We would urge that all work groups contain at least one local superintendent as part of their membership.
- Transparency and full, meaningful opportunities to participate in the ESSA development process. We recognize the hard work and commitment to Ohio’s school children on the part of the Department, and stand ready to provide assistance in the complex task of developing Ohio’s ESSA plan. To date, the only invited opportunity to provide feedback has come in the form of an email link in the February 1st edition of EdConnection to share ideas and questions. It is critical that a robust engagement plan be created, shared, and implemented prior to the commencement of draft planning. Furthermore, to build trust in the process, it is vital that the Department share at all phases exactly who has been part of the engagement process and who has provided feedback and input.
On the ESSA page located on the Department website, it states:
“Ohio is committed to involving educators, parents and other stakeholders as we explore new ways to ensure that all our students receive the education they need for bright futures.”
As a group, the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network looks forward to partnering with the Department and the State Board as the State ESSA plan is developed, and again we urge a slowing down and expansion of the proposed ESSA timeline as well as the development and communication of a thorough and meaningful engagement plan which holds participatory activities across the State.
The opportunity presented by ESSA to return control of educational decisions to State and Local officials is one that must not be squandered. By partnering with local boards of education, superintendents, and educators, the State Board and the Department have the chance to re-build bridges of trust and truly create an assessment and accountability system that works for the students of Ohio.
Thank you for your time and for your commitment to helping all learners in Ohio reach their maximum potential.
The paragraph below is from the January 15th Edition of Focus Education published by Hannah News Service. As an educational leader who is responsible for the progress of my district, it effectively sums up why education in Ohio feels so incredibly difficult. The disconnect between those who make policy and those who have to implement it has never been wider in this state (which is why the return to local control movement is so important: http://corkyocallaghan.com/make-a-difference/)
Explaining that the state of Ohio currently has “three different organizations creating education policy,” Ohio Board of Education President Tom Gunlock went on to characterize the “current governance structure as simply not working” in a presentation Thursday before the Ohio ConstitutionalModernizations Commission’s (OCMC) Education, Public Institutions and LocalGovernment Committee. The committee is currently studying Article VI, Sec. 4 which creates the State Board of Education. “I believe it is ridiculous to think for one minute that the Ohio Department of Education or individual school districts can be successful with this many bosses, competing priorities and agendas. Remember, primary and secondary education in Ohio is a $20 billion a year operation with children’s futures at stake. It’s difficult to imagine any organization being successful under those conditions,” he added, making clear he was speaking for himself and not the state board.
Was lucky to hear Jim Tressel speak at the Ohio Association of Local School Superintendents today on leadership. My biggest takeaway is that my actions as a leader matter, but the extent to which my words are congruent with my actions, as well as the effort I put into growing those who serve under me will be the biggest difference makers in my leadership
Coach Tressel shared five characteristics of leaders who reach their full potential (everything save for #4 also can be construed as a statement of values):
- Grit (how do you get through the inevitable tough times)
- (Insatiable) curiosity on how to get better (as a leader, person, student, husband, father, etc.)
- Talent (this matters when hiring leaders, teachers, etc., but it is interesting to note that it is not in the top three).
- Work Ethic
As a leader, one of the measuring sticks I use is how well am I applying these five characteristics on a daily basis, and to what extent am I instilling these in those who I am responsible for leading?
Finally, I loved his message on gratitude. I was once again challenged to evaluate the level at which I am living out an attitude of gratitude, and do my actions reflect this core value? At the end of the day, I am always more effective as a leader when I begin each day with a grateful posture (and look at every event on the calendar as an opportunity to grow and serve).
The text below was buried at the end of the Ohio State Board of Education December Meeting Report which was published by Focus Education.
It is a very accurate assessment (in my opinion) of the trouble that the CCP rules are causing for students who elect to pursue a more traditional AP/IB pathway and remain in the local high school. It also underscores the ongoing concern that K-12 institutions are responsible for underwriting the college credit costs for students, which can potentially impact the ability of districts to provide a comprehensive suite of rigorous courses for those who are interested in remaining on the K-12 campus full time (in other words, the bucket of money is the bucket, and with the current rules incentivizing participation in CCP, it is inevitable that districts will be forced to cut offerings for students who choose to stay on campus for their high school career if too many students choose CCP in its current incarnation).
Dr. Richard Rowlett testified that Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) students may be disadvantaged with the new College Credit Plus (CCP) program. He is concerned about the use of the word “equivalent” when AP and IB courses are not the same as CCP courses. Students in AP and IB classes are in class at their public high school for about 120 hours during the year. A student in a CCP course at a local college might only be in class for 45 hours, yet both courses count for an equal amount of class credit. Additionally, AP and IB assessments are often more demanding than many CCP classes. His final concern was that the expansion of CCP could ultimately reduce the number of AP classes offered to Ohio’s students.
In answer to a question from Board Member Pat Bruns, Dr. Rowlett noted that students may be incentivized to take CCP classes because unlike AP classes, the CCP classes do not have as rigorous tests to earn the class credit.
Board Member Roslyn Painter-Goffi also noted that CCP course expenses are covered by school districts, while parents and student pay for AP classes.
Maria Humayun, a high school AP student, expressed her concern that the CCP course content and testing is less difficult, yet the CCP course get the same weighting as AP classes. She said students taking the less rigorous CCP courses can displace her and other students in their graduating class ranking, putting potential college scholarships in jeopardy.
Board Vice President Tess Elshoff indicated the State Superintendent will talk with the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education about the concerns presented.