Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 4, Number 1
January 8, 2010
Buckeye Education in Review: 1999 to 2009
By Ohio Education Gadfly
Ohio Education Gadfly / January 8, 2010
When the new millennium rang in on January 1, 2000, Ohio was marching down the path of education reform. The state was seeking improvements to its K-12 education system particularly in the areas of school funding, academic content standards, school choice, and accountability.
The DeRolph lawsuit, originally filed in 1991, was forcing lawmakers to redesign Ohio’s system of school funding. From 1995 to 2009, K-12 per-pupil spending increased 35 percent (inflation-adjusted). Nearly $5 billion of the state’s $10.2 billion in tobacco settlement money was invested in a major endeavor to rebuild or renovate the state’s public school buildings.
In exchange for an influx of additional funding to local school districts, lawmakers, following the trend in other reform-minded states, put academic accountability and school choice measures in place.
By the early 1990s, for the first time, parents and policy makers could compare academic performance across schools and districts with the Ohio Proficiency Tests in fourth, sixth, and ninth grade. Students were required to pass the ninth-grade test in order to graduate from high school. The state also enacted a “fourth-grade guarantee” which required students to pass the reading section of the fourth-grade proficiency test in order to advance to fifth grade.
In 1995, Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time in more than 20 years and controlled the House, Senate, and governor’s office. That same year, the composition of the State Board of Education shifted