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.
Danielle Prohaska, Superintendent of Schools
Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools
Governor John Kasich
firstname.lastname@example.org (Press Secretary)
Keith Faber, President of the Ohio Senate
Andrew Brenner, House Chair of Education
Cliff Rosenberger, Speaker of the House
Keith Faber, District 12
A. Nino Vitale, House Representative District 85
Tom Gunlock, Appointed President of Ohio Board of Education
Paolo De Maria, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ann E. Jacobs, Lima District 1 School Board Rep.