Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update – 6.5.14 – HB 487 Mid-biennial Review Passes with Major Changes – After a lengthy delay in deliberations on 6.4.14, last night the Ohio House finally accepted the conference committee report which was negotiated between the House and Senate. First the good news: The conference committee voted to accept the House requirement that the Ohio Department of Education must report how districts are spending gifted funds from the gifted formula. Also, aside from AP and IB test fees, districts are not allowed to count as served, any gifted student who is paying for their own services (e.g. credit flexibility and college credit plus). Also, qualified 7th and 8th graders may access College Credit Plus programs.

 

Which leads me to the not-so-good news: College Credit Plus changes largely followed those laid out by the Ohio Senate.  Private colleges can charge students anywhere from $100 to $153 per credit hour for courses depending on who is teaching them and where they are taught. This means that a student taking a math course offered by a private college but taught on the high school campus by a high school teacher may have to pay $300 to $400 depending on how many credit hours the course is. If the student takes the course at the private college, the cost would be at the $153 rate.  Students would be charged $125 for courses taught by college instructors on a high school campus. The original bill language limited the charge to students to $33 per credit hour. Considering that the whole point of College Credit Plus was to increase college access to students, it appears this program will only be for those students who have access to public colleges, who are on free and reduced lunch (for whom no charge can be levied) or for those students whose parents are wealthy enough to afford the cost. Districts do not have to indicate to students that there are no-cost options available (through public colleges), and, in fact, it might be that these options will not be available as the bill is unclear on this point.  So, sorry middle class kids, you may be shut out of appropriate coursework if your district chooses to partner with a private college for College Credit Plus.  Also, private colleges can require that public school students sign statements of faith as part of the admission requirements for College Credit Plus as this was not addressed in the bill.  

Back to some more good news. Many elements of HB193 were incorporated into the HB487. The Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) will see the end of days for next year’s entering freshmen. There will now be three graduation exam paths. The first requires the passage of seven end-of-course exams including Algebra I, Geometry (or integrated math I and II), and physical science, American history, American government, and English I and English II. AP, IB, or “dual enrollment” course exams can be substituted for American history, American government, and physical science. It is unclear whether the dual enrollment courses encompass all College Credit Plus courses or just those taught on the high school campus.

The second path would allow students to earn a remediation free score on the ACT or SAT. The passage cut scores for the ACT would be 18 for English, 21 for Reading, and 22 for Math. For the SAT, the passage scores would be 430 in writing, 450 in reading, and 520 in math.  This pathway could be the easiest way for many gifted students to dispense with graduation hoop-jumping.

The third path would be for students to receive an industry credential and achieve a score that demonstrates workforce readiness on the ACT Work Keys or some other assessment.

The bad news is that the testing levels for the new Ohio assessments will continue to be named advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic, and limited.

There is much, much more included in HB487, including the introduction of value-added at the high school level. A more thorough analysis will be prepared in the upcoming weeks.

 

 

Advocacy Alert 5.28.14 – Private Colleges are Pushing to Charge Any Amount to Students Under College Credit Plus --  The as introduced language under college credit plus limited the amount that private colleges could charge high school students for college credit to $33 per credit hour. The House Education Committee kept the as introduced language, but the Ohio Senate Education amended the language to allow districts to charge students potentially up to $193 per credit hour. In addition, the Senate Education committee took out language that required districts partnering with private colleges to inform parents that there were no cost options available. There are rumblings that private colleges are lobbying hard to remove any limitation on what students can be charged. (Note: none of this applies to students on free and reduced lunch. They still would not be charged). Please call the following individuals and tell them you object to any public school student being charged for the college credit plus program – especially for programs taught on the high school campus with high school teachers. Any charge to students will limit access to College Credit Plus, which is contrary to the intent of the program. Public school students are not charged for the current PSEO program. They should not be charged for the College Credit Plus program. Also, parents should be informed of all non-cost options for College Credit Plus. Tell them that you would like the funding language for college credit plus to be restored to the as introduced version in HB487. Please make your phone calls now. You will likely talk to an aide or get voice mail. Be polite and state your message. If you are shy about talking to a live person, call after 5 and you will likely get voice mail.
It should take you roughly 15 minutes to make phone calls to the following individuals:

Representative Gerald Stebelton (Chair, House Education Committee) – 614-466-8100

Senator Peggy Lehner (Chair, Senate Education Committee) – 614-466-4538

Representative Andrew Brenner (Vice Chair, Education Committee) – 614-644-6711

Senator Randy Gardner – 614-466-8060

Representative Tony Hall – 614-466-2994

Representative Timothy Derickson – 614-644-5094

Representative Burkley – 614-644-5091

Advocacy Update – May 20, 2014 –HB487 and State Board of Education Updates -- HB 487 was voted out of the Senate Education Committee today. No amendments sought by OAGC were included in the Senate version of the bill, and several provisions supporting gifted students were eliminated. Among the many changes are the following that relate to issues of concern to gifted advocates:

1.    Allows non-public universities to charge students under College Credit Plus the difference between the maximum ceiling amount and the floor. This appears to allow private universities to charge students $153 per credit hour vs. the as introduced and House bill language $33/per credit. (Until the actual language is posted, this is a bit unclear. It is possible that the new charge is $193 per credit hour. )

2.   Eliminates the provision that requires districts that are charging students for College Credit Plus programs to provide information to parents about non-cost options.

3.       Eliminate the House provision that requires districts to report gifted spending.

4.       Eliminates the provision that prohibits districts from indicating that a gifted student is served unless the district provides for the cost of the service. 

There are also many major policy changes regarding teacher evaluations, value-added, assessment phase-in, district report card safe harbor provisions and more. Until the bill is passed by the Senate and LSC posts the Senate version of the bill and the full analysis, it will be difficult to know the full extent of the modifications.

The LSC analysis of these changes can downloaded here.

OAGC testimony on HB487 can be found here.  We will need to make contact with the bill conference committee members when they are announced.  Changes sought will include the following:

1.       Restore the House amendment regarding gifted funding reporting.

2.       Restore the House amendment prohibiting districts from indicating students are served unless the district is paying for the services.

3.       Restore the as introduced language that requires districts to provide information to parents on no-cost options for college credit plus for students who are being charged to participate with a private college.

4.       Include language that would clarify that regardless of any partnering agreement that a district has with a college, that a student who meets the admissions criteria can access coursework from any public post-secondary institution.

5.       Include language that would clarify admissions to colleges would be no more rigorous than that of typical, matriculating students.

6.       Include language that ensures that non-public universities cannot require non-secular admissions requirements on public school students.

7.        Include language ensuring that the grading scales for colleges will be made comparable to those of districts before weights are applied and that a student with a disputed grade may appeal to the state board of education.

GIfted Performance Indicator Update -- The State Board of Education Accountability Committee made two decisions last week with regard to the gifted performance indicator that were contrary to those supported by OAGC.  The committee voted to allow districts under 600 ADM (students) to be not rated if they do not identify enough gifted students to receive a value-added grade or gifted performance index score. OAGC believes that 500 ADM is a number better supported by the data. In addition, the committee decided that districts with missing value-added subgroup scores would merely be rated on the scores of the subgroups that the district has. This could provide a disincentive for appropriate identification of gifted students.  Our suggestion to the full board is to ensure that districts above the minimum ADM that do not have a gifted value-added subgroup should be penalized in some way.

Next month, the accountability committee and the full board will likely vote on the thresholds of each of the three elements of the gifted performance indicator: gifted value-added, gifted performance index, and the gifted input points. The thresholds of all three of these elements must be met in order for the indicator in total to be met.  OAGC’s recommendation is to set the gifted value-added score at C and above; the gifted performance index at 116 and above (out of 120), and the gifted input score phased in at 50 (out of 100) for 2013-2014, 65 for 2014-2015, and 80 for 2015-2016. There will be tremendous pressure on board members to set these thresholds at a low level. ODE presented the following possible scenarios: a C or a D in the value-added component; 110 – 115 for the gifted performance index component, and 25 – 35 for the gifted input component.  The argument for the low thresholds is that districts will ignore any indicator that is too hard for districts to reach. But if districts that are doing very little for gifted students, it is a disservice to gifted parents to set the thresholds too low. It will undercut their ability to advocate for the children.  OAGC testimony on this issue was presented at the State Board of Education regarding these issues. You can download the testimony here.

We will likely need testimony and emails to state board members. More information on this will forthcoming in the next week.

 

Advocacy Update – May 10, 2014 – HB 487 Hearings and Gifted Performance Indicator Update --  Things in the General Assembly are heating up again as both chambers push to move bills to the finish line before the summer break. HB 487 received two hearings in Senate Education Committee this week.  It appears from comments made by Senator Randy Gardner during testimony given by witnesses representing three non-public universities, there is already an amendment drafted that would allow at least non-public universities to charge students for College Credit Plus courses. It is unclear how much the universities would be allowed to charge students per credit hour. It almost certainly will not be applied to economically disadvantaged students.  Also, in testimony, the education management associations as well as the Urban 8 asked the committee to remove language that the House Education included in the bill to require districts to report to ODE how they spent state gifted funding allocated in the funding formula.

 

OAGC will present testimony next week. There are Senate Education Committee hearings scheduled for Tuesday, May 13th at 1:30 PM in the South hearing room and Wednesday, May 14th at 2:30 pm in the Grant hearing room.  There is a possibility of a May 15th hearing. OAGC will be asking that the House provision supporting gifted funding accountability be maintained as well as the provision that allows 7th and 8th graders to access the College Credit Plus program.  OAGC will express opposition to allowing universities to charge students for college credit plus courses. In addition, OAGC will ask for amendments to clarify that students will be allowed to access courses taught on any public college campus regardless of any agreements for dual enrollment programs held at the district. OAGC will also seek clarifying language to ensure that college credit plus admission requirements are no more rigorous than they are for typical matriculating students and that there no religious requirements for admission. Finally, OAGC will ask the committee to strengthen language that would require all college courses to be provided with similar district weights for other Advanced Standing programs within the district.  If you would like to voice your concerns about potential amendments or changes to HB 487, please contact the Ohio Senate Education Committee members and your own senator. If you would like to testify, please contact me at anngift@aol.com .

 

Senator

Email Address

Senate Office

Phone Number

Peggy Lehner (R) – Chair

lehner@ohiosenate.gov  

614-466-4538

Cliff Hite (R) – Vice Chair

hite@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-8150

Troy Balderson (R)

balderson@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8076

Bill Beagle (R)

beagle@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-6427

William Coley (R)

coley@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8072

Randy Gardner (R)

gardner@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-8060

Gayle L. Manning (R)

manning@ohiosenate.gov 

614-644-7613

Tom Sawyer (D) – Ranking Member

sawyer@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-7041

Eric Kearney (D)

kearney@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-5980

Nina Turner (D)

turner@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-4583

     
     

 

Gifted Performance Indicator – The GPI workgroup concluded its last meeting on May 7. The group made several decisions regarding the threshold ADM for districts to be responsible for identifying enough gifted students to qualify for a gifted value-added measure. While the two gifted representatives voted no, the majority group voted that the minimum threshold would be 600 ADM and that it would be phased-in over three years. In addition, any district under 600 ADM that did identify enough students to warrant a gifted value-added grade and a gifted performance index grade would not be penalized if it did not meet the measure. It would simply be “not rated.” The group made no decisions regarding thresholds for the three components of the gifted performance indicator: gifted value-added, gifted performance index, and the gifted inputs. The gifted input scale (which along with other new documents is posted at www.oagc.com/advocacyupdates) is based on a 100 point scale on various measures of identification and service across categories, grade bands, and student demographics. The median district score is 34, which is not too surprising given the low levels of service across the state.  The Hannah coverage on the final GPI work group meeting is also posted at www.oagc.com/advocacyupdates .  Probably the most telling exchange of the meeting was at the end when all work group members were asked for final thoughts. Michael Tefs, the Wooster City Schools superintendent indicated that he somewhat objected to the whole idea of the gifted performance indicator. Hannah reported the exchange as follows:  

 

Michael Tefs, superintendent, Wooster City Schools, commented, “This is a back door to public policy.” Sheldon agreed and asked him, “Would you rather have an outright mandate?”

 

The state board accountability will meet on Monday, May 12th to discuss the report from the work group and possibly to make some decisions regarding thresholds for the three components. There is likely to be heavy pressure from districts to set these thresholds at low levels.

Advocacy Update – 4.4.14 – HB 487 Passes Education Committee -- The Ohio House passed HB 487 out of committee largely along party lines. Before the bill passed out of committee, an omnibus amendment containing thirty amendments was accepted. Several of these amendments affect gifted students. The first amendment requires a new reporting requirement for gifted funding allocated to districts. (Any additional changes to clarify funding could not be included in this bill as it is not a bill with appropriations.) The second amendment prohibits a district from reporting a gifted student as served through College Credit Plus unless the district pays the full cost.  The third amendment allows students in 7th and 8th grade to access the College Credit Plus program. This could be of particular benefit to gifted students where there are College Credit Plus offerings physically located at the district level. Another amendment that could be helpful is the ability of students to appeal district superintendent denial of access to the College Credit Plus program due to a missed deadline on requesting participation.  In addition, out-of-state colleges approved by the Board of Regents will be allowed to participate under the College Credit Plus program under the same rules as in-state schools.

While the provision that allows private colleges the ability to charge up to $33 per credit to students was not removed from the legislation, the limit of $33 per credit was not increased. The private college lobby was fighting to eliminate any limit on the amount that could be charged to students.  Look for private colleges to fight for this provision in the Senate.

Another amendment of interest limits value-added data for the current year vs. up to three years of data. The amendment also prohibits the use of student data unless they have been enrolled in the school for two years.  It is unclear what the impact of this will be on the gifted subgroup. 

 For a summary of all amendments to HB 487 as well as OAGC testimony, please go to www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates .

 

 

Advocacy Alert  3.28.14 HB487 – Private Colleges Seek to Charge High School Students for College Credit Plus – ACTION NEEDED NOW  -- During lengthy testimony in House Education yesterday, representatives of private colleges slammed the Board of Regents proposal regarding College Credit Plus.  College Credit Plus is a new program that will encompass both the current PSEO program that is typically offered on college campuses as well as the dual enrollment programs that are taught in high schools, usually by high school teachers. PSEO has always been free to students. It has been one of the beacons of light for gifted students in the state. When dual enrollment programs began to grow a few years ago, there was little regulation. Fee arrangements were negotiated between school districts and partnering colleges. Students were charged fees for both tuition and books in many cases. Credentials of high school teachers teaching the dual enrollment courses were not consistent across districts. In HB487, the Board of Regents sought to regulate this growing program by ensuring a consistent funding formula between districts and colleges and ensuring that teachers of all dual enrollment courses are qualified.

Under HB487, no public college can charge students a fee for College Credit Plus partcipation. However, private colleges will be allowed to charge up to $33 per credit hour. This is apparently not enough for some private colleges whose representatives testified that they are currently charging up to $100 per credit hour. While no student on free and reduced lunch can be charged, fees of this level still present a hurdle for many families. Dual enrollment programs can be counted as a service for gifted students. For gifted students who have mastered all of the high school material is it fair that they must now pay to be served – in a high school classroom with a high school teacher? Would an ELL student be charged to learn English? Would a student on an IEP be charged for services related to his or her needs? There are private colleges advertising dual enrollment programs through Twitter, Facebook, and other avenues. If these programs are a hardship, why are private colleges advertising them?

The private college lobby is highly organized. This legislation is moving quickly. It will receive two more hearings next week and be voted out on Thursday, April 3rd. Please email or phone the Chair and Vice Chair of the House Education Committee NOW to let them know that you are opposed to any students being charged a fee for College Credit Plus. Both the Chair and Vice Chair have been supportive of gifted students in the past. The message is simple:

1.       PSEO has been a hugely beneficial program to Ohio’s gifted population. Please do not ruin this great program by allowing private colleges to charge student fees that will diminish the ability of many students to participate.

2.       However the funding formula for College Credit Plus is resolved, fees should not fall on the backs of students and families.

3.       Students who are gifted should not have to pay for appropriate services especially if they are being provided those services at the school district using school district employees.

4.       As some private colleges are advertising dual enrollment program offerings to high school students, there is clearly some benefit to those institutions.

5.       Private colleges do not have to participate in the College Credit Plus program. If it is not financially beneficial and the thought of enrolling bright high school students is not enticement enough, than those colleges can opt out of participation.

Contact information:

Chairman Gerald Stebelton is 614-466-8100 or rep77@ohiohouse.gov

Vice Chairman Andrew Brenner is 614-644-6711 or rep67@ohiohouse.gov

 

 

Advocacy Update – March 21, 2004 – Gifted Performance Indicator Work Group and the Education MBR – This first meeting of the gifted performance indicator was held on March 18th. The meeting was more or less for ODE staff to brief the work group on the work that has already transpired. Future meetings will be held on March 26th, April 2nd, May 1st, and May 7th. All meeting handouts, agendas, approved minutes will be posted to www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates . The work group is expected to produce final recommendations to the state board of education by the May State Board of Education meeting. Work group members acknowledged the difficulty of developing a framework with the low cut scores set for current assessments, uncertainty about future assessments, and the timeframe for implementation.

 

The education midbiennial review bill, HB487, was introduced this week. You may view the bill at www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates . The first hearing will be on Thursday, March 27th. This bill is on a fast track for passage. As expected, college credit plus language is included in HB487. The language mirrors the Board of Regents recommendations released in December.  While many of the changes are positive, OAGC is concerned about the provision that allows private colleges and universities to charge participants tuition, textbook costs, and other fees. (Students on free and reduced lunch may not be charged). OAGC opposes this provision. It is in the public interest to ensure that all students are able to access post secondary enrollment opportunities no matter where they live. The ability to charge students may well have a chilling effect on the participation of students in these programs. Districts choosing to partner with private universities will have an incentive to dissuade students from choosing other post secondary options that are free to those students. It is poor public policy to charge students in public school districts for the opportunity to have their academic needs met. Gifted advocates may wish to contact their representatives to encourage this provision be pulled from HB 487. You may look up your representative here.

The next two weeks will be busy with both the House and Senate Education committee meetings.

 

 

Advocacy Update 3.13.14 – State Board of Education Recap and MBR Preview

State Board of Education Accountability Committee -- The state board of education met this week.  The Accountability Committee covered several items that should be of interest to the gifted community. The first was a preview of the gifted dashboard (no screen shots available) which is being developed as a drill down web-based database of items. The list of current dashboard items under consideration are listed on page 7 of the March accountability committee documents. OAGC would like to see some additional items including number of staff with gifted training and state and local funds spent on gifted education.  

In other news, Matt Cohen briefly reviewed the last ODE proposal of the gifted performance indicator.  Board president, Debe Terhar, offered a resolution to form a work group to review the gifted performance indicator and bring back recommendations to the committee by the May board meeting. Individuals appointed to the committee include Tom Ash, BASA; Michael Tefs, Superintendent of Wooster City Schools;  Jamie Meade, Battelle for Kids, Ann Sheldon (OAGC), one other member to be appointed by OAGC, Chris Woolard, ODE (who will chair the committee), Matt Cohen, ODE, and one designee from ODE Office of Exceptional Children. The committee hopes that the work group will be able to develop a solution to the ongoing difficult issues of measuring proper levels of achievement for gifted children, dealing with districts with chronically low levels of identified students, and how to define levels of service without service standards.

The accountability committee also discussed issues of weighting different elements on the report card. The committee embarked on a lively discussion about value-added measures and how to deal with sub-groups. The gifted subgroup was a central topic of discussion with board members discussing how to handle districts that do not have a gifted value-added subgroup due to low numbers of identified students and whether some districts might try to game the value-added system by intentionally lowering the number of identified gifted students.  At one point, board member Mary Rose Oakar stated that Ohio should just mandate gifted services.  She also brought up the issue of how services are defined and asked how the work from the achievement committee was going to be reconciled with the work of the accountability committee.  Chairman Tom Gunlock asked department staff to determine how many districts were identifying too few students to warrant a gifted value-added grade and indicated that districts should be punished for trying to game the system by suppressing the identification of gifted students.

Mid-biennial Review Is Released – As promised, the governor released HB472 on March 11. The bill, which is 1620 pages long, covers many areas of government. The most pressing issue appears to be a tax code overhaul. With regard to education, there are few surprises. As the governor indicated in his state of the state speech, the bill has new proposals for dual-credit, including the creation of “College Credit Plus,” an initiative that was first introduced in the state budget bill last year. In addition, there are changes to community college funding, course sharing initiatives, college credit for military experiences, and more. For P-12, there will be renewed emphasis on career technical opportunities and counseling.  The bill is expected to broken down into smaller pieces of legislation and parceled out to as many as ten different House committees as early as next week.  At that time, a full analysis will be completed on the education portions of the MBR. Look for both the House and Senate to make changes to all aspects of this bill

 

Advocacy Update – February 14, 2014 – State Board of Education Recap and More Questions about Growth – The State Board of Education met this week on 2.10.14 and 2.11.14. As expected, there was no discussion about the gifted operating standards. Board president, Debe Terhar, indicated that she has yet received no response from the Ohio Attorney General’s office on her request about what the state board could require in the operating standards. In addition, Ms. Terhar, has stated that until ethics questions are resolved for state board member C. Todd Jones and potentially others, that there will be no vote on the standards. This, however, did not mean that there was no discussion about gifted. On Tuesday, the accountability committee spent over an hour discussing the gifted performance indicator. In an unusual meeting, the committee chair, Tom Gunlock, asked both ODE to present as well as representatives of OAGC. Questions from committee members were generally thoughtful. It is clear that committee understands the importance and difficulty of constructing the gifted performance indicator in a way that will best serve gifted children. For a very detailed account of the accountability committee proceedings, please click here.

 

In more board news, newly appointed member, Rebecca Vasquez-Skillings joined the board for the first time in February.  She has been appointed to the accountability committee.  Her questions during the gifted performance indicator discussion displayed a deep interest in the issue.  Another board member made the news this week as the Akron Beacon Journal questioned the amount of PSEO funding going to Ohio Christian University for Christian-based classes. Appointed board member, Dr. Mark Smith, is the president of OCU. The article and an editorial on the issue can be accessed here under the gifted operating standards heading.

General Assembly Activity -- Both Senate and House Education committees met this week. While no bills directly related to gifted education, during sponsor testimony from Senator Randy Gardner on SB229 (teacher evaluation) a disturbing discussion took place about student growth for high-performing students. There appears to be a pervasive view from teachers and legislators alike that teachers with high-performing students are penalized because there is “no room to grow.” This is a frequent complaint of teachers who are looking at less than stellar value-added scores. But there is a problem with this “no room to grow” theory:  For every classroom of high-ability students where there is poor value-added, there is a classroom of like-ability students where teachers are showing great results. It is important to remember a few things about Ohio’s system of assessments and value-added. Growth is measured by where students fall on the score distribution normal curve. The expectation is that students should maintain their place on the curve -- no more, no less. That is one year’s worth of growth. The range of scaled scores for the advanced range on the OAAs is actually quite large. If one looks at math scaled OAA scores, the difference between the limited level and the accelerated level is between 43 and 52 scaled score points. The range of scaled scores for the advanced level is between 74 and 127 scaled score points.  ODE has repeatedly assured the gifted community that there is ample stretch in the OAAs and OGT to measure the growth of gifted students. It appears they have some work to do with classroom teachers and legislators on this issue.

Mid-Biennial Review -- Finally, Governor Kasich will be delivering the state of the state address on February 24, 2014 in Medina, Ohio. We should expect a mid-biennial review bill to be introduced shortly thereafter. While it is clear that college credit plus will be addressed in the MBR, little else is known about what else might be included.

 

 

Advocacy Update – January 17, 2014 – State Board of Education January Meeting Recap   As reported last month, state board of education president Debe Terhar pulled the gifted operating standards from the voting agenda so that she could seek advice from the Ohio Attorney General's (AG) office about the impact of Governor Kasich's veto of certain language around the gifted funding formula. Specifically, Mrs. Terhar wishes to know whether the veto prohibits the state board from setting any parameters around gifted services such as minimum time requirements. More importantly, she wants to know if the veto prohibits accountability for the spending of gifted funds.

 

Gifted Operating Standards Delay Continues -- Unfortunately, the AG's office did not have an opinion ready before the January state board meeting. During an exchange at the Achievement Committee between Ann Jacobs and C. Todd Jones, Ms. Jacobs questioned the need for an advisory opinion. She stated that it was in the purview of the board to make standards for the allocation of gifted monies provided, and it appeared that there was some intentional delay in the allocation of those funds to support gifted students. Mr. Jones replied that the opinion sought and the delay was up to the board president. He went on to say that even though the AG opinion would unlikely change his or Ms. Jacobs mind on the matter, that it might sway the votes of others.  For the audiotape of this discussion, please go to ftp://ftp.ode.state.oh.us/ODEMediaWeb/State_Board_Meeting_Audio/January_2014/Monday-January%2013-Part%201-Achievement%20Committee.mp3 . The discussion begins about three-quarters into the tape.

 

Side Issue Causes Further Delay In addition to the AG opinion sought by Ms. Terhar, there are questions about which board members can vote on the gifted standards due to the inclusion of dual enrollment and post secondary enrollment options within the service section of the standards.  This issue was the subject of a lengthy speech by Mr. Jones during the achievement committee report out. The discussion appeared to be the result of a statement made at the end of the December board meeting from board member, Mike Collins. He was concerned about the potential conflict of interest from some unnamed members of the board regarding the gifted standards. This month, Mr. Jones indicated that these comments along with an article in the Akron Beacon Journal have caused him to seek an opinion from the Ohio Ethics Commission about whether he has a conflict of interest.  (Mr. Jones is the president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio.) The Akron Beacon Journal has reported that an ethics complaint has been filed against Mr. Jones. The article can be found here: http://www.ohio.com/news/ohio-ethics-commission-receives-complaint-about-state-school-board-member-1.459783

 

Mr. Jones argued that if he has a conflict of interest than so do fully one-third of the board members who have ties to post secondary institutions including Dr. Mark Smith, President of Ohio Christian University; newly appointed board member Rebecca Vasquez-Skillings, Vice President of Business Affairs at Otterbein University; Darryl Mehaffie, Trustee of Edison State Community College; Ron Ruddock, an adjunct instructor at Xavier University, and Mary Rose Oakar, who was a professor at Cuyahoga Community College several years ago. Regardless of what the AG’s office advises regarding the funding and input standards included in the standards, President Terhar has indicated that she will not put the standards to a vote until the questions about potential conflicts of interest are resolved.

 

For the audiotape of this exchange, please go to:  ftp://ftp.ode.state.oh.us/ODEMediaWeb/State_Board_Meeting_Audio/January_2014/Tuesday-January%2014-Part%203.mp3 . The speech and subsequent discussion begin about one-fifth of the way into the audiotape.

 

Gifted Performance Indicator Discussion -- The state board accountability committee received an update on the gifted performance indicator from ODE staff. Two proposals were outlined, one from ODE, and one from outside ODE. Both of these proposals can be found at http://www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates.  For the full report of this committee, please click here.   And to listen to the audio tape, please go to ftp://ftp.ode.state.oh.us/ODEMediaWeb/State_Board_Meeting_Audio/January_2014/Monday-January%2013-Part%206-Accountability.mp3 . The conversation begins about one-third into the audiotape.

 

More News – In other news, a new report from the Board of Regents was released with recommendations around College Credit Plus. For some reason, this report has started rumors that PSEO is being eliminated. That is untrue. The report can be accessed at: http://ohiohighered.org/sites/ohiohighered.org/files/uploads/CCP/CC%2BFINAL-Report-Dec30C.pdf

 

In addition, it is expected that a mid-biennial review bill will be introduced in February or March. There will likely be educational issues included as part of this bill.

 

Javits Funds Restored – And for a bit of relief, some good news. It appears that $5 million will be restored to the Javits’ gifted and talented program in the federal budget.

 

Advocacy Update 12.11.13 – State Board Pulls Gifted Operating Standards from the Agenda – For a change, there were no huge public blow-ups or long hours of debate regarding the gifted operating standards at the December state board meeting.  Behind the scenes, the story was a bit different.  A compromise draft was developed last week by State Board president, Debe Terhar and board member Tess Elshoff.  It was supported by a majority of the board. However, one critical board member objected to the draft, and Ms. Terhar pulled the draft off the table. She also ultimately decided to pull the current draft approved by the achievement committee by a slim margin off the agenda for a vote. Her plan is to ask for an advisory opinion from the Attorney General’s office about what the State Board can or cannot legally require around the issue of funding accountability. How all this plays out next month still raises several questions:

 1.       If the legal questions around funding are not going to be until the state board meeting itself, will a draft be voted on in January, or will the president wait until February to move a new draft?

 

2.       As there are significant technical errors in the 11.11.13 draft which is currently the only draft under discussion, how will those be resolved if the attorney general indicates that the state board may not include language about the accountability for the funds?

 

3.       The AG’s office could decide that the board must ensure accountability for the funds, may ensure accountability for the funds, or cannot ensure accountability for the funds. While the first and third option are fairly straight-forward, the second option is not. What will the state board do if the AG’s advisory opinion settles on the middle ground?

 

4.       If the AG’s office indicates that the Terhar/Elshoff draft passes legal muster, will the board leadership support moving it forward even if the achievement chair objects to it?

 

5.       What happens to the sunset provisions regardless of an opinion on the funding accountability? Mr. Jones has indicated that there can be no minimum standards or inputs due to a legal opinion from 65 years ago. It is incredibly unlikely that the AG’s office will support his view on that issue, in my opinion, due to the fact that districts are not required to provide service. 

In general, the state board meeting was quite subdued. With board member Bryan William’s resignation and “questions swirling” according to an AP article around board member C. Todd Jones potential issues with the Ethics Commission, the board generally seemed to be exhausted and dispirited.  

There were only two other items of note regarding gifted at the meeting. Board member Mike Collins, in clarifying what would be happening on the gifted draft next month, brought up the issue of a potential conflict of interest for members that had ties to dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment is a service option in the operating standards. As some board members have ties to post secondary institutions, there is some question about whether they should be able to vote on the standards.  The Akron Beacon Journal ran an article on this on 12.11.2013. There is one point that is inaccurate in the article. The journalist indicated that C. Todd Jones wrote the September draft of the gifted operating standards. He did not.  The 11.11.13 draft that the achievement committee approved is the work of Mr. Jones. 

The second item regarding gifted was when Dick Ross indicated to the board that the department staff had given the board incorrect information about the number of districts that weren’t identifying gifted students. The number, he said was around fifty, but in reality, it is more like two. In all fairness to ODE staff, they never provided in correct information to the board. What they shared were the number of districts that identified so few students they didn’t qualify for a gifted value-added sub-group store. Interestingly, I corrected this statement that was made by Dr. Ross in the September meeting in my testimony that month. Apparently, my clarification didn’t register.

The gifted performance indicator and gifted dashboard were tabled from the accountability committee discussion until the gifted operating standards discussion is resolved.

For an excellent and impartial summary of gifted coverage, please read the Gongwer report.

For a link to the Associated Press article, please click here.

For a link to the Akron Beacon Journal article, please click here.

Believe it or not, there are education issues other than the gifted operating standards. These include progress on HB 193 (high school graduation standards), which include some nice changes for gifted advocates; SB 220 dual enrollment fees, and SB 229 (teacher evaluation). All of these issues will be covered in the upcoming Winter Advocacy Corner.

Questions? Email me at anngift@aol.com.

Advocacy Update 11.15.13 – State Board of Education Recap and a Bit More – This week, the State Board of Education met at the OSBA Capital Conference at the Columbus Convention Center. Because of the length of my update I am providing a link to the full document, which covers the 11.11.2013 Achievement Committee, public testimony on 11.12.2013, and coverage of the accountability committee which is charged with developing the gifted dashboard and the gifted performance indicator, also from 11.12.2013. Most of you will want to read the full version, which you can access here.  But for those of you who want the short version, here is a recap:

 ·         The gifted operating standards were voted out of the achievement committee on a 3 – 2 vote. The operating standards will move to full board discussion and vote in December. If the length and nasty tone of the achievement committee proceedings is any indication, the full board discussion will be long and ugly. The provisions of the amended draft can be viewed at www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates.

·         Several gifted witnesses provided excellent testimony. Testimony can be accessed at the above link. Very few questions were asked of witnesses. But it was clear that the board members who stayed to listen to the testimony were affected by what they heard.

·         The accountability committee met after the full board meeting and discussed the gifted dashboard and the gifted performance indicator. It quickly became clear that if output measures for service are to be useful the inputs on how service is to be defined need to be meaningful. A proposal for the indicator and dashboard (which is wholly inadequate) can be found at the above link.

In more news for gifted advocates, there have been no additional hearings on Senator Gardner’s bill to allow districts to charge students for dual enrollment courses.

Gifted advocates will need to focus their attention on several state board members before the December state board of education meeting, which will be held on December 9th and 10th. Some clear lines have been drawn in terms of board members who support gifted advocates and those who do not.  However, there are a number of individuals who are on the fence or who haven’t committed to a set position. These members include:

Debe Terhar – President (elected)

debe.terhar@education.ohio.gov,

Joe Farmer – appointed

joe.farmer@education.ohio.gov

Tess Elshoff –appointed

tess.elshoff@education.ohio.gov

Ron Rudduck – appointed to fill an elected seat and will need to run for re-election

ron.rudduck@education.ohio.gov

Kathleen McGervey – elected

kathleen.mcgervey@education.ohio.gov

Bryan Williams – elected

bryan.williams@education.ohio.gov

Mark A Smith – appointed

mark.a.smith@education.ohio.gov

Darryl Mehaffie -- appointed

darryl.mehaffie@education.ohio.gov

 

The message is simple:

·         The operating standards must include accountability for gifted funds as called for in the law.

·      Current service standards (i.e. inputs) in the operating standards should remain without an arbitrary the above lisunset provision.

·         Coordinator services should not be optional.

As always, keep it simple, to the point, and, above all, polite. Add your own story if you like, but keep it short.

Please also take a few minutes to thank the following achievement committee members, who valiantly tried to amend the operating standards, particularly Ann Jacobs.

Ann Jacobs (elected)

ann.jacobs@education.ohio.gov

Sarah Fowler (elected)

sarah.fowler@education.ohio.gov

Tess Elshoff (appointed)

tess.elshoff@education.ohio.gov

 

Questions? Email me at anngift@aol.com .

 

Advocacy Update -- November 6, 2013 -- Todd Jones' Draft is Now Posted --  I have received permission from Achievement Committee Chair, Todd Jones to post his proposed draft of the gifted operating standards with the caveat that it might be changed before Monday. To view this draft, Mr. Jones' comparison document, and OAGC's summary and list of concerns, please go to www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates. Then, please read the November 5th update below and contact state board members. 

Advocacy Update – November 5, 2013 – A Move Toward Consensus on Gifted Operating Standards? – Last week, Chairman C. Todd Jones of the State Achievement Committee emailed a new draft of the gifted operating standards to state board members. While the draft is not public yet, Mr. Jones graciously provided me with a copy. His stated goal several times has been to move toward committee consensus as much as possible before the committee votes. The new draft is largely based on the 9.5.13 draft with some significant changes. While definitely a step in the right direction, the OAGC board still has some significant issues with several of the provisions. The most significant are:  

 1.       A sunset of minimum caseload and time requirement provisions in June of 2015, before the state knows whether the new output measures are appropriate or not.

2.       No funding accountability, which OAGC highly opposes.

3.       Removal of the requirement that districts provide gifted coordinator services even while restoring some of the coordinator credentials.

4.        The introduction of a waiver based on district performance.  OAGC is not necessarily opposed to a waiver, but as written, it is overly broad and too forgiving of districts in years where they performing below “A” level work.

OAGC believes that compromise language could be drafted to address many of these provisions so that perhaps all sides could move toward consensus.

The Achievement Committee is scheduled to discuss the new draft and other changes on Monday, November 11 at the State Board of Education. While Chairman Jones hopes for a consensus vote at the time, it is still unclear whether a draft will also be put before the full board on Tuesday, November 12.   The board meeting is being held at the Columbus Convention Center during the Ohio School Board Association convention. Traditionally, the board does not like to have a full agenda during the November meeting so they can meet with board members and others.  When more information becomes available, it will be posted. In the meantime, please email State board of education members to urge them to address the above issue before supporting this new draft. State board member addresses are at the following link:  http://www.oagc.com/files/State%20Board%20email%20addresses.9.27.13.pdf .

Also, please be aware that a new bill has been introduced in the Senate that will allow districts to charge fees to students for dual enrollment courses. Sponsor testimony will be this week. Stay tuned for more information as this bill moves forward.

Questions? Contact Ann Sheldon at anngift@aol.com.

Advocacy Update – October 25, 2013 – All is Quiet Regarding a New “Consensus” Draft of Gifted Standards – Almost three weeks ago, the chair of the State Board of Education Achievement Committee used  avoided a vote on a committee member’s compromise draft of new gifted operating standards. The Chair, C. Todd Jones, indicated that he would be working with committee members to draft a new consensus draft that would be presented to both committee members and other members of the state board of education well in advance of the November state board meeting. Despite repeated requests for information about the progress of this draft, there is nothing to report. No new draft currently exists and Mr. Jones has indicated he does not intend to provide a timeline when a new draft will be ready for review.  Gifted advocates should continue to contact state board members with this simple message:

1.       Keep the current input measures in the existing gifted operating standards intact at least until output measures can be developed, fully implemented and reviewed for effectiveness. A sunset of these rules at some pre-determined time without ensuring that outputs are effective is not acceptable.

2.       Ensure that service is defined in a way that actually is meaningful and not merely a check-off list that does little for gifted students.

3.       Ensure that gifted funding for identification, coordinators, gifted intervention specialists actually is spent on those areas.

4.       Maintain the integrity of gifted staff by ensuring the gifted intervention specialists and gifted coordinators have gifted licensure.

Here is a link to email addresses

Also, we will need to line up witnesses (all are welcome – parents, educators, and students) for November 12th public testimony. Please email me at anngift@aol.com if you wish to testify.

In other news, several reports and commentaries have been released this week regarding the appalling lack of support for gifted students nationally. The first is a commentary in the Education Gadfly this week entitled "America and its high-potential kids" by Andy Smarick.  Here is a link:   

http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/flypaper/america-and-its-high-potential-kids
 
Here's a link to the downloadable report on which this column is based:
 
http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/guidebook/closing_americas_high_achievement_gap/k_12_education
 
And below is a link to a report that follows up on an earlier report called "Mind the (other) Gap."
 (2010). The follow-up report, "Talent on the Sidelines: Excellence Gaps and America's Persistent Talent Underclass" 
is by Jonathan A. Plucker, Ph.D., Jacob Hardesty, Ph.D., Nathan Burroughs, Ph.D. 
The website includes a state-by-state summary. http://cepa.uconn.edu/mindthegap/  

Advocacy Update – 10.18.13 – State Board of Education Audio Tapes Reveal Many Inaccuracies--Last week, I reported the astonishing details of the State Board Achievement Committee and subsequent general board meeting. While I paraphrased as best I could those meetings, the full audio of those meetings are at the following links.

Achievement committee audio link:

ftp://ftp.ode.state.oh.us/ODEMediaWeb/State_Board_Meeting_Audio/October_2013/10-7-13-Monday-Part%202%20-%20Achievement.mp3

General business meeting audio link:

ftp://ftp.ode.state.oh.us/ODEMediaWeb/State_Board_Meeting_Audio/October_2013/10-8-13-Tuesday-Part%202%20-%20Business.mp3

While lengthy, gifted advocates may wish to listen to them to understand just how unusual and heated the gifted operating standard discussions have been at the State Board. To recap, achievement committee member Tess Elshoff wished the committee to consider a substitute draft of operating standards that would have been a compromise between education management groups and the gifted community.

Unfortunately, Chairman C. Todd Jones indicated to the committee that as chair even if the draft received a majority vote that as chair, he would not allow the draft to be moved to the full board. According to Ann Jacobs, this is in violation of board rules and Robert’s Rules of Order. Here are some of the items that are misleading or just inaccurate:

1.       Mr. Jones and Superintendent Dick Ross repeatedly indicated that if the operating standards weren’t passed by the full board in November that the rule would automatically elapse and there would be no regulations in place. This is not true. There is no automatic elimination of regulations if agencies miss filing deadlines. JCARR (Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review) would have to actively vote to remove the regulations. This has happened only rarely, and it has ever happened for a rule at ODE. The last gifted rule was in place for 8 years – 3 years beyond the 5 year maximum.

2.       Mr. Jones said that Chairman Ron Amstutz of the House Finance Committee was mistaken in what the law requires for gifted education funding because the governor vetoed some portions of the gifted funding language. This is inaccurate. While the governor vetoed some language, the funding formula was left entirely intact. Chairman Amstutz is totally correct in the interpretation of the law even after the language vetoed. The law clearly calls for gifted funding to be spent on gifted identification, gifted coordinators, and gifted intervention specialists. There are several sections of code that support this interpretation. 

3.       Dr. Ross indicated that the amount of gifted funding was less than $85 million because a cap was applied to it. That estimate may bring the amount down to approximately $75 million which is still a significant increase from past years. However, he neglected to mention that there is also approximately $33 million in gifted funding that is included in transitional aid that should be accounted for at some level.

4.       Dr. Ross and Mr. Jones continued to repeat that funding rules are not necessary to implement the law. However, what they neglected to mention is that gifted unit funding has always been in operating standards and that currently without any operating standards in place ODE has issued statements indicated that the gifted funds can be used for anything. Placing funding inside the operating standards protects gifted students and ensures taxpayers that ODE will be implement the law with integrity.

Additional issues: 

1. Mr. Jones indicated that the gifted performance indicator is already on the report card. It is not. It is not scheduled to be on the report card until the 2014/2015. 

2. Mr. Jones stated that the earliest the Ohio General Assembly could pass legislation to strengthen or direct the operating standards for gifted would be September of 2015. That is mere conjecture. The General Assembly can pass legislation at any time to change Ohio Revised Code. 

 

In other news, State Board member, Bryan Williams in a committee meeting on general operating standards made this comment about the gifted operating standards. From Hannah News:

"I hope we have the capacity to look past all the confining elements," he said. "I just think the forces of thinking small are stronger than the forces of thinking reform." He cited calls for proscriptive guidelines in current debate on operating standards for gifted education as one example."We're hearing people come in and say, 'Please give us these expensive handcuffs, we want nothing less than that,'" Williams said.

While many board members support us, we still have our work cut out for us. Please continue to contact state board members. Here is a link to email addresses.  The message should be simple:

1.       Keep the current input measures in gifted operating standards intact at least until output measures can be developed, fully implemented and reviewed for effectiveness. Sunsetting the rules at some pre-determined time without ensuring that outputs are effective is not acceptable.

2.       Ensure that service is defined in a way that actually is meaningful and not merely a cursory

3.       Ensure that gifted funding for identification, coordinators, gifted intervention specialists actually is spent on those areas.

4.       Maintain the integrity of gifted staff by ensuring the gifted intervention specialists and gifted coordinators have gifted licensure.

Also, we will need parents, educators, and children to testify on November 12. Please email me at anngift@aol.com  if you can testify.

 Advocacy Update 10.9.13 – State Board Continues Gifted Debate/Gifted Witnesses Testify

Yesterday, the "fun" continued at the state board of education meeting when board member Ann Jacobs took on Achievement Committee Chair, C. Todd Jones, for his behavior and improper procedural moves during Monday's Achievement Committee. The Hannah news account of the exchange is as follows: 

 

The disagreement between State Board of Education members Ann Jacobs and C. Todd Jones in Monday's Achievement Committee resurfaced during Tuesday's full board meeting. Following Jones' report to the board, Jacobs raised objections over his handling of the committee, saying that all the board members should "have their voices heard" and that the chairmen should follow parliamentary procedure.


Jones rebutted her remarks at length, commenting that, "I am sorry Ms. Jacobs would prefer division rather than consensus." Jacobs responded by encouraging the board to listen to the tape of the committee to hear "the sarcasm and the personal jibes" that she was subjected to. This is "completely contrary to good boardsmanship and civility."


Later in the day, the board heard from seventeen gifted witnesses.  While all witnesses did a fantastic job, I would particularly like to thank Sara and  Charlotte Bennett, a 6th grade student from Chardon Schools, and Lucas Huang, a 5th grade student from Dublin Schools. Their testimony was amazing and very effective. Thank you to all of the witnesses who testified this month. We will need a new line-up for November, so please send me your names if you wish to testify. Children are welcome!

Advocacy Update 10.7.13 -- State Board of Education – Achievement Committee Recap on Gifted Operating Standard Discussion (Long but you will want to read it anyway). – Today, the State Board Achievement Committee met regarding the gifted operating standards or the rule. All members of the committee were present including the Chair, C. Todd Jones, Tess Elshoff, Joe Farmer, Sarah Fowler, and Ann Jacobs. In addition, state superintendent Dick Ross sat in on the meeting, which is a rare occurrence. The state superintendent usually does not attend state board committee hearings. The following is an imperfect summary of the meeting, which is possibly the most extraordinary I have ever experienced in over twenty years of attending state board meetings. When the audio of the meeting is out, gifted advocates will want to listen closely to the discussion. (Please excuse the typos. I wanted to make sure this posted as soon as possible.)

 

Chairman Jones started off the discussion. attend state board committee hearings. , which is a rare occurence.ere present include He indicated that he did not intend to vote on the operating standards this month and that no motion of resolution would be moved today and that it was removed from the voting agenda for the full board tomorrow.  Board member, Ann Jacobs, wanted to know why it couldn’t be voted on as she was comfortable voting on a substitute draft. Chairman Jones indicated that he would answer her after staff gave their report on public comments submitted.

ODE Staff, Sue Zake , Wendy Stoica, and Sasheen were on hand to provide a presentation on public input. Sue Zake indicated that there were 255 public comments. Parents were the majority. In addition, a number of organizations provided testimony including OSBA, BASA, OASBO, Ohio School Psychologist association, OFT, OAGC, GCCO, Mahoning County ESC coordinators. (Note from Ann: even after the state superintendent called on superintendents to email him comments after the input deadline, only 12 superintendents submitted comments. Wendy Zake provided a highlight of the comments. The most frequent comments were about minimum time of instruction, class-size and caseload ratios, qualified staff, the need for social-emotional considerations, and whole-grade screening.

Board Member Tess Elshoff wanted to know what the association comments were.

Wendy Stoica provided an overview, which I will imperfectly paraphrase:

The education management groups want flexibility and do not want two whole-grade levels of testing.

The School Psychologist Association want accountability, grade-level assessments, and contact time requirements.

OFT  wants reasonable flexibility but not at the expense of students ; reasonable accountability for expenditures, and assurance of quality of service  -- not perfunctory measures, preparedness of general education instructors and gifted coordinators.  

OAGC likes the PD and 2 whole grade screenings included in the draft and wants minutes, instruction time, coordinator qualification, caseload requirements, unit funding, ODE compliance standards, funding parameters, WEP provisions, and data collection measures back in the draft.

GCCO (Central Ohio Gifted Coordinator Group)– Wanted high quality services – time requirements, minimum hours of content for PD to general education teachers. They also wanted coordinator requirement reinstated  and stipulations to gifted funding.

Mahoning County ESC Coordinators want flexibility on assessments, gifted endorsements for personnel and no mandated time requirements.  

After ODE staff shared the input, Chairman Jones indicated that he wanted to move on a consensus-basis toward a rule and therefore he did not want to vote on the substitute draft that Tess Elshoff wanted to bring forward. Ann Jacobs asked Todd Jones how he knew there wouldn’t be consensus if there was no discussion and no vote.  She said there were five people on the committee, and it would be fair to listen to the committee. Todd Jones indicated again that there was no consensus and that this had no necessary impact on the speed to which this will move the rule as there would be an emergency consideration to move the rule forward next month. In the current timeframe that we are under, he hadn’t talked to Mr. Farmer and Ms. Fowler, and he wanted to wait another month. Ann Jacobs indicated again that she wanted to hear from Tess Elshoff. Todd Jones said there was no consensus because he disagreed with the rule.  Ann Jacobs said she had been on the board for 5 years and never before had there been no discussion because the chair didn’t like the material to be discussed. She wanted to have a discussion. If Mr. Jones disagreed with the draft he could take a role call vote and say that.

Todd Jones indicated again that there was not consensus.  He wanted to hold the draft back. He wanted to work out the differences. He said he was sorry that in Ms. Jacob’s five years other chairs were “not as enlightened” as he was. To the extent that there is any disagreement than the committee needed to wait.  The committee would not forward this.   If consensus is not possible, than, he added that as the chair even if the rule were voted out of committee that he didn’t like, he wouldn’t bring it the full board for consideration. Operations standards are not required to be implemented. If there is not a consensus to move this forward, than the committee won’t move forward.  The practical implication is that there will not be a rule if we keep moving ahead. The old rule will expire and we won’t have a rule. (Aside from Ann: Not true). The committee will keep working on this until this works. He asked Dick Ross to explain about the rule process.

Dick Ross – What is the effect of not have operating standards?  Not having standards, there would be no dictates. Then there would be no standards in existence. It would remove the rule.

Ann Jacobs – So despite the fact that General Assembly has allocated $85 million (and she referenced a powerful letter from House Finance Chair, Ron Amstutz), and I am comfortable with the changes from Tess, we can’t have a vote on it?  It will not be pushed forward unless you agree with it. This committee is just a bully pulpit of the chair.  What is the point of the committee?

Todd Jones – I am not going to continue this discussion.

Tess Elshoff than spoke: Based on the emails, there seems that there are two views and opinions. In talking with different people and results, I wanted to come up with a middle ground. Her substitute rule included the following changes:

1. Technical changes mostly relating to changing "child" to "student" and "plan" to "identification plan” and to clarify existing law.

2. Eliminates class ratios and percentage of time to be spent providing instruction but maintains and in some cases increases maximum caseloads. Minimum time requirements remain, but there are waivers on these elements if districts receive an "A" on the gifted performance indicator.

3. Eliminates requirement that coordinators have to have a Masters' Degree. 

4. Includes a funding section for districts funded through the formula as required in ORC and verified by Chairman Ron Amstuz of the House Finance Committee.

5. Includes language that is acceptable to both ODE and gifted community about providing professional development for gifted staff, enhancing WEPs, requiring district coordination services, and two grades of whole-grade testing. The last element is of critical importance. 
 
6. Includes some elements to the self-report to assist ODE and the public in monitoring gifted identification and services as required in ORC.  

Dick Ross than asked about the funding level and wondered if Rep. Amstutz had taken in the capped amount in effect, because the overall level would be less.  He then went on to give his observations about the value-added measures.  He was getting a lot of feedback. Higher performing districts doing poorly were having a “pro-active engagement” on the issue.  As he looked at the draft rule, if he didn’t want as a superintendent to spend money on a certain area and it wouldn’t help students, he wouldn’t want to do it. The report card is showing what is real now. That is the power of the report card. His concern is how do we deal with this small group? Focus on outputs is where we want to be. We don’t want to focus on inputs. Focus on outputs.  If people are gaming the system, we need to deal with this.

Todd Jones – We are limited because of Chair Gunlock’s work on outcomes is in his committee. Chair Gunlock asked for average score of gifted students. And he has found that they are clustered at a high-level. Gifted is clustered at an exceedingly high scale. That instrumentation is not working. For holding a district accountable, do you have a supplemental exam and further accountability? When I talked to Ms. Elshoff yesterday, I told her we need to move more slowly. Maybe we need a tiered-approach. There are significant inputs already in the new draft such as WEPs.

Sarah Fowler – I am confused with the draft version. The current (9/5/13) draft does not include funding and we need to include this.

Todd Jones – I don’t agree with Rep. Amstutz that we have to have this in the operating standards and the number he is using is incorrect. 

Sarah Fowler – Shouldn’t we include operating standards that are based on ORC?

Todd Jones – We have to focus on outcome based measures – what are they? Well, there is the gifted indicator in place (incorrect) and the dashboard which is yet to be developed.

Sarah Fowler – But we don’t know that what the outputs standards are going to be. Can we review them?

Todd Jones – As a committee we have to vote on a lot of things we don’t control. Teacher licensure  is an example of  an area that we have no control over.

Sarah Fowler – How does the Rule just disappear?

Todd Jones – The rule just disappears if we don’t do something. The General Assembly could pass more requirements. But if we cease to have operating standards, that would happen quickly. The GA would have to act now to intervene and the legislature usually doesn’t act that quickly. (I believe his point was that if the General Assembly didn’t like what the board was doing they could pass legislation but the Rule would disappear before they could do that.)

Sarah Fowler – When do the rules disappear?

An ODE attorney was called in at this point and corrected both Todd Jones and Dick Ross.

Sharon Jennings (ODE attorney) – The Rule doesn’t automatically go away. JCARR would have to move to invalidate it. (Note from Ann: I don’t think this has ever happened to an education rule.)  

Ann Jacobs – With regard to the substitute draft, I think this is a well-reasoned, well-written compromise that represents all sides. Nothing will please everyone, and it is an effective compromise. I feel that my obligation is to my constituents and to listen to them. And I will continue to listen even though I apparently have no voice on this committee.  Please tell me again, how Rep. Amstutz is misguided in his letter?

Todd Jones – I didn’t have enough time to look at this. I think it is only respectful to have the time to discuss this.  I will not answer about your opinion having no value. I did not say the representative is misguided. I believe he has an interpretation that is different from mine.  We don’t have to have this in operating standards. He may be mistaken in his numbers. There may be less than $85 million.  But regardless it doesn’t matter if it passes this month or next.

Ann Jacobs – I don’t appreciate the personal sarcasm.

Todd Jones – I don’t appreciate that I didn’t have enough time to review this.

As you can see this is a very heated issue. We are gaining support on the board, so we need to continue to contact board members.  

 

Advocacy Update – 9.27.13 – Is the State Superintendent Encouraging Districts to Email State Board Members about Gifted Operating Standards? – The education management associations have sent another email to their troops about the gifted operating standards. Here is a link to their message: http://ealerts.ohioschoolboards.org/msgs/1948.html 

The (unverified) word on the streets is that the state superintendent has told the education management groups to step up their advocacy efforts to support gutting the gifted operating standards. Gifted advocates need to keep up their efforts with state board members. In addition to board members, please also email the state superintendent, Dick Ross, to share your views. His email address is superintendent@education.ohio.gov .

Talking points:

1. Eliminating all inputs such as time requirements, staff ratios, and staff qualifications lowers the bar for service to gifted children. The operating standards should first and foremost be about supporting and protecting children, not lowering the bar so that adults can game the system to make their service numbers look good even while gifted children languish in the classroom.  

2. There are currently very few output measures in the system that are usable for gifted students and contrary to what the education managements groups are saying, there are no accountability measures or consequences in place for districts if they fail to provide adequate services to gifted children. Unless these are in place, gifted children across the state will be hurt by the September 5 draft gifted operating standards.  Even a staunch advocate of output measures, Dr. Chester Finn of Fordham Foundation, told an audience this past week, that he does not believe Ohio currently has the proper set of outputs to provide for true accountability for this student population. 

3. The General Assembly allocated over $85 million to gifted students in the budget and added language saying the funds were intended to be spent on gifted students. Despite the governor's veto on the level of gifted staff to be hired under the gifted formula, the funding formula still indicates that gifted funds should be used for gifted identification, gifted coordination, and gifted intervention specialists. As taxpayers, we want to know that the funding is used appropriately.

Other points to consider:

·         Districts are clearly doing little to identify and serve gifted students. Shouldn’t the board do more to protect gifted children rather than less?  

·         We know that districts are misusing gifted funds. Shouldn’t the board make sure that taxpayer funds are being spent appropriately?

For those of you planning to testtify on October 8th or attend the achievement committee meeting on October 7th, please email me at anngift@aol.com . Gifted advocates should remember the following things when writing to state board members:

1. Be polite – No name calling or derogatory comments. That will not win us supporters.
2. Keep it short.
3. Be direct.
4. If possible use good examples to support your position.

 

Questions? Let me know me at the above email address.

 

Todd Jones (Chair  -- Achievement Committee)

todd.jones@education.ohio.gov,

Debe Terhar (State Board President)

debe.terhar@education.ohio.gov,

Tom Gunlock (State Board Vice President)

tom.gunlock@education.ohio.gov

Joe Farmer (Member, Achievement Committee)

joe.farmer@education.ohio.gov

Ann Jacobs (Member, Achievement Committee)

ann.jacobs@education.ohio.gov

Sarah Fowler (Member, Achievement Committee)

sarah.fowler@education.ohio.gov

Tess Elshoff (Member, Achievement Committee)

tess.elshoff@education.ohio.gov

Ronald Ruddock

ron.rudduck@education.ohio.gov

Kathleen McGervey

kathleen.mcgervey@education.ohio.gov

Michael Collins

michael.collins@education.ohio.gov

Deborah Cain

deborah.cain@education.ohio.gov

Jeffrey Mims

jeffrey.mims@education.ohio.gov

Stephanie Dodd

stephanie.dodd@education.ohio.gov

Mary Rose Oakar

maryrose.oakar@education.ohio.gov

Bryan Williams

bryan.williams@education.ohio.gov

Mark A Smith

mark.a.smith@education.ohio.gov

Darryl Mehaffie

darryl.mehaffie@education.ohio.gov

Dick Ross, State Superintendent

superintendent@education.ohio.gov

 

 

 

 

 

Advocacy Update – 9.20.13 – Last Chance for Input to ODE on the Draft Gifted Operating Standards – Today is the last day to provide input on the new draft gifted operating standards. Email your input to gifted@education.ohio.gov by the end of business today.  OAGC has prepared a document that details our analysis of the new draft along with our recommendations.  Our input document can be found at www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates .  We are pleased the Ohio Federation of Teachers has provided input to ODE that supports OAGC’s major positions. You can find that document at the above link. To summarize:

OAGC supports:

       Two whole grade screening opportunities

       Gifted professional development required yearly for gifted specialists and coordinators

 

OAGC does not support:

       The elimination of minimum service minutes for students;

       The elimination of caseload limits;

       The elimination of time requirement for teachers;

       The language provision that allows untrained general education teachers to be gifted service providers;

       The elimination of gifted coordinator qualifications;

       The elimination of unit funding language from current standards;

       The elimination of the provision that allows ODE to remove funds of non-compliance from current standards, as stipulated in Ohio Revised Code;

       The elimination of funding parameters to ensure gifted earmarked funding is spent as intended in HB 59;

       The failure to incorporate data collection on specific inputs to determine effect; and,

       The failure  to increase scope and depth of the written education plan and a reasonable attempt to require parent signature

 

Many individuals writing to the state board of education are receiving a similar email. Please visit the above link for an informal response to that email so that gifted advocates can see all sides of the issue.

 

Once ODE receives input, we need to continue to concentrate our efforts on state board members. For those of you who would like to testify on October 8th or attend the achievement committee meeting on October 7th, please email me at anngift@aol.com . Gifted advocates should remember the following things when writing to state board members:


1. Be polite – No name calling or derogatory comments. That will not win us supporters.
2. Keep it short.
3. Be direct.
4. If possible use good examples to support your position.

 

Questions? Let me know me at the above email address. And get your comments in to ODE today!

 

 Advocacy Update – 9.11.13 – Should Gifted Students Be Served in the 7 – 11? (Long Post)– The last two days at the State Board of Education have been by turns heartening and disturbing.  Three things are clear: 

 1. The state board is acutely aware that gifted advocates are unhappy with the draft gifted operating standards. Some members are very concerned. The flip side:  some board members don’t care. (Please read the summaries of the two days below this post especially if you want to understand the title of this post.)

 2.      The education bureaucracy groups are coming out in force to support the gutted standards. But they are not content to just accept the current draft. No, they want even more deletions from the standards! They want to remove the requirement that districts actually provide two whole grade screening requirements. This is hard position to defend considering that 10% of Ohio’s districts don’t even bother to identify enough students to qualify for a value-added rating. These groups will of course benefit most from these draft standards which will allow them to spend gifted money on anything related or not to gifted students while gutting service standards so that anything goes and all outputs can be manipulated.  You can read their call to arms here.  You may also want to read a quick list of how districts spend their gifted funds when given maximum flexibility (Hint: OAA Test Prep is on the list).

3.  Gifted Advocates need to turn up the heat. We need to swamp the ODE email box gifted@education.ohio.gov with objections to the current standards. We also need to continue to write to state board of education members.  I have heard feedback from some friendly board members that some emails are too long. They get bored after a few paragraphs, so keep it simple. State your objections and say why it is important to you. It is okay to add some personal touches, but not 4 pages o them. Go here for a link to OAGC’s general objections. Two other key points to include:

·      Districts are clearly doing little to identify and serve gifted students. Why isn’t the board doing more to protect children?

·         We know that districts are misusing gifted funds. Why isn’t the board making sure that taxpayer funds are being spent appropriately?

 

Here is a list of board member contacts. Note: there is one new board member, Rod Ruddock. He hasn’t heard from anyone yet. So please include him in your emails.

 

 

 Todd Jones (Chair  -- Achievement Committee)

todd.jones@education.ohio.gov,

 

Debe Terhar (State Board President)

debe.terhar@education.ohio.gov,

Tom Gunlock (State Board Vice President)

tom.gunlock@education.ohio.gov

Joe Farmer (Member, Achievement Committee)

joe.farmer@education.ohio.gov

Ann Jacobs (Member, Achievement Committee)

annjacobs@education.ohio.gov

Sarah Fowler (Member, Achievement Committee)

sarah.fowler@education.ohio.gov

Tess Elshoff (Member, Achievement Committee)

tess.elshoff@education.ohio.gov

Ron Rudduck

ron.rudduck@education.ohio.gov

Kathleen McGervey

kathleen.mcgervey@education.ohio.gov

Michael Collins

michael.collins@education.ohio.gov

Deborah Cain

deborah.cain@education.ohio.gov

Jeffrey Mims

jeffrey.mims@education.ohio.gov

Stephanie Dodd

stephanie.dodd@education.ohio.gov

Mary Rose Oakar

maryrose.oakar@education.ohio.gov

Bryan Williams

bryan.williams@education.ohio.gov

Mark A Smith

mark.a.smith@education.ohio.gov

Darryl Mehaffie

darryl.mehaffie@education.ohio.gov

Representative Gerald Stebelton

rep77@ohiohouse.gov

Senator Peggy Lehner

lehner@ohiosenate.gov

Ben Kanzeg

ben.kanzeg@governor.ohio.gov

1.   Meeting Notes – State Board of Education Public Testimony – 9.10.13

Several individuals testified regarding the draft gifted operating standards for gifted.  Ann Sheldon, Angela Grimm, Karen Rumley, Robin Retzler and her sons Beckham and Keegan, Alicia Sauer and Joan Ford also testified. Testimony for Ann, Angela, and Karen, along with many other useful resources, can be found at the following link. Board members were attentive and polite throughout all testimony. Ann was the only who received questions which are very loosely paraphrased below:

Deb Cain (board member)– Does the gifted performance indicator do what we need it to do and does it really measure the outcomes that we need? – Answer:  No, not in the current form. The indicator does not have the same weight as other performance measures on the report card.  It is just one of several met/not met indicators that will combine to form a single performance measure. Beyond the weight, the indicator focuses on the performance of gifted students on our state achievement tests which are insufficient measures. 98% of all districts would receive an A on the gifted performance index as it is currently configured. The other part of the indicator is the level of services provided to gifted students. If this draft is adopted anything counts as service, so the indicator becomes essentially a meaningless output. 

Sarah Fowler (member of the achievement committee) – Can you tell me exactly what you want? Answer:  Yes, we the restoration of the time requirements, staff licensure requirements and ratios, and accountability measures that were included in previous drafts of the standards.

Todd Jones (Chair of the achievement committee) – He essentially gave a version of the speech he gave the previous day (see the achievement committee notes) reiterating that he doesn’t care if gifted students are served in the 7 – 11 as long as they are getting what they need. He stated that we are undergoing a fundamental philosophical shift that gifted advocates do not want to accept and that we have to move to outputs. He challenged gifted advocates to come up with better outputs. He also indicated that inputs stymied innovation and removed the flexibility of districts to do new and better forms of service. (In the interest of full disclosure his version was much more eloquent than summarized.)  Response (again paraphrasing as it was a bit of a rant):  First, OAGC is not opposed to developing more appropriate outputs, but we do not believe outputs alone are ever going to be sufficient for this population. We believe in a mixed system where there are parameters for service and safeguards for children. We are happy to help develop more meaningful measures such as the number of children who are accelerated, the number of children in middle school receiving high school credit, the number of high school children receiving post-secondary credit etc. But the assessments we use now for output measures are too low level and they don’t cover enough grades. And when it comes to K – 3, there is very little in the way of output measures we can develop. Finally, there are also some very important elements that need to be part of gifted services that are never going to show up as an output. Gifted children have social/emotional needs that need to be met by trained professionals. There is no output measure for that. OAGC does believe in outputs, but we believe that inputs are critically important as well. Second, OAGC and the gifted community at large is all about innovation. Most innovations in the education field stem from the gifted field. The Ohio Advisory Council had vigorous discussions about the need for some loosening at times of some parameters around service. In fact, the previous draft called for waivers for some of the parameters if districts could still provide services that were robust and could document effectiveness. This actually represents a good compromise and will work toward a transition as we don’t currently have adequate outputs developed. If we eliminate inputs and move to a system of outputs when none are sufficient, we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater as a board member previously stated. Districts that have “As” in value-added growth could be given some waivers if they help to develop outcomes that we can evaluate for effectiveness at a state-wide level. Finally, if we want to talk about inflexibility than we need to talk about the impact our inflexible outcomes system has had on our gifted students. As only math and reading are tested in grades 4 – 8, we are losing services for students identified in the areas of superior cognitive ability, creative thinking, and visual and performing arts. We are losing services for K -3 students.  We don’t focus on creativity or critical thinking, we focus on test prep. If we want to focus on flexibility, we need to talk about flexibility for students not adults.

Michael Collins (board member) – No question here, but a statement about how the process was deeply flawed. The advisory council worked for months only to have their work thrown out in place of a draft that didn’t reflect any of their work. This was disrespectful, counter-productive, and indicative of the need to slow the process down. He indicated that while it was critically important to make sure that kids can read in K – 3, it was equally important to provide gifted students what they needed as well.  (His statement again, was more eloquent than summarized).

Debe Terhar (president) – How many gifted coordinators and intervention specialists do we have in Ohio.  Answer – Those figures will be provided.

Meeting Notes State Board of Education Achievement Committee – 9.9.13

The State Board of Education Achievement met on Monday 9.9.13. Committee Members present – Todd Jones, Ann Jacobs, Joe Farmer, and Tess Elshoff. Absent: Sarah Fowler. Other board members present –Debe Terhar (President) , Tom Gunlock (Vice President), Mark Smith, Ron Rudduck, Bryan Williams, Deb Cain, Jeff Mims and Stephanie Dodd.

The draft Gifted Operating Standards discussion was led by Office for Exceptional Children (OEC) staff Sue Zake, Wendy Stoica, and Jessica Dawso. A brief powerpoint was shown and staff indicated that the draft standards were emailed to the achievement committee on Friday.  No committee members had read them as of Monday. Staff talked about stakeholder input and the process of the gifted advisory group including the membership of the council and the number of meetings. They went through the timeline of the rule revision provisions and outlined their view of the major changes:

1.       Requires two whole grade screenings for gifted identification.

2.       Removed GIS/Student ratios.

3.       Requires gifted and general education service providers to periodically report progress to parents for students on the WEP.

4.       Claries service requirements (a.k.a removes service requirements).

Discussion from committee members was as follows:

Ann Jacobs (committee member) –I received a lot of emails that are negative.  Most said we were dumbing down standards and that accountability was removed. A few emails were positive.

Todd Jones (committee chair) – I reviewed a few emails. I haven’t read them.

Tess Elshoff (committee member) – What were the comments posted online? Were they negative? Answer – The tone was generally negative. There were concerns about the ratios, time requirements, and the training to general education that were removed.

Deb Cain – Looking at the draft standards, I have to say I can’t vote in favor of these standards. The accountability of our gifted young people is being lost. A gifted coordinator should be someone who knows something about gifted education, ratios are important, it matters, and when a parent says that I understand that you are getting X amount of dollars for gifted, they should be able to see how those dollars are spent.  I don’t think this is okay for gifted just as I wouldn’t feel it is okay for students with disabilities.  I know it is about outcomes, but if you don’t have guidelines or parameters you may be shortchanging people. It’s kind of like our banking system we had in 2008. We didn’t have the right regulations in place. Having them in place does not tie the hands of school districts, it guarantees that we educate gifted children and gives us accountability for our tax dollars.

Debe Terhar (President)– I’m going to echo what Ms. Cain says especially about the accountability piece. How are districts going to be accountable?  Special education teachers are required for special education. Gifted students are special needs kids too. It takes special things for gifted students to progress. We need to make sure that we provide the very best for their care, because these are the kids who are in top level positions and their brains need to be firing at top level. Is Ohio behind the curve? I believe in outputs. Inputs are important, but we have to have some outputs. Is the gifted performance indicator enough for accountability? I want to know that districts are spending gifted funding on gifted students.  I want to make sure safeguards are in place. We need to think about what we are doing here.

Tom Gunlock (Vice President) -- I have some concerns with the operating standards. I am all for outputs and measuring outputs. We have a value-added measure. In 2014-2015 we have the indicator which will count as much 3rd grade reading measure. (Note from Ann: this is inaccurate). We do a lousy job with gifted students. Adjustments need to be made at the school level.  51 districts are not servicing gifted students. (Note from Ann: this is inaccurate: over 200 districts don’t serve gifted students; 51 don’t identify enough students to qualify for a value-added ranking. ODE needs to investigate. I believe in qualified instructors, but I don’t know that we need qualified coordinators. I think we are on the right track (with this draft) with a few changes.  Need to focus on outputs and monitoring.

Deb Cain – Did the gifted advisory council approve this draft?  Answer – no. The problem is amount of training, ratios, accountability, time requirements.

Tom Gunlock – Went through the value-added results for the gifted sub-group and typology. (Note from Ann: generally speaking, most wealthy districts have “As” and “Bs”. Most other districts do not. ) We have some work to do.

Todd Jones – Last week I had a pleasant conversation with Ann Sheldon. It is clear we are undergoing a philosophical shift.  We need to move from the current regulations that are an inputs-based model to an outputs-based model.  I don’t care if gifted students are taken to the local 7-11, if the results are good. I don’t care what is leading to the success just that students are successful. What are the other output measures that are important? Some districts are not providing services that are adequate. Clearly this shows how the inputs-based regime has failed. I agree with Ms. Terhar that gifted teachers that are providing services must be qualified. I don’t know if this extends to gifted coordinators and the administrative function of gifted. What level do we need qualification? I am open to being persuaded that this is the case.  The regulations we have tie the hands of districts. If they didn’t we wouldn’t write them.  We do follow inputs for special education, but there is a constitutional right for special education students to receive an adequate education. We don’t have that for gifted students.  We are not so constrained here and this should help us. We hope they we can lead the way to build those outputs.  The current regulations are not working. I haven’t heard any solutions other than more money, more cogent enforcement. I want the best outcome for children. How we can develop this?  I encourage the public to come up with better outcomes.

Here is the Hannah news report of the gifted discussions for 9.9.13 and 9.10.13. They are very thorough. 

You can also read the Gongwer report of this meeting here.

 

 

 

Advocacy Update 9.5.13– Ohio Department of Education Delivers the Second Blow in the One-Two Punch Aimed at Ohio’s Gifted Children – After last week’s sketchy showing on district report cards with regard to the growth of gifted students, the ODE (Ohio Department of Education) has responded by releasing a proposed draft of the new gifted operating standards. Instead of increasing the standard for quality of service and instruction, ODE has chosen instead to essentially remove any quality control for the provision of gifted services. Here is a summary of the new provisions in the draft.

 

·     Eliminates any quality criteria for service including time requirements and need for qualified gifted intervention specialists to provide service or support in regular classroom settings. This will allow districts to indicate that even as little as one day of service per year can count as served. Essentially, the difference between a gifted student un-served in a general education classroom and one who is served will be a piece of paper (written education plan) that will have no meaning.

·      Eliminates any caseload restrictions and direct contact time with gifted students for gifted intervention specialists. Gifted intervention specialists may be required to meet with an unlimited number of gifted students for as little time as possible so that districts can indicate that they are serving more gifted students.

·         Eliminates all gifted coordinator requirements that relate to knowledge of gifted education.  Essentially anyone (with or without an education license much less a gifted license) may now be the gifted coordinator, including the school secretary. The only stipulation is that they know what the gifted operating standards are. The gifted coordinator will still be responsible for proper identification and service placement, development of gifted services and written education plans. 

·    Eliminates any reporting of qualified personnel, professional development, and assistance to regular classroom teachers. Shouldn’t parents know whether gifted coordinator unit funds are being used to pay for the gym teacher who can now be the gifted coordinator? 

·      Eliminates all funding accountability requirements. The General Assembly allocated a record amount of gifted funding that was meant to be spent by districts to serve gifted students. Taxpayers are paying for these services, but there is little guarantee that any those funds will be spent on true service to gifted children.  This lack of funding accounting provisions effectively defunds gifted education.

·    Eliminates the provision (under Ohio Revised Code) that allows ODE to reduce funds for non-compliant districts.  Districts will have no incentive to use funding properly or to comply with the few standards left in the identification and service of gifted children.

 

This is hardly the entire list, but the highlights clearly show that the governor’s budget veto of spending accountability provisions for gifted funds was just the first blow to gifted children in Ohio.

 

Interestingly, when it was determined that there were large percentages of 3rd graders who couldn’t read, the governor’s office responded by pushing the General Assembly to require specialized instructors in reading and minimum daily reading requirements for those students at risk. For gifted students making little or no growth, the response is to eliminate any time requirement to be served and essentially any requirement that any gifted coordination or service provider have any actually knowledge of how to educate a gifted child.

 

The draft of the gifted operating standards promotes lower standards and will ensure that Ohio school districts will close the achievement gap by suppressing the growth of gifted children. It is essentially a race to the middle. While the General Assembly has tried to increase accountability for the performance of gifted students, the new draft standards will mask any accountability for the proper identification and service to gifted students. It is a cynical recipe designed to please district superintendents and treasurers who will be able to continue to hide behind the illusion that all gifted students’ needs are being met in Ohio. It appears that we will not have actual accountability for gifted students, but merely the façade. As Ohio continues to deal with the lack of skilled workers and brain drain, it is a puzzling response to a real problem.  

 

To view the draft, please go to the following link. The public will have until September 20 to provide input. Gifted advocates must come out in force. In addition, to the comments you will post, please send your input directly to the State Board of Education members along with the Chairs of the Senate and House Education committees and the governor’s office. Email addresses are provided below. Without a drastic re-write of this proposed draft, gifted services will be largely imaginary. You can bet that district superintendents and treasurers will be supporting this draft as is. Gifted advocates, especially parents, must make their views known. Remember, State Board of Education members likely will not have even seen this draft. So please be polite in your correspondence.

 

The State Board of Education Achievement Committee will be reviewing these standards on September 9, 2013. Public testimony will taken on September 10, 2013. This will be in the ODE building at 25. S. Front St. in Columbus, Ohio.  There will also be testimony needed at the October meeting on October 8, 2013.  Please email me at anngift@aol.com if you can come. We will also need people to attend/speak at the October State Board meeting and to provide testimony at the Chapter 119 hearing, which will likely be scheduled for November.

 

Todd Jones (Chair  -- Achievement Committee)

todd.jones@education.ohio.gov,

Debe Terhar (State Board President)

debe.terhar@education.ohio.gov,

Tom Gunlock (State Board Vice President)

tom.gunlock@education.ohio.gov

Joe Famer (Member, Achievement Committee)

joe.farmer@education.ohio.gov

Ann Jacobs (Member, Achievement Committee)

ann.jacobs@education.ohio.gov

Sarah Fowler (Member, Achievement Committee)

sarah.fowler@education.ohio.gov

Tess Elshoff (Member, Achievement Committee)

tess.elshoff@education.ohio.gov

Michael Collins

michael.collins@education.ohio.gov

Kathleen McGervey

kathleen.mcgervey@education.ohio.gov

Deborah Cain

deborah.cain@education.ohio.gov

Jeffrey Mims

jeffrey.mims@education.ohio.gov

Stephanie Dodd

stephanie.dodd@education.ohio.gov

Mary Rose Oakar

maryrose.oakar@education.ohio.gov

Bryan Williams

bryan.williams@education.ohio.gov

Mark A Smith

mark.a.smith@education.ohio.gov

Darryl Mehaffie

darryl.mehaffie@education.ohio.gov

Representative Gerald Stebelton

rep77@ohiohouse.gov

Senator Peggy Lehner

lehner@ohiosenate.gov

Ben Kanzeg

ben.kanzeg@governor.ohio.gov

 

The new state superintendent is known for his dislike of “inputs” such as qualified teachers and caseload maximums. His focus is on “outputs.” That may be appropriate for student populations that can be well-measured by the percent who can reach proficient levels. But there are no well-developed outputs for the majority of gifted students. We have a value-added measure which measures growth for gifted children in two subjects for five grade levels. But the measure is so new it is difficult to know whether it legitimately measures what we hope it does without further analysis. We have no measures for students in grades K – 3 or 9 – 12 or in any other subject areas or other categories. So in the absence of those outputs and the gutting of all the researched-based, best practice inputs that were included in previous drafts of the new gifted operating standards, where is there any level of accountability for the gifted boys and girls in this state? It is a hard question that needs to be answered before quality services and support to gifted children are further eroded across the state.

 

 

Advocacy Update 8.27.13 – District Report Cards Are Out. Did Your District Make the Grade in Gifted? – With much fanfare and a website not quite up to the task, ODE released the much-awaited report cards, last week.  This is the first year that value-added measures for various sub-groups were calculated, and the results are extremely interesting if not completely bewildering.  For a quick breakdown, here are the grades:

Gifted Sub-Group Value-Added Composite Grade

Number of Districts

% of Districts

A

62

10.2%

B

77

12.6%

C

269

44.1%

D

99

16.2%

F

52

8.5%

No Value-Added Grade

51

8.4%

 

Gifted Sub-Group Value-Added Reading Grade

Number of Districts

% of Districts

A

27

4.4%

B

57

9.3%

C

265

43.4%

D

129

21.1%

F

70

11.5%

No Value-Added Grade

62

10.2%

 

Gifted Sub-Group Value-Added Math Grade

Number of Districts

% of Districts

A

103

16.9%

B

84

13.8%

C

249

40.8%

D

61

10%

F

42

6.9%

No Value-Added Grade

71

11.6%

 

It is difficult to know by the straight numbers if this breakdown seems reasonable or not.  But the distribution of grades is truly eye-opening.  While the majority of districts received a “C” grade, it is worth it to note that 151 districts received a “D” or “F” grade.  And the distribution of those low grades seems to have little correlation with past district overall ratings. One would not expect “D” and “F” grades from districts that were deemed excellent or excellent with distinction just last year, but there are a surprising number of districts that did. For instance, it is probably not a shock that East Cleveland City Schools received an “F” grade in value-added, but would anyone have anticipated that Delaware City Schools also received an “F?” Reynoldsburg City Schools, often cited as an innovative district with numerous accolades received a grade of “D” as did the number one district in value-added growth last year, Hilliard City Schools.  On the flip-side, while one would expect Beachwood City Schools to receive an “A” grade, it is a little surprising to see Sandusky City Schools also receiving an “A” grade.  The breakdown of value-added in reading and math shows us that districts appear to be doing a better job in math than in reading where almost one-third of districts received a “D” or “F” grade.

One disturbing note is the number of districts that do not have enough gifted students to even report a value-added grade.  Fifty one districts were not graded at all, 62 districts had no reading grade and 71 districts had no math grade. That may be understandable in some of the very small districts, but how is that Perry Local in Allen County (overall student population of 851) does not identify enough gifted students to have a gifted, but similar district Leipsic Local in Putnam County (student population of 624) does?  Speaking of odd identification numbers, it is very odd that Solon City Schools (gifted value-added grade of “C”, identified only 4.7% of their student population as gifted last year. The average identification figure for other districts in Solon’s typology (Group 6 – high wealth, low poverty districts) is 35%. The state average is 16%. Does it really make sense for Solon identifies so few gifted students? Clearly, there are some districts that are not doing a good job identifying gifted children. The question is will ODE audit those districts that do not have enough gifted children to get a value-added grade as well as those as  those districts that may not be reporting all their identified gifted students?

The value-added data for the gifted subgroup is interesting, but more analysis is needed to determine what is going well or not in districts receiving various grades. As the state prepares to rank districts based on opportunity and performance of gifted students, these grades become critically important. For a look at all the districts’ value-added gifted subgroup scores, please click here.  

 

Advocacy Update – August 15, 2013Budget and Veto Fall-Out – The state biennial budget is now a almost two months old. Unfortunately, there is still much confusion about what gifted funds districts and ESCs are receiving and how they are to be spent. A few new documents have come out from the Ohio Department that estimate the amount of funding by component each district will receive in FY2014 and FY2015. In addition, the ODE’s summary of changes included in the budget bill. These documents can be located on the OAGC biennial budget page at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget . The latest information from ODE with regard to ESCs (Educational Service Centers) is as follows:

 

The language in HB 59 language relating to ESC gifted units directs that the funding be distributed “through the unit-based funding methodology in place under division (L) of section 3317.024, division (E) of section 3317.05, and divisions (A), (B), and (C) of section 3317.053 of the Revised Code as they existed prior to fiscal year 2010.” This requires that the value of each unit be based on the minimum teacher salary schedule in place prior to FY02 based on a teacher or coordinator’s years of experience and degree.

$8.1 million was appropriated for these units for each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013, while $3.8 million is appropriated for each of fiscal years 2014 and 2015, meaning fewer units, and potentially partial units, will be awarded. Until the units for FY14 are awarded and finalized, and while new payment systems are being implemented, ESCs are temporarily being paid what they received in FY13 for gifted units but prorated downward to remain within the appropriated set-aside of $3.8 million. Once actual units are awarded, funding will be “trued up” over the remainder of the fiscal year.

All that said, since there is less unit funding allocated directly for ESCs, it is doubtful that any new units will be available to award. The gifted funding under the new funding formula will not be paid on until October due to the 90 day effective date. Until that time districts are being paid generally the amount they received in their June #2 payment, and therefore, not able to see how much they will be paid for gifted or any of the various supplements in the new formula until October. At that point, districts will have to decide on whether they want to assign any of their gifted funding to an ESC.”

In the meantime, districts unsure of what they are provided with regard to gifted spending and with no direction on how it is to be spent are eliminating ESC gifted services across the state. This is particularly true in smaller, rural areas. A record amount of state funding was allocated to gifted education allocated in the state budget. It is ironic, that due to confusion about the governor’s veto language coupled with confusion about subgroup accountability that gifted children will likely be hurt more by this budget than any other. Gifted advocates will need to make their frustrations heard by contacting the governor’s office. The main contact is Ben Kanzeg, Deputy Director of Policy at Ben.Kanzeg@governor.ohio.gov .  Parents, in particular, need to share the devastating blow this budget has struck in many parts of the state.

 

Advocacy Update 7.1.2013 – Governor Kasich Vetoes Gifted Unit Accountability Language – Last evening, Governor Kasich signed HB59, the biennial budget bill, after vetoing just 22 items. Surprisingly, one of those items was gifted accountability language for unit funding.  In fact, it was the 2nd item on his veto list. The language vetoed required districts to use the gifted unit funds specifically for gifted personnel. However despite the veto, the gifted unit funding and identification formula are still in place. While it is clear that the governor’s intent is to untether gifted funding for specific personnel, the language of the unit funding formula still requires the department to “allocate units.” Fortunately, for us, the governor can only delete language. He cannot change language, which is probably why the unit funding formula remains intact. The subgroup accountability language, while watered down from the House version, still requires districts to spend subgroup funds on specific subgroups.  For the final enacted bill language along with the governor’s veto message and bill language vetoed on gifted, please go www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget .

It is unclear what the full impact of the vetoed language will be at this point. But gifted advocates will need to look for opportunities either in the implementation of the funding rules or in other legislation to restore some of the legislative intent on accountability for the unit funding.  As we enter the new fiscal year, it is troubling that once again we have murky sense of how gifted funding will be implemented. It is very disturbing that this veto came out of the blue with no mention from the governor’s office of this issue in deliberations in the House and Senate.  And it is deeply disappointing that Governor Kasich appears to have made a special target of gifted students.

As I finish this final budget post, I go back to testimony from a young gifted witness in the Senate, who told the committee members that she without gifted services, she would be okay, but that she wanted to be awesome. She asked the committee, “Who wants to be just okay?”  I think with last night’s veto, we have our answer. Please contact the governor’s office to let him know that how you feel about his anti-gifted veto. His office number is Phone: (614) 466-3555. The email contact form link is http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Contact/ContacttheGovernor.aspx .

Advocacy Alert – June 4, 2013 – The Senate Finance Committee accepted an omnibus amendment today which detailed the changes the Senate has made to the education funding formula. While some of the changes had been outlined last week in a Senate press conference, no details were shared about the individual components within the formula. While it is not easy to read the omnibus amendment, it appears that the Senate did not change the gifted funding component from the House version. This is good news. The Senate, however, did eliminate the gifted cost study, which is both surprising and disappointing.

 

The Senate Finance committee will vote the bill out of committee tomorrow morning and the full senate will vote on the bill Thursday, June 6, 2013. At that point the bill heads to conference committee. Conference committee will include six members of the Ohio General Assembly: two Republicans and one Democrat from both the Ohio House. While there will be some public hearings, most of the deliberations will occur behind closed doors. That does not mean that our voices will not be heard.  Once we know who is appointed to the conference committee, we will begin our advocacy efforts to maintain the gifted funding formula and to restore the House version of sub-group accountability as well as the gifted cost study.

If any other changes affecting gifted students become apparent when the actual bill language is released, I will let you know.  For now, we will need to wait and see if any additional changes are made to the Senate bill.

 

 

Advocacy Update – May 31, 2013 – Now That’s How You Testify! -- Yes, I will talk about the Senate education in this post. But let me first share something more uplifting.  After months of mostly dry testimony, it is nice to experience a breath of fresh air in a hearing room. In Senate Finance that occurred yesterday with two young ladies who spoke on behalf of gifted education funding. Both witnesses reside in districts considering cuts to gifted services. Fifth graders Sarah Bennett (Chardon) and Grace Boman (Huber Heights) utterly charmed both committee members and spectators alike with their testimony, especially the following statement from Ms. Bennett:

 

I know people think that I will be OK if this program is cut. I will still be able to keep up with school and pass my tests. But who wants to be just OK? I want to be awesome! This country was not built on being OK. Every kid deserves to have the most challenging education for them.”

Both girls drew applause from the room for their wonderful testimony. It was incredibly refreshing to hear the views from witnesses who are the most directly affected by school funding and policy decisions. Even the most hardened lobbyists in the room appreciated the testimony. To read their testimony along with the OAGC testimony, please go to http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/finance# .  Click on committee documents and then click on May 30 for links to all testimony provided to the committee.

Okay, now back to budget news: Yesterday, the Ohio Senate majority caucus outlined their plan for school funding. The overall plan increases the foundation funding level as well as the cap and calls for more money flowing to the reading guarantee and pre-school program. As more work is needed on the formula, the Ohio Senate was vague on the details of the plan and the only component that was discussed was career tech which will apparently be changed. There was no discussion about the other components of the formula, so we do not have any idea what is happening with gifted funding. We will not have information until next Tuesday when the full formula is revealed in an omnibus amendment. At the point, the Senate Finance committee will pass the bill out of committee where it will likely head to the Senate floor on Thursday, June 6.  Unfortunately, we will not have any opportunity to testify on any Senate changes to the gifted funding component, if they make any.  After the Senate passes the bill, it will go to conference committee, where the House, Senate, and the administration will hash out the differences between the different versions. For more information about the Senate plan, this article from this morning’s Cleveland Plain Dealer outlines some of the details that were presented. You can access the story at the following link: ow.ly/lzNwH.

 

 

Advocacy Update – May 28, 2013 – The Senate Finance Committee accepted a substitute bill today. While I have not seen the language yet, a list of provisions released by Chairman Oelslager’s office indicates that there are two changes that will have an impact on gifted students. One is a welcome change and the other is not. Note: the funding formula changes are not expected to be included in the Senate budget bill until June 4. The two changes are listed below:

 

·         Specifies that the Department of Education is prohibited from reimbursing a participating college for any college course or remedial college course taken by a participating student under the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program, instead of, as under the bill, any course that is not included in, or is the equivalent to, a transfer module or the Chancellor of the Board of Regents' Transfer Assurance Guide.

·         Eliminates a provision to the school accountability language that would require districts to report spending based on subgroups by building and reinstates the as introduced language regarding mastery of knowledge to graduate.

The last change is highly detrimental to the gifted subgroup. The standard of high school mastery is a low and inappropriate goal for gifted students. Without the House provision that calls for transparency of how subgroup funds are being spent on the specific subgroup, accountability for the gifted students is greatly reduced. Please contact your senator and ask them to restore the House provision for subgroup accountability before the bill passes the Senate. Also, please contact the Senate Finance Chair and the Senate Education Finance Subcommittee Chair. The contact information is below.

To find your own senator, please click the following link and scroll to “Find Your Senator.” http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/index

Other Senate Contacts Needed:

Senator

Email Address

Senate Office Phone Number

Scott Oelslager – Senate Finance Chair

oelslager@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-0626

Randy Gardner (R) – Chair, Senate Finance Education Subcommittee

gardner@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-8060

 

 

Advocacy Update – 5.24.13 – Last Call To Make Your Voice Heard in the Senate – The full Ohio Senate Finance Committee has begun hearings on the budget bill, HB 59. While a substitute bill is expected to be introduced on Tuesday, May 29th, there are strong rumors that the Senate version of the funding formula will not be ready by Tuesday. It is likely the Senate education formula will be inserted in an omnibus amendment after hearings are concluded. This means that the last chance for gifted advocates to voice support to the Senate for the House passed version of the gifted component is next week.  

Despite overwhelming support from the education community for the House education funding formula changes, it is increasingly less likely that the Ohio Senate will go along with the House plan without changes to incorporate at least some of the executive plan ideas.  Regardless of the overall funding formula selected by the Ohio Senate, gifted advocates must convince the Senate to maintain the House changes to the gifted funding and accountability component.  Gifted advocates need to continue to contact their own senator and the following individuals. Even if you have done so before, PLEASE take 15 minutes to email your own senator and the Senate leadership and some key members of the Finance committee with this simple message:

.Regardless of the overall funding formula the Senate adopts, please maintain the changes to the gifted funding formula included in the House-passed bill including the funding provided for gifted units at ESCs. These changes will provide for a stable and predictable method of funding after a period of tremendous instability for gifted funding and gifted services. The executive budget’s original proposal did not provide for the accountability and transparency of funding needed for this population. A return to the executive budget gifted component will highly detrimental to gifted children in Ohio.

Please add your own personal story about why gifted education is important to you and your family.

OAGC will provide to testimony to the Senate Finance Education Committee sometime next week. Education testimony will be taken the afternoons of May 29th and May 30th. Public testimony on all issues will be taken in the morning of Friday, May 31. If you would like to testify in person or submit written testimony, you may do so by emailing Kim Henry at khenry@ohiosenate.gov for a witness slip and the procedure for testifying. You will need to submit testimony 24 hours in advance to Kim. Written testimony is important.  If you provided testimony in the past, please consider revising and submitting. The correct salutation is: Chairman Oelslager, Ranking Member Sawyer, members of the committee.  The committee is the Ohio Senate Finance Committee. If you have any other questions, please contact me at anngift@aol.com .

To find your own senator, please click the following link and scroll to “Find Your Senator.” http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/index

Other Senate Contacts Needed:

Sen. Scott Oelslager (R)– Senate Finance Chair

oelslager@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-0626

President Keith Faber  (R)

faber@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-7584

Sen. Chris Widener (R)aber ner (R)

widener@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-3780

Larry Obhof (R)

obhof@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-7505

Tom Patton (R)

patton@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8056

Sen. Bill Coley (R) – Senate Finance Vice Chair

coley@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8072

Dave Burke (R)

burke@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8049

Randy Gardner (R)

gardner@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8060

Jim Hughes (R)

hughes@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-5981

Shannon Jones (R)

jones@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-9737

Bob Peterson (R)

peterson@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8156

Frank LaRose (R)

larose@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-4823

 

Advocacy Update – 5.17.13 – And Now We Wait  – The Ohio Senate Education Finance Subcommittee finished hearings this week on Amended Substitute House Bill 59. Several witnesses testified on gifted education and PSEO provisions including Brenda Gift and Angela Grimm on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 and Vickie Briercheck, Kimberly Curran, Anne Flick, Alena Flick, Kaitlyn Krepp, Patricia Krepp, and Sally Roberts on May 15, 2013. You may access their testimony at http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/education-finance-subcommittee# .

To get to the testimony, scroll down the page and click on Committee Documents. Then click on May 14 or May 15 to retrieve the testimony.  Thank you to all the witnesses who gave their time and energy to support our efforts to maintain the House provisions in the budget bill.  Your efforts do make a difference.

The Senate will now take a week or so to go through various amendments offered by senators and determine the direction they want to take on all issues including education. There does not appear to be an overall master plan in terms of what the funding formula will look like at this point. So we will need to wait and see. It is clear that given the tremendous pressure from the governor’s office, that the Straight A fund will likely be restored as well as some provisions in the college credit plus program.

The Senate will likely introduce a substitute bill the week of May 27th with the intent of voting the bill out of the Senate on June 5th. As there will be little activity next week, there will be no advocacy update next Friday.

Advocacy Update – 5.10.13 – Senate Education Finance Subcommittee Heads into Last Week – The Ohio Senate Education Finance Subcommittee continued hearings on Amended Substitute House Bill 59 over the past week with invited testimony.  cation Finance Subcommittee Heads into Last Week  Next week the committee will have open public testimony at 10:00 AM on May 14 and 15. A witness slip is available at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget and all testimony must be emailed 24 hours in advance to Stephen Nielson at snielson@ohiosenate.gov . The hearing is in the South hearing room of the Ohio Senate building.   The committee needs to hear from a few parents and educators about what has happened to gifted under the free-for-all gifted funding system we’ve experienced over the past four years.  It is really important for them to know that the executive budget solution for gifted students is unacceptable as there is no accountability for the funds at all. If you would like or be willing to testify, please contact me at anngift@aol.com .  

 As I have shared, despite overwhelming support from the education community for the House education funding formula changes, the Ohio Senate may go with the executive budget plan rather than the House funding plan.  Regardless of the overall funding formula selected by the Ohio Senate, gifted advocates must convince the Senate to maintain the House changes to the gifted funding and accountability component.  Gifted advocates need to continue to contact their own senator and the following individuals. The message is simple:

. Please maintain the changes to the gifted funding formula included in the House bill including the funding provided for gifted units at ESCs. These changes will provide for a stable and predictable method of funding after a period of tremendous instability for gifted funding and gifted services. The executive budget’s original proposal did not provide for the accountability and transparency of funding needed for this population.

. The gifted cost study included in the amended substitute bill could allow us to better develop a funding formula where funds could follow the gifted child.

. Please continue to work to improve the accountability for the gifted subgroup. The amended substitute improves on the accountability measures, but there is more work to be done to ensure that appropriate accountability measures are in place for this student population.

Please add your own personal story about why gifted education is important to you and your family. OAGC’s updated legislative platform is now available at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget

To find your own senator, please click the following link and scroll to “Find Your Senator.” http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/index

Other Senate Contacts Needed:

Senator

Email Address

Senate Office Phone Number

Scott Oelslager – Senate Finance Chair

oelslager@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-0626

Randy Gardner (R) – Chair, Senate Finance Education Subcommittee

gardner@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-8060

Peggy Lehner (R) – Vice Chair

lehner@ohiosenate.gov  

614-466-4538

Bill Beagle (R)

beagle@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-6427

Cliff Hite (R)

hite@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-8150

Jim Hughes (R)

hughes@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-5981

Gayle L. Manning (R)

manning@ohiosenate.gov 

614-644-7613

Joe Uecker (R)

uecker@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8082

Chris Widener (R)

widener@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-3780

   
   
   

 

 

 

Advocacy Update – 5.3.13 – Ohio Senate Update and Call for Witnesses – The Ohio Senate Education Finance Subcommittee continued hearings on Amended Substitute House Bill 59 over the past week with invited testimony from many individuals. The committee heard testimony from OAGC on Wednesday, May 1. To view the testimony, please go to www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget . The chair of the subcommittee indicated that there will be more invited testimony next week, and the week of May 13, the committee will probably be open to the public.  Testimony is usually Tuesday at 11:00 AM, and Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30 or 10:00 AM in the South hearing room of the Ohio Senate building  The committee needs to hear from a few parents and educators about what has happened to gifted under the free-for-all gifted funding system we’ve enjoyed over the past four years.  If you would like or be willing to testify, please contact me at anngift@aol.com . There will be another opportunity to testify before the full Senate Finance committee as well.  

 

As I indicated last week, despite overwhelming support from the education community for the House education funding formula changes, it is by no means a sure thing that the Ohio Senate will go along with the House plan.  Regardless of the overall funding formula selected by the Ohio Senate, gifted advocates must convince the Senate to maintain the House changes to the gifted funding and accountability component.  Gifted advocates need to continue to contact their own senator and the following individuals. The message is simple:

. Please maintain the changes to the gifted funding formula included in the House bill including the funding provided for gifted units at ESCs. These changes will provide for a stable and predictable method of funding after a period of tremendous instability for gifted funding and gifted services. The executive budget’s original proposal did not provide for the accountability and transparency of funding needed for this population.

. The gifted cost study included in the amended substitute bill could allow us to better develop a funding formula where funds could follow the gifted child.

. Please continue to work to improve the accountability for the gifted subgroup. The amended substitute improves on the accountability measures, but there is more work to be done to ensure that appropriate accountability measures are in place for this student population.

Please add your own personal story about why gifted education is important to you and your family. OAGC’s updated legislative platform is now available at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget . OAGC will provide to testimony to the Senate Finance Education Committee on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Other gifted witnesses will be needed for public testimony, possibly the week of May 12th.

To find your own senator, please click the following link and scroll to “Find Your Senator.” http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/index

Other Senate Contacts Needed:

Senator

Email Address

Senate Office Phone Number

Scott Oelslager – Senate Finance Chair

oelslager@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-0626

Randy Gardner (R) – Chair, Senate Finance Education Subcommittee

gardner@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-8060

Peggy Lehner (R) – Vice Chair

lehner@ohiosenate.gov  

614-466-4538

Bill Beagle (R)

beagle@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-6427

Cliff Hite (R)

hite@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-8150

Jim Hughes (R)

hughes@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-5981

Gayle L. Manning (R)

manning@ohiosenate.gov 

614-644-7613

Joe Uecker (R)

uecker@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8082

Chris Widener (R)

widener@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-3780

Nina Turner (D) – Ranking Minority Member

turner@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-4583

Tom Sawyer (D)

sawyer@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-7041

Michael Skindell (D)

skindell@ohiosenate.gov 

614-466-5123

 

 

Advocacy Update – 4.26.13 – Our Work is Not Done – This week, the Ohio Senate Education Finance Subcommittee began hearings on Amended Substitute House Bill 59. The subcommittee heard from four main witnesses on May 4, 2013: Barbara Mattei-Smith of the Governor’s office, State Superintendent Dr. Dick Ross, the joint education management groups (BASA, OASBA, and OSBA), and finally Dr. Howard Fleeter, longtime education funding expert. Testimony from these individuals can be found at the following link: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/education-finance-subcommittee# . You will need to scroll down the page, click on committee documents and open up the April 24, 2013 tab.

Questioning of the above witnesses provided some insight on concerns of subcommittee members, but it is the off-the-cuff comments heard in Senate hallways about the direction they may take with school funding that are somewhat troubling. Despite overwhelming support from the education community for the House education funding formula changes, it is by no means a sure thing that the Ohio Senate will go along with the House plan.  Regardless of the overall funding formula selected by the Ohio Senate, gifted advocates must convince the Senate to maintain the House changes to the gifted funding and accountability component.  Gifted advocates need to contact their own senator and the following individuals. The message is simple:

. Please maintain the changes to the gifted funding formula included in the House bill including the funding provided for gifted units at ESCs. These changes will provide for a stable and predictable method of funding after a period of tremendous instability for gifted funding and gifted services. The executive budget’s original proposal did not provide for the accountability and transparency of funding needed for this population.

. The gifted cost study included in the amended substitute bill could allow us to better develop a funding formula where funds could follow the gifted child.

. Please continue to work to improve the accountability for the gifted subgroup. The amended substitute improves on the accountability measures, but there is more work to be done to ensure that appropriate accountability measures are in place for this student population.

Please add your own personal story about why gifted education is important to you and your family. OAGC’s updated legislative platform is now available at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget . OAGC will provide to testimony to the Senate Finance Education Committee on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Other gifted witnesses will be needed for public testimony, possibly the week of May 12th.

To find your own senator, please click the following link and scroll to “Find Your Senator.” http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/index

Other Senate Contacts Needed:

Senator

Email Address

Senate Office Phone Number

Scott Oelslager – Senate Finance Chair

oelslager@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-0626

Randy Gardner (R) – Chair, Senate Finance Education Subcommittee

gardner@ohiosenate.gov

 

614-466-8060

Peggy Lehner (R) – Vice Chair

lehner@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-4538

Bill Beagle (R)

beagle@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-6427

Cliff Hite (R)

hite@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8150

Jim Hughes (R)

hughes@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-5981

Gayle L. Manning (R)

manning@ohiosenate.gov

614-644-7613

Joe Uecker (R)

uecker@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-8082

Chris Widener (R)

widener@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-3780

Nina Turner (D) – Ranking Minority Member

turner@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-4583

Tom Sawyer (D) –

sawyer@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-7041

Michael Skindell (D)

skindell@ohiosenate.gov

614-466-5123

 

 

 

Advocacy Alert – 4.19.13 – Time to Give Thanks – to the Ohio House – Last evening after protracted debate, the Ohio House passed Sub HB 59. The education portion of the budget was altered from the executive budget proposal in several significant ways.  The changes to gifted are as follows:

The funding formula for gifted moved from the governor’s suggested $50 per ADM (Average Daily Membership or average number of pupils in a district) to the following formula:

(1)    $5 x ADM for gifted identification in FY2014 and $5.05 x ADM for gifted identification in FY2015)

(2)     One gifted coordinator unit shall be allocated for every 3,300 students in a district's gifted unit ADM, with a minimum of 0.5 units and a maximum of 8 units allocated for the district +

(3) One gifted intervention specialist unit shall be allocated for every 1,100 students in a district's gifted unit ADM, with a minimum of 0.3 units allocated for the district.

The unit will be valued at $37,000 in FY2014 and $37,370 in FY2015.

In addition, ESCs will be allocated $3.8 million to fund additional gifted units.

The overall level of funding in the House passed HB 59 for gifted is approximately $85.7 million in 2014 and $86.5 million in 2015.

The bill language also clarifies that the gifted unit funding will be used by districts explicitly for qualified gifted coordinators and gifted intervention specialists. In addition, the House version of the bill calls for a gifted cost study to be completed by March 31, 2014. Elements of the study “shall include, but not be limited to, costs for effective and appropriate identification, staffing, professional development, technology, and materials and supplies at the district level. In addition, the Department shall determine the costs of statewide support needed for this population.”

 

Beyond funding, the Ohio House made some positive changes to education operating standards, sub-group accountability, and the use of Straight A funding. For a full list of changes, please go to www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget .


There are still some changes that OAGC seeks that were not included in the sub bill. However, the changes that were made to gifted funding and accountability go a long way to support stable funding for gifted children in Ohio. Our challenge will be to keep the revisions to the gifted funding formula intact as the bill moves through the Senate.  Look for more information about this early next week. For now, gifted advocates need to thank a number of individuals in the Ohio House to ensure that they will continue to support these changes. The message is simple: Thank you for making the changes to gifted funding and accountability in the HB 59 sub bill.  They are much needed improvement over the executive budget provisions for gifted education.

 

Also, please contact your own representative by going to the following link an scrolling to member search: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/

The contact information for the other individuals is below:

Speaker William Batchelder

614-466-8140

Rep69@ohiohouse.gov

 

Rep. Ron Amstutz

614-466-1474

Rep01@ohiohouse.gov

Rep. Jeffrey A. McClain

614-644-6265

Rep87@ohiohouse.gov

Rep. Bill Hayes

614-466-2500

Rep72@ohiohouse.gov

Rep. Gerald Stebelton

614-466-8100

Rep77@ohiohouse.gov

Rep. Ron Maag

614-644-6023

Rep62@ohiohouse.gov

Rep. Robert Sprague

614-466-3819

Rep83@ohiohouse.gov

Rep. Debbie Phillips

614-466-2158

Rep94@ohiohouse.gov

Rep. Matt Lundy

614-644-5076

Rep55@ohiohouse.gov

 

 

 

Advocacy Update 4.9.13 -- Summary of Changes related to Gifted in the Sub House Bill 59 -- While by no means, exhaustive, here is a quick list of provisions in Sub House Bill 59 that relate to gifted. To download the entire sub bill or to access a summary of the provisions, please go to  http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/finance-and-appropriations . You can click on the April 9 tab to download the relevant documents.

 

Funding – Changes the gifted funding formula from $50 per ADM to $5 per ADM for identification and gifted units based on the following formula:

 

(1) One gifted coordinator unit shall be allocated for every 3,300 students in a district's gifted unit ADM, with a minimum of 0.5 units and a maximum of 8 units allocated for the district.

(2) One gifted intervention specialist unit shall be allocated for every 1,100 students in a district's gifted unit ADM, with a minimum of 0.3 units allocated for the district.

The unit will be valued at $37,000 in FY2014 and $37,370 in FY2015.

In addition, ESCs will be allocated $3.8 million to fund additional gifted units.

 

AccountabilityThe sub-group accountability section is somewhat changed requiring the state board to determine satisfactory achievement and progress of the sub-groups and requiring the district to submit an improvement plan for approval if their performance is unsatisfactory.

Operating Standards – The operating standards language changes are altered significantly and include language that requires ODE to ensure that any achievement gap closure is not achieved by suppressing the growth of highest achieving students and requiring the state board of education to develop minimum operating standards that require “providing children access to a general education of high quality according to the learning needs of each individual, including students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficient students, and students identified as gifted.”

Straight A Fund – The Straight A innovation funds are cut in the sub bill but not entirely eliminated. In addition, the purpose of the funds is more carefully delineated. Grants will be given a priority if the goals of the projects meet several criteria on being the “achievement and progress for each subgroup of students specified under division (A) of section 3317.40 of the Revised Code”

College Credit Plus – This language was removed from the bill.  It will probably go into a separate bill for consideration.

 


 

 

Advocacy Update 4.5.13 -- Preview and Preparation for Next Week and March 20th Recap

Next week – The House Finance committee is expected to accept a budget sub-bill (HB59) on Tuesday, April 9th at 3:00 pm.  The Finance committee will then have hearings beginning at 9:00 AM on April 10th, 11th, and 12th. The week after, an omnibus amendment along with other amendments will be accepted by House Finance. The Finance committee will likely vote the bill out of committee on Tuesday, April 16th so that the bill can head to the House floor for a vote by April 18th. At that point, the bill will move to the Senate, where hearing will begin the third week of April.

While we do not know for sure what the House will do with gifted funding, given some of the comments from committee members it is possible that there will be a change in how gifted funding is distributed and accounted for in the sub-bill.  From various news reports, it appears likely that many of the non-funding pieces related to education may be removed from the bill.  Whatever happens, gifted advocates will need to be prepared to respond to the sub bill quickly when we find out what is in the bill. So please watch this page carefully or follow OAGC on facebook or anngift on twitter for updates.  If things are changed favorably, we will need to think legislators profusely, if things are not changed or changed in a way that is in the best interest of gifted children, we will need to press our case fairly aggressively.  

March 20th recap -- As some of you are aware representatives from the gifted community testified before House Finance on March 20th. As I needed to leave the hearing as soon as I testified, Colleen Boyle took hearing notes, which I will share below with you.  All testimony from that hearing is posted at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget  .

Hearing Summary -- Four witnesses testified on behalf of gifted education. Ann Sheldon provided the OAGC testimony. Rachel Winters, President of OAGC also spoke about OAGC’s position on the bill, Jennifer Pennick shared her concerns as a parent of gifted children, and Barb Bodart spoke about gifted units through ESCs. While committee members were attentive to all witnesses, Rachel Winters received the only questions on gifted:  

Representative Maag asked if she knew of data regarding poor outcomes for gifted students left unserved.  Rachel referenced a body of research supporting that claim.

Representative Stebelton asked if she recommended a return to unit funding.  Rachel replied accountability for spending was the main concern.  Whether it is units or some other mechanism, accountability to ensure gifted funds go to gifted services provided by trained and licensed gifted professionals is the key for proper accountability.

Representative Beck asked why the 200 districts would go without gifted services Rachel said it is easy to believe the myth that gifted children will be okay if left alone.  When superintendents are faced with touch choices, they may relay on the inaccurate perception and the lack of a service mandate or accountability. Representative Beck asked about options for students in districts without services.  Rachel said for many students, especially those in rural districts, options are not available due to economic or geographic factors.

Other witnesses testifying on various aspects of HB59 and education funding that mentioned gifted or issues affecting gifted:

C. Todd Jones, President of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio spoke regarding several issues related to higher education funding in the bill.  One of the positions was related to PSEO/College Credit Plus.  He felt the way the program was set up in HB59 would provide incentives to the colleges but disincentives to local districts.  Jones asked for the follow provisions:
 - language that will ensure districts followed rules regarding granting credit for core high school courses
 - requirement that high schools to weight college courses like they do other honors and AP courses so students do not avoid college courses to protect class ranking
 - exempt students from high school end of course exams for classes taken at the college level
 - equitable payments
 - direct communication between the state agencies and participating universities
 - an option of waiving some admissions criteria typically applied to incoming college freshman if the university and local district have such a relationship that the district would verify readiness of the program participant
 - open the program to home school students
 - ensure participating colleges and universities granting credit are truly accredited in accordance with the Ohio Board of Regents and a regional accreditation organization

Russ Harris representing OEA highlighted the subgroup compliance language and referenced prior testimony about gifted.  He reiterated OAGC's position that there was no definition of "consistent progress and claimed there is no evidence of the capabilities of outside providers to better serve students.  Harris also requested the Straight A fund be repurposed and added back into formula funding.

Ann Brennan from the Ohio School Psychologists Association stated their organization supports adding a requirement that gifted dollars be spent on gifted students.

Other Items of Interest

BASA Hosts Regional Meetings for Ross, Legislative Update

The Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) will host regional meetings this month to introduce newly installed state Superintendent Dick Ross and provide a legislative update on the school funding plan and other education policies of the General Assembly.Regional meetings are as follows:

April 11: Bowling Green State University, Levis Commons, 8:30 – 11:45 a.m.
April 12: Hamilton County Educational Service Center, 8:30 – 11:45 a.m.
April 15: Cuyahoga Valley Career Center, Brecksville, 8:30 – 11:45 a.m.
April 17: Logan-Hocking High School, Logan, 8:30 – 11:45 a.m.
April 18: BASA, Columbus, 8:30 – 11:45 a.m.

Registration information can be found at www.basa-ohio.org/events/eventresults.aspx?Category=Region%20Meetings&Keyword=&MonthNumber=4&FromSearch=True.

 

Advocacy Update 3.15.13 –  Budget Watch: What’s Ahead and What’s Transpired  -- The next week will bring the final opportunity to testify before the House Finance committee before the General Assembly goes on Spring break. If you wish to testify on gifted or other primary and secondary issues, you may do so on March 20th in Room 313 at the Statehouse before the House Finance committee beginning at 9:00 AM. There will be a break as House session begins at 1:00 PM. Please email Ann Sheldon at anngift@aol.com for details on how to testify or to submit written testimony to the committee. I am in particular need of a parent to testify before the full House Finance committee.

 

Weekly Recap -- This week brought an end to three weeks of intense hearings held before the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education subcommittee.  This week was open to public testimony. The hearing rooms were packed with superintendents and others talking mostly about the inadequacies of the funding formula, the low base cost, transportation formula confusion, and ESC funding decreases. Two witnesses for gifted education submitted written testimony: Faith Denslow, President of the Sandusky Board of Education and Rachel Smethers-Winters, President of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children.  Their testimony can be found at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget . Other testimony of interest is from Ann Brennan on March 13, 2013 of the Ohio School Psychologist Association, one of the few organizations supporting gifted funding and accountability. In addition, testimony from David Branch, Holli Stevenson and her son, and Isabel Bozada on March 14, 2013 are good reads. David Branch, the superintendent of Muskingum Valley ESC was one of the few if only superintendents to make a pitch for gifted funding. After his testimony, he was asked by Representative Maag whether he believed that gifted funding should be earmarked specifically for gifted students. Branch said yes.

You can access their testimony by going to: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/primary-and-secondary-education-subcommittee . Click on the downward arrow on the date and all the testimony can be downloaded by name of the witness.

After next week, the budget process now goes “dark” for a few weeks. At this point, House Finance committee members and others in the House will submit amendments to be drafted on various issues on HB 59.  These amendments will be submitted by the end of next week. Staff in the majority caucus and at the Legislative Service Commission will run simulations of proposed changes.  And over the next few weeks, the House Finance chair will work with his subcommittees and others to determine what amendments will go into a sub-bill.  Technically, the General Assembly takes two weeks off for Spring break from March 25 to April 7. But that is when the majority of the work in the House will take place in reshaping this bill. The introduction of a sub-bill will likely take place in House Finance the week of April 8. The goal is for the bill to be ready for the Senate to consider by April 18, which means that there will be some intense committee work with more testimony, more amendments, and, likely, a very lively floor debate. In addition to the education plan, the members of the House will need to make some major decisions about Medicaid expansion and tax reform.

I urge you all to continue to contact your legislators to tell them concerns about gifted education funding in the governor’s plan. You can contact them by going to www.oagc.com/?q=leginfo .

Other Issues:

Gifted Public Event -- Educating Our Brightest -- The Fordham Foundation in conjunction with OAGC is hosting a public event on March 20th, 2013 at the Columbus Art Museum from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM. The event features Fordham Foundation’s Checker Finn and a panel discussion featuring Rep. Hayes, Chairman of the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Committee, Chad Aldis, a parent, Marty Bowe, Superintendent of Perry Local Schools, and Ann Sheldon, OAGC Executive Director. Columbus Dispatch report Jennifer Smith Richards will moderate the panel discussion. To attend, please click here

New State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Ohio has a new state superintendent. It should be no surprise that Dr. Richard (Dick) Ross, who currently heads up Governor Kasich’s Office of 21st Century Education will take over helm at the Ohio Department of Education. Dr. Ross, along with Barbara Mattei-Smith were the architects of the governor’s “Achievement Everywhere” education funding and reform plan.  Acting superintendent Michael Sawyers, who was passed over for thepermament position, tendered his resignation. This leaves a huge gap in knowledge at ODE for Dr. Ross to fill.

Death of State Board of Education Member – Jeff Hardin, one of the elected State Board of Education members passed away this week. A unique and sometimes outspoken figure, Mr. Hardin was passionate about his support of gifted students, the arts, post secondary enrollment options, and libraries.

 

 

Advocacy Update 3.8.13 – Gifted Testimony on March 5, 2013 -- Gifted education witnesses were the first group to testify on HB 59, the biennial budget bill, before the House Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Six witnesses testified: Ann Sheldon (OAGC Executive Director), Emma Jean Stanley (student), Kathleen Stanley (student), Kimberley Curran (parent), Hayley (student), and Sally Roberts (retired gifted coordinator and past president of OAGC). In addition, three individuals submitted written testimony and two witnesses will testify next week. All groups today were limited to the number of witnesses that were allowed to testify.  While clearly on a tight timetable, subcommittee members were actively attentive and asked many questions of all the witnesses. The students, of course, were the stars of the morning. Interestingly, this is the first time the subcommittee has actually seen students testify on the education budget.  They were a breath of fresh air.  Testimony for all witnesses is available at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget . Also included on that page is a link to the Gongwer and Hannah account of the day’s testimony. Here is a very loose description of the subcommittee questions:

 

 

1st Witness -- Ann Sheldon:

 

Rep. Stebelton: What I hear you saying is that you would like to see a categorical funding mechanism? That the funding for gifted in this system needs to be tied directly to gifted students and there needs to be direct accountability for services to students?  Answer – Yes. We need measures of accountability at both the district and student level. Funding with transparency is the key. Rep. Stebelton: Am I correct in assuming that you are concerned that the $50 per ADM will merely get thrown into the pot if it is in the general fund and not be used for gifted students? Answer: Yes, that is exactly what we believe will happen.

 

Rep. Lundy: I am concerned about the accountability of the funding going to community schools. Have you talked to anyone at the community schools to ask if they would support gifted students with these funds?  Answer: There are very few community schools that are geared toward gifted students and many community schools have missions that have nothing to with gifted education. Community schools should have to agree to follow both operating standards and revised code if they are to receive gifted funding.

 

Rep. Maag: Is there plan on how to fix this in your testimony? Is there a perfect solution? Answer – There may not be a perfect solution but there are better ways to account for funding and services. For example, we may want to look at how North Carolina requires district plans for gifted services to be submitted based on the needs in their districts. They would be held accountable to the plan. On the student level, it would be appropriate to codify the written education plan that is required in the operating standards with student goals and services outlined along with the goals for that child and how they would be met.  Rep. Maag: Do you believe ESCS should receive all the gifted funding and provide services to districts? Answer – No, not all gifted funding should flow through the ESCs, but there are a number of smaller districts that depend on the services offered by ESCs. And ESCs can play a critical role in developing regional services and can be leaders in developing alternative services such as blended learning and online gifted programs. The ESCs have hatched a number of creative plans.

 

Rep. Hayes: Explain to me how districts identify gifted children? They don’t test every child, do they? Answer: Each district submits a plan and assess based on the needs of their districts. Ideally, all districts will do whole grade level testing at least two grade levels. It is important to cast a wide net to catch the students who might be referred by a teacher or parent. Rep Hayes: Someone said that $50 per student would barely be enough to identify gifted much less serve them. But you’ve stated that the $85 million would fund the former unit funding rule. I assume there enough money to do more than identify gifted students?  Answer: $85 million would pay for an incredible amount of testing! That level of funding can do much more than identify. It needs to be used for services.

 

Rep. Phillips -- If Value-added isn’t  a cure-all for output measures, what other measures might be used. Answer – A wide variety could be considered included level of accelerated students, number of students taking AP and PSEO at the high school, number of students taking advanced classes in middle school and perhaps accountability based on performance measures outlined in a students’ written education plan. The problem is that to base all accountability measures on outputs that are not designed is a recipe for disaster. The outputs have to be designed, tested as accurate, and in place before funding can be tied exclusively to the measures. Rep. Phillips also asked about what funding model would work best for gifted and asked particularly about the building blocks model. Answer: The gifted funding mechanism could work in a variety of ways to be consistent with other parts of the formula but that the building blocks method did appear to be an effective approach and that gifted cost elements could be incorporated to build a gifted block.

 

2nd Witness --  Emma-Jean Stanley (4th grader) --  Emma fielded several questions from subcommittee members in a very professional manner including questions from Rep. Stebelton about her reading level (9th  grade) and whether she learns anything in her reading class (not really). He also asked how she felt in the regular classroom. Answer -- She said she was really bored and the work was so easy that she whipped through it.  At one point she didn't want to go to school because she didn't learn anything. Rep. Maag about whether she would prefer to be accelerated fully or if she would like to have her work differentiated in class. Answer – She’s tried having work differentiated in class and that hasn’t worked out so well so she would rather be accelerated. Rep. Lundy asked about her acceleration and how difficult it has been. Answer – it has been a little difficult because the kids are older, but she is doing okay and the work isn’t that hard even in 5th grade.

 

3rd Witness -- Kathleen Stanley (parent of Emma) – After Kathleen’s testimony one legislator said that there were no questions to ask because she said it all. It was very strong testimony.  Rep. Lundy did ask about transportation between elementary and middle school buildings for accelerated classes and wondered how that worked. He had never thought of that as an issue before. Answer – students take the early morning classes at the other building typically and then go back to the home school for the rest of the classes. The district has done this before for other students.

 

4th Witness – Kimberley Curran (parent) – After emotionally-stirring testimony about the impact of the loss of gifted services for her children, Rep. Lundy asked what the she was going to do for her son next year. Her response was that she didn’t know. She may have to put him private school as there was no open enrollment in nearby school districts. But it was clear he would not get what he needed at the school he was in, and that he could not repeat another devastating year there.

Rep. Hayes questioned her characterization of the size of the district. She felt it was a small district size wise, but geographically it is very spread out.

 

5th Witness – Hayley Curran (Junior high school student) – After testifying about the differences between her experiences with gifted and her siblings’ experiences without, Hayley received a question from Rep. Lundy about whether the district encourage peer mentoring between older and younger gifted students. Answer – No. There is nothing. Rep. Hayes asked what she would do if she did not get into OSU to do PSEO her senior year. Answer – PSEO was the only option as she had run out of coursework at the high school. There is no plan B.

6th Witness – Sally Roberts – After delivering a no-holds bar assessment of the current situation for gifted children, Rep. Phillips asked what in the operating standards supported gifted students. Answer – There is a special section for gifted students covering things like well-defined and flexible service models, staff ratios to ensure caseloads aren’t too high and the written education plan. Strengthening the written education plan was the guide to services. This is critical. 

 

While several other witnesses testified on other issues, no group of witnesses received more questions from the subcommittee as gifted did. Interestingly, one of the witnesses for ESCs was asked for comment about the pre-school and gifted education units that were eliminated as part of the budget. The witness, Craig Burford, indicated that he agreed with the OAGC stance of taking a more staged approach so there is no disruption in services.

In addition to the “live” witnesses, three others submitted written testimony.The gifted community should be incredibly proud of the witnesses representing children, parents, and gifted professionals. I encourage all of you to read some of the testimony at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget. Hopefully, it will inspire to become more involved in the process. We do not have a place in the discussion, if we do not tell our story.

 

Advocacy Update 3.1.13 – A Rising Tide and Other Budget Lines – This week was a busy one at the Statehouse. There are more documents on the OAGC budget page including: the education red book, the LSC budget analysis of the budget, and OAGC’s Legislative Position paper (under other budget  documents). The link to all of these documents is http://oagc.com/?q=statebudget .The House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Committee heard testimony from multiple groups including all of the major education groups, seven witnesses from the Ohio Department of Education and several education foundations. The most interesting testimony was from Dick Ross and Barbara Mattei-Smith, representing the governor’s office on Tuesday, February 26, 2013. All of the testimony can be accessed at: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/primary-and-secondary-education-subcommittee .Click on the arrow by each date for links to the written testimony. I am providing a loose transcript of questions and answers related to gifted from the governor’s education staff:

 

Rep. Stebelton – I am struggling with the issue of funding for gifted children. You are funding them at $50 per ADM.  1. The funding is not tied specifically to gifted children and 2. Can you explain how districts will be held accountable? Answer – Barb Mattei-Smith-- The approach we took was not to restrict funding. We aren’t saying that you have to spend every penny on gifted students. We want to lift the boat of all children. We don’t hold them accountable for how they spend it. We hold them accountable for how students perform.  So, as an accountability measure we are saying that you have will be output measures. We are going to have value-added coming up and some other report card measures. We are not telling districts how to spend their money, but we have to decide how districts will be held accountable and if they don’t meet certain standards then they have to meet and partner with other districts who can better meet gifted student needs.

Rep. Stebelton -- When will districts be held accountable for the performance of gifted students? Mattei-Smith  --   It will be on the report card. It may be several years out.

Rep. Stebelton -- So in 2016 or so there may be some accountability?  Dick Ross -- We haven’t laid this out in our proposal when that would happen. Mattei-Smith - The report card is in flux. We feel strongly that we need our districts to supportive in developing these output measures by not being so prescriptive on how you use the funding out of the gate.

Other questions on gifted came from Rep. Lundy and Rep. Phillips:

Rep. Lundy: Over 500 districts for gifted services from the ESCs. With the funding being eliminated and many districts being flat funding, doesn’t this result in fewer gifted funds?   Mattei-Smith:  There are two sources of funding at ESCs. 1.  Gifted unit funding, which we’ve eliminated.  But overall funding for gifted increased to districts so this more than compensates for the loss on the district funding side. (Note from Ann: Of course, as districts won’t have to spend those funds on gifted, it is meaningless source of funding for flat-funded districts).  2. ESCs get funds for extended supervisors, some of the can be used for gifted coordination.  

Rep. Phillips -- Have you been in conversation with the gifted community and their parents about what they need to judge what is appropriate progress for this population?  Mattei Smith – Dick has had conversations with the gifted community and I’ve talked to some parents.   It is not just passing the test but value-added. We’ve got opportunities down the road to do more than just 4 – 8. It will be expanded. But maybe we should look at kids getting kids to college earlier and participating in AP and IB. Again we didn’t want to put specific conversations now because so much is changing. How you measure that progress takes time to discuss, which is why it isn’t the bill.  Districts are still required to identify.  

To Recap: There is more money for gifted in the formula, but districts don’t have to use it on gifted because general levels of enrichment will lift all academic boats. There will be performance measures for gifted students but they aren’t developed, and there is no plan or timeframe to do so. And maybe the performance measures for gifted  should go beyond minimum high school graduation requirements, but right now the bill says they will not be so there is no ability for ODE to go beyond that level.

This is a far cry from the comprehensive student-centered funding and reform system that gifted advocates were expecting from the executive budget. It may be helpful at this time for the governor to hear from parents and other members of the gifted community on his staff’s “plan” for gifted students that has no specified performance measures, no timeframe to develop them, no transparency or accountability for gifted funding allocated, and no support for individual gifted students or their parents.

Points you may wish to make:

1.       General enrichment activities for all students do little or nothing for gifted students.

2.       The public was promised a system where funding and accountability followed each child and would ensure their individual needs would be met. Where is that plan for gifted students? And where are is the accountability promised that these students would have their needs met?

3.       Eliminating transparency of funding accountability with no plan to ensure that the individual gifted child’s needs are met fails the basic tenets of the governor’s education funding philosophy and it will hurt gifted children.

Please add your own story and thoughts. You may send your comments to: http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Contact/ContacttheGovernor.aspx

You should also continue to send emails and contact your own legislators. The link to contact information is here:  http://www.oagc.com/?q=leginfo .

Other testimony regarding gifted came on Friday, 3.1.13. Dr. Bill Phillis of the Coalition for Equity and Adequacy testified. At the end of his testimony, Dr. Phillis stated that to throw $50 per pupil in the formula for gifted and expect something to happen for gifted students was not realistic. He said the funds have to be directly allocated for that population.  Rep. Stebelton asked Dr. Phillis about this comment and asked him if what he meant was that we need some structure about how the funds for gifted are to be spent and some accountability about how the funds are spent. Phillis affirmed that was his belief.

Later that day as the education management groups testified, Rep. Philips also questioned the representatives with regard to subgroups. Again, a loose transcript: 

Representative Phillips – Let’s talk about subgroups and measuring subgroup progress especially with regard to gifted. Is this workable given the size of the subgroups?  How do we cope with this under this accountability plan?  Tom Ash of BASA (superintendent’s group):  Subgroup performance is an issue. The subgroup size is 30 under federal law. There may not be a subgroup of 30 in an entire district. Or the subgroup size exists at the district level but not in each of the buildings. So how do we identify where the problem is if the district as a whole is not doing well?  With regard to gifted, administrative code requires us to identify but this formula doesn’t say how to spend gifted dollars. It is difficult to track progress for gifted by subgroup because of the limited number of gifted students.  (Note from Ann: Actually, Ohio Revised Code requires districts to identify.)

 

 

Advocacy Update 2.23.13 – Biennial Budget Update -- There was not much legislative action with regard to the education budget this week. Most of this week’s emphasis was on the governor’s State of the State speech. The other big news is that 30 individuals have expressed interest in becoming Ohio’s next state superintendent, including the Governor’s top education aide, Richard Ross. Some in the media have speculated that it is foregone conclusion that the state board will ultimately select Dr. Ross. Next week, the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee will start meeting in earnest with the governor’s education staff scheduled to testify on February 26, ODE staff on February 28, education foundation groups on February 29, and major education groups on March 1. The topic of gifted education is scheduled for March 5.

 Gifted advocates should continue to email their House representatives. The message is simple:

1.  The funding methodology and accountability mechanisms for gifted students in the executive bill need to be reworked.

2.       Gifted funding and accountability need to follow the gifted child.

3.       Accountability measures for gifted students need to be different for the other sub-groups who have federal mandates to protect them and for whom minimum high school standards might be appropriate goals.

4.       Districts have had almost complete flexibility to use gifted funds for the past four years. The end result is that there has been a 35% drop in services. Districts must be held accountable for how funds are spent and for serving all children, including gifted children.

5.       The proposed rewrite of the operating standards to cover only health and safety concerns and the requirements necessary to ensure each student “has mastered a common knowledge base in order to graduate from high school” is a low level standard that will suppress the growth of the state’s highest achieving students.

The link to House legislator email addresses is http://www.ohiohouse.gov/ .  For more information about the impact of HB 59 on gifted students, please download the following analysis at http://www.oagc.com/files/HB59%20Gifted%20Analysis.2.23.13.pdf . I will be tweeting and updating this page throughout the week as the primary and secondary committee meets.  Follow me at www.twitter.com/anngift  for more frequent updates.

 

Advocacy Update – 2.15.13 – The Biennial Budget Update  -- (NOTE: All documents referred to in this post can be downloaded at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget.) This week, the actual bill language for the budget (House Bill 59) was released. The document which is over 4,000 pages usually provides most of the answers to how areas are specifically funding and what policies are to be introduced. Unfortunately, while the specifics for gifted funding and accountability are outlined in the bill, the raise more questions than answers.  To a view a draft of my initial analysis of the bill language regarding gifted and funding accountability, please go to the link above. The bottom line is this: gifted is funded at $50per ADM (not per gifted student). There is almost no accountability for the funds, just some vague language that gifted kids need to meet high school graduation standards as the other sub-groups (ELL, Students with Disabilities, Students in Poverty). If they do not over some unspecified period of time the district will have to partner with an organization that will help them out. That’s it. Gifted advocates may wish to watch the Governor’s education gurus speak about the education budget and reform before the House Education Committee on February 13, 2013. The first hour or so is testimony. The second half is questions from the committee. The only question regarding gifted was from House Finance Primary and Secondary Chair Rep. Bill Hayes, who asked why gifted funding didn’t follow the child. Barbara Mattei-Smith, from the governor’s office replied that there wasn’t accurate data to determine the cost of services and that districts would have to meet value-added growth for the population and gifted kids would have to pass the state assessments or the district would have to give the gifted money to another organization to run services for gifted. Ms. Mattei-Smith’s is surprising on several levels. First, there are multiple studies, funding models, and expenditure data from ODE that could have been used to determine gifted student weights or funding amounts.  Second, the accountability described for the gifted funding is beyond inadequate.

 

Gifted advocates need to begin emailing their House representatives now! The message is simple:

1.       The funding methodology and accountability mechanism for gifted students in the executive bill need to be reworked.

2.       Gifted funding and accountability need to follow the gifted child.

3.       Accountability measures for gifted students need to be different for the other sub-groups who have federal mandates to protect them and for whom minimum high school standards might be appropriate goals.

4.       Districts have had almost complete flexibility to use gifted funds for the past four years. The end result is that there has been a 35% drop in services. Districts must be held accountable for how funds are spent and for serving all children, including gifted children.

The link to House legislator email addresses is http://www.ohiohouse.gov/ .

Also note, gifted testimony before the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education SubCommittee is scheduled for March 5, 2013 at 8:30 at the Ohio Statehouse. I will need at least six to eight witnesses to share their views on the governor’s plan. Public testimony on all issues begins on March 12th.  Please email me at anngift@aol.com if you can testify.

Links to the initial analysis of gifted funding and accountability (a must read), the House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee schedule, testimony for Barb Mattei-Smith and Dick Ross, HB 59, and more are all at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget.

Here is the link to the February 13th testimony on http://www.ohiochannel.org/MediaLibrary/Media.aspx?fileId=138164

Gifted discussion initiated by Rep. Hayes (R) begins at minute 71. A very interesting exchange between Rep. Debbie Phillips (D) and Barb Mattei-Smith begins at minute 116:20. The most poignant comments of the hearing regarding opportunities for students in Gallia County vs. Olentangy made by Rep. Ryan Smith (R) begin at minute 132.30.  

 

Advocacy Update – 2.7.13 – The Biennial Budget Bossa Nova Begins!  -- (NOTE: All documents referred to in this post can be downloaded at www.oagc.com/?q=statebudget. This week marked the official kick-off to the Ohio Biennial Budget Process. While the education community saw a (conceptual) preview last week, the Governor’s office released more details in the budget blue books (named for the blue binders in which they were historically bound).  OBM (Office of Budget and Management) Director Tim Keen presented the overall budget to the Ohio House Finance Committee on Tuesday, 2/5/13. The director spent two hours in the morning going over 68 pages of testimony. Later in the afternoon, he spent several hours responding to questions about all aspects of the budget.  The House Finance hearings for the first time in history are now being streamed live, which will allow everyone to view them in real time or in archives.  In the many hours of questioning, the only question about gifted came almost three hours into the afternoon testimony. Chairman Amstutz asked about the “layers” of funding included in foundation formula and wondered if these were just block grants or if there was some expectation that the funds would be spent on the areas outlined. The usually unflappable Keen stuttered a bit in his response, but ultimately said that though he didn’t know if there would be specific regulations, and that there was “some expectation” that directed funds for special populations should be used to benefit those populations. With regard to gifted, Keen stated, “Gifted dollars are provided to serve the gifted kids.” How this will work without specific spending guidelines or regulations is unclear. You can watch the exchange beginning approximately at minute 171 at http://www.ohiochannel.org/MediaLibrary/Media.aspx?fileId=138134


Another interesting question came from Rep. Debbie Phillips who wondered about potential double counting of funds and the deductions from funding for vouchers, community schools etc.  This exchange begins a little after minute 194 at http://www.ohiochannel.org/MediaLibrary/Media.aspx?fileId=138134 . It is a long exchange but well worth listening to, even drawing praise from Chairman Amstutz.

 

On Wednesday, 2/6/13, the governor’s office released district spreadsheets outlining the breakout of the foundation funding. It is important to note that these spreadsheets do not include the deductions for voucher and community school students so the numbers are inflated. I’ve posted both the OBM document as well as a document that compares the governor’s budget funding (under other documents) at the 2012 student levels that do not include the community school or voucher students. This may be more useful for districts trying to determine the true level of gifted funding.  Also, under "other documents" is a fact sheet on the state of gifted education in Ohio. It is a sobering look at how services have declined. 

 

Until the actual budget bill is introduced, we won’t actually know how the funding “formula” works, the level of accountability attached to the funding, or the regulations that will be removed as barriers. However, there are already some questions that need to be answered:

 

1.    If funding is to follow the child and all other categories of special needs children have funds based on the student count of each category, why are the gifted funds based on all students? Would Ohio still provide gifted funds to over 200 districts that provide no gifted services? What happens when students not identified as gifted leave the district to community schools and voucher programs? Will those funds leave with the non-gifted student? Will community schools be required to spend gifted funds on gifted identification and service? What is the accountability for funds and services to gifted children in the governor’s formula?  Will districts be required to serve all gifted students? 

2.       Is the formula based on past gifted cost studies? If not, what is the basis for the funding level?  Is the funding level sufficient to ensure all gifted students are served?

3.       Services to gifted children have been slashed by 35% in the past four years when barriers in the use of gifted funding were removed. How does governor’s plan reverse this trend?   

 

In watching the governor speak about gifted education in his town hall meetings, he does appear to be sincere in his desire to make sure that the needs of these students are met. As I requested when  Governor Strickland’s education funding plan came out, it is important to ask the critical questions about the plan but to do so in a constructive and positive way.  So please ask your legislators these questions. The link to legislator contact information is also on the state budget page on the OAGC website.

 

The budget process is long and deliberative for a reason. There are likely to be many changes in the budget as it moves through the House and Senate. Gifted advocates will need to make sure that we shape the governor’s education reform plan in a way that will best meet the needs of gifted students.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s adventures in budgeting as the House Finance Committee hears from Dick Ross and Barbara Matei-Smith from the governor’s office on education funding on Wednesday, 2/13/13 at 9:00 AM.  Don’t forget it will be recorded, so you can watch it later in the evening instead of American Idol. The budget bill language is also expected to be introduced next week.

 

Advocacy Update 1.31.2013 Governor Kasich Releases Budget Plan – Governor Kasich released an overview of his education reform plan (a.k.a budget) today at a meeting geared toward superintendents.   Please go to the following link for the information that was released -- http://www.oagc.com/files/KasichsFundingPlan1.31.12.pdf . The details will not be revealed until the budget blue book is released on Tuesday, February 4th, 2013. And, in fact, we will not know all of the details until the budget bill is released. Governor Kasich indicated that he wants gifted students to “move forward.”  The initial plan for gifted is a distribution of $50 per ADM for a total of $85.2 million, which presumably means that this amount is not equalized. It appears to be a somewhat simplistic approach, and we don’t know what level of accountability for service will be attached to these funds.  So until the details are known, it is impossible to analyze the impact. The good news is that as opposed to 2009, there is a substantial line item for gifted education funding.  It is a good starting point for the budget process that begins next week. One item that is disturbing is the apparent defunding of the Educational Service Centers, which probably means the gifted units that are currently in place are in jeopardy. Keep tuned, folks, the budget season has begun.  

Don't forget to watch the Virtual Town Hall this evening at 6:00 pm at ohiochannel.org . You can submit questions through www.Facebook.com/JohnRKasich or twitter using the #OHEDU hashtag. 

 

Advocacy Update – 1.18.13 – Preparing for the Storm – As most of you are aware, the governor plans to introduce the state budget the first week of February. He has indicated in the press, that he will unveil his education funding plan ahead of the budget and has warned that it will be very complicated. From what I understand, not even the House and Senate leaders know what is to be included in the plan at this point. However, the governor’s office is making plans to share the plan with superintendents from around the state and will then hold at least one town meeting.  I will provide any information on these meetings as I receive them on this web page.  

Legislative Directories -- In preparation for the budget hearings, I have put together information on the Senate committees for the 130th General Assembly. This can be found at the following link: http://www.oagc.com/?q=leginfo. When the House committee members are released, I will post those as well. The two very important committees in the Senate are the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Education, chaired by Senator Randy Gardner, and the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Scott Oelslager.  Both of these senators have been friends of gifted in the past.  Gifted advocates should be making contact with their legislators to let them know that you expect their support for the needs of gifted children in the budget.  And please check the directories to see if any of your senators are on the two very important committees.

Accountability – There has been a tremendous amount of confusion about the gifted accountability provisions in HB 555. For a full summary of the changes, please go to http://www.oagc.com/?q=advocacyupdates . In addition, you can find the full bill at this link along with a draft of the ODE Draft Statement of Work.  There are some very positive changes for gifted in HB 555, but the implementation of the changes is critical to how this will impact gifted children at the district level.

Advocacy Corner – The Winter Advocacy Corner is now available at http://www.oagc.com/?q=advocacycorner .  Included is an overview of how facts are sometimes used to misrepresent the truth.  Part of this article is highlighted in the High Ability blog at http://highability.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/stupid-stubborn-facts/

 

 

Advocacy Update 12.5.12 – HB 555 – Last Thursday the Ohio House passed HB 555, which will overhaul the state’s accountability system. The overall shift in accountability is profoundly different from the current system which is largely based on student passage rates on the current Ohio Achievement Assessments and the Ohio Graduation Test. It is clear that the new accountability system will be heavily driven by college- and career readiness standards. The new system will grade multiple components including:

  •   Performance index scores

  •      Performance Indicators met (including the gifted performance indicator

  •  AMO (Annual Measurable Objectives) Replaces the current AYP (Annual Yearly Progress). This measure is required for submission to the U.S. Department of Education

  •  Student progress measures including

o   Value-Added Composite with a subgroup factor impact for A grades.

o   Value-added subgroups included a sub-group for gifted students, students with disabilities, and lowest performance quintile)

·         Graduation Rate for 4 & 5 year cohorts

·         Kindergarten through third grade literacy rate

·         College and Career readiness standards including the following:

o   National Standardized test for college admission participation rate and average score

o   Participation and Performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Exams

o   College Remediation Rates

o   College and Career-ready assessment exam

o   Post-secondary Earned Credits

o   Honors Diplomas earned

o   Industry credentials earned

 There are several positive changes in the bill for gifted children in terms of accountability:

 ·         A value-added sub-group component includes gifted students identified in the superior cognitive areas as well as those identified in any specific academic areas assessed.

·     The gifted performance indicator as included as one of the indicators to be met in the performance indicator component. The bill outlines that the following elements will be part of the indicator: level of services provided, performance of gifted students on state assessments, value-added growth of gifted students in appropriate areas, level of gifted identification effort, appropriate licensed staff levels, level of professional development provided to general education teachers working with gifted students, and gifted education spending

·         Requires that all sub-groups in value-added sub-group component be graded a ”B” or above in order for districts to receive an “A” in the their full value-added composite score.

·     Assigns a greater weight to accelerated students who are taking above-grade level assessments. A score of proficient or above receives the next category weight. ODE will assign an additional weight for those students scoring at the advanced level. These weights affect the performance index for each year after the student is accelerated.

These are all substantial gains for gifted students who have been largely neglected in Ohio’s accountability system. Hearings on HB 555 were held this week in the Senate Education Committee. The OAGC testimony can be found at: http://www.oagc.com/files/Testimony%20on%20HB555.forSenate.12.5.12.pdf .

The large education management groups oppose several provisions in the bill including:

1.  Implementing the transition should not start during the current school year;.

2. Using letter grades for certain components on the dashboard that school districts such as Advanced Placement participation rate and test scores, dual Enrollment Program participation rate, national standardized test for college admission — participation rate and average score, and kindergarten through third grade literacy rate;

3. Assigning schools and districts a composite score;

4. Raising the student “cut score” on state tests through the anticipated PARCC assessments, while at the same time raising the “standard” for the passage rate for districts from 75% to 80%;

5. Subjecting districts currently rated “continuous improvement” and above to identification for purposes of EdChoice vouchers and charter school expansion before the changes are fully implemented in three years.

The bill is expected to be voted out of Senate Education on the morning of Tuesday, November 11, and be voted on the Senate floor later that afternoon. There will likely be major changes to the college and career readiness standards as a result of intense lobbying from the education management groups.


 



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