Assessment Advisory Committee Update -- The Superintendent’s Assessment Advisory Committee met on April 18th. The agenda largely was dominating by a presentation from committee member, Neil Gupta, whose district participated in a pilot program with four other Central Ohio school districts to conduct district audit assessments. His presentation is posted at http://oagc.com/advocacyUpdates.asp under the 4.18.17 meeting documents under the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee 2017 heading. Dr. Gupta warned the committee that while the audit yielded very useful information for the district, it did not result in the elimination of any assessments. The process, however, did bring a better awareness and understanding of district assessments among both staff and parents. Dr. Colleen Boyle, Gifted and Talented Supervisor for Columbus City Schools, also spoke to the committee to provide some insight on universal gifted screening, the use of assessments for multiple purposes, and the gifted identification gap between minority and/or economically disadvantaged students with those students who are not. Committee members wanted to know who decided which assessments could be used to identify gifted students and why the process used to select those instruments couldn’t be streamlined to also be used for OTES and other purposes. Other questions had to do with how gifted identification was funded and what gifted assessments were required for identification before the new standards were adopted.
The committee split up into multiple groups for the last ten minutes of the meeting to brainstorm ideas on how to streamline local assessments. The group was then given the results of the last meeting brainstorming session on state assessments. This list is available at the above link. The next meeting will be held on May 2nd. The group will work with the brainstorming list on state assessments to develop recommendations and action items on state assessments.
State Budget Deliberations to Begin Again with Budget Shortfall Looming – After a two week spring break, the General Assembly will be back next week to discuss the biennial budget. Given the recent announcement that $800 million must be eliminated from the two year proposal, deliberations will likely take a more serious look at where cuts will be made as opposed to previously hoped-for program expansions. The Ohio House is expected to release a sub bill in the next week which will likely include these cuts. The Ohio Senate will also continue to hold hearings on the bill.
Superintendent’s Committee on Assessments – The second meeting of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessments was held April 4th. Committee members received an overview of state assessments from ODE Deputy Superintendent, Dr. John Richard. In addition, invited speakers addressed the committee about the kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading assessments, and social studies assessments. The latter group of speakers indicated that when social studies assessments were eliminated earlier in the decade that social studies teaching declined. After these presentations, the committee broke up into small groups to brain storm how state assessments could be streamlined. The next meeting takes place on April 18th from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM at the Ohio Department of Education. The focus will be on local assessments including those required by the state, which would include gifted assessments. Committee members were asked to prepare a list of assessments at each grade level used by their district and the amount of time each assessment took. The committee will hear from Neil Gupta from Worthington City Schools about how his district did an assessment audit. In addition, Colleen Boyle, OAGC President, will address the committee regarding gifted screening and assessment. Based on comments from a few of the committee members at this week’s meeting, it is clear there is confusion about what is required for gifted screening and assessment, and why it is important. To view the assessment committee presentation, timeline, and next meeting tasks, please go to www.oagc.com/advocacyupdates.asp and look under the “Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessments 2017” tab. All documents from meetings will be posted under that tab.
Gifted Regional School Feasibility Study Released – Language in the last biennial budget required the Ohio Department of Education to conduct a feasibility study of regional gifted schools and submit that report to Ohio policy makers by July 1, 2016. The study, which was conducted in April of 2016, was finally released last week. While there are a few interesting items in the study, the final determination was that the feasibility of schools would require “detailed, region-specific market and cost analyses, especially in the rural, sparsely-populated regions. Those detailed analyses were beyond the scope of this study.” In other words, the report had no specific conclusions about the feasibility of regional gifted opportunities that gifted students from across the state could access. A few of the more interesting findings in the report included:
The report can be accessed at www.oagc.com/statebudget.asp .
Ohio Senate Takes Up State Budget – Before the Ohio House has produced a sub bill for HB49, the biennial budget, the Ohio Senate Finance Committee and subcommittees have begun initial hearings. While the Ohio General Assembly will be on hold for a couple of weeks for spring break, look for things to heat up again the last week of April. As Ohio’s revenue shortfall continues, the budget outlook appears to be even more bleak than previously thought.
Superintendent’s Committee on Assessments – The first meeting of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessments was held this past week. Committee members heard a presentation from ODE Deputy Superintendent, Dr. John Richard. Dr Richard also shared a timeline for committee tasks. The committee has representatives from most of the major education groups. OAGC President, Colleen Boyle is representing OAGC on the committee. To view the assessment committee presentation, timeline, and next meeting tasks, please go to www.oagc.com/advocacyupdates.asp and look under the “Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Assessments 2017” tab. All documents from meetings will be posted under that tab. The next meeting is scheduled for April 4, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the Ohio Department of Education.
Gifted Operating Standards Update – The Ohio Department of Education officially field the gifted operating standards on March 21st. Typically, this would mean that the standards would go into effect 10 days after the final filing. However, in order to coincide with school year, the operating standards will go into effect on July 1, 2017. To see a copy of the final rule, please go to http://www.oagc.com/rulelaw.asp
New Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education – This week in a landmark case for students with disabilities, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress. "It cannot be right that the IDEA generally contemplates grade-level advancement for children with disabilities who are fully integrated in the regular classroom, but is satisfied with barely more than de minimis progress for children who are not," read the opinion, signed by Chief Justice John Roberts. While it is unclear what impact this might have in the future for gifted students, it is definite victory for all families of students with special needs For more information on this ruling, please go to http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/03/22/521094752/the-supreme-court-rules-in-favor-of-a-special-education-student .
OAGC Budget Testimony – OAGC provided testimony before the House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, this morning. The association made several budget requests along with recommendations for changes to funding accountability and the College Credit Plus program. The Ssbcommittee members ask a variety of questions. Rep. Miller and Patterson focused on how the needs of rural, gifted students could be better met. Chairman Cupp wondered how funding accountability could be achieved. Rep. Reineke wanted to know what the impact of potential reduced testing might have on gifted identification. OAGC testimony along with that of Allen County ESC gifted coordinator, Judy Chaffins, can be accessed at oagc.com/statebudget.asp .
Gifted Operating Standards Update – Last week, JCARR held hearings on several administrative rulings including the gifted operating standards. With no witness testimony provided, JCARR released jurisdiction of the administrative rule. The operating standards should be officially adopted by the end of March.
ESSA Update – In the first of two major pieces of information on ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), the USDOE released new guidance to states this week on how to submit a consolidated state plan. Earlier this week, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria, in response to major pushback from several education groups, delayed the submission of the Ohio plan from April to September. ODE now plans to convene several committees to review and revise the plan. One of the major concerns about the current ODE draft plan expressed by many education groups is over testing. No state assessments were recommended for elimination in the ODE draft ESSA plan. Gifted advocates will need to watch and provide insight on testing as ODE revises the ESSA plan. Universal screening for gifted students is a necessary tool to ensure that underrepresented populations are identified. Ohio needs to maintain gifted universal screening and not allow it to be sacrificed as part of a misguided solution to over-testing. The first meeting of the Advisory Committee on Assessments is next week. It is not currently known whether anyone representing the gifted community is on the committee. OAGC will also seek other changes to ODE’s plan to ensure that the needs of gifted students are better represented.
New Gifted Poll – A new gifted poll released this week by the Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA) found wide bi-partisan voter support for increased funding and resources for gifted students. For more information on this poll and the results, please go to http://www.nagc.org/first-ever-poll-voters-about-gifted-learners-finds-strong-bipartisan-support-increasing-funding-and
In February, ODE released Ohio’s draft plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is the federal act that replaces the replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). ODE’s draft Plan is posted at http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Every-Student-Succeeds-Act-ESSA . ODE is currently conducting survey to receive public input on the proposed plan. The survey is general, and asks for input on several major areas. OAGC’s position on ESSA can found at the first link under the OAGC positions and research tab at: http://oagc.com/advocacyUpdates.asp . Please take a few minutes to read it and respond to ODE’s ESSA survey, which will be open through Monday, March 6, 2017.
The survey can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ESSAOhioOverview. For ease of responding, you may wish to read below for a “quick and dirty” guide to some ways to fill out the survey to encourage ODE to provide more to support to gifted students in the ESSA plan. As always, please add your own thoughts.
1) Challenging State Academic Standards and Academic Assessments
Please ensure that double testing is eliminated for middle school students taking high school coursework should be a priority in the area of assessments.
2) Aligned System of Accountability, Support, and Improvement
The reduction in N-size from 30 to 15 is a welcome change as the performance of sub-groups in more districts and schools will be highlighted.
The continued use of the gifted performance indicator and the gifted value-added sub-group is recommended with increased emphasis on the excellence gap which is the gap between the performance of minority and/or economically disadvantaged gifted students and gifted students who are not.
3) Schools and Districts Identified for Support
Ohio should recognize districts where gifted students are provided with opportunities and are performing well and as support to districts where gifted students are not provided with sufficient opportunities or where there are large gaps between gifted minority and/or economically gifted students and those gifted students who are not.
4) An Aligned, Evidence-Based Improvement System
Title I funds are allowed to be utilized for the support of gifted students. The plan should acknowledge this and require/encourage districts to take advantage of ESSA flexibility, and implement evidence-based strategies to support gifted students
5) Supporting Excellent Educators
ESSA requires that districts receiving Title II funds must provide training to educators to support the needs of gifted students. The only area in the plan that discussed PD for gifted is a reference to Javits gifted online modules that were developed over a decade ago. This reference should be removed and language should be developed requiring/encouraging districts to utilize their Title II funds to support professional development in gifted to district classroom teachers.
6) Supporting All Students: Well Rounded and Support Education for Students
Title IV funds may be used to support initiatives to improved students access to challenging curriculum. Ohio’s ESSA plan needs to ensure that gifted students are included as a sub-group under these initiatives and, in fact, all initiatives related to district or student improvement. Gifted minority and economically disadvantaged students may be the least well-served student population in Ohio. This should be addressed in Ohio’s plan.