The Ohio Department of Education has released the State Report Cards for schools and districts (though school report cards have incorrect state data that has yet to be corrected) and that means the names of the teachers who will be required to take the Praxis exams is also available. I’ll be posting the list of 349 schools and over 5,900 teachers on Plunderbund later today.

To help catch you up, here is some light reading about the “Retesting Teachers” provision in House Bill 153 (Budget Bill):

As prepared by the Legislative Service Commission:

Retesting Teachers
RC 3319.58

Requires ODE annually to rank order all city, exempted village, and local school buildings, community schools and STEM schools into percentiles according to performance index score.

Requires each building in the lowest 10 percentiles to require its core subject area teachers to retake any written tests prescribed by the State Board for licensure in the teacher’s subject area and grade level.  (“Core subject areas” are:  reading and English language arts, math, science, foreign language, government, economics, fine arts, history, and geography, as defined by state and federal law for determining “highly qualified teacher” status.)

Plunderbund has been following the evolution of the Retesting Teachers provision from the original version in Kasich’s budget:

April 13, 2011 – Kasich’s budget forces tens of thousands of teachers to pay $6 Million in retesting costs

…the lowest-performing 10% of school districts employ 24,655 teachers. Approximately 18,864, or 76%, teach in a core subject area. Each teacher would be required to “take all written examinations prescribed by the state board of education for licensure to teach that core subject area and the grade level.”

Depending on the subjects and grade levels, teachers will be required to take between 2-5 exams each. Averaging this by grade level results in a total of 56,592 total written examinations.

At what cost – literally? Educational Testing Service ( charges an annual fee of $50 and each exam costs $90 for a grand total of $6,036,480 flowing out of the hands of Ohio’s teachers.

We then exposed the ignorant and outdated rationale behind Kasich’s inclusion of this component:

April 20, 2011 – Kasich’s “New” Teacher Testing Program: Straight out of 1987!

Why this change is important

Massachusetts successfully implemented a teacher-testing program that significantly improved student results. Teachers were tested on the content they were assigned to teach.
Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum. Testing teachers to be sure they know their content and basic pedagogy is a key step in this process.
Testing will make sure teachers are competent in the subjects they are teaching. Limiting this provision to poor-performing schools will minimize costs and avoid unnecessary burdens on quality schools.

Ohio isn’t doing what Massachusetts is doing because Ohio moved BEYOND that process when revisions adopted in 1992 went into effect in 1998, the same year that Massachusetts was just starting on their current model.

In late May, we exposed ODE Interim Superintendent Stan Heffner’s key role in getting this legislation passed into law and his appalling conflict of interest with ETS, sole provider of the Praxis II exams:

May 29, 2011 – Interim Superintendent of Schools Hides Personal Interest, Deceives Senate

Stan Heffner, Interim Superintendent for Ohio, provided testimony to the Senate expressly supporting a provision that would direct over 2.2 million dollars annually to ETS, the company that announced his hiring just three weeks earlier.  He provided opinions that contradict previously published documents from the Ohio Department of Education . . . he has used his position as Superintendent to represent himself as an expert in this area. Nowhere in his testimony did he declare his existing financial relationship with ETS.

After the Budget Bill was signed into law with the provision still included, we filed a formal ethics complaint about Stan Heffner with the Ohio Ethics Commission (the State Board of Education took a different approach and hired him as the full-time superintendent the next day).

July 11, 2011 – Plunderbund files ethics complaint against schools superintendent

What we do know is that as a result of Mr. Heffner’s blatant misrepresentation of factual evidence that will result in personal gain, taxpayers will suffer.  That’s correct, taxpayers. The final version of this bill does not place the expense of these tests, $2.2 million annually, on the teachers taking them.  Instead, the cost of these tests will be paid for by the schools themselves using taxpayer dollars, another unfunded mandate by the legislature, another multi-million dollar payout for someone’s special interest.

In this case, however, it’s not some behind-the-scenes entity, it’s ETS, the soon-to-be employer of Ohio’s interim Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mr. Stan W. Heffner.

And so that brings us to this point.  Thanks to the wise counsel offered to Governor Kasich in constructing the budget, and thanks to the “expert” testimony of the State Superintendent, and a big thanks to the inaction of Ohio’s legislators when provided convincing evidence that contradicted all of these claims.  Because of these events, we now have a list of over 5,900 teachers from 349 schools who will be required to “register for and take all written examinations prescribed by the state board of education for licensure to teach that core subject area and the grade level to which the teacher is assigned.

Note that the law specifies not just the subject tests, but the applicable “Principles of Learning and Teaching” for the grade level, too.

Plunderbund doesn’t think you should have to wait to find out if you are on the Ohio Department of Education’s “List” until they eventually get around to it so, based on the strictest interpretation of the law, we are completing the the work and will release the lists later today.

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