Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner has put Senate Bill 229 on the agenda this week to be introduced by the bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Randy Gardner.

When we posted about this bill last weekend, it quickly became one of the most read posts in Plunderbund history.  This speaks to the dramatic effects the new teacher evaluation system in Ohio is having on the practice of both teachers and administrators.  You can find our detailed post from last Saturday here.

When the bill is introduced in the Education Committee on Tuesday morning, only sponsor testimony is scheduled, so we expect more opportunities for testimony to be available next week when the committee reconvenes.  We also expect the bill to sail through the Senate relatively unchanged, though now is the time to push for even more flexibility at the local level in dialing back the stringent and time-intensive requirements of the process.  This appears to be Senator Gardner’s main motivation in introducing the legislation at this time.

“We believe this additional flexibility still says evaluations are important in Ohio,” Gardner said. “But it allows additional flexibility and saves some money on the administrative side that can be put directly back into the classroom to help children learn.”

“This doesn’t mean that this is the only time that teachers will be evaluated during those times, because we have standardized testing, we have new testing formats, that that data will be available every year, but this would be the formal, more time-intensive, principal administrative evaluation.”

The bill also makes changes to the student growth factor. This is measured by how much progress a student makes from one year to the other. As of now, student growth accounts for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

Educators think that’s too high, according to Gardner, who wants that number to drop to 35 percent. This change means school districts can choose what to do with the remaining 15 percent, which could go back into student growth if board members deem that necessary.

“It’s not a dramatic change, but it’s a meaningful change that school districts believe provides a better option for them to institute other local measures.” (11/12/2013,

As we did last week, we’d like to encourage you once again to contact Senator Peggy Lehner, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee to provide your feedback about needed changes to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, sharing your personal experiences, both good and bad, with its full implementation this year.

Finally, we would like to especially encourage Ohio’s school principals to get in touch with Senators Lehner and Gardner to share your firsthand experiences with trying to keep up the pace of this new system while also being subject to evaluation under the Ohio Principal Evaluation System (OPES) yourselves while apparently getting no reprieve from the full time jobs you already had.  We would also strongly encourage you to ask Senator Lehner for the upcoming meeting schedule of the Senate Education Committee and make arrangements to provide your personal testimony in person.  It’s possible that Lehner could schedule the committee meetings at a more reasonable time later in the day (e.g., 5:00 pm) that would allow more educators to provide timely testimony about the OTES and OPES requirements.

To email Senator Lehner, click here.  You can call her office at 614-466-4538.

To email Senator Gardner, click here.  You can call his office at 614-466-8060.

Please considering sharing this information widely with all Ohio educators (teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members) you know.  It is only through making our informed voices heard in large numbers and providing thoughtful feedback to those making these laws that we can effect change.  Senator Gardner clearly stated that he had heard from educators about OTES and subsequently introduced this bill, so keep talking, emailing, sharing.

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