When the Ohio Department of Education unveiled its waiver request from certain items in the No Child Left Behind law, they revealed a major change in the rating system for public schools that resulted in a lower ranking for the majority of schools and school districts.  To say that this change to a system that would assign letter grades was not received well by all stakeholders would be an understatement.  We explained the new (down)grading system and offered our thoughts on how it would adversely effect homeowners in districts assigned lower grades by the Ohio Department of Education.

But the strangest part of this is the story that people haven’t been screaming about.  This wasn’t the first planned downgrade for schools enacted by Superintendent Stan Heffner and the Ohio Department of Education.  In June 2010, Ohio adopted the Common Core State Standards, a new curriculum that will be effective in 2014-2015 when newly aligned assessments also will be implemented.  The new standards are intended to “raise the bar” on instruction in Ohio and were expected to lower student achievement and lower school ratings, something discussed as recently as December by Heffner and reported by us and the Dispatch:

Statewide education organizations are supportive of the initiative, even though it apparently would make it tougher for districts to earn an “A.” . …the bar for students and schools will be raised under the new system. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/7/11)

So today, when the Dispatch discussed both the harder standards for 2014 and the already lower grades for 2012 didn’t they ask Heffner about the double-whammy on districts?  The likely scenario is that they don’t understand the inter-connectivity of the educational structure in Ohio and it’s highly unlikely that Heffner wants the public to find out.

Here are the quotes from today’s article (the very same article).

At the beginning, a recap of the change to tougher standards.

So they’re overhauling the guidelines of what students should know, writing more challenging tests to assess what they’ve learned, forcing schools to revamp curriculum and grading schools on a tougher scale. “The current system is letting kids down,” state Superintendent Stan Heffner said.  Three school years from now, the overhaul will be complete and every school will be teaching under tougher standards.

And then near the end the downgrade of districts that is now coming even earlier.

In addition to new curriculum and testing, state report cards also will be revamped. And parents might want to brace themselves: Most school districts are expected to drop a grade or two under the new ratings. “Parents won’t see as many A’s,” warned state Superintendent Heffner. “This is a far more-rigorous system.” Last year, 92 percent of school districts got the equivalent of an A or B on state-issued report cards; if the new system had been in place, it would have been 66?percent.  In some [measurement] areas, the state raised the bar, too, making it harder for schools and districts to earn an A.

We need you to understand this crucial detail — those paragraphs are referencing two completely different reform initiatives being put in place by the Ohio Department of Education designed to lower the ratings of public schools.

And the intended outcome of each is to “raise the bar” and lower the rankings of all public schools in the state.  The waiver changes resulted in a ‘C’ average for Ohio’s school districts, with many of Ohio’s high-performing districts dropping to a ‘B’ after being top-ranked.  In 2014, Ohio Schools Supt Heffner is expecting those scores to drop even further due to the tougher assessments.  Given that the grading system is based completely around the assessments, it’s not unrealistic to believe that a district could drop another full letter grade, resulting in your Excellent school district bring home straight Cs on their report card.

Nothing like another well-designed plan coming out of Ohio.  After all, aren’t people known to flock to jobs and homes in “average” school districts?


  • Cault

    New power folks in 2014…out goes these stupid ideas.  The only hope.

  • Stand up Ohio…stealing your child’s free public education, padding pockets of “profit for substandard charter school education,” because private doesn’t always mean better…depleting public schools education dollars, and now lowering your property values….priceless…isn’t it?

  • becca

    Since one jerkwad has successfully chaired this catastrophe, what would be a potential scenario in 2014 when we have a new governor?  (Assuming the newbie  is going to want to change things)

  • Troysteelerfan

    The best bet to stop this assault on public education is to get rid of Kasich and his cronies, hacks, and pals in privatized education come the next election cycle – it starts this year – if Democrats can take control of at least 1 house of the legislature they can stymie all this crap…and then in 2014 retake the executive branch…and a great deal of this insanity goes away.

  • becca

    I hope you’re right troysteelerfan…..

  • Anastasia Pantsios

    Tell me something, Greg. If they are going to be ” overhauling the guidelines of what students should know,writing more challenging tests to assess what they’ve learned, forcing schools to revamp curriculum and grading schools on a tougher scale,” I assume they will be flooding schools with new resources to accomplish this? Right? Right?????

    Oh. Well then. Who can I go kick in the teeth?

  • Mollycoddle

    I wonder if this is a grab at the state’s inner city schools.  The state is already hovering over Youngstown, and we can all see what is happening in Cleveland.  Is it possible that the governor wants to put some more charter schools in our cities?  And could the owners of these charter schools be possible campaign donors for the governor?

    I have to wonder, because they are clearly taking a risk by downgrading suburban school districts, which will have repercussions once homeowners realize what is happening.  There has to be a big payoff; I don’t believe for a second that Kasich is doing this out of concern for education.

  • Excellent point. You’re absolutely right that Kasich and his education industry bosses SHOULD provide more resources, such as hiring more teachers, but they won’t.

  • Unfortunately, they will need a little time to roll back Kasich’s policies. Then, they can start trying their best to reform education funding. Strickland was very close, but Kasich turned back the clock on the progress he made.

    Personally, I would love to see Ted Strickland or Dennis Eckart run for governor. Of course, anybody would beat Kasich. 

  • Dmoore2222

    No surpise here. These people who are driven only by numbers are the same people who want forgiveness, and government handouts, when their business plans fail. They blame everthing and everyone under the sun rather than take responsibility for their own failings. Public schools were never intended to be corparate boot camps or revenue hogs for profiteers like Brennan. Kasich, in trying to draw attention away from his awful performance, is creating a different monster with this new evaluation system. Whatever few support him up to this point will be breaking out the pitchforks and torches as they see their shcool districts drown in bad ink. The republican battle cry of “less government” will be realized in November in the form of less REPUBLICAN government. Keep digging, Johnny!

  • Dmoore2222

    Well, this is very likely another republican miscalculation driven by the election cycle. We see this all the time. There’s no way serious refrom can take place in a two or even a four year period of time. They know that all the blather about more rigorous curriculum and greater efficiencies sounds good to the voter. And if it doesn’t work, they have lots of scapegoats like uncooperative teachers or incompetent administrators. It’s almost a no lose situation.

  • Mollycoddle

    But don’t you think that there will be an outcry from homeowners if their property values go down?  I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why Kasich would take such a risk.  By the end of his term, these new standards will be in place; and some homeowners will see a dip in their property value.

    Why on earth would he do such a thing?  I wrote in a post earlier that I was speculating as to whether or not he has plans to take over multiple city school systems and insert some charters.  That would be a feather in his cap with conservatives.

    But again, what about all of those ticked off homeowners?

  • Carrieee4

    More like  Excedrin headach number 1!

  • JamesIam

    There is a logic behind this. When you have a lot of charter school entrepreneur cronies waiting in the wings for you to improve the educational business climate, you have to get moving. SB5 was Plan A, but it failed. This is Plan B.

    You can’t sell privatization to the populace when 92 percent of the public schools are earning an A or a B. They don’t look expendable and no one will leave them for charters.

    So you move the goalpost. Far. In the name of rigor. And who can argue with rigor? The schools start earning poor grades and BOOM: You’ve got yourself one friendly business climate for your buds.

    The only thing they have not addressed, and apparently don’t want to address, is the fact that under the current system the charter schools represent a huge proportion of the districts that fail. This new system will push them even further into the gutter.

    But so far, people don’t seem to mind, or even know, that most of the charter schools suck. That’s why you keep the focus on the public schools and the “awful” teachers there. This is effective propaganda, controlling the message, and I see little opposition to it at this point.

  • gregmild

    Excellent explanation of what I also believe is the severely twisted thinking behind much of this legislation and those enacting the plans that I (have to) believe are mostly naive or ignorant.

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