Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 5, Number 7
April 13, 2011
SB 5 could simply mean business as usual for local teacher personnel policies
By Jamie Davies O'Leary
Impact of school improvement initiatives in HB 153
Creating a Winning Legislative Campaign: The Colorado Story
Charter School Performance in Indiana
Dollars and cents: Teacher quality and lifetime earnings
Jamie Davies O'Leary / April 13, 2011
Much ink and energy already has been spilled over Senate Bill 5, legislation that places significant restrictions around collective bargaining for public employees of all stripes – K-12 teachers, police, fire fighters, and state employees. The New York Times labels it “anti-union” and points out that it’s tougher than a similar law in Wisconsin. Opponents of the bill say it represents an assault on Democrats (literally: “GOP trying to annihilate opposition, Dems say”); while supporters argue in compelling fashion that it merely brings into closer alignment what public employee contracts stipulate and what taxpayers can actually afford. Given the campaign to seek its repeal via referendum this fall, Ohioans will be inundated with a lot more coverage of SB 5 in the coming months.
To be clear, the Fordham Institute does not support all portions of SB 5, but there are provisions in the bill that are critical for moving K-12 education forward in Ohio, like eliminating automatic salary increases, ending last in, first out layoffs (LIFO), and moving health care and pension negotiations outside of collective bargaining.
Whether SB 5’s reforms are ever fully implemented is uncertain. The referendum may squash the legislation (assuming it’s successfully put on the ballot), but lawmakers – anticipating its repeal - may still borrow language on key teacher personnel provisions and insert it into the governor’s budget bill or other legislative vehicle. In either case, there are a handful of provisions pivotal to ensuring that school districts have a fair and consistent way to determine levels of
Emmy L. Partin / April 13, 2011
Governor Kasich has put a priority on academic achievement in his inaugural budget proposal with several provisions aimed at improving Ohio’s lowest performing public schools. There has been much media coverage and chatter among observers about the broad concepts of these proposals, but little has been said about the real impact they might have in schools across the state. Here’s a look at three sets of proposals and who’d be affected.
District schools: Parent trigger & restructuring mandate
Certainly the most talked-about of the governor’s school-improvement proposals is the creation of a “parent trigger” for the state’s worst-performing district schools. The proposal has brought about front-page news stories, strongly worded editorials against the idea, and public testimony in House hearings on the budget dismissing the trigger as another assault on public schools.
The provision would allow parents to petition a school district to force reforms in a school that, for at least three consecutive years, has been ranked in the lowest five percent of all district-operated schools statewide based on its performance index (PI) score (which is a measure of student achievement across all tested grades and subjects). Parents would be allowed to file a petition requesting the district reopen the school as a charter school, replace at least 70 percent of the school’s staff, contract with another school district or entity to operate the school, turn operation of the school over to the state, or make other fundamental reforms to staffing and governance.
This is strong medicine for sure. Similar restructuring has been required for years in failing schools under No Child Left Behind
Terry Ryan / April 13, 2011
Following is an excerpt of public testimony about the education provisions of House Bill 153 that Fordham’s Terry Ryan presented to the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on April 8. You can read his full testimony here.
Schools and teachers matter greatly, and this is especially true for our neediest and most vulnerable children. Stanford economist Eric Hanushek, who recently testified before a joint meeting of the Ohio House and Senate education committees, reports that “having a quality teacher throughout elementary school can substantially eliminate the disadvantage of low socio-economic background.” The stakes are high and decisions made now will have an impact on our children and their future for years to come.
I support the education reform goals and policies in HB153 because they focus on the dual objective of improving K-12 education in the Buckeye State while helping schools adjust to doing more with less. It is painfully clear that Ohio, like states across the country, has to start figuring out how to live within its means. We cannot make education reform continue to hinge on infusions of more cash – just the opposite. This “new normal”—as Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Bill Gates both term it—has been staring at us for several years now, but we’ve resisted dealing with it because of political timidity and one-time federal stimulus dollars.
In December 2008, I wrote an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer that began:
The dismal economic news for Ohio keeps piling up. State revenues continue to plummet and economic forecasters are predicting a shortfall of more than $7
Jamie Davies O'Leary / April 13, 2011
What better person to write a case study of SB 191 – Colorado’s groundbreaking teacher evaluation legislation – than the legislative director for Mike Johnston, the state senator who shepherded it through to passage? Scott Laband describes the political, policy, and messaging elements that were essential for the legislation’s ultimate success:
- “Finding strong and credible leadership.” Sen. Johnston, a former Teach for America teacher and principal, had the credentials to lead the charge. Selecting the right co-sponsors with enough expertise to ward off amendments to the bill’s key provisions was also crucial.
- “Getting the policy right.” SB 191 started by “identifying the flaws of the existing teacher and school leader evaluation system.” It was a pro-teacher piece of legislation that overhauled several things at once rather than in piecemeal fashion (evaluations, tenure, placement, and reductions in force – with the former informing the latter three). Laband also points out the importance of compromises on non-vital amendments, and “rotating political cover” so that no single lawmakers had to go against his/her own caucus too many times.
- “Building a powerful coalition.” To rally the support necessary to upend a deeply entrenched teacher personnel system, proponents crafted a concept paper early on in the process, identified any and all potential partners (including the civil rights community), and garnered support especially among teachers themselves. The process for creating the coalition sounds arduous, but the brief is compelling in describing its necessity.
- “Coordinating broad based advocacy.” Chief among advocacy strategies was raising money, maintaining a strong web presence, and implementing a sophisticated lobbying plan.
the message.” The campaign around SB
It's Easier to Pick a Good Teacher than to Train One: Familiar and New Results on the Correlates of Teacher Effectiveness
Nick Joch / April 13, 2011
How did good teachers become good teachers? Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson seek to answer this question in their latest study, wherein they examined several traditional strategies for teachers to increase their effectiveness, such as pursuing advanced degrees, on-the-job training, etc. to determine which methods were successful. To get at this, they investigated student achievement data from all of Florida’s fourth and eighth graders who took state assessments from 2002-2009, to discern which teachers “added value” (i.e. produced gains in student achievement), and what enabled teachers to do so. Interestingly, none of the methods studied significantly improved teacher quality. The most salient findings include:
- Advanced degrees were not an indicator of teacher effectiveness, and obtaining such degrees did not make a teacher significantly more effective than she was before.
- No Florida public university offers a teacher preparation program that significantly enhanced the effectiveness of students completing the program.
- In the first one to five years of teaching, on-the-job training (years served) increased teacher effectiveness, but after five years there was no noticeable increase. In fact, effectiveness may decrease as a teacher’s career progresses.
Considering the sharp debate surrounding seniority-based layoffs, as well as Ohio’s fiscal problems (master’s degree pay raises for teachers cost over $400 million annually), state lawmakers would do well to take note of the results of this study. SB 5 is a step in the right direction on this front as it reduces emphasis on traditional notions of effectiveness such as credentials, years of service, etc. Further, although Chingos and Peterson examined only public university teacher training programs in Florida, a
April 13, 2011
The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford released its latest study of charter school performance, this time focusing on Indiana. The report follows on CREDO’s 2009 national charter school study, which found mixed results for charters nationwide and not-so-stellar results for Ohio charters. Drawing on data from 42 charter schools and 8,959 charter school students in Indiana between 2004 and 2008, researchers developed a comparison methodology that matched students in traditional public schools with students in charter schools, and compared the learning growth of the two groups (determined using results from annual standardized tests). Researchers also measured the impact of attending a charter school based on the length of time a student was enrolled in a school, as well as the age of the school.
Learning gains among students in charters were greater when compared to district peers. The most important finding may be that Black students in charter schools outperformed Black students in traditional public schools, and that in math Black students in charter schools were performing at similar levels to the average white student in traditional public schools. CREDO’s report on Ohio in 2009 revealed a less positive narrative for charter schools here. In sum, Indiana charter schools have performed better (compared to traditional public schools) than Ohio charter schools have. But while these results are encouraging for the Hoosier State, as their legislature attempts to expand the state’s charter school program, robust standards must exist to prevent the authorization and reauthorization of charters with poor performance. This is an ongoing battle over charter
District of Columbus Public Schools: Defining Instructional Expectations and Aligning Accountability and Support
April 13, 2011
When Michelle Rhee took the helm of DC Public Schools in 2007 the district’s achievement was dismal. NAEP scores for DC’s students were among the lowest in the nation, and achievement gaps between white and black students were among the largest in the country. Rhee and her team knew that something had to change dramatically. This latest case study by the Aspen Institute describes how Rhee and her team sought instructional excellence in every DC classroom, by first defining the principles of effective teaching and then creating a system of evaluation and pay centered squarely on it.
Aspen breaks down Rhee’s overhaul of teacher personnel policy into three segments: introduction of the Teaching and Learning Framework (TLF) emphasizing planning, teaching, and effectiveness of teachers; the creation of IMPACT, a new accountability system to ensure that the criteria set forth in TLF were carried through; and finally implementation of the evaluation system in the 2010-2011 school year.
Out of this process came five lessons from which schools districts across the country can learn, among them: creating common expectations about what effective teaching consists of, the need to anticipate that the hardest part of creating a teacher performance system is helping teachers improve their skills, and that continued development of organizational capacity is crucial to success. While this story is unique to DC, states around the country should be forewarned about the challenges of overhauling entrenched teacher evaluation systems. As Ohio moves forward it would do well do keep the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from DC in mind.
Nick Joch / April 13, 2011
- How do teachers impact students’ lifetime earnings? Eric Hanushek has quantified the answer to this and other questions related to teacher quality in his recent Education Next article.
- Is high-stakes testing hurting our kids? Byong Man Ahn, former Minister of Education for exam-intensive South Korea, thinks so, according to this recent Education Week article. Gregory Michie takes a similar tone in his Huffington Post op-ed, as he explores the overuse of the word “innovation” in education. Unfortunately he misses a key point – improving test scores for “impoverished kids” and fostering creativity are not mutually exclusive.
- Education Week’s Schwartz, Levin, and Gamoran continue their Future of Education Reform series. Part two (of seven) provides education reform recommendations based on successful policies from countries that are out-performing the United States on international tests.
- The latest research on school funding inequalities comes courtesy of the Center for American Progress’s Saba Bireda, whose latest report, Funding Education Equitably, addresses problems with the ESEA’s Title I “comparability provision.” Bireda identifies loopholes in this provision that result in the rich getting richer (and vice versa), then proposes some solutions to the inequities she finds.
- Tennessee students can fear no more thanks to the “anti-bullying” legislation passed in the House this week. Teachers may now protect their students from “intellectual bullies” who apparently took over education decades ago by including theories on global warming and evolution in school curriculums. Andy Sher covers the story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.