While SB216 was thought originally to be a bill that would receive plenty of discussion, it is unclear how many hearings will be held before this bill moves forward. A hearing has been scheduled for December 6, 2017 for opponent and interested party discussion. It is critically important that gifted advocates weigh in on this bill. There are four critical features that will hurt gifted students:
- The provision that would prohibit the state board of education from requiring any classroom teacher providing services to gifted students from receiving professional development in gifted education. This provision would essentially make gifted services meaningless. Gifted students would merely be marked as served as they sit in a classroom with a teacher who has no training in how to meet their needs.
- Another issue that is bad for gifted students is a requirement that sub-group sizes remain at 30 for accountability and reporting purposes. These sub-group sizes are scheduled to be phased-down to 15 over the next few years under the new Ohio ESSA plan. This essentially hides the poor performance of minority, students in poverty, ELL, students with disabilities, and gifted students in smaller, rural districts. We know that gifted students in these districts are the least likely to be identified and served in the state.
- There are also some issues under College Credit Plus that are troubling particularly one that states that if the same course is offered at both a high school and a university, the student must take the course at the high school. This is very bad news for our most gifted students who need to take the highest quality courses to get into out-of-state universities that will not accept credit from high school dual enrollment courses. This really undermines student and family choice.
- The last issue would permit a school district superintendent to employ a licensed teacher to teach a subject or grade level for which the person is not licensed. Again, this would undermine any level of integrity of service provided in any classroom. If a superintendent could allow any teacher to be gifted intervention specialist, gifted children in many districts will have no real support for their needs.
We need witnesses who can provide both written and verbal testimony at this hearing. We particularly need witnesses that can testify on one or more of above issues by speaking to:
- The low level of gifted professional development that was occurring before the new gifted rule was implemented and how the new rule has already made changes in the district;
- How the new rule has already made changes in the district and the classroom;
- How this law will negatively impact the students and families on any of the issues listed above.
For more information about this bill including a Senate Education witness slip, please go to http://oagc.com/advocacyUpdates.asp and look under the “132nd General Assembly” topic heading.
The hearing will take place on 12.6.17 at 3:15 PM in the South Hearing Room of the Ohio Senate building. If you can provide written or verbal testimony, please email [email protected] for more information.