Bill defines new testing rules

On May 13, the Ohio House of Representatives agreed on its version of testing reform. House Bill 74, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Brenner and now moving to the Senate for review, would limit testing periods; reduce the number of graduation-dependent exams; require changes to OTES; and require a search for a new testing vendor. The Ohio Education Association has more details.

 

We have their ear about testing

As we told you in the May 11 issue of The CEA Voice, the Ohio Senate Advisory Committee on Testing completed its recommendations to improve state testing for next school year:

  • Shorten and scale the new tests back to once a year.
  • Improve the accommodations for children with IEPs and inform parents.
  • Train intervention specialists and paraprofessionals who assist students with IEPs.
  • Return test results in a timely manner.
  • Add more time to review the tests for standards alignment.
  • Preserve the option for paper/pencil tests for at least the next two school years and provide needs-based funding for technology.

The 30-member panel, which included CEA member Kimberly Jones (Mifflin MS), took only two months to complete its task.  Read the full report here. The Senate is expected to review the proposals.

Change seems to be at the core

In the years following the approval of No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—the name given to the last iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—Congress has been receiving a lot of feedback from teachers, parents and states voicing concern about federal control and over-testing. NCLB more than doubled the number of high-stakes tests in reading and math.

The ESEA is once again up for reauthorization, and the message seems to be getting through, at least in part. The bill on the table is the U.S. Senate’s “Every Student Achieves Bill,” a compromise proposal that is intended as a middle ground preserving accountability and allowing for some local control. Senators are getting ready to vote on this bill. It then would go to the House.

The measure still would require states to continue breaking down student-performance data by demographic subgroups to assess proficiency differences. It also preserves annual testing in reading and math for grades 3-8 (and once in high school). But it would allow states more flexibility in how to design their accountability systems and support struggling schools. For instance, states may decide whether and how to adhere to the Common Core.

The National Education Association is watching these developments. Find out more here.

Schools could receive less money

Under Gov. Kasich’s budget plan, more than half of Ohio’s school districts would receive less funding than in the previous budget. The reason? Formulas that determine which districts are “needy,” and which have the “capacity” to generate more local revenues. Charter schools also receive state funding, and according to a recent study, that funding affects the allocation to school districts. OEA is tracking the developments. See the full story here.

 

Testing Scrutiny Begins

The Ohio Senate’s Advisory Committee on Testing has laid out its plan to address complaints about the time spent on, stress imposed by, and evaluative use of Ohio’s plethora of standardized tests. CEA Governor Kim A. Jones is on the 28-member panel of school teachers, administrators and policy experts. The first meeting, held March 18, focused on the next steps: review of the PARCC and AIR tests, and a review of the testing schedules across the state. The committee recently sent a survey to principals, teachers and superintendent asking them to describe amounts of time spent on testing versus instruction, technology issues they have experienced with the tests, and for any other comments. Jones said she believes the committee will conduct a thorough review. Its report is due later this spring. Learn more here. The committee’s website includes a public comment area.

Testing reform push mounting

Thanks to the efforts of the Ohio Education Association, legislative eyes are increasingly shifting to House Bill 74, which among other things, would reduce testing in Ohio’s schools. News reports this week are highlighting efforts across Ohio to gain more local control of the ways and frequency with which schools administer standardized tests like the Common-Core’s PARCC.  The Ohio Education Association is backing the bill, which includes a requirement that the state identify tests that might be used for other purposes. The OEA agrees, and is backing companion efforts to give schools more control over the ways they evaluate their own teachers. Read the bill text here.

OEA weighs in on state budget

The Ohio Education Association testified on House Bill 64 (Ohio’s proposed 2016-2017 budget) on March 5 regarding a number of changes to education policy. Among their concerns:

  • The funding formula remains inadequate, with too much going to unaccountable charter schools.
  • Use of shared attribution to evaluate teachers may not be the best route.
  • De-regulation in hiring for high-performing schools is a slippery slope.
  • Establishment of a Senate advisory committee is a positive first step to fixing problems with excessive student testing.

Read more here.

2014-2015 CEA Staff Survey results released

Survey

The annual CEA Staff Survey is administered prior to the Article 211 selective interview process in the spring of every year. The results are published prior to Round One postings so that our members can use the survey ratings to help guide any Article 211 decisions they might make. To access the results, go here.

 

Kasich’s budget: More? Or less?

On Feb. 2, Gov. John Kasich presented his proposed budget for 2016 and 2017.  It sets limits on standardized testing time and eliminates the fall Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Kasich claims it will provide an additional $700 million in state foundation support to schools. However, the approximate $235 million cut in business’ tangible personal property tax reimbursements to school districts would result in a significantly lower amount. Read OEA’s analysis here.

 

 

Advocating for ourselves

CEA is offering a wonderful opportunity to learn how you can leverage your CEA membership by getting involved in the issues. We are holding an Organization and Activist Training session from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, March 7 at the OEA headquarters, 225 E. Broad St. There are so many issues that impact our abilities to make a difference on the job: election results, poverty, the availability of mental health resources for our students, OTES, SLOs, PARCC – and so much more. This event includes CEUs. Register at http://bit.ly/orgactivist.

 

PAR Consulting Teacher applications due Feb. 27

The deadline to apply to become a PAR Consulting Teacher has been extended to Friday, February 27, 2015 at 5pm. Eligible teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree in education, an active teaching license, and a minimum of five years of teaching experience, three of them with CCS. Submit a letter of interest, resume and three reference letters (from your current building administrator, a current CEA member and another professional) to CEA President Tracey D. Johnson, 929 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205.

List of principal placements for Article 211 announced

To download a list of the principal placements for Article 211, click here.

Please note: Article 211 of the Master Agreement permits members to request to staff reduce themselves from schools, programs or buildings for health or safety reasons or for philosophical differences (i.e. instructional program, teaching assignment, etc.). The reduction must be mutually agreed upon by Human Resources and CEA.

If you want to make a request to be staff-reduced from your current teaching assignment based on philosophical differences, you must write a letter that clearly states the reason(s) for your request. Letters should be sent to Victoria Frye, Human Resources, Columbus City Schools, 270 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215. You should hand deliver the letter and ask for a copy to be time stamped for your records. The deadline to request to be staff reduced is Friday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. Emails and faxes will not be accepted. You will not be allowed to make requests for staff-reduction status after Friday, Feb. 13.

The PAR program needs you

CCS is looking for Consulting Teachers (CTs) to join the Peer Assistance & Review (PAR) program. PAR CTs provide consulting, coaching and support services to intern and intervention teachers who enter the PAR program. Eligible teachers must have five years of teaching experience, including three in CCS.

PAR is a nationally recognized program that has become a model throughout the country. CTs also serve as evaluators for the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System.  Submit a letter of interest, a resume and three reference letters (from your principal, a current CEA member and one other professional) to CEA President Tracey D. Johnson, CEA, 929 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43205.

 

Feb. 13: Staff reduction deadline

The deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 13 for voluntary staff reductions.

Submit signed written requests – with the specific reasons for your request – to Victoria Frye, Human Resources, Columbus City Schools, 270 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215. Emails and faxes will not be accepted. CEA strongly suggests you hand deliver your letter and request a time-stamped copy.

This is likely the last opportunity for additional voluntary staff reductions until after the Feb. 13 deadline.

 

Columbus charter school teachers to CEO: We want a union

FPA

Under the gray skies of a cold January afternoon in Franklinton, a new chapter was started in the book of Columbus labor history. On Thursday, Jan. 22, three charter school teachers at the Franklinton Preparatory Academy (FPA), housed at the former CCS Chicago Avenue Elementary School, stood up for their students, their families and their profession. They read a letter to Marty Griffith, the school’s founder, principal and CEO, informing him of their intent to make FPA the first unionized charter school in Central Ohio.

FPA teachers Geral Leka, Ryan Marchese and Julie Pfeifer took turns reading the in the hallway of the school. The teachers were joined by a delegation of supporters, including OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro, OEA Organizers Jeremy Bainman and Matt Ides, Central Ohio Labor Council Executive Director Walt Workman, CEA Vice President Phil Hayes and other community and labor members.

“Today we will file authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board,” read FPA teacher Ryan Marchese, “representing the overwhelming majority of our educators and non-management staff, triggering a representation election to certify Franklinton Preparatory Academy Education Association (FPAEA) as our bargaining agent.”

These three teachers spoke out because they know that their teaching conditions are their students’ learning conditions. Specifically, the teachers addressed the need for a comprehensive discipline policy, adequate educational resources and the respect they deserve as education professionals.

“Educational resources are an important part of every school,” read FPA teacher Julie Pfiefer, “and in order to do the best job possible for our students and administrators we need certain items. These items include textbooks, manipulatives, a fully stocked school library with both fiction and non-fiction books, and videos, just to name a few.

FPA occupies several floors of a former district school– Chicago Avenue ES. CCS opened Chicago Avenue ES in 1897 and closed it 1982, along with Central HS. FPA opened in August of 2013, under the sponsorship of St. Aloysius. Charter School Specialists LLC, a for-profit consulting and operations firm that contracts with numerous charter schools is a partner with FPA.

The National Labor Relations Board will supervise an election to certify the FPAEA as the teachers’ exclusive bargaining representative in about a month and a half. You can read the full letter from the FPA teachers regarding their intent to unionize here.