State board likes the governor's plans even without the details

The State Board of Education passed a resolution last week (15-2, with two members absent) commending Gov. Strickland's education reform plan (see here). The board put forth the resolution despite the fact that crucial information about the governor's plan-like legislative language, which isn't expected until later this month, and details about how the school-funding model calculates funding levels-are still not available. One board member voted against the resolution because she did not feel there was enough detailed information meant for her and her constituents to fully evaluate it (see here).

It is hard to understand all the pieces of Strickland's plan without more details, but at first blush many of the governor's proposals seem to butt up against major recommendations from two previous board-sanctioned reports-the August 2008 An Integrated Approach to School Funding Reform in Ohio (see here) and the February 2007 Creating a World-class Education System in Ohio (see here). Perhaps that's why the board didn't mention these reports in its recent resolution supporting the governor's plan. The resolution did indicate, however, that the governor's plan aligns with the board's July 2008 "vision document," Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century: A Vision for Transforming PK-12 Education in Ohio (see here). For the most part, the aims of the governor's plan and this state board document agree. However, the board's vision for public education in Ohio includes an important component that Strickland's does not: accountability for performance.

While the governor would seemingly hold schools and school leaders accountable mainly for inputs (see more in the editorial above), the board has identified 10 external indicators to gauge the success of Ohio's education system. These include graduation and dropout rates as well as percent of:

  • graduates completing the Ohio Core curriculum requirements, 
  • students proficient and above on Ohio's various assessments, 
  • graduates leaving PK-12 system with college credits,
  • graduates leaving PK-12 system with industry certificates, 
  • students taking SAT/ACT and average score of Ohio students on those exams,
  • students requiring remediation in college,
  • students earning business/industry credentials, and
  • career technical students placed in professions.

Measuring performance and holding schools accountable for results has been a consistent and major theme in the board's recent history. The governor's plan could be much improved if it took the advice of the state board and focused squarely on measuring what works in schools and driving new dollars toward these efforts over time.

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