Governor controlled Ohio State Board of Education wants
to infringe on the rights of Home Schooler's

(originally posted August 12, 2000)

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We received the following e-mail:

Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 11:38:28 EDT
Subject: CRITICAL UPDATE: New draft of Standards for Ohio Schools -- Long Post

CRITICAL UPDATE ON STATE EDUCATION POLICY -- Long Post
CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT MAY BE NEEDED SOON
8/12/00

To all:

The purpose of this email is to provide an overview of the rule language
being developed by the Ohio Department of Education [ODE] which will replace the 1983 minimum standards for Ohio schools. The ODE plans to bring a draft to the State Board of Education at their September meeting [9/11/00 and 9/12/00]. At that time there will likely be a presentation by ODE staff and board discussion, but NO VOTE.

This drafted document carries significant impact on all students – both implicitly and explicitly. ODE staff has explained that the timeline is expected to be as follows: 1. September – presentation to the State Board of Education 2. October – State Board of Education votes on a "resolution of intent" to adopt the rule language for the Ohio Administrative Code.
3. November – State Board of Education holds formal public hearings on the resolution of intent 4. December – State Board of Education votes on a final resolution to adopt the language.

NOTE: For individuals who are new to this email list, I need to explain that I use capital letters only for the purpose of emphasis. Bold letters or
italics do not always show up on the recipient’s email.

BACKGROUND:
1983: Standards were approved by the State Board of Education and were written within a framework that was "process-oriented." The focus was placed on educational programs and resources to educate children. It was based on a "traditional model" of service delivery. These regulations [currently in effect] can be found in the Ohio Administrative Code [3301-35-01 through 3301-35-08].
Note: The Ohio Administrative Code can be accessed through your local library or through the Internet [http://www.state.oh.us – Click on Ohio Laws, then click on Ohio Administrative Code, then type the rule number for a search.]

1993: The ODE, under the direction of State Superintendent Ted Sanders,
developed a framework for a system that would have mandated an outcome-based/performance-based approach for Ohio schools. Graduation standards were drafted and sent out via 55,000 surveys [early February, 1993] which outlined 11 state goals and 25 state outcomes over which Ohio graduates would have been required to demonstrate mastery. It was specified that Ohio’s assessment system would be aligned to these goals and outcomes. This list was heavily weighted with behavioral outcomes [e.g.function as a responsible family member, work cooperatively with others to solve problems, maintain emotional well-being, demonstrate appropriate interpersonal skills, etc…] In the performance-based system, the student would not be able to progress until he/she met the state defined mastery standards. Everything would be driven by the "list" of outcomes or expectations and controlled through the assessment system.

By September, 1993 the list presented to the State Board of Education grew from 25 outcomes to 412 [proposed graduation standards]. This revised list actually contained academic outcomes, but retained a strong emphasis on the students attitudes and behaviors. This document stated, "Learner goals represent a comprehensive list of what is expected for all graduates of Ohio schools." This list included the following goals of which student performance would have been measured and expected to reach a state mandated standard: The learner can demonstrate open-mindedness and skepticism in civic behavior The learner can maintain emotional well-being The learner can adjust one’s behavior in view of the dynamics of various groups and settings. The learner can exhibit a realistic and optimal sense of well being ETC…

NOTE: This set of standards never received public or legislative support and were never explicitly placed into the Ohio Administrative Code.

1997: The ODE, under the direction of State Superintendent John Goff,
developed rule language to redesign the 1983 Standards for Ohio Schools. It was presented to the State Board of Education in May, 1997 and received a preliminary vote of approval. This version did not move forward for public hearings and a final vote because it did not receive support in the General Assembly. It is important to understand that it was not consistent with the Ohio Revised Code. State legislators never granted support for changes in state laws as requested by Dr. Goff in a letter sent to all members of the General Assembly the first week of June, 1997.

It is also very IMPORTANT to understand that the most significant change to graduation requirements in the 1997 version was that school districts were required to "grant a diploma to learners who achieved state adopted competencies [defined as academic and vocational]." Only this time there was NO LIST. The ODE and the State Board were seeking to completely switch to a performance-based model [outcome-based education] which is completely dependent on the list of exit standards. However, they wanted the public and the legislature to accept this completely STATE-CONTROLLED system overhaul without the benefit of seeing the LIST.

CURRENT UPDATE:

July 2000: The ODE is fairly close to completing a draft of "Pre-K – 12 Standards for Ohio Schools," under the direction of State Superintendent
Susan Tave Zelman. Below is an outline of a "working draft" of these standards. There will be a presentation in September regarding these
standards. However, it is important to recognize that as the ODE’s legal staff and Dr. Zelman gives their final review of the draft, further revisions
are expected.

Since there are several draft versions [I have 3 different versions and there may be more.], I will focus on the document sent to State Board of Education members on July 19, 2000. I believe it is very important for citizens to understand what material has been presented to the board members.

NOTE to home educators: There is language in this draft that impacts home educated students. Please carefully review the explanation of section
3301-35-04 below.

The proposed standards are, once again, advocating for a REDESIGNED SYSTEM. It clearly sets up a STATE CONTROLLED performance-based system. There are some pieces that give an "appearance" of local control, but a closer look reveals just the opposite. One important difference in this new system is that district and individual school "effectiveness" will be "measured in terms of results." This creates an accountability system COMPLETELY DEPENDENT upon the LIST of expectations [content and performance standards]. The State Board of Education will be expected to approve this new system, WITHOUT the benefit of seeing the LIST.

Summary of concerns with 3301-35-01 through -04 as presented in the "working draft" [7/19/00] My comments follow each specified "note":

3301-35-01: Definition of a School
(A) "A school is an environment organized for learning which provides a community of learners with knowledge and skills necessary to achieve
prescribed performance objectives."
NOTE: This broad definition of a school is rooted in the outcome-based philosophy. In this definition the learners must "achieve prescribed performance objectives." This differs from the definition of a classroom in state law. ORC 3318.01 defines classroom facilities as "rooms in which pupils regularly assemble in public school buildings to receive instruction and education…"
The KEY difference between these two definitions is that the system proposed by the ODE is one which supports a state-controlled system and the statutory definition can be supported in a locally-controlled system.

(B)(1): "In order to be recognized as a school in the state of Ohio, a school SHALL ENSURE that performance objectives, specified as a part of learning activities, are ALIGNED with locally approved CONTENT and PERFORMANCE STANDARDS."
NOTE: This is a classic example of a dialectic process in which words say
one thing, but actually mean something very different. In proposed rule 3301-35-02 the definition of "content standard" and "performance standard" reveal that they are state-defined. The language quoted above mandates that the locals approve what the state defines and align their performance objectives [what is tested] with the state-defined system.

3301-35-02: Definitions
"The following terms are defined as they are used in these rules."
(B) "Assessment – The process of determining how PERFORMANCE compares to goals and objectives."
NOTE: Once again, the LIST of what is expected to be tested is NOT AVAILABLE for review. This piece completely controls the entire system. What is assessed will drive what is taught. This definition is wide open to testing beyond academic knowledge. If the goals and objectives include the affective domain [attitudes and behaviors], then so will the assessment.

(G) "Content Standard – Identification of the knowledge and skills that a learner needs to know and be able to do as approved by the State Board of Education."
(V) "Performance Standard – State defined level of achievement of the content and performance standards."
(H) "Course of Study – A document adopted for each subject taught that is based on the philosophy of education and educational goals; PRESCRIBES WHAT IS TO BE TAUGHT; specifies instructional objectives; establishes scope and sequence; and provides a basis for learner evaluation." NOTE: Proposed rule 3301-35-03(C)(1)(b): "To implement STATE APPROVED content and performance standards and local district requirements, schools and school districts SHALL establish and provide a course of study for each subject taught. EACH course of study SHALL ALIGN learning outcomes from STATE REQUIRED ASSESSMENTS and STATE APPROVED content and performance standards." These "required assessments" include such controversial areas as HEALTH and LIFELONG LEARNING, both of which are behavioral in nature.

REMEMBER earlier this year ODE officials stated Ohio would NEVER require assessments in HEALTH??? We now have additional evidence that these assessments are already being developed!!

(N) "Instructional hours – the time learners, under supervision of a teacher, are actively engaged in planned learning activities that CONTRIBUTE TO the mastery of course content and achievement of performance objectives."
NOTE: This definition implies that any time spent on learning which does not contribute to the instruction aligned to state content standards does not
count toward the number of instructional hours required in a later draft rule
[3301-35-04(F)].

(P) "Learner Support Services – Learner focused programs, activities and initiatives that reinforce and improve learning. A school or school district’s learner support services and programs may include, but not be limited to, screening, assessment, placement, intervention, tutoring,
monitoring, counseling, and consultation activities as well as library media information technology programs."
NOTE: In 1997 the state law was changed [SB102, ORC 3318.01(O)] to permit the use of comprehensive services by community-based social service providers in the classroom. This change in state law AND this definition of learner support services does NOT include a mechanism for informed PARENTAL CONSENT prior to the delivery of services.

3301-35-03: Expectations for Learner Performance
(A) "ALL school districts SHALL adopt state approved content and performance standards for EACH SUBJECT for which the State Board of Education requires schools to provide instruction."
NOTE: This is a WAKE UP CALL!! Until now, the State has been indirectly driving what is taught locally in the subject areas of the Ohio Proficiency
Tests. What is tested must be taught. This proposed rule EXPANDS this state control into the additional areas of the arts, HEALTH, LIFE LONG LEARNING, physical education, and world languages.

(B)(2): "The school district SHALL IMPLEMENT a comprehensive district-wide curriculum and instructional program that ENSURES that STATE APPROVED content and performance standards and local requirements are met."
(B)(3)(a): "Learners SHALL be provided sufficient opportunity to ACHIEVE
the STATE APPROVED content and performance standards in the arts, English language arts, HEALTH, LIFE LONG LEARNING, mathematics, physical education, science, social studies and world languages; and meet state approved performance measures in career-technical and adult education."

NOTE: In state law there is a parental opt-out provision for certain portions of health instruction. This will be worthless if students are required to
achieve the "state approved content and performance standards in health." It is especially unfair that the ODE plans to bring the list of state health content standards to the table later, after this framework is in place. This is a clear attempt to sneak the health standards in under the noses of the General Assembly.

There is more…
(B)(3)(b): "Instruction SHALL BE PROVIDED in multicultural education, energy and resource conservation education, ethics and other areas of instruction set forth in the Ohio Revised Code."
NOTE: These areas of instruction would be heavily weighted in the affective domain [attitudes/behaviors] and are NOT required in state law -- ORC
3313.60(A).

(C)(2): "School decisions regarding learner progression to a higher level of instruction for each subject SHALL be based upon the learner meeting
instructional and performance objectives. (3) Learners SHALL earn credit based upon achieving course content and performance objectives."
NOTE: This describes the outcome-based education loop that Dr. Sanders proposed in 1993. This extends far beyond the retention of fourth graders who don’t pass the reading portion of the 4th grade Proficiency Test. This language indicates that students will be held back for not meeting state
outcomes in all subject areas and at all grade levels. This proposed language is consistent with Dr. Zelman’s publicly stated support for state required "end of course exams."

3301-35-04: System Performance Standards
(C)(1)(d) "Decisions regarding learner admission, placement, and withdrawal are made in accordance with established local school board policies."

NOTE: As proposed, this language would be detrimental to home educators in that it could empower local superintendents to disregard other state regulations already in place which outline a notification process for home educators and a process for reenrolling a home educated student. The stated purpose of the home education regulations is to "provide for the consistent application [of prescribed conditions] thereof throughout the state by superintendents, and to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their children."

(C)(1)(d)(2): "Placement for all learners, including those who received home education and those transferring from any other school, SHALL be based upon evidence of assessed academic performance.

NOTE: As proposed, "academic PERFORMANCE" is not necessarily equivalent to "academic achievement." Using the term "performance" in the context of this redesigned system will pressure home educated students to meet state outcomes. In a process the state refers to as "backward mapping" the home environment would be coerced into teaching to the state’s content standards. For many home educated families, there would be direct conflict in either philosophical or religious beliefs, or both.

After concern was expressed by State Board of Education member Diana Fessler, ODE staff invited a number of home educators to a meeting on Wednesday, August 9th to discuss the above citations. At this meeting there was general agreement that home education should not be mentioned in these proposed standards since there are separate regulations in effect for home educated students. Several suggestions were discussed as to how the language could be revised to eliminate this connection. ODE staff member, Cindi Reighard, agreed to see that the language would be removed and revised as suggested. By Friday, August 11th, the entire draft was scheduled to be submitted to the ODE’s legal department for any necessary revisions. It is my understanding at this time, that the following changes were submitted by Ms. Reighard.
3301-35-04 (C)(1)(d) would be changed to read: "Decisions regarding learner admission, placement, and withdrawal are made in accordance with EXISTING OHIO ADMINISTRATIVE CODE."
3301-35-04(C)(1)(d)(2) would be changed to read: "Placement for all learners, including those transferring from any other CHARTER school, shall be based upon evidence of assessed academic performance."

It is important to understand that the changes have been submitted, but we won’t know for sure if they are incorporated into the draft until we see the
NEXT REVISED DRAFT. Dr. Zelman is expected to review and make her own changes to the draft next week. State Board of Education members are expected to receive a revised draft the week prior to the September meeting.

ACTION:
1. It is very possible that citizen involvement will be needed at the September meeting of the State Board of Education. Please consider setting time aside now on Tuesday, September 12th. Even though these rules will not be on the agenda for a vote. Testimony on the revised draft could be offered during a portion of the meeting for non-agenda items. For those who do not wish to testify, it may be helpful to attend the meeting so board members will understand there are public concerns with the standards. I will send an update and an action alert if it is necessary. I am only asking that you prepare to come, if needed.


NOTE: It is possible that the ODE presentation to the State Board of Education will be on Monday, September 11th. This would be consistent with past practice. However, public testimony time is typically a part of the business meeting on Tuesday.

2. After the revisions are made, I will provide the updated language as I receive it. This would be the more appropriate time to call your elected
members of the State Board of Education. If you are not sure who represents you, contact your county board of elections. In the meantime if you want to call now to express concerns over what has been proposed, please be sure to acknowledge that you are aware that this draft is NOT a final draft.

Please accept my apology for the length of this message. I will try to keep all updates on this issue brief. I am expecting that some form of citizen
involvement will be needed in September. Therefore, please take the time now to make sure your contact lists are updated.

Respectfully submitted,
Melanie Elsey

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