Teachers concerned about ‘Common Core’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 11:19
Ohio State Senator Randy Gardner (right) addresses Bowling Green and Eastwood teachers on Ohio Senate Bill 229 at Bowling Green High School. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Vast testing requirements, teacher evaluations and student truancy were all discussed Monday by area teachers with State Sen. Randy Gardner.
Gardner (R-Bowling Green) was invited by Bowling Green teachers to discuss concerns they have with the new Common Core State Standards Initiative, an education initiative that details what K-12 students should know in English and math at the end of each grade.
The initiative seeks to establish conformity in education standards across the states.
House Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green), who accompanied Gardner, explained why he thinks the new standards are necessary.
With the recession and families moving for jobs, students were entering new districts and were not getting the same classroom lessons as in the district they left, he said.
The standards have been approved in all but five states.
Standards were released for mathematics and English language arts in 2010 and formal assessment is expected to take place in the 2014-2015 school year.
About 20 educators, representing Bowling Green's Kenwood, Crim and Conneaut elementaries, the middle school and high school, plus two teachers from Eastwood High School, attended the informal gathering.
Gardner explained at length Senate Bill 229, which addresses the state's new system for evaluating teachers (Ohio's Teacher Evaluation System - OTES).
He is the primary sponsor of the bill.
Currently, each teacher will be evaluated on teacher performance rating and student academic growth. Each area will contribute 50 percent of the teachers overall score, as required by Common Core.
SB 229 instead requires that student academic growth account for 35 percent of each teacher's performance evaluation, but permits a school district or school to attribute an additional percentage, up to 15 percent, of each evaluation to student academic growth.
The bill also reduces evaluations from every year to once every three years for a teacher who received a rating of "accomplished" on the teacher's most recent evaluation, and to every two years any teacher who received a rating of "skilled."
The officials addressed the bill and the changes to the Ohio Revised Code in regards to teacher performance evaluations.
Also questioned was the training the evaluator will receive.
Gardner said he hopes the bill passes the Senate next Wednesday.
September Kuebler, a first grade teacher at Crim, also expressed concern over the 45 days that students can now be absent.
Gardner said that number used to be 60 and he wanted 35.
Terry Mulgrew, a teacher at BGHS, asked what schools can do about consistent truancy.
Gardner pointed to Ohio's Parental Education Neglect clause, found in Ohio Revised Code, which states that the board of education may adopt a policy requiring the parent or guardian of any student who is truant or habitually absent from school to attend a parental education or training program provided by the district. Not attending is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
But, Gardner added, "I don't think it's the solution to the challenge of working with parents."
Jodi Anderson, teacher at BGHS, asked why the Ohio Graduation Test is still being used. She questioned whether the Ohio Department of Education wanted to keep the test.
Gardner replied that ODE's timing to make that change "was not perfect." He said the OGT might be around another year or two.
Anderson said this year's freshmen will take around 22 tests before they graduate.
Stacy Higgins, second grade teacher at Crim, voiced frustration on the hours spent on prepping students to take a test with content not yet covered in the classroom.
Mulgrew also questioned why testing has become an unfunded mandate.
If a student chooses to retake a test, the district needs to pay for it, he said.
An Eastwood High School teacher said her district has budgeted $20,000 for additional testing.
Gardner said after the meeting, "To have nearly 90 minutes of discussion with teachers who are on the front lines every day in our classrooms is very helpful. Most of the bills and amendments I sponsor come from meetings like this one or from individual conversations from constituents."
He continued, "The message I received was that these teachers accept accountability but they also want accountability from students, parents and other educators. I think that's a fair expectation."

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