Forum Center, 3/20/12

Teachers in Ohio’s Lowest Performing Schools Face Retesting

A provision in the Ohio budget will require thousands of teachers in Ohio’s lowest-performing schools to take new licensing tests for the first time. The testing would affect teachers in their core subject areas in any school whose performance has been ranked in the bottom 10 percent of Ohio schools.  The rankings, which are based on Performance Index scores, were developed by the Department of Education The schools affected have been placed on Academic Watch or Academic Emergency based on those scores. The next Performance Index comes out in August.

The Performance Index score is a combination of students’ results in Ohio’s Achievement Assessments which test achievement in grades 3-8 and again in the 10th grade Ohio Graduation Test. Core subjects are reading, English language arts, math, science, foreign language, government, economics, fine arts, history and geography. The Performance Index will be used to rank Ohio’s 3,400 public schools, with the bottom 10 percent falling under the new testing requirement.

The Kasich administration has pushed for the new testing requirement in order to hold teachers more accountable for the results that students are achieving in Ohio’s under- performing public schools. The Governor has stated that he is concerned that Ohio is not adequately preparing its young people for the jobs of the future. He recently noted that nearly 40 percent of Ohio high school graduates entering college are required to take remedial course work. Kasich wants Ohio’s public schools to do a better job of preparing its students and he believes that the new testing for teachers in the lowest performing districts is one possible solution. Kasich views this testing requirement as a way to weed out teachers who are unable to teach their core subjects.

Critics of the testing requirement point out that the provision pins the success or failure of students in a particular school or district only on teachers. Many experts believe parents, the community and administrators also play a big part in students’ academic success. They also point out that the poorest districts most often are the ones falling in the bottom 10 percent on the Performance Index. The new testing ignores environmental factors, such as living in poverty, which can affect a student’s performance no matter how accomplished and effective the child’s teacher might happen to be. It is also less likely that good teachers will take teaching positions in a troubled district where no matter their skill at teaching or their knowledge of their subject, they will be subjected to retesting.

Many states, including Ohio, have already begun to adopt teacher evaluation systems.  These systems will link student test performance to individual teacher reviews.  School performance experts believe that such individual evaluations will be a more accurate measure of which teachers are ineffective.  These evaluations would hold every teacher in the state of Ohio accountable, not only those teachers in schools in the bottom 10 percent.

Forum Question of the Week:

“Should Ohio teachers be put to the test with retesting?”

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