House Bill 487 contains all of the education related components of John Kasich’s recent budget bill and was adopted by the Ohio House this week after being amended by the House Education Committee.  One of the amendments added by the committee that has not received any press is a proposed change in the way value-added results would be calculated and graded on school and district report cards.

The exact text of the bill is included below.  The underlined text is what has been added and the text that has been crossed out is what is proposed to be removed from existing law.

Sec. 3302.03

(e) The overall score under the value-added progress dimension of a school district or building, for which the department shall use up to three years of value-added data as from the most recent school year available.

For calculating the metric prescribed by division (B)(1)(e) of this section, the department shall use assessment scores for only those students to whom the district or building has administered the assessments prescribed by section 3301.0710 of the Revised Code for each of the two most recent consecutive school years.

Ohio Revised Code section 3302.03 specifically addresses public schools, but this change would also affect the grades of Ohio’s charter schools too, as the method for calculating charter school grades is the same as for public schools per Ohio Revised Code section 3314.012.

This proposed change is both interesting and more complex than it might seem on the surface.

On its face, this change would seem to provide a fairer method of calculating the instructional impact that schools and districts are having on the students they are serving.  Instead of grading schools on the progress (as measured by Ohio’s standardized tests) of every student who takes the tests in their building, this bill proposes to include only those students who have taken those tests in two consecutive years.  Using this method, schools would theoretically only be judged on those students who maintained their enrollment in the building/district and remove transient students from the rating and subsequent letter grade. Again, in theory, mobile students who typically have lower test scores and don’t necessarily reflect the instruction taking place within a single school will be removed from the results and the school will be more accurately graded based on those students who have spent a full year or more receiving instruction within a single building.

For the majority of public schools and districts, this seems like a potentially reasonable modification that will technically offer a better evaluation of the impact a school is having on a child’s education as they will only be graded on those students who stay in the building and remove students who may hop around from a public school to a charter school and back again.

For charter schools, however, this proposed change would appear to have even greater benefits as it would mask the impact they are (or are not) having on students.

While most public school buildings have been consistently open for many years and would always have a grade for this metric, the qualifier that a student must have taken a test for two consecutive years in the building means that newly-created charter schools won’t receive a value-added grade for their first year of business; a grade that would reveal the direct impact that new charter school has had on the instruction of its students.

Remember what value-added is purported to show — the direct impact a teacher, school, or district has on a student during a single year of instruction.  When a third grade student takes the 3rd Grade Reading OAA (Ohio Achievement Assessment) in the spring, they receive a score that is then ranked on a Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE) based on all other students’ test results.  The following year, that student takes the 4th Grade Reading OAA and again receives a score that is ranked on an NCE. The ranking of that child and subsequently the average of the entire group of students in a class or grade leads to a value-added rating — a rating that the Ohio Legislature has said is equal to a letter grade for the school and district, and a rating that is now a part of an individual teacher’s evaluation (50% as of next year).  At the teacher level, even first year teachers (who teach reading and/or math in grades 3-8) receive a value-added rating that allegedly measures the instructional impact that teacher had on his/her students in that school year.  First year teachers receive a rating because they spend that full year teaching children the content that the subject area and grade level OAA is assessing, essentially measuring what that class of children has learned during the year.

This change in law, then, won’t benefit teachers, who are measured every year.  This change might have a small benefit on existing public schools that have been operating for many years.  In the end, this law, like so many others adopted by the Republican-dominated Ohio General Assembly has the greatest benefit for Ohio’s charter schools.

First-year teachers will still be judged and evaluated on value-added measures, but first-year charter schools will not.

Newly-opened charter schools will no longer receive value-added scores through this change, so those schools will have their value-added ratings — a measure that is frequently argued as being a key means of evaluating yearly performance — masked from public view.  We will no longer have this metric that evaluates a schools one-year performance available to us to properly evaluate newly-opening charters schools; schools that are now opening at an average of over 33 per year.


Once again we have the House Education Committee proposing changes to the law that benefit charter schools over local schools and districts, and even over public school teachers.  While first year teachers will have the value-added progress measure contributing to 50% of their yearly evaluation, first year charter schools will be given a free pass.

I guess those first year teachers should be contributing more campaign dollars to their respective legislators…