#OhioGradCrisis, Education, Ohio

Why I Cannot Support More Graduation “Pathways”

We met with a handful of Ohio Senators last week. Since it matters for this discussion’s sake, 6 of the 8 we talked with are Republicans. Not one of them disagreed that we need a solution for our Class of 2018. Not one of them defended the nightmare they have created for our now seniors. But, when it came down to it, they did not support the logical and humane solution for our kids with their votes.

We’ve discussed ad-nauseum the impending graduation crisis for Ohio’s now seniors. In Wednesday’s vote, state senators had an opportunity to provide relief to our students through “safe harbor.” The amendment offered would allow students in the Class of 2018 to use course grades for the seven content areas in lieu of standardized state tests to earn points toward the required minimum of 18. This amendment was tabled on a party line vote of 24-9.

Instead, the amendment which remains in the Senate’s version of the budget bill would require students to jump through even more hoops to meet graduation requirements. After changing tests in three of the last four years and changing the cut scores for passage with a new vendor, after 12 years of learning and hard work in their classes, after taking seven end of course state tests (and retakes for any with scores of 2 or 1, plus their required remediation), these seniors could now be faced with two additional hoops to jump through in order to earn their diploma.

While I am glad these new, unnecessary hoops remove the burden of scoring 18 points through the seven standardized tests, I am irate that students will still be required to retake any state tests for which they scored a 2 or 1. Though they need not earn a passing score, they must serve the testing gods. This is the definition of state-sanctioned educational malpractice.

Some claim the new pathways somehow “soften” the state’s graduation requirements. To them, I’d offer the following, albeit imperfect, analogy:

If each of the four years of high school are the leg of a relay and the team is your diploma, here’s a look into that race. In the first leg, your time is measured by PARCC, so results take over a year to determine and be reported to you. Meanwhile, you’re trucking along in the second leg, and it is announced that your time will be measured by AIR. You also have to stop intermittently along this stretch because you need to go back and recomplete the first leg of the race, this time measured by AIR. As you enter the third leg, you learn you have to go back to leg 2 for a new AIR measurement with a higher cut score while also needing to make up time you’ve lost in the overall race. Somewhere along the third leg, you learn that you still haven’t met the required AIR time from the first leg and must go back again to the start. Now it’s time for the final leg. Hopefully, you’ve made it back to this point by now to continue on your race. You are almost there! Wait, what’s that? This leg contains a maze of obstacles, from which you must choose two to complete successfully. Each obstacle will take most, if not all of your final leg to complete. Oh, and all those restarts, they don’t matter now, but you still have to go back to leg 2, though that time won’t count in the end. See, wasn’t that so easy?

I wish I could think of an analogy that actually fits this scenario our kids are in, but I cannot. Because it is utterly ridiculous. Instead of admitting their mistakes in the regulations of the relay, the majority party seems to want to continue this charade. Meanwhile, our students pay the ultimate price when the race is stacked against them.

#FixItOrOwnIt #OhioGradCrisis

Brittany Alexander

Ohio BAT and Educator

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board

Oh Really, Gunlock?

mandyI find it very interesting that Mr. Gunlock is still trotting out the same tired old rhetoric about the OGTs measuring eighth-grade knowledge even after he quit the state school board mid-term. We have asked for proof of this claim over and over yet he has failed to provide it. I would love to read any information you could provide on the topic, Mr. Gunlock. Of course this is not even the real problem anyway. The problem is anyone who thinks that a child’s score on some tests is a true indicator of his readiness for the future. You did not take exit exams, Mr. Gunlock, yet I am sure that you consider yourself a success.

Why do we continue to insist on giving these exams and tying them to graduation when study after study shows that this is not only unnecessary, it can actually be harmful? We are one of only fourteen states in the entire country that require children to pass exams to graduate. Are those thirty-six other states full of kids that are not prepared for the future? Of course not.

As for business leaders complaining about a lack of qualified candidates for the workplace, I have yet to hear that from an actual business leader. A 2014 study done by The National Association of Colleges and Employers and published in Forbes magazine found that the top ten skills employers seek are:

  1. Ability to work in a team structure
  2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)
  3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
  4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job
  8. Proficiency with computer software programs
  9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  10. Ability to sell and influence others

Is there any proof that these new tests measure ANY of these qualities? How can we know for sure when no one has ever seen these tests?

I would also like to know why you left the state school board so abruptly, Mr. Gunlock. Was it because you couldn’t bear the thought of admitting that perhaps you got it wrong? That maybe, just maybe, these kids are not the problem? That the fact that only 24% of students scored proficient or above on the Geometry test may have more to do with the actual test than the kids themselves, regardless of how you feel about them only needing to answer 35% of the questions correctly? I am inclined to believe the children who took these tests when they tell me that there were questions on there on topics that they had not yet covered in class. Of course that would only make sense given that, despite what the name implies, these end-of-course tests are given in March and April.

Is taking the word of  PARCC about its cut scores even though their tests were deemed so poor that we dropped them after only one year fair? How about switching testing vendors after one year while simultaneously raising the cut scores of the new tests? Or giving these same kids three different sets of Math and ELA tests in three years while providing little to no information to districts about these ever-changing testing requirements?

Does it matter that some students were taking these tests online while some used paper and pencil? While PARCC claims that it did a study and found no discernable difference, the results from states around the country say otherwise. As a matter of fact, Derek Briggs, professor of research and evaluation methodology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who also happens to serve on the technical advisory committee for both PARCC and Smarter Balanced (whose tests are created by the same vendor we now use for all of our state tests), is quoted as saying, “In the short term, on policy grounds, you need to come up with an adjustment, so that if a [student] is taking a computer version of the test, it will never be held against [him or her]”. Yet we are still holding current juniors responsible for the results of these tests that nearly everyone else was given a safe harbor from.

Like Representative Fedor said recently, the adults got it wrong, not our children. I am incredibly grateful to her and the remaining school board members who recognize that we have a serious problem here that needs to be addressed so that the 35,000 of our current juniors who are not on track to graduate next year get the opportunity to do so.

Written by Mandy Jablonski, Ohio BAT

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Uncategorized

Solidarity with LEA

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Ohio BATs stands in solidarity with the Louisville Education Association (LEA). We understand that a strike vote is a very difficult decision for any group of educators to make. We fully support LEA’s strong stand against proposed language that is harmful to not just our noble profession, but to our innocent students as well. We kindly ask that our members consider sending letters of support and donations to the Louisville Education Association.

Louisville Education Association

c/o Angela Emmons, LEA Treasurer

P.O. Box 194

Louisville , Ohio 44641

Email: louisvilleea.oh@gmail.com

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Ohio BATs – Election 2016

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Ohio BATs will not be endorsing candidates in statewide races during this election cycle. We feel that an Ohio BAT endorsement is an honor to be earned for any candidate who openly defends public education. As such, more time is needed to decide on procedures for procuring such an endorsement.

The Ohio BAT Administrators will decide upon procedures to present for feedback within the larger Ohio BAT group. We believe that our future endorsements should come from the majority of the votes within our closed group.

We will not, as a community, representative of a broad core grassroots movement (Ohio BATs), suggest in this election cycle that others vote for a particular candidate. Obviously, individual BATs are welcome and encouraged to share their views and information, as they relate to education, about a candidate.

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