Ohio Senate Bill 3 was first introduced over a year ago on 2/2/15 and passed out of the Senate on 3/25/15.  The bill then made it’s way to the House Education Committee in April 2015 and had two hearings last Spring.  Many of the items in the bill would have made changes for the 2015-16 school year, so when it did not pass out of the committee, much of it effectively became “out of date”.

In the past month, it resurfaced in the House Education Committee and was recently hastily added to the agenda for the upcoming week, where we’re hearing that amendments and passage are extremely likely:

REVISED Education Committee Notice 2-23-16_Page_1

The bill was originally schedule to be the sole item on a committee meeting for February 22, but that committee meeting was subsequently cancelled, leading us to believe that legislators are still working on the amendments (the 23rd will actually be the 5th hearing in the House Education Committee, not the 6th, due to the cancellation).

The current 87-page bill covers an array of issues.  Here’s a summary from the Legislative Service Commission’s (LSC) Analysis:

  • Limits the cumulative amount of time spent on the administration of state and district-wide assessments to 2% of the school year beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Limits the cumulative amount of time used for taking practice or diagnostic assessments used to prepare for state and district-wide assessments to 1% of the school year beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Exempts from the time limitation assessments administered to students with disabilities, diagnostic assessments for students who fail to attain a passing score on the third-grade reading guarantee, assessments used to identify gifted students, and for alternatives to certain end-of-course examinations.
  • Eliminates the current requirement that school districts and schools administer diagnostic assessments to students in grades one through three in writing and mathematics, but retains diagnostic assessments for kindergarten students and reading assessments for students in grades one through three beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Requires that school districts and schools administer the English language arts assessment to third graders at least once annually, instead of twice as under current law, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Modifies the alternative framework for teacher evaluations, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, by increasing (to 50%) the teacher performance measure, decreasing (to 35%) the student academic growth measure, and permitting districts and schools to use a combination of specified components for the remainder of each evaluation.
  • Prohibits student academic growth from accounting for more than 35% of each principal evaluation, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, if the State Board of Education prescribes a state framework for principal evaluations.
  • Requires the State Board, by July 1, 2015, to take the necessary steps to modify any framework it prescribes for the evaluation of principals in order to comply with the bill’s provisions.
  • Specifies that if the State Board prescribes an assessment for participants in the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, each district or school may (1) require the participant to pass that assessment, or (2) assess the participant using the participant’s annual teacher evaluation.
  • Exempts qualified school districts from several requirements of current law regarding teacher qualifications under the third-grade reading guarantee, teacher licensing, mentoring under the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, and class size restrictions.
  • Qualifies a school district for the above exemptions if, on its most recent report card, the district received (1) at least 85% of the total possible points for the performance index score, (2) an “A” for performance indicators met, and (3) at least 93% and 95% for the four-year and five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, respectively.
  • Qualifies for an alternative resident educator license an individual who has not completed coursework in the subject area for which the individual is applying to teach.
  • Requires the School Facilities Commission, by December 15, 2015, to develop and submit to the General Assembly a legislative proposal assisting school districts to receive funding under the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program.
  • Increases the competitive bidding threshold for school building and repair contracts from $25,000 to $50,000.
  • Removes a requirement that the State Board adopt a measure, to be reported separately from the district’s or school’s report card, for the amount of extracurricular services offered to students.

There are too many topics to adequately cover here in a single post, so we want to encourage you to read the bill and the LSC Analysis and submit your own thoughts as (at least) written testimony on the topics to House Education Chair Andrew Brenner for Wednesday’s committee meeting.

The bill as a whole has parts that are good revisions and other parts that may serve to be quite problematic in practice.

For my part, I’ll be submitting testimony about the changes to the Resident Educator (RE) program, specifically the proposed allowance for school districts to choose whether to use the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA) or the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) to meet the RE requirements in years 3 and 4.  The most significant flaw in the way this reads is that it leaves the choice up to the school or district, not the individual teacher.  This assumes a few things about teachers holding Resident Educator licenses.

First, it assumes that teachers stay in the same school or district for the full RE program.  This is far from true as I can speak from personal experience about teachers switching districts in any year – 2, 3, 4, and yes, 5.  If a teacher switches districts, and the districts have not adopted the same process, then this leaves open the question of how the teacher is going to complete the RE program under this section of the bill.

Second, because it has to do with licensure, the RE program is a process that the teacher must complete regardless of where they are employed and, while the RE licensure applies to all schools, OTES does not.  Therefore, teachers in private schools may be, by default, required to pass RESA, while public school teachers have the two different options.  And again, teachers often move from private schools to public schools, or vice versa, leaving everyone wondering and trying to adequately track the RE requirements.

Finally, there is the aspect of the RESA itself.  As this is the third year of its existence, I must say it seems clear to many involved, including REs who have been successful, that the RESA is simply not a very good measure of a successful teacher.  It acts more like a homework assignment in an ever-changing graduate course with the worst professor grading it that any of you may have ever experienced.

In Year 1, REs only received their score along with whether or not they passed the task – not other constructive feedback was provided to assist the RE.  Imagine if you graded your students, telling them if they passed or not while telling them they would be retaking the assessment, but you provided no other feedback about their work or what they needed to do better?

In Year 2, along with the scores and the notation of passage (or not) of the task, Educopia, ODE’s hired RESA contractor based in California, added a list of areas from the rubric in which the RESA-taker did well and in which they needed to improve, but still no truly direct feedback to the individual about their submitted task(s).

And now we have hit the third year, with some teachers facing their third and final attempt to pass the RESA.  If these teachers fail to pass any of the tasks on their third attempt, they will face the loss of their teaching license for a year.  Per ODE [emphasis-added]:

Resident educators who are unsuccessful after their third RESA attempt will become ineligible for one year for all of the following:

  • Advancement to professional licenses;
  • Any additional extensions of resident educator licenses or alternative resident educator licenses; and
  • One-year interim licenses.

Please note that teachers in chartered Ohio schools must hold valid teaching licenses. Resident educators who fail their third RESA attempt but wish to teach again in Ohio would first need to complete remediation that includes additional coursework, supervised field experiences and/or clinical experiences at a college or university approved for educator preparation. 

Once these resident educators complete remediation, upon recommendation of their colleges or universities and re-employment, they may apply for one-year interim teaching licenses. They also must retake and pass the RESA to qualify for professional educator licenses.

The State Board of Education approved this procedure in 2011 and updated it in 2014. You may review Ohio Administrative Code 3301-24-04 for further information.

Anyone who fails to pass RESA this year on their third and final attempt would first need to complete remediation that includes additional coursework, supervised field experiences and/or clinical experiences at a college or university approved for educator preparation.  What does that look like?  What coursework or field experience would the RE need?

The reality is that we’re talking about these teachers re-taking courses that they already took in earning their initial license.  What these teachers would truly need is a course on passing RESA – a RESA Prep course, if you will.  It’s not that these teachers aren’t high-quality teachers, it’s that they cannot successfully pass all of the RESA tasks – and those are two very different things.  The RESA, while perhaps well-intentioned, essentially amounts to nothing more that a stand-alone, standardized assessment of an individual’s ability to jump through the hoops and hopefully check off all of the correct boxes while utilizing the problematic video-upload and RESA submission system and receiving generic, non-specific, and less-than-timely feedback on their “project”.

In short, I’ll be advocating for the complete revocation of RESA as a requirement for Ohio’s Resident Educator license-holders to advance to their professional license and advocate for the greater empowerment of a local school or district to utilize the evaluation process that would involve supervision and support by a professionally-licensed educator/principal to truly implement the concept of a “residency” program.  I cannot advocate for leaving the future of Ohio’s young teachers’ careers in the hands of an online-based company located in San Francisco.

I urge our readers – especially our educators – to find an item from this bill that you either support or disagree with and submit your testimony to Representative Andrew Brenner’s office by the end-of-day MONDAY for consideration in the TUESDAY committee meeting (the sooner you submit your testimony, the better).

Here are resources to help you:

Representative Brenner’s email address: Rep67@ohiohouse.gov

Senate Bill 3 Information (includes links to full bill and LSC Analysis): https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-documents?id=GA131-SB-3

 

CORRECTION: The original post said that the committee meeting was on Wednesday.  The committee is schedule to consider the bill on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

 

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