Eye on Education


Grading the Teachers: Measuring Teacher Performance Through Student Growth

Forest Park Middle School teacher Maria Plecnik helps 13 year-old Chandalay Coleman with a writing assignment. Maria Plecnik received a low

Lynn Ischay / The Plain Dealer

Forest Park Middle School teacher Maria Plecnik helps 13 year-old Chandalay Coleman with a writing assignment. Plecnik received a low value-added rating from the state even though her principal and students give her high marks.

Schools get rated based on how well students perform on standardized state tests.

Not so for teachers. Their main evaluation comes from often brief classroom observations by a principal.

Practically no one fails.

The new value-added measurement Ohio is phasing in aims to gauge how much a student learns from one year to the next, and how much an individual teacher contributed to those results.

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Ohio Lawmakers Consider Guns in Schools, Religion Courses

Eric Paul Zamora / Fresno Bee/MCT/Landov

A sign indicates a gun-free school zone in Yosemite Valley.

Ohio schools are generally thought of as gun-free zones, but there are exceptions. State law dictates that no one can carry a weapon on school grounds unless they have written authorization from the local school board.

“As long as a school board gives them approval they can have all the teachers, all the janitors all the staff, they can have all the parents, they can have anyone carry weapons in the school as long as they give them approval,” says Kristina Roegner, a Republican House member from the Hudson area. ”And right now there are no protocols, no safeguards, there’s nothing.”

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Undocumented Students in Gray Area for College Admissions

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Chaza Banda is saving up her paychecks from Dave's supermarket so she can pay for college, a dream that is complicated by her status as a deferred action immigrant.

It’s been nearly a year since the Obama administration gave leniency for some children who immigrated to the United States illegally.

Known as DACA – deferred action for childhood arrivals – the measure gives these young people some protection even though they aren’t citizens or legal residents. Nearly 2 million people are eligible for the DACA program.

This is the first year DACA students are applying for colleges, but their uncertain legal status can be a problem.

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Bill Lets Columbus Schools Share Levy Dollars with Charters

Dave Barger / Flickr

It’s been a rough school year for Columbus City Schools. The district is under investigation by the State Auditor’s office and the FBI for tampering with student attendance data and grades. Plus the  district has a history of less-than-stellar academic results.

Now there’s a bill making its way through the Ohio House that aims to improve Columbus City Schools.

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Cleveland School District Moves Towards Performance Pay

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and Cleveland Schools CEO Eric Gordon joined forces to pass the Cleveland Plan to Transform Schools. Much of the current tentative contract stems from the Cleveland Plan.

Last night the Cleveland school board unanimously agreed to what city and union officials are hailing as a groundbreaking teacher contract for Ohio. Union members will vote later this month.

The contract spells out a new basis for teacher pay hikes. Raises merely for lasting another year in the job are out; so are automatic bumps for an extra degree. Instead, “pay for performance” is in.

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Ohio Teachers Union Worried About Common Core Tests

Bruce Ackerman / Ocala Star-Banner /Landov

Tea Party members like Beverly LaCross, right, hold signs to protest the Common Core in Florida.

From the East Coast to the Midwest and beyond a backlash is developing to the Common Core – a new set of national education standards that schools in many states are already in the process of implementing.

Opposition began with Tea Party groups.

But now teachers unions in Ohio say they have their own concerns, mostly about the tests that will accompany the new curriculum.

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Watch Your Head! Concussion Awareness Law Now in Effect

jedIII / Flickr

A new Ohio law aimed at protecting student athletes after they’ve received a concussion goes into effect today.

Last fall, of the more than 46,000 high school football players in the state, 175 were pulled out of games because they got concussions. Of those, 14 were cleared and sent back into play.

Under the new law, coaches aren’t allowed to send those kids back into the game.

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Why It’s So Hard for Rural Schools to Pass Levies

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

There are no walls or doors between classrooms at Warren Local schools. Instead, the school has put up bookshelves and lockers as makeshift walls.

Carrollton Schools in rural Carol County hasn’t passed a levy since 1977. Union Local Schools in rural Belmont County hasn’t passed an operating levy since 1976. And the mid 1990′s was the last time officials at Warren Local Schools in rural Washington County managed to pass a levy for new funds to run the district.

Tom Gibbs, the superintendent at Warren Local, says he’s tried to pass six levies in the last four years, and failed each time.

In fact, since 2000, Washington County has passed just 20 percent of its schools requests for new local money.

Compare that to Franklin County, which includes Columbus. It has passed 51 percent of all new school levy requests. Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, has passed 43 percent of theirs over the last 13 years.

Ohio has a rural-urban funding gap, and it shows.

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Touts Cleveland Plan, Learns to Plant Beans

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited a Cleveland school today to tout the Cleveland Plan, the district's effort to turn around its struggling schools.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Ohio today to talk about education reform efforts and meet with area superintendents.

He used his visit to Cleveland to tout efforts to turn around the failing district, known as the Cleveland Plan.

Duncan’s first stop was a preschool classroom at Anton Grdina elementary school, where he learned to plant beans along with several Cleveland preschoolers.

When asked by a teacher to identify the day’s big visitor, the students responded “Mr. Duncan, Barack Obama the President’s friend.”  Continue Reading

Ohio House Moves Away from Kasich’s School Funding Plan

Image courtesy of Ohio House Republican Caucus.

A map released by the Ohio House Republicans shows districts that would get increases in state aid (in green) or no increase (in yellow) under the House's plan.

When Governor John Kasich announced his new school-funding proposal, most superintendents around the state were relieved to hear no one would get a funding cut. Then there was a lot of cheering when Kasich said his new formula would mean rich schools got less and poor schools got more.

As it turned out, the Governor’s description of his plan didn’t fit with the numbers. Projections showed many poor districts would not get an increase, while many districts that are well off would see more in state aid – sometimes a lot more.

Now, the Republican controlled House has come up with its own formula.

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