"This is a big deal for our state, the A-F is a big deal, academically, "Ohio Gov. John Kasich told local school officials, teachers and parents Monday at a ceremonial signing event designed to focus on changes from a bi-partisan bill that will give more clarity to parents on the progress of their child and the performance of the school they attend.
Gov. Kasich, the father of twin daughters whose birthday in two days christens them as teenagers, said, "Education has to be for children not for adults."
The purpose of the event was to highlight HB 555, officially signed previously, that starting in the 2012-13 school year establishes a new system of report cards for Ohio schools. The new report-card system will grade schools on an “A-F” scale instead of using ratings like “Excellent” and “Academic Watch.” Starting in the 2014-15 school year, schools will also receive a single, overall letter grade.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich was joined by Superintendent Christopher Lester, Hamilton Local School District, Carole Morbitzer, 2013 Ohio Teacher of the Year / Math Teacher – Hamilton Twp High School, Judy Blackburn, Parent of students in Hamilton Local SD and Sen. Peggy Lehner, Education Committee Chairman.
According to Kasich communicators, the HLSD was chosen because it is a high-performing school district, has a low cost per pupil and exhibits a strong emphasis on parent input/involvement. HB 555 passed the Ohio legislature with bipartisan support. The school district has not increased their operating taxes in 20 years, which might be explained by the lower middle class profile of district families, according to a school official.
Watch Gov. Kasich on 60 Seconds Ohio
The governor's comments today on a new and higher core curriculum, that he said will provide more clarity and understanding of their children's progress and performance of their schools, the rules and regulations for it are being written now, were as genuine as his rainbow-colored, hand-made Kenyan belt.
The governor said the 3rd Grade Guarantee was never intended to punish or hold anyone back, instead it's a kind of early warning signal to parents and teachers that remediation is needed to avoid a child getting discouraged with learning, as happens now when their reading skills don't merit promotion to 4th grade but the promotion occurs nonetheless, which only leads to more and bigger problems in later years.
He expressed concern with poor performance in Ohio's urban school districts, and said students, like a someone who can't swim doing deep diving, shouldn't be asked to do things they can't do until they have the skills to do them. Otherwise, he said, it will make the experience of school and learning unpleasant enough that around the 10th grade it's not uncommon for a student to drop out.
Teachers should be the best they can possibly be, Gov. Kasich said, noting that the rules and regs for their evaluation are being written now. He also told reporters that his new school funding plan will “empower” schools to offer payment bonuses to high performing teachers. Kasich said his next education plan will be ready before his next biennial budget is due to be delivered on Feb. 4th to the legislature. He said he won't require school districts to link teacher pay to performance, but he'll give school districts that want to the leeway to design their own programs.
Gov. Kasich emphasized the notion of making career connections at an early age. He said talking to children about what they want to be when they grow up should be done earlier that maybe common in schools today. He said a doctor friend of his is willing to take one of his daughters who says she wants to be a neonatologist, but who doesn't fully understand that you first have to be a doctor, to shadow him at work at Children's Hospital in Columbus.
He complimented the effect from HB 555 that will speak to parents in clearer language so they can finally understand their children's strengths and weaknesses. Clarity to mothers and fathers, he said, will have an answer to questions like, "how's it going in mathematics?" The new core curriculum will be a higher standard for children to "jump higher and farther in a world that's increasingly global," he said, adding it will allow parents to help teachers.
That's a "win, win."
He was equally complimentary of State Sen. Peggy Lehner. "We have our tug of wars, but we know where she is," he said.
Gov. Kasich said some states like Florida that have adopted it have seen significant improvements. He said he views the 3rd Grade Guarantee, teacher evaluations, career connections, the Road to Readiness, increasing choice for parents and Teach for America as a bundle of education reforms.
Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder said in a report that his Republican conference, which enjoys supermajority status, will likely push for a kindergarten-to-college approach where funding and programs are laced seamlessly together. Given the effort put into devising the so-called Cleveland Plan last year—which allows local tax dollars to be shared with charter schools, alters the length of the school year and school day and allows district leaders to impose changes on failing schools without following teacher union contracts—expect legislators to spread the reform package to other big urban school districts.
"I think expanding the Cleveland plan is one of the great opportunities we will look at," Batchelder told the (Cleveland) Plan Dealer. "Some cities will want to do it, and some won't. We will focus on what the local people want to do and are willing to do."
Ohio schools fall from 5th in the nation to 12th in three years
In separate news from last week, the AP reported that Ohio's public schools are 12th in the country in Education Week's annual rankings. Ohio’s public school system earned a better grade on the nation’s report card this year, but the state’s rank—fifth in the nation three years ago—fell to 12th.
A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education said the state continues to perform well and remains above the national average.
The publication released its 2013 Quality Counts rankings last week. The report examines a number of factors, including elementary reading scores, high school graduation rates, college completion rates and per-student education spending.
Ohio's overall grade was a B-minus, published reports said. Its 79.6 percent score was up slightly from last year's 79.5 percent, but Ohio fell among other states for the third straight year. It was 11th in 2012 and 10th in 2011.
The national average score this year was a C-plus, or 76.9 percent.
Maryland ranked highest in the survey, followed by Massachusetts, New York and Virginia.
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