Advocacy Update – 9.9.20 – Education COVID-19 Bill; School Funding Revisited; ODE Gifted Guidance Elusive; Testing Guidance

As we head into the school year, there are a few advocacy items to report: 

SB358 – Continued and Expanded K-12 Education Waivers Due to COVID-19 – The Senate Education Committee heard sponsor and proponent testimony on SB287 last week. SB358 is a wide-ranging bill that would extend and create new exemptions for Ohio’s K-12 system. Among the major provisions of the bill, state assessments would be waived for the 2020-2021 school year; report cards would be prohibited through the 2021-2022 school year; exemptions for 3rd grade reading guarantee and graduation would continue etc. There are actually many provisions in this bill, a summary of which can be viewed here. Most of the major education groups (OFT, OEA, BASA, OSBA) are proponents of the bill. There will definitely be pushback from other groups including Ohio Excels and Fordham Foundation. And, it should be noted that U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has issued a statement to all states indicating that assessments used to meet federal guidelines will not be waived for this school year. 

While a reprieve on some items will be absolutely necessary, there are issues for removing all accountability assessments and measures for up to two years. Achievement gaps including those in gifted education will only grow larger if they are invisible. OAGC will watch the progress of this bill closely. In related news, ODE will be releasing the 2019-2020 report cards next week. 

HB305 – School Funding Formula Revision (Cupp-Patterson bill) – Now that Bob Cupp has been elected Speaker of the Ohio House, it is not surprising that the Cupp-Patterson bill has been revived. The bill has bill has been revised, and the House Finance Committee is expected to accept a substitute bill next week. The House Finance Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee will then conduct hearings on the bill in the next few weeks. The sub-committee will need a new chair person, who is likely to be Representative Gary Scherer. There may be other changes to the bill as well. OAGC had issues with some of the gifted provisions in HB305 – mainly, unrealistic GIS to gifted student ratios; fade-out of professional development funds; elimination of ESC gifted funding, and the lack of gifted funding accountability. OAGC will watch this bill carefully. While it may be passed by the Ohio House before next year in lame duck session, it is unlikely to pass the Ohio Senate. Look for it to be included in the budget bill in 2021.

ODE Gifted Guidance is Elusive– The Ohio Department of Education has many resources on restarting school for various areas of K-12 education. The notable absence is any guidance on gifted education. While it is no secret that the ODE gifted program consultants have working on this guidance for months, it still hasn’t cleared the multi-step process that ODE uses to publish guidance. Whether it is in legal or communications or whatever, the only change that is noted on the ODE restart web page for gifted is that where there used to be a “Coming Soon” label, now there is no mention of gifted at all. 

Assessment Guidance – One of the issues that the gifted field is grappling with is the issue of using remote assessments for gifted identification. This is particular worrisome for assessments used by districts throughout the school year. Curriculum Associates has released guidance on the remote use of iReady and gifted identification. That guidance can be found here.