Ohio Asks for Federal Relief, New Era of Accountability
Release date: 2/29/2012
The changes are part of Ohio’s application Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for a waiver of key portions of the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
“NCLB has actually inhibited schools by its focus on minimums instead of helping more students gain the knowledge and skills they need to be successful once they graduate,” said State Superintendent Stan Heffner. “Getting this waiver is part of raising the bar for Ohio schools so that we can remain competitive. This new accountability system will give Ohioans a more honest picture of how our schools are really performing.”
The USDOE has invited states to request waivers from portions of NCLB in return for creating rigorous plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity and improve the quality of instruction.
Replaces the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measure (which had the unrealistic goal of 100 percent proficiency for reading and mathematics for every student in every demographic group) with rigorous, but realistic, objectives that aim to cut the achievement gap in reading and mathematics by half over six years, while requiring higher performance from all students.
Replaces the existing system of rating schools by moving to an A-F letter-grade system that, in conjunction with a new formula, will give a much more realistic picture of school performance. The system and formula would begin with the 2011-2012 report cards.
Reforms the troubled Supplemental Educational Services (SES) tutoring program that provides extra academic help to students in low-performing schools. Ohio’s waiver will give schools much greater control over which providers are hired to offer after-school help and the level of quality of their services to students.
Provides targeted assistance to low-performing schools, reduces paperwork and gives local schools more flexibility in the use of federal funds.
Allows schools to be free from some reporting requirements and receive greater flexibility in their use of federal funds for professional development and other purposes.
The waiver proposal moves Ohio from the current rating system of Excellent with Distinction through Academic Emergency for districts and schools and replaces it with traditional letter grades. There will be an overall grade issued, along with four subgrades that measure how well schools and districts meet expected performance levels, how much academic growth their students demonstrate and how much the achievement gaps among various student groups are closed.
Using the new criteria, our simulations, which include all school districts and community schools, show that about 2.5% of them would earn an A, 44.6% would earn a B, 20.4% a C, 20.7% a D and 11.8% would receive an F. At the building level, 7% would earn an A, 50.1% would earn a B, 19.1% would earn a C, 19.6% would earn a D and 4.2% would receive an F.
“Our current accountability system is based on minimum standards that no longer make sense in a global economy, where good paying jobs require higher skills than are currently being expected of our students,” Heffner said. “I am confident that students and educators can rise to meet the challenge.”
The changes build upon earlier reforms in which districts and schools first began receiving ratings.
“While it’s likely that there will be an understandable drop in ratings when we first move to this new system, we’ve made these kinds of efforts before and history shows our schools have been up to the task,” Heffner said. “It is also important for communities to understand that their schools need the resources and support to meet the new demands that the world is placing on us.”
Letters of support for Ohio’s effort to obtain an NCLB waiver have been submitted by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio School Boards Association, the Ohio Education Association, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators, the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators, the Ohio Educational Service Center Association and the Committee of Practitioners.
The waiver proposal now goes to the USDOE for review, with a decision expected within a couple of months. To date, it has approved waiver proposals from 11 states.
- 30 -