Advocacy Update – 9.22.17 – Support for Gifted Standards/HQPD; Report Card Angst; Assessments Redux

Support/Tools for Gifted Standards and Gifted HQPD – Do you have questions about how to implement the gifted operating standards½ Are you not quite sure what the standards are for gifted HQPD for classroom teachers½ Help has arrived!

Both OAGC and ODE (Ohio Department of Education) have posted technical manuals and tools to help support gifted professionals and other district personnel to assist with the implementation of the new gifted operating standards. If you are concerned or confused about the general implementation of the gifted operating standards, please go to and look under the “2017 Gifted Operating Standards and Technical Assistance Documents” tab. There you will find links the new operating standards as well as links to the new ODE technical assistance manual, EMIS codes, whole grade testing and more. If you are specifically concerned about the implementation of high quality professional development for classroom teachers, OAGC has a web page specifically to address those needs and questions at . Need to know what ODE has to say about the implementation of gifted HQPD for classroom teachers½ Go to that link. Need to know if you can use a train the trainer model for HQPD (Answer: only if the person being trained has gifted licensure), go to the above link and check out OAGC’s FAQ.  Looking for resources and best practices or ways to track gifted HQPD½ Again, the above link has some tools you can use in our resource document. By no means, is OAGC done with providing tools to implement the gifted operating standards and gifted HQPD. We hope to have several Ohio-specific online courses available soon through our partnership with GTIGNITE. For now, we have listed courses from the GTIGNITE catalog that meet the ODE HQPD standards.

State Report Cards and the Mystery of Value-Added – The State Board of Education met this past week. The major points of discussion centered around the newly released report card and the recommendation to eliminate several state assessments. On Monday, the state superintendent’s report focused almost exclusively on the state report card. Mr. DeMaria’s presentation can be accessed at’s%20Report/. It is clear from the comments across the state in newspapers, superintendent statements, and from state board members, that there is high level of discomfort in the grades received by many districts in this second year of testing with new assessments. More than one board member indicated that there had to be something wrong with the current grading system given the low scores of so many previously high-performing districts. The problem here is that many folks fail to remember why the report card and grading system was changed in the first place: the standards were set so low previously that the vast majority of districts were considered to be high-performing. For a brief history of what Ohio’s accountability system used to be like, you may wish to re-read OAGC’s 2011 report “Grading on a Curve,” which explores Ohio’s Lake Wobegon-like report card system of past years. Given that high-performing districts are now exempt from certain laws, it becomes ever more important that we know what high-performing really means.

Some board members rightly pointed out the that the state report cards do not reflect other important district offerings such as the arts and extra-curricular activities. A few of state board members also expressed concerns with the A-F grading system itself. As some folks may recall, the change to A-F was an initiative that was thought necessary by policymakers and educators alike a few years ago. People claimed that the system of report card labels (excellent with distinction and excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch, and academic emergency) was too confusing to parents and the general public. The A-F grading system was one that everyone could understand. It is clear that moving to higher standards is a good goal in theory. In reality, it is difficult for policymakers, educators, and parents alike to see that with these higher standards, many districts previously thought to be high-performing have some work to do. It is one thing when only a few (largely urban) districts are seen as not performing at a high level. It is quite another, when districts previously viewed as high-performing are shown to have some weaknesses as well. A new NPR’s article is a good example of policy maker angst about the new report card ratings. The article can be viewed here.

It is also evident from the state board member discussion on report cards that there is a great deal of confusion about what the report card value-added grade is and what it does. Just to clarify, let’s clear up three false impressions about value-added:

  1. A value-added grade of &ldquo|S&A|rdquo; or “B” means that there is greater confidence that the district or school building made a year’s worth of progress. It does not mean the district or building made more than one year’s worth of growth.
  2. High-performing districts with high numbers of students identified as gifted can indeed have high value-added grades. In fact, as a whole, low-poverty, suburban districts have higher value-added scores for the gifted student sub-group than any other type of district. Despite rumors to the contrary, there is room to grow for any type of district in Ohio.
  3. High performance index and achievement scores do not necessarily relate to high value-added scores. Districts with higher grades in both academic achievement and the performance index definitely can have a low value-added index. The point of the value-added index was to look at levels of growth rather than levels of achievement. Students can have test scores but still not making a year’s worth of growth. Conversely, students with low test scores can still be achieving at high growth levels.  

State Assessment Confusion — The State Board of Education, once again, took up a discussion about state assessments during the formal board meeting. The board was to consider eleven different options to recommend to the General Assembly. This was after the board failed to vote on the state superintendent’s recommendation on state assessments in July. His recommendations included the elimination the 4th grade social studies assessment, the high school ELA 1 end-of-course exam as well as the American Government end-of-course exam, and the WorkKeys assessments (for career technical students).  This recommendation is slightly different from the recommendation of the Superintendent’s Committee on State Assessments that was released in early June. (Please recall that the 4th and 6th grade social studies assessments were eliminated in the state budget bill adopted in June.)

One particular assessment proposal eliminating both the American Government and American History end-of-course assessments seemed to be the most contentious. Several witnesses, including an aide to Senate President Larry Obhof, testified in objection to the elimination of these courses. President Obhof was the chief sponsor the original bill to include these state assessments. It is important to know that only the General Assembly can change the number of types of assessments, and they are limited by federal requirements.

After a lengthy and complicated discussion, all motions regarding the state assessments were put on hold until the October or November state board meeting. It is possible at that time that another assessment committee might be proposed including both state board of education members as well as key legislators. It is clear there is a lot of confusion about state assessments at the board level. It is less clear what further discussion at the state board will achieve.