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By: Wendy Grove
Is there a child in your life who is 5 years old (or turning so soon) who is amazing you with all he or she knows? Mamas, daddies, grandparents and loved ones, that baby of yours is growing up! After surviving midnight feedings, watching them learn to walk and talk and answering their endless questions, it is time to start thinking about kindergarten. February is the time of year most schools start requesting kindergarten registration paperwork.
Sending your child to kindergarten is a big change for many families, but the Department has updated its kindergarten resources to make this transition easier. Today, I am going outline a few of the basics you may need to know regarding kindergarten and preparing your child — and yourself — for school.
Where should my child go to school?
There are many schools and program types to consider when choosing the right option for your child. Know that you have choices! There are many options the Department wants you to be aware of so you make an informed decision about what is best for you and your child. Public schools, community schools, private schools, part-time, full-time, free, tuition-based, scholarships, open enrollment — what does it all mean? Whew, I’m out of breath. That is a lot! But don’t worry, to learn more about Ohio’s education options, browse the topics listed below:
- Do you know which school your child would attend based on where you live? There is an online tool to help you find your neighborhood school.
- Do you know all the options available to you when choosing a kindergarten setting? Learn about education options here. If you want to talk to someone about those options, staff contact information is available on that website.
- What about the neighboring school district where your friend’s child attends? Would that be possible? Open enrollment is when a school accepts children who live outside of the residential boundaries. Find out here which schools offer open enrollment.
When should my child start kindergarten?
Ohio state law says children are old enough to start kindergarten if they are 5 years old by the school district’s age cut-off date. That date is either Aug. 1 or Sept. 30. Each school district has chosen one of these dates. After you identify which district or school your child will attend, you can find out that school’s kindergarten age cut-off date by visiting its website or calling its office.
What does it mean to be “ready” for kindergarten?
Part of the when question may be whether your child is ready for kindergarten. Sometimes, people ask me if children should know how to read before starting school. The answer to that is “no.” But here is a list of knowledge and behaviors that might help you decide how ready your child is. The list also is a guide for how to help your child get ready for school. You should know that age is the only reason a public kindergarten program can accept or deny your child’s registration for kindergarten. There is no state law that says a child must be able to do certain things in order to attend public school. If your child is gifted or has special education needs, or if you don’t yet know and need to know more, the link above has information about that too.
Why does kindergarten and early learning matter?
Research tells us that 90 percent of the brain is developed between birth and 5 years old. This means the time for learning is now! Children learn more during this time of life than in any other. Just think of all the life skills they have learned up to now: walking, talking, eating, dressing, brushing teeth, sharing, showing love and looking both ways before crossing the street. In kindergarten, your kiddo will learn how to do school, which is where he or she will spend a lot of time over the next 13 years. In addition to the foundational academic skills, like writing and numbers, children also learn (or continue learning) how to be away from family, make friends, establish relationships with other trusted adults, follow rules outside of home, and work through schedules, routines and steps to solve problems.
This is such a great time. I am so excited for you and your child! I hope you are as excited as your little one may be to “be a big kid” and start school. If you do have a kiddo at home that seems more scared or worried about beginning kindergarten, I hope the resources and this blog will help you support your child in feeling more confident about kindergarten.
If you have other questions about starting school, try the Department’s Frequently Asked Questions. The Department also has a great team of education specialists who can answer your questions — just contact them through the contact information at the link above.
Finally, one piece of advice from my own experience as a mama…this is harder on you than your child. Be strong and help your child feel confident. Your child takes cues from you. Always remember you are your child’s first teacher and biggest advocate. Your support can lead to your child’s success in kindergarten and beyond! So, let’s get ready! You have the next seven months to continue the steps to school! Then, you will walk your growing child into the school, post a first-ever, first day of school picture and exhale.
Dr. Wendy Grove is the director of the Office for Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education, where she helps develop and implement policies for preschool special education and early childhood education. You can learn more about Wendy by clicking here.
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By: Chris Woolard
Merriam-Webster defines momentum as “strength or force gained by motion.”
In sports, the concept of momentum often is used to describe teams or athletes that create an energy that turns the game in their favor through a series of outstanding efforts and events. As a sports fan, I can recognize that concept in action. There is a feeling of extreme positivity, gains are being made, and everyone — the team, the coaches, the fans — recognizes things are going in the right direction. It feels contagious — and the idea is that you can build on it.
That energy can apply to schools too.
Our state superintendent of public instruction, Paolo DeMaria, spends a lot of time visiting with Ohio’s students and teachers to see firsthand the great things happening in Ohio’s classrooms. If you follow his Twitter and the Department’s Instagram posts, you can see amazing examples of these schools. These visits also are featured in blog posts. Recently, as part of the ongoing discussion about Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education, Each Child, Our Future, Paolo has been visiting schools that have received state recognition.
Ohio highlights schools and districts with awards that recognize high academic performance, growth, and improvements with groups of students. In my role with the state report card and understanding the performance of Ohio’s schools, one of my favorite recognitions is the Momentum Award. The State Board of Education presents this award to districts and schools for exceeding expectations in student growth on state assessments. To earn the award, a district or school must earn straight A’s on all Value-Added measures on the Ohio School Report Cards. Report cards serve many purposes. One of those that often gets overlooked is the recognition of success. Report cards have a lot of information. They contain information about student progress on state tests, which are tools for students to demonstrate what they can do regarding state learning standards. Measuring growth is complex, but the importance of it cannot be overstated. All students in Ohio can show growth. All schools and districts, regardless of their starting points, can show growth for their students. The Momentum Award identifies those schools and districts that exceeded growth expectations on the most recent report cards.
A total of 70 districts and 226 schools recently were announced as Momentum Award winners. They come from all over the state, including Georgetown Jr/Sr High School in Brown County, Mason City Schools, and Paul L. Dunbar Elementary in Cleveland. They will be recognized with certificates, and many local newspapers have been highlighting these successes. But most importantly, students in these schools are showing outstanding growth. There are great things going on in Ohio’s schools, and growth on state assessments is only one part of the picture. Schools are preparing students for what comes after graduation. Schools are meeting students’ social-emotional needs. Students are participating in remarkable art programs and marching in dazzling bands. There are lots of great things that represent success, and we should be sure to acknowledge that. We also can learn from these examples using Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse. The Momentum Award is one way to acknowledge that success. Congrats to all of this year’s honorees. Keep doing great things for Ohio’s students.
Chris Woolard is senior executive director for Performance and Impact for the Ohio Department of Education. You can learn more about Chris by clicking here.
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By: Staff Blogger
State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria spent Tuesday in southwest Ohio visiting schools and an educator leadership program. In the Southwest Local School District, he stopped at Miamitown Elementary School to see how they effectively embrace school culture — a key reason the school has been named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School, 2018 Momentum Award winner and 2018 High Progress School of Honor. Also in Southwest Local, Harrison High School put their impressive programs on display, showing how they prepare students for post-high school pathways. Superintendent DeMaria then headed to Three Rivers Local School District's state-of-the-art campus to hear about their safety and security services and diverse learning opportunities for students. He finished his day at the University of Cincinnati’s Alpaugh Scholars Leadership Program, where area education leaders learn leadership skills and interact with local businesses to learn the unique opportunities and challenges of the region.
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By: Brittany Miracle
You may not realize it, but there have been some changes at the Department of Education. Recently, I joined the ExtraCredit blogging team, and the Department created a new office. In my first official blog, I am honored to introduce you to the Office of Integrated Student Supports!
The Department created this office in direct response to feedback from you — Ohio’s stakeholders and our students’ biggest advocates! More than 1,200 stakeholders — including parents, caregivers, preK-12 educators, higher education representatives, business leaders, employers, community members, state legislators and students — put their heads together to develop Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education, Each Child, Our Future. You requested more non-academic supports to address the needs of the whole child, and the Department listened!
Each Child, Our Future places the whole child at the center of the Department’s work to support and improve student outcomes. Meeting the needs of the whole child means each child’s basic needs are met to allow for optimal conditions for learning.
For all of Ohio’s students to be challenged, prepared and empowered, we must support districts in getting students to school healthy, engaged and safe every day. Each child, regardless of demographics, must have access to supports to meet his or her intellectual, physical, emotional and social needs. The Office of Integrated Student Supports is well-equipped to support schools and districts in meeting the needs of each child.
Here are some important things to know about the work of our office:
- The office dedicates staff to ensure the educational stability of Ohio’s homeless youth, students in foster care, English learners and justice-involved youth. These vulnerable populations may face significant barriers to education, such as high mobility rates, trauma, and undiagnosed mental and physical health needs, and we are here to help. The office works to increase student attendance. Students who do not attend school regularly are less likely to read on grade level and graduate on time. You can find ideas, tips and resources to encourage regular attendance on the Department’s website.
- We helped form Ohio’s School-based Health Care network. The network comprises 18 schools and districts partnering with health care providers to meet students’ physical, mental and behavioral health needs. Schools and districts can use Ohio’s School-based Health Care Support Toolkit to get started.
- More than one million school lunches are served every day in Ohio, and our office helps make that happen. Learn more about how to start or expand your child nutrition programs.
- The office provides additional supports to schools and districts that benefit the whole child. These supports include positive behavioral interventions and supports; and information and resources to achieve positive school climate and culture; school-based health care; family and community engagement; trauma-informed schools; social and emotional learning; and anti-bullying, harassment and intimidation.
As you read, we have a lot of responsibility, and we can’t do it alone. We are all partners in ensuring each child is challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient lifelong learner who contributes to society. Comment below if you have questions or thoughts about how to support each child in Ohio. I look forward to sharing more about our work with you in future ExtraCredit blogs!
Brittany Miracle works in the Office of Integrated Student Supports. She oversees programs that support vulnerable student populations and helps schools meet the needs of the whole child. You can learn more about Brittany by clicking here.
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By: Staff Blogger
Part of building excitement for student learning means creating a culture of continuous improvement and feedback for educators and staff. Providing students with the necessary supports helps to meet their unique needs and positions them to learn and grow. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria visited Ashville Elementary School on Jan. 11 and learned how their educators and staff create a positive school climate for kids. The Ohio Department of Education recently recognized Ashville Elementary, in the Teays Valley Local School District, as one of the state’s High Progress Schools of Honor for 2018.
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By: Staff Blogger
Central Elementary School educators shine a spotlight on improvement with their focus on foundational knowledge and skills, one of the four learning domains critical to the success of students. This focus, showcased in Each Child, Our Future and connected to its accountability system, is one of the reasons the school was recognized as a High Progress School of Honor for 2018. On Jan. 11, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria visited Central Elementary, in the Logan-Hocking School District, to meet this community of caring educators and staff.
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By: Jonathan Juravich
In the field of education, teachers are a part of an incredible relay — a passing of the torch. Knowledge and guidance are passed from teacher to student, from teacher to teacher, and from teacher to the community. Over the course of my first 14 years in education, I have been a part of this relay with some exceptional teachers. These teachers do remarkable things for their students and communities.
Erin Budic is one of those inspiring educators. This third grade teacher at Liberty Tree Elementary School in Powell was affected by a student’s illness. She organized a school-sponsored American Red Cross blood drive to benefit other patients. Many years and many blood drives later, Erin has helped the school and the American Red Cross collect 1,056 units of blood.
And, in the past year as the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year and the Ohio Department of Education teacher-in-residence, I have had the pleasure of meeting teachers from all corners of the state of Ohio who astound me with their heart for the community. David Kaser teaches in Barberton City School District. In his high school STEM program, students design and utilize a 3D printer to create prosthetic hands to be donated to individuals across the globe. David’s students know how to utilize their learning to impact others.
Teachers know their work extends beyond the curriculum or their specific areas of instruction. They know that before students can meet academic goals, they must feel seen, valued and safe. For these reasons, I am incredibly excited about the inaugural year of the Teachers of Ohio Representing Character and Heart (TORCH) recognition.
Administrators, fellow educators, community members, parents and students can nominate teachers whose dedication to social justice and their communities makes them stand out in the most inspiring ways. Five Ohio teachers will be selected for the TORCH recognition and will be honored in a surprise reveal later this school year.
Please consider nominating a teacher who truly models a life of compassion, integrity, honor, and respect by visiting the TORCH website. Nominations are due Jan. 31, 2019. Together, let’s celebrate those educators who are making an immeasurable impact on their students, schools, communities and our future.
Jonathan Juravich is the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year. For the 2018-2019 school year, Jonathan is taking a sabbatical from his position as an elementary art teacher at Olentangy Local Schools to serve as the Department’s teacher-in-residence. You can learn more about Jonathan by clicking here.
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By: Staff Blogger
In December, the Ohio Department of Education recognized 66 schools as High Progress Schools of Honor for 2018. These schools have sustained high achievement and substantial progress while addressing non-academic barriers to learning. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria visited Rockhill Elementary in the Alliance City School District, one of the Schools of Honor, to see teaching and learning in action and how educators create the conditions for student success.
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By: Staff Blogger
School district superintendents and central office personnel from across Ohio assembled for a two-day seminar as part of the Ashland Leadership Academy. In conjunction with Ashland University, the seminar provides professional development, networking and team-building opportunities. Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction, spoke to the group on Jan. 5 about Each Child, Our Future—Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education.
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By: Paolo DeMaria
As we welcome the new year, it’s a great time to reflect on last year’s accomplishments. I’m proud of what Ohio’s education system achieved in 2018 and excited for 2019! Perhaps the best place to start is with an amazing undertaking that brought our state and local education systems together to set the direction for our future. Ohio’s new strategic plan for education, titled Each Child, Our Future, reflects the honest analysis and best thinking of Ohio Department of Education leaders, the State Board of Education, 120 Ohio-based organizations with direct interests in education, and 1,200 local teachers, administrators, community members, business leaders, parents and state lawmakers.
The Ohio Strategic Plan for Education
The five-year plan will enable our education system to organize its work around three core principles and 10 shared strategies that can ensure a high-quality educational experience for all children, promote equity and high-performing schools, and nurture the physical, social, emotional and intellectual child in each of our students. Each Child, Our Future can put us on a pathway to our goal: increasing annually the percentage of Ohio high school graduates who are experiencing education or career success one year after commencement.
I’m happy to say that so many of our other 2018 achievements aligned in one way or another with Each Child, Our Future. Here are a few highlights:
We have so many great teachers in Ohio, we wanted a way to honor and thank more of them. In 2018, the Department launched its #OhioLovesTeachers campaign to promote appreciation and recognition for our first-line educators. We asked people to share their favorite stories about teachers or teacher teams they admire on Twitter and Instagram, then shared our favorites on the Department’s social media channels.
A few months ago, we borrowed the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year, Jonathan Juravich, from Olentangy Local Schools to serve as the Department’s teacher-in-residence until the end of this school year. We plan to continue the residency with each annual Ohio Teacher of the Year. Here’s more exciting news: we’re now developing an ongoing Teachers of Ohio Representing Character and Heart (TORCH) recognition program in which each Ohio Teacher of the Year and that year’s finalists will evaluate TORCH nominations from the field and select winners.
Launch of the School-Based Health Care Support Toolkit
This year, the Ohio Department of Education and several state-level partners developed a School-Based Health Care Support Toolkit that offers guidance and resources to help districts bring these services to school campuses. Ohio already has inspiring, local success stories in this area. Pioneering districts like Alexander Local Schools in Athens County, Lima City Schools in Allen County, and Manchester Local Schools in Adams County have forged partnerships with local health care providers that have improved student health and led to fewer disciplinary problems, less absenteeism and higher graduation rates. Read their stories on our School-Based Health Care Support Toolkit webpage.
Grants to districts to promote literacy among Ohio’s highest-needs children
Ohio granted $33 million of a $35 million federal Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant to 46 school districts or partnerships of districts to drive literacy improvement for children from birth through grade 12. The three-year grants to these ambitious districts will help them improve learning prospects for their students living in poverty, students with disabilities, English learners and students with reading disabilities.
The Department also worked with a devoted group of literary educators and specialists from around the state to publish Ohio’s Plan to Raise Literary Achievement. The plan sets forth the ongoing work Ohio will do to improve language and literacy development in our children.
SuccessBound and inauguration of the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal
Launched in 2017, Ohio’s SuccessBound initiative strives to bring schools, businesses, students, families and communities together to adopt practices that move students seamlessly from school to postsecondary education or training and jobs. In 2018, the Department developed and posted toolkits for each of these partners to help them take active steps to become SuccessBound.
Ohio also initiated the OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal, a designation high school students can earn on their transcripts by demonstrating they have the personal strengths, strong work ethic and professional experience businesses need. The OhioMeansJobs Readiness Seal gives a student the district’s endorsement that the student is ready to pursue work experiences.
Educators don’t need Ph.D.s in statistics to learn about data-driven evidence of successful teaching practices and bring about powerful change for their students. Ohio’s Evidence-based Clearinghouse, launched this year, can help districts and schools identify critical student learning needs; research and select evidence-based strategies; examine, reflect on and adjust those strategies; and support efforts to improve student success.
The powerful source for evidence-based teaching practices brings together resources from many clearinghouses and will continually change to meet the evolving needs of Ohio educators. Every evidence-based strategy in the clearinghouse meets one of three levels of the Every Student Succeeds Act’s criteria for evidence-based instructional practices. Users can find strategies aligned with the focus areas of the Ohio Improvement Process, which include curriculum, instruction and assessment, school climate, and supports.
Ohio's Arts Education Data Project
All Ohio students can benefit from a high-quality arts education to help them develop important skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive workforce. Ohio’s public education laws call for one credit hour of instruction in fine arts — music, visual arts, dance or drama — as part of the prescribed curriculum.
Because we know the arts are so important to our children’s development, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Ohio Arts Council and Ohio Department of Education felt parents, educators, school administrators, and local and state policymakers need to know what arts education Ohio’s individual schools and districts are offering. Users can see the number and percentage of students enrolled in each type of fine arts education in Ohio schools and the number of students who have no access to arts education. The dashboard is searchable by county, school district, school type and location.
Ohio is proud to be one of the first few states in the nation to provide an online arts education data system available to the public.
Growth of the Purple Star Award program
If Ohio’s schools are to be sensitive to the cultural and circumstantial needs of all their students, a focus of Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education’s “whole-child” approach, we can’t ignore our 34,000 Ohio students from military families.
To recognize schools that are doing an exemplary job of serving students and families connected to our nation’s armed forces and inspire more schools to follow their examples, the Ohio departments of Education, Higher Education, Veterans Services and Adjutant General, created the Purple Star Award. Purple Star schools must meet specific criteria to demonstrate that they engage in practices that support students of military families. These schools receive a special Purple Star logo to display in their buildings.
In 2018, Ohio recognized 134 new Purple Star schools. What makes me even prouder is that six other states have adopted or are planning to adopt the Purple Star Awards program verbatim.
High school graduation requirements
The State Board of Education recommended and the General Assembly adopted a proposal that the alternative options for graduation be extended to the class of 2018, the class of 2019, and, with modifications, the class of 2020. Based on the experience of the class of 2018, thousands of students, particularly those who are challenged to demonstrate what they know and can do using standardized tests, were able to graduate and start a new chapter in their lives. These options will have a similar impact on the classes of 2019 and 2020.
Ohio, however, needs a permanent solution to this issue. In fact, during 2018, the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for High School Graduation Requirements developed and the State Board adopted a proposal for a new graduation requirements approach. This approach gives students options to demonstrate what they know and can do through a variety of means — including both test-based options and non-test-based options. You can learn more about the proposal here. In the upcoming year, the Department will be working to support the adoption of this proposal. It may go through further revision during the process, but the fundamental objective of giving students the opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do without relying on tests makes a lot of sense and will benefit many students.
Looking toward 2019
Though 2018 has been a strong year of achievement, Ohio Department of Education staff and I have more in mind for 2019. Look for another ExtraCredit blog soon that highlights what we plan to undertake this year.
Paolo DeMaria is superintendent of public instruction of Ohio, where he works to support an education system of nearly 3,600 public schools and more than 1.6 million students.
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Last Modified: 5/17/2019 3:20:37 PM