Governor Kasich’s new budget law, HB153, implemented a new required evaluation process for all Ohio teachers (Ohio Revised Code 3319.111). The new law requires that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation include student growth measures. I’ve been wondering for a while whether the state also included a definition of “teacher” in the evaluation and finally looked it up after being sparked by a post by our friends over at Join the Future.  Stunningly, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) does contain the definition of a teacher.  And not surprisingly, following the trail of codes reveals that some educators appear to be left out of the new evaluation framework.

First, the definition is in ORC 3319.09 under a section appropriately titled “Teacher definitions.”

As used in sections 3319.08 to 3319.18, inclusive, of the Revised Code:

(A) “Teacher” means all persons licensed to teach and who are employed in the public schools of this state as instructors, principals, supervisors, superintendents, or in any other educational position for which the state board of education requires licensure under sections 3319.22 to 3319.31 of the Revised Code including persons having a license issued pursuant to sections 3319.22 to 3319.31 of the Revised Code and employed in an educational position, as determined by the state board of education, under programs provided for by federal acts or regulations and financed in whole or in part from federal funds, but for which no licensure requirements for the position can be made under the provisions of such federal acts or regulations.

In short, a teacher is defined as someone in an educational position (e.g., teacher) who is licensed in the state of Ohio under ORC sections 3319.22 through 3319.31.  And before we go any further, 3319.221 includes school nurses, so they are not left out of the legal requirement of being evaluated on student growth.

The two sections listed at the beginning, .08 & .18, merely uses the definition to explain teacher contracts.  The section of code that provides the most information is 3319.22.  Within this section a teacher is explained as an educator with a license issued by the state of Ohio and who falls under the authority of a Local Professional Development Committee or LPDC.  As clarified by the Ohio Department of Education’s LPDC Resource Manual, “the purpose of the committees is to review the coursework and other professional development activities proposed and completed by educators within the district to determine if the requirements for renewal of licenses have been met…”  The LPDC acts on behalf of ODE to screen teachers’ applications for license renewal and, based on the Revised Code, the existence of the LPDC helps us identify who is considered a teacher and is legally required to be evaluated within the new state framework.

Page 17 of the aforementioned LPDC Resource Manual provides a comprehensive list of educators who are NOT covered by an LPDC, many of whom are subsequently NOT included in the new law.  We’ve crossed out those who are covered by the law in other sections (e.g., nurses).

Who is exempt from working through an LPDC?

  • School social workers, school speech-language pathologists, school nurses, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants are required to maintain licensure through their respective Ohio professional board. To renew five-year professional Ohio Department of Education pupil services licenses in these areas, educators must maintain their other board license. By doing so, they meet all Ohio Department of Education renewal requirements and therefore, do not need to work through the LPDC. These educators renew their license by submitting a renewal application with proof of current professional license directly to the Ohio Department of Education.
  • While ODE-licensed school counselors and school psychologists are not required to maintain concurrent professional licensure through the Ohio Counselor, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapy Board (counselors) or the Ohio State Board of Psychology (psychologists), some individuals do hold both the ODE license and a professional board license. Holders of five-year professional ODE pupil services licenses for school counselor or school psychologist who also hold a corresponding professional board license may renew the ODE license based on maintaining licensure through the respective professional licensure board, and do not need to work through an LPDC. Holders of five-year professional ODE school counselor or school psychologist licenses who do not maintain a concurrent professional board license are required to work through the LPDC to renew their ODE licenses.

These school educators have a loophole out of the state requirement of having to be evaluated based on the state’s new framework.  And while it’s not any one individual’s decision about how they are evaluated, it’s not hard to imagine a district utilizing this omission to avoid having to manufacture a student growth measure out of thin air for these populations.

Even worse, I can’t believe that the legislature intentionally left these important “teachers” out of HB153.  Instead we are given more evidence that the Kasich administration and GOP legislators are wholly ignorant of the complexities involved in the “education reform” processes that they are passing in to law.

As if we needed any more evidence.