Since 2001, the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act have shaped Ohio schools. But in fall 2011, the Obama administration announced a chance for Ohio and other states to be set free from some of those requirements in return for promising to put certain policies in place. Ohio plans to submit its request for freedom by next week, the Ohio Department of Education says.
Among the No Child Left Behind-related changes Ohio wants to make: A new rating system for schools, new reporting about how well teachers in each school perform in the classroom, and scrapping the idea that all students will pass state standardized tests by 2014.
Not among the proposed changes: Dramatic changes in the role state standardized tests play in Ohio schools, i.e., standardized tests aren’t going away.
Ten states have already received waivers. And some states that earlier said they would apply for waivers have backed away after seeing the federal government’s response to those first ten waiver applications.
Scroll down to read a draft of the proposed changes that Ohio plans to send to the U.S. Department of Education. (By the way, the feds estimate that it takes about 336 hours to put this request together — that’s more than two months of one person working full-time on it.)
As we noted earlier, Ohio’s proposed changes include shifting from the current system of school and district ratings ranging from “Excellent” to “Academic Emergency” to one which assigns letter-grade ratings from “A” to “F” individually for four broad measures. Those measures would be similar to the existing elements on Ohio school report cards and include factors such as attendance, graduation rates, student performance on state standardized tests, value-added measures, and a new measure called “Closing the Proficiency Gap.”
They also include reporting on schools’ state report cards the percentage of teachers who do well on their professional evaluations. So instead of showing the percentage of teachers who are “highly qualified” under federal standards, school report cards would show the percentage of teachers in each evaluation category, from “Accomplished,” the top rating, to “Ineffective,” the bottom one.
The Ohio Department of Education describes the other proposed changes:
- New ambitious, but achievable, Annual Measureable Objectives (AMOs) to replace the Adequate Yearly Progress system. AMOs will measure achievement gaps and provide a strong incentive for educators to focus on improving results for all students.
- Modifying the current differentiated accountability system to identify and support the lowest-performing Title 1 schools in the state.
- More flexibility in the use of federal professional development funds in exchange for the required increase in higher standards and transparency in the accountability system.
- Fewer forms and reports schools and districts will need to complete to use federal funds.
(Beyond meetings with education groups, just 11 people emailed the Ohio Department of Education about what they thought should be in the waiver request.)
Update, Feb. 16: The Ohio Department of Education notes that those initial 11 e-mail comments were what the department had received as of the publication of the summary of the draft waiver request earlier this month. Since that time, they’ve received more than 150 additional comments. The department also notes that the U.S. Department of Education has granted states an extension on their waiver requests. The new deadline to apply is Feb. 28.
What do you think of these proposed changes? Will they help Ohio students succeed?