State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) wants Ohio to delay finalizing an education plan to give more time to incorporate public input that she and others contend the state ignored in drafting its response to a new federal law.
She’s holding a public forum at 5:30 p.m. today at Start High School to raise awareness about the issue and listen to concerns about the plan and how it was prepared by the Ohio Department of Education.
“When you have an incomplete assignment as a student, and you know it’s incomplete and you just did it to make it look like you did it, a teacher would come back and say it is incomplete and you would get an F,” said Ms. Fedor, a former Toledo Public Schools teacher and the ranking Democrat on the state House education committee.
Today is the last day that the state will accept public comment on its draft plan.
The state education department intends to submit the final plan — developed in response to the 2015 federal law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act — to the U.S. Department of Education early next month.
The federal government requires states to send in their plans in either April or September, and 30 states have opted for the later deadline.
Ohio’s draft proposal has drawn fire from teachers, superintendents, and union leaders who think the education department failed to include changes the public pushed for during input sessions and in surveys conducted by the state as it created the draft.
Critics said that waiting until September to submit the plan would give the state time to correct what they view as major omissions in the document.
A top concern is the number of state tests taken by students.
Ohio’s current plan doesn’t recommend reducing the 24 state tests students take, despite their widespread unpopularity among educators and even though the state requires seven more tests than what the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act calls for.
“The feedback clearly ... was not considered,” said Perry Lefevre, a member of the Toledo Board of Education and a Sylvania teacher. “I don’t hear from anybody that supports increased testing or even maintaining the testing that’s going on.”
Eliminating some Ohio tests would require a state law change.
The education department said it is committed to reviewing testing requirements — though not as a part of this plan.
Ms. Fedor said Ohio’s draft plan doesn’t take advantage of the flexibility afforded in the federal law to give more decision-making powers to local school districts. She said it also fails to address concerns about the state report card grading system and an accountability system that she described as “too punitive.”
“The decision to file early in April continues down the road of not listening, ignores the public feedback that they received ..., and indicates that they are not going to change anything because they, for some reason, have decided that they are going to continue giving 24 tests instead of 17,” Ms. Fedor said.
State superintendent Paolo DeMaria led the effort to develop the plan with help from “many” senior and other education department staffers, according to spokesman Brittany Halpin.
The state reported it received more than 2,000 comments so far on the draft plan and that feedback will be considered and used in the final plan. During the plan’s creation, education officials heard input from more than 15,000 people over a 13-month period, according to the state.
Each state is expected to reach out to stakeholders for input, a mandate Ms. Halpin said Ohio takes “very seriously.”
“A plan that is deeply rooted in the needs of Ohio’s students, educators and communities requires everyone’s input,” she said in a written statement. “Our goal was to meaningfully engage diverse groups of stakeholders to solicit a range of thoughts, opinions and recommendations.”
The public can fill out the state’s survey about the draft version online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ESSAOhioOverview.
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