Ohio provision to re-test teachers at low-performing schools: What will the impact be?

As Jamie previously mentioned, with Ohio's budget (HB 153) now in effect Fordham is busy dissecting all the different provisions and what they mean for Ohio's students. Jamie looked at the expansion of the EdChoice Scholarship Program and how many new schools and students are eligible due to recent legislative changes. ?

The budget is chock full of other provisions that will impact not just students but teachers. One such provision requires that all core subject-area teachers working in public school buildings statewide (including charter schools) ranked in the bottom 10 percent of performance (according to Performance Index, an average of students' proficiency in tested grades and subjects) must re-take any written tests prescribed by the State Board of Education for licensure.

Across the state last year, there were 353 such school buildings. Of those 353 schools 126 are charter schools and another 166 are located in the Big 8 (Ohio's largest eight urban districts). Additionally, Fordham's home town of Dayton has 15 schools located in the bottom 10 percent.? This means that core teachers in those schools will be mandated to re-take their licensure tests. How many teachers does this really impact, and will it result in them becoming more effective teachers?

Since not all teachers in a school building teach a core subject, such as reading, math, or science we had to estimate how many teachers this impacts. Assuming that each teacher on average teaches 22 kids and about half of those teachers teach in a ?core subject? you are left with approximately over 2,400 teachers that would be required to re-take their licensure exams this coming school year. ?

The goal behind this provision is somewhat ambiguous.? Is the point of having teachers re-take exams to inform professional development needs or are schools going to do something else with under-performing teachers? Or is this provision just meant as a way to call out the lowest performing schools and teachers in hopes that embarrassment will be motivation to improve?? Either way this provision can be somewhat questioned on a number of different fronts. ?First, there are great teachers in failing schools and poor teachers in great schools. By targeting all teachers regardless if they are effective or not will not only demoralize teachers but it will also drive people away from ever wanting to teach in high-poverty-high-need schools. Instead, if requiring teachers to re-take exams was somehow informed by a teacher evaluation system that pointed out the teachers most in need of improvement, regardless if they were located in building ranked in the bottom 10 percent , it could have a greater impact on improving teacher effectiveness statewide.

Secondly, this provision assumes that teachers in these schools are not performing well due to a lack of knowledge and that by re-taking the licensure exam it will help rectify that. While in some instances this might be the case, I would venture to guess that most teachers would benefit more from personalized professional development rather than a test. Some people would argue that the reason for these tests is to inform who needs professional development, I would say determine specific areas that teachers need help with (again through a rigorous teacher evaluation system) and use that information to tailor professional development to individual teachers.? And third, let's not forget about the amount of time and money involved with re-testing over 2,000 teachers.

Stay tuned for even more granular analysis of the Ohio budget.

-Bianca Speranza

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