Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teachers literally pay $6,000,000 out-of-pocket annually for Jobs Budget

Greg Mild posted this on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. He graciously granted permission for me to share it here.

"Governor Kasich's Jobs Budget proposes adding a new law that will require teachers to pay out-of-pocket over $6,000,000 per year for standardized tests.  Not for the kids -- for themselves!

The Governor, in his infinite wisdom and extensive educational experience, has decided that ALL of the core subject area teachers in the lowest performing 10% of school districts across the state will be required to retake the Praxis II tests that apply to their teaching assignment.  The text of this newly created section of Ohio Revised Code follows:

Sec. 3319.58.
(A) As used in this section:
(1) "Core subject area" has the same meaning as in section 3319.074 of the Revised Code.
(2) "Performance index score" has the same meaning as in section 3302.01 of the Revised Code.
(B) The department of education annually shall rank order into percentiles all city, exempted village, and local school districts according to performance index score. The department shall notify each district board of education of the district's percentile ranking and whether division (C) of this section applies to the district based on that ranking.
(C) Each year, the board of education of each school district in the lowest ten percentiles of performance index score shall require each of its classroom teachers teaching in a core subject area to register for and take all written examinations prescribed by the state board of education for licensure to teach that core subject area and the grade level to which the teacher is assigned under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code.
(D) Each district board of education may use the results of a teacher's examinations required under division (C) of this section in developing and revising professional development plans and in deciding whether or not to continue employing the teacher in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. However, no decision to terminate or not to renew a teacher's employment contract shall be made solely on the basis of the results of a teacher's examination under this section until and unless the teacher has not attained a passing score on the same required examination for at least three consecutive administrations of that examination.
 (pp 1667-8)

Here's the BREAKDOWN:

According to the information available to the public through the Ohio Department of Education website, and as defined in the bill, the lowest-performing 10% of school districts employ 24,655 teachers.  Approximately 18,864, or 76%, teach in a core subject area.  Each teacher would be required to "take all written examinations prescribed by the state board of education for licensure to teach that core subject area and the grade level."

Depending on the subjects and grade levels, teachers will be required to take between 2-5 exams each.  Averaging this by grade level results in a total of 56,592 total written examinations.

At what cost - literally?  Educational Testing Service (www.ets.org) charges an annual fee of $50 and each exam costs $90 for a grand total of $6,036,480 flowing out of the hands of Ohio's teachers

That money will be flowing into the hands of the New Jersey based non-profit company that once reported: "Mistakes in the scoring of an examination that 18 states used in licensing teachers caused more than 4,000 people who should have passed it to fail instead." (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/13/us/grading-mistakes-caused-more-than-4000-would-be-teachers-fail-licensing-exam.html?sec&spon&pagewanted=all)

And what about the sheer amount of time involved?  After all, this is obviously part of the Governor's plan to give school districts flexibility in staffing decisions, so it must work to the benefit of a school board, right?  After all, the bill states that schools will be able to use these results "in developing and revising professional development plans and in deciding whether or not to continue employing the teacher."

Let's go to the calendar to see how this helps a school district turn things around.

Currently, the state does not finalize Performance Index Scores until August.  Let's generously project August 1.  ODE will then need to notify districts, who will then need to notify their teachers (who are all on vacation at that time) when they return to work on, or around, August 21. 

On August 22, those 18,864 teachers (minus retirees) will be logging on to the ETS website to schedule their paper examinations -- none of these particular Praxis II exams are computer-based.

If the website doesn't crash, those teachers will find that the next testing date available to them is Saturday, November 12 (unless they teach 7-12 science, then the next test date is January).  Those teachers who only need two tests will be able to schedule both tests on this date, assuming the test center can accommodate the high number (the 3 sites in Columbus will need to seat nearly 2,700).

Those teachers that finish in November will get their test results back one month later, just in time for Winter Break.  Those still needing to take another test or two will schedule for January 14 and should see their results by February 14.

And finally, those needing a fifth test will be able to wrap that up around March 17, receiving their scores on April 17. 

After the district receives all of these scores, then they can begin the real work for the school year, "developing and revising professional development plans and in deciding whether or not to continue employing the teacher." 

And haven't we all experienced the impactful work that occurs in May & June as it relates to effecting change in student learning for the school year?  I believe we can all appreciate the immediate impact this process will have on affecting student achievement, right?

Bravo, Governor Kasich.  It's about time you identified a method for holding teachers accountable, creating jobs (ETS test proctors), and giving districts the flexibility to make immediate changes (give or take 12 months) to impact student achievement.  Don't listen to the naysayers that will claim that the fact that the results of these teacher examinations won't be useful until after the next year's student tests are finished, thereby creating a vicious cycle that keeps these districts from any real gain from this information.  These teacher examinations are the real deal!!!

What's that you say, Ohio Department of Education?

Successful completion of required tests is designed to ensure that candidates for licensure have acquired the minimal knowledge necessary for entry-level positions.
The Praxis II tests are not designed to predict performance on the job nor can passing the licensure examination(s) guarantee good teaching. The tests are built to represent knowledge and skills imparted in educator preparation programs in the United States.

Well, that's awkward . . .

Next agenda item:  Replace Ohio State School Board and State Superintendent.