We wrote last year about the problems with Ohio’s plans to rank public schools on how much they spend per student. Now state lawmakers are considering delaying those rankings at least another year.
Q: So what were those spending rankings again?
The state budget bill enacted last year year requires the Ohio Department of Education to determine how much money each school district and charter school spent for instructional and non-instructional purposes per pupil. Then the department was supposed to rank the schools in several different ways.
Q: What’s wrong with doing that?
The new rankings are supposed to help taxpayers better understand school spending and performance, and encourage school districts to spend more efficiently. But, as we reported earlier, researchers have not found a definitive connection between how much of its budget a school devotes to classroom spending and student performance. And the financial data the state would have used for these rankings contains dozens of apparent errors.
Q: What happens now?
SB 316, a package of education-related policy changes introduced last month as part of Gov. John Kasich’s midterm budget review, calls for the state to slow things down. The state Legislative Service Commission explains how:
First, under current law, the Department must present the standards to the State Board of Education by January 1, 2012, and the State Board must adopt a final set of standards by July 1, 2012. The bill delays both those dates for one year. Thus, the Department has until January 1, 2013, to present the standards to the State Board and the Board has until July 1, 2013, to adopt the final standards.
One of the questions school district officials raised about the new spending rankings was how different districts consider different expenditures “classroom spending.” This new bill looks to clear up some of the questions about what spending counts where, and to stop the state from using past years’ spending to rank schools.
The bill is likely to move through committee hearings and towards consideration by the full Senate later this spring.