Ohio requests feedback on updated academic standards.

Dr. Robert Lattimer with Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) contacted me to inform me that Ohio is looking for feedback on its science, social studies, and financial literacy standards. Below is information that he provided to his group.

The Ohio Department of Education is updating the state’s science, social studies, and financial literacy standards.  The Department is currently taking input on its proposed revisions (https://www.ohio-k12.help/standards/).  The deadline for providing feedback is JULY 18. 

Ohio’s science standards date back to 2011 (before the introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards).  The standards provide a heavy dose of materialistic philosophy, especially in the area of biological evolution.  Overall, the Ohio standards are just as objectionable and biased as NGSS.

The proposed 2017 revisions are generally minor in most areas of science.  However, the 8th grade and high school Biology standards have extensive updates.  In particular, the dogmatic coverage of biological evolution has been strengthened and extended.  You are encouraged to provide input on these standards (and others if you choose). 

The on-line response form is easy to use.  A space is provided on the form for comments on the various standards.  Note that the social studies and financial literacy updates are very brief and there isn’t much to object to.  Science is the real problem area.

The review form asks the participant to select an Ohio county.  For those respondents who live in other states, you can check the “State Level Sites” option instead of a county.  A list of suggested comments for the biology standards is available; you may request a copy by e-mail (rplattimer@gmail.com).

A Tale of Two Ohio Common Core Bills

Ohio State Capitol in Columbus, OH
Photo credit: Jim Bowen (CC-By-2.0)

After I had written about HB 176, introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives in early April, I was informed there was a second bill. HB 181 was introduced five days after HB 176, It is sponsored by State Representatives Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and Thomas Brinkman (R-Mt. Lookout) and has 13 co-sponsors.

You can read the text here.

In my opinion, this is a weaker bill. There is some great language. For instance, it bans the use of PARCC and Smarter Balanced:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Revised Code or in any rule or directive of the state board of education, superintendent of public instruction, or department of education, on or after July 1, 2017, the department of education shall not use any assessment related to the partnership for assessment of readiness for college and career (PARCC), the smarter balanced assessments, or any other assessment developed by a multistate consortium, for use as any of the assessments prescribed under sections 3301.0710 and 3301.0712 of the Revised Code.

It prohibits officials from tying the state to any memorandum that would tie the state’s hands.

No official or board of this state, whether appointed or elected, shall enter into any agreement or memorandum of understanding with any federal or private entity that would require the state to cede any measure of control over the development, adoption, or revision of academic content standards.

Regarding academic standards, the bill says: “The state board shall not adopt academic content standards that are developed at the national level or by a multistate consortium.”

Great.

Here are the weaknesses of this particular bill compared to HB 176:

  • It does not explicitly forbid the Ohio State Board of Education from continuing to use Common Core. It just says the state shall “periodically adopt standards.” There is no deadline for new standards in math or ELA from what I can see.
  • While the legislation states that the state board “shall not adopt academic content standards that are developed at the national level or by a multistate consortium” there is nothing in the bill that would prevent the Board from just revising their current standards and then declaring them to be “Ohio standards.” We have seen this done in numerous states.
  • It does not require the adoption of quality standards in the interim. HB 176 required the implementation of the Massachusetts standards pre-Common Core.
  • The bill does not require the State Legislature to approve the new standards unlike HB 176. Sorry, state boards of education have proven themselves to be completely untrustworthy in repealing Common Core when review bills have become law.
  • It does not give school districts flexibility in how much they will utilize standards approved by the State Board of Education.

Is it better than nothing? Yes if they implement HB 181 in good faith. I have yet to see a state board or department of education operate in good faith when academic standards reviews are concerned. I should also note that HB 176 has twice the number of co-sponsors that HB 181 has. I would recommend that the Ohio House pass the stronger bill.

Common Core Repeal Bill Introduced in Ohio House

State Representative Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) introduced HB 176, a bill that would repeal Common Core in Ohio, earlier this month. Download the text of the bill (as introduced) here. The bill currently has 26 co-sponsors in the Ohio House.

The bill analysis of HB 176 summarizes the legislation, as it relates to academic standards and assessments, this way:

Academic content standards and model curricula

  • Prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting, and the Department of Education from implementing, the Common Core State Standards, or any standards developed by any similar initiative process or program, as the state’s academic content standards for English language arts mathematics, science, or social studies and voids any prior actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards
  • Requires the State Board, to replace the academic content standards in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies with new standards that are consistent with the standards adopted by Massachusetts prior to that state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards, so that Ohio’s standards are as identical as possible to those adopted by Massachusetts, except where an Ohio context requires otherwise.
  • States that a school district is not required to utilize all or any part of the academic content standards adopted by the State Board.
  • Prohibits the State Board from adopting or revising any academic content standards in English language arts, mathematics, science, or social studies until the new or revised standards are approved by the appropriate subject area subcommittee created under the bill, and approved by the General Assembly by a concurrent resolution.
  • Creates the 13-member Academic Content Standards Steering Committee to do the following: (1) determine a chair and co-chair of the committee, (2) appoint four individuals to oversee the development of the standards documents, (3) contract, if necessary, with an individual who has a “national reputation” in the areas of academic content standards and assessments to facilitate the committee’s work, (4) establish a subcommittee each in the areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies to review and approve any new or revised standards, and (5) select, by majority vote of all members, a chair for each subcommittee.
  • Prohibits the State Board from adopting any model curricula.

Achievement assessments and diagnostic assessments

  • Eliminates the fourth-grade and sixth-grade social studies assessments and the fall administration of the third-grade English language arts assessment.
  • Specifies that the elementary-level assessments must be the assessments administered before 2010 in Iowa.
  • Specifies that the administration of the elementary-level assessments must occur at the discretion of each discretion or school.
  • Eliminates the retention provision for students who fail to attain a passing score on the third-grade English arts assessment.
  • Replaces the current seven high school end-of-course examinations in English language arts I, English language arts II, Science, Algebra I, geometry, American history, and American government with examinations in English language arts, mathematics, and science.
  • Specifies that the high school exams must be the assessments administered before 2010 in Iowa.
  • Eliminates an exemption under current law that allows students in public and chartered nonpublic high schools to forego taking a nationally standardized assessment that measures college and career readiness if that student has attained a “remediation-free” score on the assessment and has presented evidence of that fact to the student’s district or school.
  • Prohibits the State Board of Education from using the assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the Smarter Balanced assessments, or any other assessment related to or based on the Common Core State Standards for use as state achievement assessments.
  • Eliminates the requirement to administer any diagnostic assessment to students in grades kindergarten through three, and instead authorizes districts and schools to administer such assessments.

Ohio Mom Gives Us New Math Tutorial

Twitchy shared a video from Melissa Strzala an Ohio mom frustrated with Common Core. She gives a tutorial on the new way that kids are being shown how to do subtraction due to Common Core’s introduction into the classroom.

It was posted last week and has already received 4.7 million views. I find the Yoda paper she’s writing on to be apropos. Bash head against wall you will.

8th Grader: Common Core Is Confusing

ohio-state-flag

I ran across this letter-to-the-editor in the Sidney Daily News in Ohio from a 13-year-old student named Jeffrey Nickels from St. Paris, OH.

I am writing to you about Common Core. I am 13 years old and I don’t know much about politics, but take it from an eighth-grader, Common Core is HARD. Think of it like this: You have five hamburgers, you eat two, How many pancakes can fit on a roof ? None, because aliens don’t wear hats. You may be wondering what the heck does that have to do with Common Core. Well, that was a representation of how I think Common Core is confusing.

So, I have been doing Common Core for a year and it doesn’t get any easier. I can’t speak for the rest of the kids my age, this is only my opinion on Common Core, that it shouldn’t be used in schools.

While school shouldn’t be necessarily “easy” the Common Core is so confusing and frustrating that you have junior high students writing their local newspaper’s editor.

Ohio Legislature Prohibits Funds for PARCC

ohio-state-flagOhio Governor John Kasich could end up line-item veto on the measure, but the Ohio Legislature sent a budget to the Governor’s desk that defunds PARCC.

The language, found on pg. 334 of the budget document, “prohibits GRF appropriations from being used to purchase an assessment developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) for use as the state elementary and secondary achievement assessments.”

It also prohibits funds from Race to the Top “from being used for any purpose related to the state elementary and secondary achievement assessments.”

Ohio is a governing state with PARCC, and the Common Core-aligned assessment consortium has been bleeding membership and has been plagued with roll-out problems, a high number of students opting out, and received bad PR after admitting it monitors student social media related to the assessment.

The Legislature does require the state to use standardized assessments for elementary and secondary students that are “nationally normed.”

“The PARCC brand name has been so badly damaged that even though people are more comfortable and familiar with it, the anger and the angst over it would still be there and that just wouldn’t be a good environment for things,” said state Education Committee Chairman Peggy Lehner, a Republican, told Politico’s Morning Education.

The budget does not prevent the state from adopting Smarter Balanced however as the consortia no longer uses Race to the Top funds.  Also, the standards are still in place and with the standardized assessment requirement in the budget, as well as, the No Child Left Behind testing mandates it seems unlikely that Ohio will escape the use of some Common Core-aligned assessment whether it is Smarter Balanced, ACT Aspire or one Ohio independently develops.

The good news is that this could put PARCC in a precarious fiscal position.

Kasich is not expected to line-item veto the measures.

Ohio House Passes Anti-PARCC Bill

ohio-state-flagThe Columbus Dispatch reports last week that the Ohio House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would eliminate PARCC and restrict the amount of testing done in the state.

A wide-ranging bill that would eliminate the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests in Ohio and limit state achievement tests to three hours per year passed the House 92-1 on Wednesday.

“Clearly, the implementation of PARCC assessments are not going well and need to be replaced,” said Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell. He sponsored House Bill 74, which also reduces the number of end-of-course exams that high-school students must take and blocks the PARCC consortium from submitting a proposal for replacement tests.

Brenner said his bill overlaps in some areas with the 30-member Senate Advisory Committee on Testing, which issued recommendations two weeks ago, including the scaling back of new twice-a-year tests to once a year. The Kasich administration also has recommended reducing testing times.

The House bill has some good components, said Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, but it also contains provisions that are premature and could threaten $750 million in annual federal education funding. The federal government requires the state to assess students in English/language arts and math in grades 3-8 and again in high school.

“Some of the ways they’ve described how testing could be limited would be in direct violation of federal requirements,” Lehner said of the House bill. “We could end up with a test that doesn’t do what needs to be done.”

Update: Heidi Huber of Ohioans Against Common Core is not excited about this bill, she told me on Facebook:

All you have to do is look at the sponsor name. The lone dissenting vote was Andy Thompson, the only stalwart in our Ohio fight. The bill is not as described. Ruse #6 I believe in the Brenner series. As an example; an amendment that prohibits only a consortium assessment that was funded by ARRA. Classic. Brenner himself said the bill does nothing, but that won’t keep them from touting they killed PARCC. The federal mandate still exists and the standards are still in place. Nothing to see here but more kabuki theater. The kids be damned, there’s profit to be had.

Ohio School Superintendent “Profoundly Concerned” About PARCC

Valarie Strauss at The Washington Post released a letter written in February by Steve Kramer, who is superintendent of Madeira City Schools in Ohio, to Ohio State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross about his concerns with PARCC and AIR tests in Ohio.

Here is an excerpt.

I am profoundly concerned that (PARCC and AIR Tests) are neither relevant nor important to the high quality instruction Madeira City Schools has been proud to provide for over 80 years.

State and Federal legislation regarding high stakes testing has been enacted with little or no regard to best educational practice.  Public school districts have been given no option but to administer these tests as mandated by law.  And yet, many of our parents are now seeing first hand the amount of time that these tests are taking and questioning the over all value of the tests.  I would tend to agree with them.

You can read the full letter here.

Teacher of the Year Calls It Quits Over Common Core Testing

stacie-starrLive with Kelly and Michael named Stacie Starr of Elyria (Ohio) High School the 2014 Top Teacher of the Year.

Last week the special education teacher announced she was resigning at the end of the year due to Common Core testing.  Ohio is set to implement PARCC.

The Chronicle-Telegram reports:

Gasps of disbelief followed the announcement made during an education forum aimed at unraveling for parents the intricacies of the standardized testing system. Starr was at the podium, delivering a talk on how special education students are suffering under the new system based on Common Core standards and more rigorous assessments. She said as a veteran intervention specialist at Elyria High School, she could no longer watch silently from within the confines of a structured school day.

Instead, she is leaving education in the traditional sense.

“I am going to teach in a different way,” she proclaimed.

Starr wants to start an after-school mentoring program for at-risk students in hopes of saving them from the school-to-prison pipeline.

….

“I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere,” she said. “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”

The standing-room-only audience at the Elyria Public Library’s West River Road North branch was shocked. Starr fought back tears as she explained her life as a teacher.

The tests are developmentally inappropriate for typical students and torture for those with special needs, she said. And, even an individual education plan is not enough to shield students from the rigors of state expectations.

“I have faith in my students, but my students are reading at sometimes a fourth- and fifth-grade reading level,” she said. “Each and every day, I have to look in my students’ eyes and tell them I can’t help them because the state has decided they have to prove what they know.”

Read the rest.

John Kasich’s Alternate Common Core Reality

John-KasichOhio Governor John Kasich was on Fox News Sunday this weekend and he made some incredible claims about the Common Core State Standards.  Incredible enough that my jaw literally dropped.

Kasich who has been discussed as a prospective 2016 presidential candidate must be living in some alternate reality from the rest of us.

Here are his remarks in full:

The Common Core was written by state education superintendents and local principals in my state of Ohio.  We want higher standards for our children and those standards are set, and the curriculum is set by local school board.  Barack Obama doesn’t set it.  The State of Ohio doesn’t set it.  It is local school boards driving better education, higher standards, created by local school boards.

I’ve asked the Republican governors who have complained about this to tell me where I’m wrong and guess what?  Silence.  But you know part of the problem is to date politicians are running to get votes.  What we try to do out here, we run out here trying to solve problems, and we have a problem with the education standards and our children’s ability to compete in the world.  We’re not going to turn this over to Washington or even to Columbus our state capital.  It’s local schools with local school boards and high standards.  I don’t know how anybody can disagree with that unless you’re running for something.

Let me respond…

1. The Common Core State Standards in math and English/language arts that the Ohio State Board of Education adopted in 2010 were not written by state school chiefs.  They most certainly were not written by school principals.  Liar, liar, pants on fire.  Either that or completely ignorant about the process.  I can’t speak to the rest of Ohio’s New Learning Standards that include a broader range of topics, but I can speak to this.  With Common Core there was a writing team brought together by Achieve, Inc. and five lead writers.  None of those folks were Ohio’s State Superintendent of Education nor were any a school principal.

2. The State of Ohio doesn’t set their own standards?  Then what the heck are Ohio’s New Learning Standards.  Is he telling us that school districts are free to choose their own standards?  That’s fascinating when with Ohio Curriculum only high school students who graduate between 2014-2017 are allowed to opt-out.  The fact the Ohio Department of Education even has a model curriculum to accompany standards tells me at the very least that the state, not local school boards, set the standards.

3. No one reputable has claimed President Obama sets the standards, but only someone who is being disingenuous can’t admit that Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind flexibility waivers influenced states into adopting the Common Core prematurely and without legislative grants of approval.

4. Kasich wants to “solve problems” but has been opposed to a bill that would replace the Common Core math and ELA standards that exist with the Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards that actually are proven.

5. How are we to believe that local school boards have a say when Kasich won’t even listen to voters?  Only 26% of Ohio voters support Common Core… just 1 in 4.  Who can disagree with that?  Parents.  Teachers.  Kids.  These Republican governors he is criticizing are actually listening to their voters.  Is this something that should be scoffed now?

Earth to Kasich.  Come back from fantasy land.  You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.