Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Call to Action - The state of education in Ohio

During the season when many districts are preparing and delivering their “State of the Schools Address”, we must talk about the state of education in Ohio.  There is research from leading educators like Douglas Reeves that urges leaders to find their focus, concentrating on just a few priorities.  Within that focus, leaders must put aside the elements they cannot control (like poverty, ethnicity, home environment, etc.) and commit to the responses that are within their control.  Tim Kight and the R Factor illustrate what it means to have above the line responses.  With that being said, Mechanicsburg has taken the position that we would not belabor the things that come from ODE and the legislature that were outside our control.  We would take the new requirements/changes in practice, figure out how they fit in our system of teaching and learning, and continue to do what is best for kids.  

However, we have a unique opportunity in front of us now with the authorization on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  As educational leaders and advocates, we have the chance to make our voices heard around several key issues - assessment, accountability, and teacher evaluation.  If we want Ohio to take advantage of the local control given to states in ESSA, we must communicate that need to those making policy.  We must do so early, often, and in detail.  

  • It is time for Ohio to go back to the federal minimums required in assessment.  Allow districts to continue to use their internal measures for growth and achievement and assess students/grades/subjects across the state only at the required grades in ESSA.  Urge legislators to listen and act, as our juniors and seniors over the next two years are facing a grave graduation situation.  
  • It is time to have an accountability system that is stable and allows for apples to apples comparisons of data from year to year.   Districts want accountability, but in saying that, our students deserve an accountability system that ACTUALLY produces adjustments in instruction aimed at increasing growth and achievement.  
  • It is time to embrace teacher evaluation  as a crucial piece of feedback for growth, taking away student growth requirements that make teacher evaluation more about a high stakes gotcha than feedback that improves practice.  Administrators and teachers are having powerful conversations around the teacher performance side of the evaluation tool.  Let’s put our focus where it is making a difference.  

If we want education to align to the educational model we know produces higher levels of student growth and achievement, we must seize the moment.  Our students, our teachers, and our communities need there to be action!  

The list below contains all the necessary contact information for the those that represent Champaign County and/or Ohio’s important political offices.  Share your talking points with these individuals and let our voices be heard for the sake of the students and communities we serve.  

Prohaska Sig (LT BLUE).jpg

Danielle Prohaska, Superintendent of Schools
Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools

Contact information:

Governor John Kasich
(614) 466-3555
joe.andrews@governor.ohio.gov (Press Secretary)

Keith Faber, President of the Ohio Senate
(614) 466-7584

Andrew Brenner, House Chair of Education
(614) 644-6711

Cliff Rosenberger, Speaker of the House
(614) 466-3506

Keith Faber, District 12
(614) 466-7584

A. Nino Vitale, House Representative District 85
(614) 466-1507

Tom Gunlock, Appointed President of Ohio Board of Education
(937) 291-6318

Paolo De Maria, Superintendent of Public Instruction
(877) 644-6338

Ann E. Jacobs, Lima District 1 School Board Rep.
(419) 229-9800

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Press Release - District Report Card

In an effort to communicate on multiple fronts, I have included the press release related to our state issued report card below. With the authorization of ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) at the federal level, we have an opportunity to refocus and create a stable and equitable assessment and accountability system in the state of Ohio. It is time for communities, district and building leaders, and boards of education to voice their concerns and bring solutions to the table. The staggering number of Ds and Fs across the state are not indicative of our education system. Students and teachers have not declined at such a rapid rate. Don't let this moment for change pass us by in Ohio. Make your voice heard!

The 2015-16 State Report Card should be released at some point today and will be covered by multiple media outlets over the next week or so. This year’s report card contains numerous changes including overall component grades for report card sections.  The 2015-16 report card results are generated from a new assessment system, which is the 3rd assessment system in three years.  What you may notice is that our ratings have declined in some areas.  To an extent, this was to be expected with so much change in the measurement system for us and districts across the state.    

The new assessment system is built on more rigorous standards and increased performance targets for students.  The accountability elements of the report card will challenge districts to meet those high standards for student growth and achievement.  However, adjustments to these higher standards will not happen overnight and reduced scores are more the norm than an anomaly throughout the state.  Though the state issued report card is an important part of the data we use to inform instruction, it is only one of the many measures that matter.  

Regardless of any changes to the state’s accountability measures, we are prepared to use this data to reflect on student instruction and implement instructional practices that will best meet the needs of all our students.  As we analyze what we know about students from a variety of measures, it is evident that students in Mechanicsburg Schools continue to grow as well rounded students.  We continue to have strong teachers, capable students, and a supportive community.  

In the meantime, our district leaders, alongside administrators from across the state, will persist in advocating for a more consistent accountability system.  This stability is necessary to allow our teachers and administrators to do what they do best for students day in and day out.  

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at prohaskad@mcburg.org or Mary J Huffman at huffmanm@mcburg.org should you want to discuss the report card further.  

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Danielle Prohaska, Superintendent

Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools